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Realpolitik has real cost to New Zealand

By Steve Dow - posted Friday, 16 April 2010

They never let us forget, do they? I was a guest at a wedding in Te Puna, south of Auckland, over Easter, where the master of ceremonies used his overhead projector to give those from “across the ditch” a good drubbing. His series of jokey slides culminated in an image of Trevor Chappell delivering that infamous bowl to Kiwi Brian McKechnie.

It may have been 29 years since we Aussies unleashed our underhanded, underarm tactic in that one-day match, but the incident still rings loudly in the New Zealand psyche, as do our claims to its sons and daughters, Russell Crowe and Crowded House et al, whose faces also flashed up in the slideshow.

The comparative economic reality means the smaller country has often lost its fairest and brightest to its neighbour, but you didn’t need to look past the bridal table to get the point: the Kiwi-born bride had married an Aussie. Our presence was being felt in real time.
Yet New Zealanders quietly know what they’ve got. They rightly take pride in the natural beauty of their homeland, its lush green hills and wilderness. Take a trip around the gorgeous South Island in particular and you’re spoiled for scenery. The country’s tourist industry has, until the recent world economic downturn, boomed, centered around its environmental credentials; “100 per cent pure”, according to the marketing.
Now, in pursuit of trying to dig its way out of the economic ditch, new Prime Minister John Key, leading a minority government with his Centre-Right National Party, shakily formed with its unlikely political bedfellow the Maori Party, is threatening to destroy that carefully massaged international notion of New Zealand.
First up, with profit as his priority, Key proposes removing 7,058 hectares of protected land from the Crown Minerals Act, allowing mining in sensitive areas such as Great Barrier Island and Paparoa National Park.
Second, Key has flagged that, when the International Whaling Commission meets in Morocco in June, he might support a compromise position that would allow Japan, Norway and Iceland to openly hunt whales, with the aim of reducing the total catch over the next decade.
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About the Author

Steve Dow is a Sydney journalist.

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