Australian film The Castle is a favourite of mine and not just for its sweet humour. Without beating us over the head, it delivers the salutary lesson that although we may believe a man's home is his castle, as father and principal character Darryl says, it most definitely is not. The government has the power to send a bulldozer through our walls.

Darryl's house, considered an "eyesore", and those of his neighbours, sited alongside the airport, are wanted for runway extensions. They will be "compulsorily acquired", all in the name of progress.

In Darryl's language, that's a "kick-out notice". But the owners fight back through the courts and win the right to stay on, something which in real life doesn't usually happen.

So on reading about 86 property owners along the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington who are faced with losing their homes to a four-lane expressway, I sat down and watched The Castle again.

I suggest these people, some of whom are outraged, upset and threatening to lie down in front of bulldozers, do the same.

Their local councillors should be ashamed. Given a choice of two routes by New Zealand Transit Agency, the local politicians voted to destroy people's homes, but preserve wetlands, conservation land and a Maori cemetery.

Since when did the rights of trees, plants, fish, snails and the dead come before the rights of families to live peaceably in their homes? (Oh silly question, do keep up, Deborah!)

Not all are opposed to this expressway. Sir Noel Robinson, Paraparaumu Airport owner, says it will boost economic growth. The Kapiti Chamber of Commerce is pushing for it to be built as soon as possible and Chris Barber, chief executive of local business growth and tourism, says get on and build it.

But what kind of civilisation do we live in when the State can forcibly take people's property from them and call it progress?

Economic growth should not take precedence over individual property rights and situations like this make it glaringly obvious our Bill of Rights needs to make property rights sacrosanct.

Compensation will be paid but that doesn't make it okay to take someone's home against their will. Transport Minister Steven Joyce will serve kick-out notices - sorry - "sell homes voluntarily or under obligation through the Public Works Act for current market value".

But how can market value be fairly assessed now we know a motorway's going right through the area?

And think about where the compensation money's coming from? It's been taken from other private citizens. Two wrongs don't make a right.

Some of these people aren't interested in compensation, they don't want to move and neither should they.

If individuals don't want to sell their homes, they damn well should be allowed to hold on to them, even if they're offered millions. It's the State's problem if they hold out; the government should have to find a solution, not make property owners pay legal fees to fight.

If you're reading this in cosy inner Auckland, maybe you think you're not affected, but under the Public Works Act the Crown's powers are frightening and far reaching, particularly concerning SOEs, LATEs and line companies.

Read the act, and remember Darryl's best line: "I'm really starting to understand how the Aborigines feel. This country's gotta stop stealing other people's land."

New Zealand has never stopped pinching land since we got a taste for Maori land, in the name of last November's fatal declaration uttered by Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan, "for the greater good".

History is littered with misery caused by those four utilitarianism words.

Politicians waving compensation cheques just don't get it.

Darryl is right: "It's not a house, it's a home. You can't buy what I've got ... you might think it's an eyesore because it doesn't have a pool or a big driveway, but it's got people who love each other and care for each other."

There is a solution to this, but New Zealand must stop thinking mean. If we want big expressways, we have to tunnel underground and pay for them with whacking great tolls for users. Then those who prefer the quieter, scenic routes still have a choice.

And leave the castles alone.