Letter to the editor sent to the Hawke’s Bay Today 28th August 2016. Context. We are currently experiencing polluted drinking water, the result of intensive farming locally. Some old people have died from infections impacting on underlying health issues. Our aquifer water has always been superb. We did not need systems of water management that had to treat for such things as campylobacter. The impacts on people and local business has been extremely hard. A great local butcher, our high quality food producers and cafes. And we are a region known for the quality of what we produce – quality water, quality food, quality environment, quality experience.
And yet we have heard, and still hear, the short-term narrow thinkers that dominate our policy making with their corporate influence arguing for more compromises on our environment with the promise of “jobs and GDP.” Which rhymes with “more for me.”
There is a very strong lesson here for those who want to think about it. And the tactics of both the government and the local Hawke’s Bay Regional Council to point the finger at the Hastings District Council Mayor and their bores is a cynical spinning of distraction away from their own thoughtless thrust for more industrial and corporate land use intensification, environmental degradation and the marginalising of people as wages – the lower the better. They are both advocates for the strategic nonsense of GMOs and local fracking because it suits their extractive corporate take on the world. The Hastings District Council – whose functions rest under the Regional Council – deserves praise for their ability to strategise and protect our region, and our economy, from both GMOs and fracking. This has not made them popular with the industrial thinkers in other governance positions.
Ask yourself who are the better governors, and who deserves the questioning of their actions?
The key lesson with the Havelock North water crisis is the need to acknowledge connections. We so often think of the environment, community and business as silos to trade-off one from the other. That is the sickness of our modern economic age, and it is a deadly idea.
Poor environmental practices impact on our environment, then our community and our local business. You cannot push one small part of our wider system to excess without impacting on the whole. We need to build the integrity of that whole.
It is no wonder that the hurt of our local communities has seriously impacted our local enterprises, and their pain kicks back again to those that rely upon their income, and their lack of income hits back at local business in yet more reduced demand. And so can a downward spiral begin.
Short-term and narrow thinkers that disconnect environment, society and economy don’t get these system effects. They don’t get that we live within an uncertain world and that building resilience means retaining and building our social, environmental and local business legacies.
We should be mindful of this when we hear any suggestion that we ought to ‘compromise’ and trade-off our community or our environment for short-term commercial gains – especially if they are commercial gains to outsiders who do not live and spend in the Bay. Such thinking – fracking, GMOs, excuses to reduce water quality, degrading working conditions, the industrialisation of life itself – will eventually negatively impact on us all, local enterprise included.