A lineup of Maori leaders and top writers have made a Waitangi Day protest to the Government over the seizure of novelist Patricia Grace’s ancestral land, saying it breaches the Treaty of Waitangi.
The Government has taken 983 square metres of Grace’s land north of the Waikanae River for the Kapiti expressway.
Today more than 30 writers, academics and Maori leaders – including Dame Fiona Kidman, Sir James McNeish, Witi Ihimaera and Dame Anne Salmond – have signed an open letter to Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, urging the Government not “to literally bulldoze a road through the land”, which they say is of “major historical significance”.
The translation is that we think Jane Plod can have their land compulsorily acquired for a road, but not Patricia Grace because she is a novelist!
They say they are aware many people have lost land to the expressway, and they “have every sympathy for them”, but they believe “Patricia’s land is a special case that deserves to be exempt from the current plan”.
What other special rights should novelists have? A lower income tax rate?
Grace said yesterday that she was thrilled with the support, which was unprompted by her.
“The Crown, iwi and Waitangi Tribunal are working very hard to redress the past, while the Public Works Act is still able to take Maori land,” she said. “It is like compensating with one hand and taking with the other.
“Maori land should be outside the Public Works Act. No more Maori land should be taken.”
Oh, it is not writers that should be exempt, but all Maori. So if you have any Maori ancestry at all, you should be exempt from the Public Works Act.
How about this for a deal. You can be exempt from the Public Works Act that allows roads to be built and utilities such as power pylons to be located so we have a national grid – so long as you agree to never use any roads or electricity.
“Her place in New Zealand literature is remarkable and unquestionably significant,” the signatories write. “She should not have to fight, particularly at her stage of life [she is in her late 70s], to retain a piece of land that is hers by whakapapa . . . she should pass it on to her descendants.”
Wait, now the argument is that if you are aged over 70 you should be exempt?
The land once belonged to her great-great-grandfather Wi Parata Te Kakakura, who gifted large sections of it to Waikanae.
Or is the argument that if land has been in your family for multiple generations, you should be exempt from the Public Works Act?
I’m not unsympathetic to Patricia Grace, or any landowner who has to sell land against their will to the Government under the Public Works Act. It is a awful thing to have to go through. The Public Works Act is a fairly draconian law. However it is a fairly necessary one, without which we would not have roads or power.