Jim Hopkins on current issues

Jim Hopkins is a Herald columnist

Jim Hopkins: Future power to the people - multiculturally speaking

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The Story so far ...

Much has happened in the two years that have passed since 2012. Auckland has welcomed its 2 millionth resident, the Black Caps have won another test, the new new leader of the Labour Party is pledging to "reconnect with the people" by touring the provinces on a unicycle and Shanghai Pengxin have formed a consortium with Ngai Tahu and Canadian film director, James Cameron, to buy the Christchurch City Council. Councillors will be herded by LandCorp.

And it's been a blockbuster year for Costa Lotmordia, the country's first PPPC (Partially Privatised Power Company). So it is in the offices of Costa Lotmordia, formerly Genesis Energy, that our story continues...

Ka-swo-o-o-o-sh! The solar-powered door at the Costa Lotmordia Sustainable Relationships Centre slid open. Well, in fact, only half of it ka-swo-o-o-o-shed open; the other half, the Government half, squeaked dustily ajar, much as it always had.

Nonetheless, the partial change in ambience had been sufficient to attract a host of new customers, one of whom was approaching the chrome and glass counter.

"Good morning, sir," beamed the Eco-Energy Relationships Co-ordinator (or salesperson), "I hope you're enjoying Waitangi Week" - something else that had changed since 2012. "How may I help?"

"I want to buy some power," said the customer, flicking through a 10 Fun Ways To Reduce your Carbon Footprint pamphlet.

"Then you've come to the right place, sir," beamed the EERC. "Costa Lotmordia (formerly Genesis Energy) has a wide range of power available to suit the most discerning taste. We have our Executive power, sir. We have Peak Power, Off-Peak Power, Weak Power, Once-a-week Power - for the price conscious client - and, of course, our new Anton Oliver option ..."

"What's that?"

"That's where you get no power at all, sir, but you do keep the landscape intact."

"Okay," grunted the customer. "But there's something else I need to know. Something so important it will decide which option I pursue."

"What's that, sir?"

"Does your power adhere to the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi?"

"Ohhh, most assuredly, sir!" beamed the EERC, relieved that the inquiry hadn't related to loan funding for power bills, as so many recently had.

"So with the dams you own ..."

"All made from recycled materials, sir, and blessed, prior to opening, in a culturally appropriate ceremony so dignified they'd have felt like a tattooed head coming home from France. Assuming a dam can feel anything, of course."

"Good," said the customer, "I like that. One more thing. Does your water consult with iwi and other affected parties regarding its abstraction for generational purposes?"

"Ohhh, absolutely, sir!" purred the EERC. "Our water is the most consultative water in the history of ... um, water, sir."

"So it's officially bicultural?" said the customer. "All of it? Every molecule? That's enshrined in law, is it?"

"Errrr ... yes," spluttered the EERC, sensing this sale could slip away. "All of it ... Enshrined. Yes ... Maybe. In a manner of speaking. You see, when I say all of it, what I mean is 51 per cent of it. But the rest must follow suit, you understand. The 49 per cent of power we generate that is owned by private shareholders cannot unilaterally violate the Treaty partnership or any of the principles so willingly embraced by the 51 per cent of power which is owned by the Crown. Is that ... ahhh, clear?

"No."

"Put it this way, sir. Your heater won't arbitrarily turn itself off should Mr Harawira pop in for a friendly harangue."

"Fair enough," nodded the customer. That'll do me. No! Hang on! One last thing. Do you sell any power to Chinese farms?"

"Oh, no, sir! Perish the thought! We'll have no truck with such unpatriotic actions ... Unless, of course, the farm in question has been sold to the Chinese by Ngai Tahu. In which case, we would. We walk hand-in-hand with the tangata whenua, sir, and share absolutely their reverence for the land."

"Are you saying Ngai Tahu's sold farms to the Chinese?"

"No, sir. That's precisely what I'm not saying. They have sold a 1348ha Kaikoura station to an American couple and 18,000ha of forestry to Corisol New Zealand, a Swiss company, sir, family owned. But that's not a case of Swiss family robbing, son. No, no! Absolutely not! They're not foreign foreigners, if you follow me. They're regular foreigners, ordinary foreigners. Foreigners like us, sir - in a multicultural manner of speaking, of course."

"Of course," said the customer. "It has to be a partnership. And everybody must embrace the principles of the Treaty, even though no statute in the land defines what they are. Still as long as they're stuck in yet another law, I'm happy. Okay, sign me up! Let's have some power to the people!"

"That's what we're here for, sir," smiled the EERC.

"To bring power to the people and people to the power. Just as the Treaty decreed."

- NZ Herald

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