Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Little Story About Customary Title

Vincent and I have just been watching the news and Campbell Live (which was great tonight; when he's on, he's on fire) and I've been getting really mad about the big fuss about Customary Title, especially in the Far North.

After my sister moved to Ahipara in 2002, our entire family went up for New Year's; my parents staying with her and my new brother, and my other sister, some friends and cousins and I at a campground at Shipwreck Bay on land owned by iwi and run by a representative, an unforgettable person named Ange. Ange was fierce (in both the Tyra sense and the other; having been born male certainly didn't hurt). When a bunch of moron boys took their cars on the beach and did donuts around little kids playing in the sand, she refused them entry to the campground and pretty much drove them out of the area; all while maintaining perfect posture in her kitten heels and pink mini, and with her partner Brian and chihuahua Tinkerbell in her wake. If anyone was too noisy for other campers, Ange was on it. She sold vodka and rum she made herself to chosen campers (we were chosen; the vodka nearly killed me). And when it was time to pay, she charged the fairest price I have ever been charged at any campground, let alone what must have been one of the most beautiful in the country (it was discounted but full price was so reasonable that if I wasn't a cheap student at the time, I would have paid it). Ange didn't have kayaks for hire, or internet; there was one cold, outdoor shower with a fence around it and two longdrops (in one of which I got stuck on New Year's night when the door-handle came off - did I mention they didn't have lights?). She was a canny businesswoman, but she cared about the land.
The next year, the campground was closed; Ange was staging a protest. We stayed with my sister and peered out from Miss Daisy as we drove past it on our way around the rocks, but I didn't see Ange .

Not everybody has an Ange story. But hopefully everyone has some sense of justice, and a little more sense than to buy into the fear-mongering on TV. If the campground never opens again, so fucking what. There'll never be a resort on that land at which only people who can afford to holiday anywhere could stay. And there'll always be a tin shack there with tents and cars around it, and someone like Ange looking out for it.

No comments:

Post a Comment