We all want the best for our children and, when it comes to choosing a career path, we all have our own opinions on what direction that pathway could take.

The same goes for our kids' sporting gifts. What they may be good at and want to pursue and what we want them to be good at can be as far apart as the reality of them becoming an All Black or Silver Fern.

If you were to ask my daughter what she wants to be, she would say she wants to be an airline hostess so she can travel to the four corners of the world.

If you were to then ask her what daddy wants her to be, she will reply: "An environmental scientist".


Why so?

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Surely, it is her decision to make? Of course it is, but it never stops me telling her unless we save the whenua and the moana from the damage we are doing to it, there will be nothing else to protect, including the language.

This last week we have seen the science world salute one of its greatest in Sir Peter Gluckman, the chief science advisor to the New Zealand Government.

Sir Peter, among many things, is a straight shooter who raised the awareness of many issues I considered were the most important - yet the least talked about.

His understanding of why the prison system wasn't working was a tautoko to hear, especially when you are dealing daily as we are with the fallout of disconnected families who all get punished for crimes they did not commit.

Many are crimes of drug addiction and mental health that we consider to be a health, not a criminal issue.

The recent "scam" of meth testing was outed by Sir Peter.


In Tauranga, according to an Official Information Request by the Bay of Plenty Times, $1.23 million was spent on meth testing and remediation, and only $3000 on, in my opinion, the real taniwha in the whare - mould and cold.

Up until Sir Peter addressed this issue straight up, the testing companies that were, in my view, making money out of misery, were putting innocent families out on the street, many times with everything they owned condemned to supposed contamination.

Adolescents and alcohol were another wrong on his radar and, again, the challenge was all about having evidence-based conversations that will help governments and society make better decisions.

The reality, as recognised by our former chief science advisor, is scientists - and in our case social services - can provide evidence about the damage alcohol is doing to our tamariki but ultimately, politicians have to act on it.

There's the rub. There are many feathers woven into the korowai of being a kaitiaki, a caretaker of own backyard, before a proactive stance against the damage we are doing to each other and our environment can begin.

There are the political, philosophical, fiscal, ideological, and for Māori the cultural components, all to be considered in these complex challenges.

Aotearoa New Zealand survives in the big wide world based on a biologically based economy.

Here in the kiwifruit kai-basket, there is an unhealthy balance between the Bay of Plenty and the Spray of Plenty.

We must start taming this taniwha by firstly talking about it and more importantly, start testing our whenua to see what science can tell us about the damage already done.

Yet no one protests, just a lone voice on a computer with a conscience born from a mother who pulled out her kiwifruit when she learned what it was doing to our whenua.

The obvious question is: What happens to the whenua and the moana from all this spray?

Is it absorbed into our kai chain and water aquifers beneath the surface where we cannot see?

My good mate Joe Harawira, a backyard scientist who championed the cause of sawmill workers exposed to toxic chemicals, said the Spray of Plenty could and should be the organic capital of the country.

He also said if we don't wake up to this toxic taniwha in our whenua, our future generations will be left an invoice they may not be able to pay.

When I ask my own environmental warriors about the tikanga of looking after the land our ancestors left us, they look to the ground, shuffle their feet and cannot give me a reason why we poison Papatuanuku for profit.

I guess this is why I would like my daughter to become another Sir Peter Gluckman or Dr Mike Joy.

An environmental scientist to help save our planet and the people who live on it before it is too late.