As head of the Taxpayers Union, I lie awake most nights and worry about the careless spending of taxpayers money.
Tonight is no different. I toss. I turn. I can hear the gentle fall of rain. I go to the window and see rain streak the glass like tears, and I worry about the careless spending of taxpayers money on koha.
I turn. I toss.
How can I sleep knowing that the practise of Government ministers giving koha to Maori is a pernicious evil?
It ought to be very, very carefully examined before it goes any further.
Let's be perfectly clear on this.
Koha is a loaded word. But what it really means, what it really comes down to, when you strip away its cultural values, and when you sweep aside its historical significance, because those things are all smoke and mirrors, is money.
The rain is getting heavier.
I've no objection to private individuals giving koha, or let's call it what it is, money, to Maori. A fool and his money are easily parted, and that's just the way it is.
My objection is when it's taxpayers' money.
It gets frittered away on so many unnecessary things. Education. Health. And don't get me started on the arts, or community services.
But koha – well that's an even greater waste.
It's very dark outside.
So very dark, and I'm so deeply worried.
Koha. It's bad. It's evil. It's a dangerous precedent. It's grossly inappropriate and should be entered into the books as a criminal offence alongside murder, because if there's one thing more precious than human life, it's money.
The rain is so loud now that each drop booms and echoes like someone shouting in a cave.
Koha. It's money under the table. It's impossible to trace.
I turn. I toss.
Koha. It's a vice. It's a sin.
I toss and turn – under the bed, to get away from the crashing rain.
Now this is not meant as any kind of slight on Māori, or any kind of comment on their greed, venality, and wickedness, but what worries me, and what should be of deep concern to anyone with a stake in this country, which was discovered by James Cook in 1778, is that koha could be used for bribery or corruption.
When money changes hands, anything can happen.
Money. It's the root of all pleasure. But it also leads to some very dark places.
It's so dark under the bed.
So very dark.
The thing we need to understand about Māori is that they can be bought. And the easiest way to do that is gifting them money.
We must not be fooled or taken in by those who say koha is a sign of respect.
It's not a sign of respect.
The rain is pounding in my head and I can't sleep and I can't stand it any longer and I get out from the bed and I throw myself at the window and the glass shatters and I'm on the lawn and my feet are bleeding and the rain is falling on my face and it's cold, it's dark, I'm so afraid – but then I catch sight of something in the grass, something shiny and round, and I bend down, and pick it up, and offer a little prayer.
I hold up my coin to the attendant at the all-night petrol station, and ask, "What can I buy for 50 cents?"
He makes a telephone call.