Where would we be without the youthful idealists willing to rock the boat and point out the emperor is wearing no clothes?
In my day, direct action by the young forced rethinks on issues like the Vietnam War and playing rugby with apartheid South Africa.
Today it's the turn of lawyer Pania Newton and her long campaign to save 33.4ha of farmland next to Otuataua Stonefields, at Ihumātao, Mangere, from housing development.
For more than two years, she and a few supporters in Soul — Save Our Unique Landscape — have camped out on the land. They've fought in the United Nations and the Environment Court to no avail.
Now, with police poised to evict them, public support has blossomed, and the emperors are left scurrying to find their underwear.
The solution seems obvious. Just turn the clock back 10 years to when the old Manukau City Council decided, with support from the then regional council, to protect the area from development by zoning it as Public Open Space.
Then start to unpick the mess local and central government and the Environment Court created in the past decade.
The Ihumātao Peninsula was one of the first landing sites of the original Polynesian voyagers 800 or so years ago.
The stonefields, which are protected, and the land now in contention, show evidence of intensive cultivation. Protecting it from future urban development was Manukau City's intention. The owners of the disputed block wanted it rezoned for more lucrative business development.
Planning commissioners rejected this.
The owners appealed to the Environment Court. It said that "to lock the land up might indeed provide for Māori and heritage values.
But it would not provide for the economic needs and wellbeing of the owners". It ruled the area be included in the new Auckland Council's Metropolitan Urban Limits as a "future development zone".
The NZ Listener later reported the owner then rejected a $6.5 million council offer for the land and accepted "a rumoured $19m" from developers Fletcher Living.
It was conditional on the Government declaring the site a Special Housing Area, council rezoning it residential, and Overseas Investment Office approval (Fletcher being 56 per cent foreign-owned).
That all happened.
Local marae leaders had opposed the housing plans, but faced with a fait accompli, negotiated with Fletcher, who gifted 25 per cent of the land to the marae as a buffer between the new houses and the stonefields.
Also, some new houses would be set aside for mana whenua — 40 initially, on a shared equity basis.
Last week, as police moved in to shift protesters so work could begin, Jacinda Ardern ordered a freeze on action while peace talks took place.
Some worry a Soul victory will trigger the untangling of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process, encouraging tribes that have already settled to reopen negotiations. But why? It has been privately owned since 1865, and private land has never been part of the settlement process.
The solution surely lies in what the protest group has called itself. Save Our Unique Landscape.
Which is what the old Manukau City planned to do, until the Environment Court decided you could plonk 450 houses in a heritage landscape without adverse effects if done "sensitively".
It's time to rewind the process. Ardern can help by buying out Fletcher. Then with the council, she can join forces to create Auckland's new premier heritage park to highlight the city's human, and its geological, origin stories.