Thursday, April 07, 2011

On the tupperwaka

Yesterday the government announced it would be spending $2 million on a giant inflatable waka for the Rugby World Cup. The decision has resulted in a fair bit of flak, some of it deserved, some of it less so. Unlike many, I think the idea of a Maori cultural display during a major international event is a good one; it doesn't sell New Zealand as a business (something about which I could not give a shit), but it tells our visitors a little about us. At the same time, it does not sit well with the government's slash-and-burn austerity message, and you don't have to look far to find other things they could be spending the money on. But what really annoys me is the ownership structure. The government is putting up 95% of the cost, but after the event, Ngati Whatua (who are contributing just 5%) will get to own the thing. Surely if the public is paying for it, the public should own it?

Then there's the stench. We have a government Minister up for re-election in an increasingly marginal seat dropping a $2 million windfall on the largest iwi in his electorate. You don't have to be John Boscawen to think that this smells bad. Our government is supposed to have procedures to prevent that sort of cronyism. It will be interesting to see whether those procedures were followed.