History can repeat itself in sly ways, like the uproar over selling a high country lease to an American who wants to control who goes on it and when, even if he's seldom there.
Maori carried on like this when colonists arrived. They sold tribal lands for axes, guns and blankets, then couldn't believe they'd lost them for good.
The idea of forever just didn't make sense to them, and so it appears to be with us, as if handing over $13 million shouldn't mean Matt Lauer actually has rights over his holding for as long as his lease lasts.
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The problem is not with Lauer, though, even if losing his job as an NBC anchorman over sexual misconduct helps paint him as a villain. He's done nothing wrong here.
The quarrel is with whoever had the brilliant idea of selling off state assets in the first place, leaving us with a postal service that increasingly discourages posting, a business model for what ought rightly to be public services, and rich foreigners like Lauer looking for bolt holes buying up vast acreage for prices New Zealanders can't afford.
We have priced ourselves out of our homes, priced ourselves out of our heartland, and we have no-one to blame but ourselves.
The government still owns the 6500ha Hunter Valley Station, so it will presumably revert to us one day.
That's not always been the case with big sales to foreigners, but it ought to be, and we of all people should know that.
Nothing Lauer can say would make you entirely sympathise with him, he's too rich for that, but he does have a point in arguing that changing the terms of his lease after it's signed, to allow more people access to the station, isn't fair.
That's why Federated Farmers is supporting him. His managers already grant access to everyone who asks for it, Lauer says, but if the Walking Access Commission wins its argument for an easement across his land, thousands could turn up.
That's not what rich foreigners look for in a bolt hole. They want a private paradise free of gawking locals.
Paradise is a long way off for New Zealand families who can't afford to heat their homes, let alone pay the landlord or feed their kids.
A survey of more than 1000 Kiwis, commissioned by the Salvation Army and released this month, revealed that 45 per cent had gone without heating in the past year because of cost, 44 per cent didn't go to the doctor because they couldn't afford it, and one in four don't buy fresh meat and vegetables regularly for the same reason.
The survey's questionnaire was handed out at church services, with people invited to respond, so it was self-selected.
Sallies welfare services manager Jono Bell, says, though, the results tally with what he's told by front-line workers.
It's not just beneficiaries who are losing out. So are the working poor.
People on low incomes face never owning their own homes, let alone being able to take holidays to the South Island high country to gaze at the mega-rich.
Lauer is free from that problem at least, although he embodies the ever-widening gap between rich and poor.
In the truly bottom of the heap, this country's jails, life is getting more unpleasant, with double bunking in cells becoming an accepted solution to overcrowding.
There are people, the angry virtuous, who rejoice in the illusion of vengeance this conjures up, and imagine jails are anyway like flash motels.
It's a poor analogy. You can choose who you sleep with in a motel.