I'm sure the irony of being slammed for doing something constructive for the health of their people has not escaped those behind the planned "readjustment centre" at Ōtane for Māori women ex-inmates.

After all, barely a day goes by when some racist stirrer isn't carping in this newspaper about the "gravy train" of Treaty settlement money and suggesting that it isn't being used to help iwi members.

Clearly, given the Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga-run facility will specifically cater for wahine of Ngati Kahungunu and Ngati Porou – the two major tribal groups of the east coast of North Island – in this case the critics are dead wrong.

Read more: Bruce Bisset: Time to bring HBRC councillors on board
Bruce Bisset: Fishy smell to quota system
Bruce Bisset: Hold your friends close ...


Indeed, as statistics show, they're wrong regardless. All of the iwi who have received settlement monies to date have increased their financial base – some very substantially so – and invested and diversified into a wide range of industries providing jobs and better lives for their people.

Sure, there have been some hiccups, but few and mostly minor – despite that Māori in general have had to run fast and hard to gain the skills needed to prosper from successful Treaty claims.

The point is, this should be nothing but a good-news story.

Not least because Ngati Kuhungunu has made health care a priority, and built a first-class organisation that delivers a plethora of preventative and healing services to the community – one of which is planned to be for rehabilitating women who have fallen into crime, and need the care of dedicated staff in a pleasant rural setting to transform themselves.

What, precisely, is wrong with that?

But that doesn't stop the NIMBY-factor – not in my backyard – from raising its head in protest at the centre's Ōtane location, even though it is on a large secluded property and the intention is to welcome locals to become involved in, and comfortable with, the centre's work.

Lack of consultation? Well, it used to be anything could pop up anywhere with no one the wiser until it was there, and there's a case can be made for that sort of "necessary stealth" when dealing with drugs, alcohol, mental health, or criminal rehabilitation.

After all, such facilities have to go somewhere. And if they're well run, nine times out of 10 you wouldn't know they're there. Try investigating a few blocks near your home and you'll be surprised what "hidden" facilities exist in the midst of urban (or rural) areas.

Okay, the potential impacts on a small town may be greater than in a larger city, but that site's been chosen specifically because the environment is (ostensibly) peaceful, and in the unfortunate event things went awry, alarm bells would ring very quickly.

Leaving that aspect aside, what really offends in this case is the racist reaction this proposal is generating. For a person to be obscenely sworn at in a meeting simply for starting a speech with a greeting in te reo, and as coarsely told to hurry up and finish, is totally inexcusable.

Perhaps if the objectors were new immigrants allowance could be made for misunderstanding, but I'm willing to bet those concerned were – supposedly – New Zealanders.

I guess it's true some Kiwis still exist in a 100-year-old bubble of intolerance, but to be so ignorant of cultural protocol at a meeting hosted by iwi beggar's belief.

It's one thing to fear something new; quite another to play the race card to try to demonise it.

No wonder the women TToH is trying to help resorted to crime if that's the attitude they've had to live with all their lives.

- Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet. Views expressed are the writer's opinion and not the newspaper's.