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PO Box 2 Blackball

Paul Maunder's blog

Community development?

We are facing interesting dilemmas in Blackball at the moment as the Paparoa Great Walk begins to be built; dilemmas which come under the general heading: community development and what the concept means and how it takes place, for Blackball will be one gateway to the track.

Realising this, the Council and Government via its agencies have become busy wooing us, for we are suddenly visible to them and our performance becomes part of the tourist dollar. Tourist infrastructure is the buzz concept, which translates most often into toileting and parking facilities which enable tourists to walk the walk in comfort. For Government and Council, it is all part of the GDP, bringing in the tourist dollar and so on. It requires a tidying up of the town and a new direction.

But the building of the infrastructure is ideologically driven. The Council have applied to the government for funding for a toilet and a carpark. Here are the figures:
Toilet
Foundations-prep and construction        10000
Foundations- engineered                            5500
Toilet unit                                                   134000
Electrical power connection                     10000
Services- water, sewer, stormwater         5000
Paving footpaths                                         10000
TOTAL (without fees):                              174500

But there are Fees (consents and engineering for toilets and carpark)
totalling 31,891 and Preliminaries and General (establishment and
disestablishment and traffic control)  23804.
So, divide in half the Fees and General that’s another 27847; so cost of
toilet is 202347.

The carpark will cost 154090 (plus 27847) = 181937.
The council are applying to the government for 399,286 minus their 100000 seeding money.

At the museum we are used to doing things cheaply and were astonished that a toilet should be worth twice as much as the average Blackball house. We had already costed out a toilet based on a single men’s hut design. Cost: $16000.  What is going on here?

Well, it’s how you think about things and how you do things. The council will drop the toilet and the carpark ‘from the sky’, impose them over the top of the existing community, an act of colonisation. They call this community development, but it is much closer to the work of missionaries with 19th century Maori. And local leaders, like local leaders back then, are being enticed into ‘partnership’.

Community development without having control of the budget is a mystification. What could we really do with $400,000? How could it be spent on community infrastructure required to service the track? Well, we could build two new toilets and refurbish existing toilets for 60000; use 100000 to establish a café run by a community co-operative; use 200000 to buy a house and establish a visitor centre and small camping ground, also run by a co-operative?

Instead of a fenced car park with security lights etc, people with the space could offer a park in their backyard, charging ten dollars a night, bringing in a little extra cash to the household budget. This would also lead to offering a cup of tea, having a conversation and so on. The visitor begins to be offered manaakitanga and healthy relations form. rather than ones of alienation.

This would be real community development, rather than the parody currently taking place. And behind the parody is an ideological purging of the collectivist, socialist tradition of the village, to be replaced by the small business opportunism that is at the heart of the tourist industry.

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Peering into the future

A  day transporting my peer group from hospital to hospital: brain tumour, heart issues, stroke… The transport vehicle was a state of the art Mercedes, suspension like a dream, turbo charged, computerised, fuel efficient… There were cell phones galore, a central communication device, GPS, radio, defib, suction unit, water bottles, pain relief – all under control. Except the nurse had lost her car key – a new car, it would have to be put onto the back of a truck and transported to the dealer, the ignition renewed, insurance doesn’t cover it, it was going to cost thousands of dollars. In between moments of panic, pet dogs and their ways were discussed. They sounded pampered creatures. The tumour was miserable and angry at her body turning on her, one of the hearts was vulnerable (inflammation of the pericardium, obviously painful and scary), the other okay except needs to give up the smokes. The stroke hadn’t affected speech but swallowing and legs. One heart was garrulous, perhaps a little demented. On the radio there were endless songs about love – mainly unrequited, boom, boom, beat, beat. In between, manic ads and occasionally the news as scandal or a sporting event of national import. In A&E the wounded lay on beds awaiting processing, dumb struck by fate. Why me? Why today? Sometimes a worried partner sat beside them.

Eventually the key was found – great relief.

And then the lines of commuters driving home.

I was being paid, so this was work. I could be doing it every day, using the money to subsist and acquire some private capital. This could be my life, driving endless miles, ferrying people between medical facilities, hearing of private dramas and listening to songs of unrequited love and consumer possibilities. A waste of time? A waste of a life? Useful? Is the questioning a ridiculous arrogance?

I certainly got the feeling of human beings with a lot of high tech stuff which sometimes turns on them. Robots turning on people? If we haven’t quite reached that situation we’re heading there fast. Meanwhile, like pampered aristocrats, we become stupid.

Mission accomplished I had to fill up the vehicle… can I remember the password? It’s been months… Rejected. Try something else. Accepted. Relief. One to go. Filling in the timesheet. Password? I wrote it down somewhere. Where? Not this notebook. Guess. Whew. The robot accepted my answer. I drove home, cross eyed.

In the morning there were lots of birds dancing on the lawn.

At that moment, I preferred dinosaurs.

A modern day prophet

Bruce Stewart died last week. He’d been crook for a while. He built Tapu Te Ranga Marae, by himself, which is a little ridiculous, like a one man community centre. How did this come about? As Bruce told the story, he was brought up in a Pakeha/Maori family, living a mainly Pakeha lifestyle. As a young bloke, Bruce got into trouble and a bit of fraud landed him in jail. While inside, he began to study Maori culture, reading an article or two, perhaps something by John Rangihau, and decided that if you were Maori, you should live communally, practise manaakitanga, aroha etc. Better do it then, he decided. It’s always trouble when people take things literally – Riverside Community was created by young Methodists who decided to put Christ’s teachings into practice.

Anyway, Bruce got some land with an old house on it in Island Bay, founded a work scheme which took on young gang members, got a source of car cases from Todd Motors, accessed demolition timber and built his first whare. Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon became an ally – Muldoon had an empathy with the gangs. Bruce and the boys built a second house, and kept building. He forgot to get permits but was an amazing builder. He didn’t need a plan, just an idea in his head. These whare remain extraordinary structures and have become heritage listed buildings.Radio NZ2

Photo: Radio NZ

All this was taking place in a suburban street and when he started a landfill project as well, to bring in some money, he became ‘a problem neighbour’, as trucks loaded with clean fill climbed the narrow and steep street. Bruce’s energy was astonishing and now he had a story to tell, illustrated by these buildings. People came and went (he wore them out) and children arrived. Hui started to be held at the marae, which was still an aberration – this one man outfit – but there was an energy impossible to ignore. Neighbours started to complain and the council noted the lack of permits and threatened to close it down. Mayor Michael Fowler became an ally and it survived.

Another house was built and another, the last one a women’s house (another innovation) painted by Robyn Kahukiwa. It’s the most beautiful whare of all. Strays and waifs turned up and received shelter, a kohanga reo was established, he wrote some stories and some plays and the Maori Writers and Artists held hui there. The Greenies got interested in his gardens and became allies. The stories grew and the story telling. He got on the wrong side of the bureaucrats occasionally and there would be talk of dodgy accounting, but he always survived. He lost land and then the Sisters of Compassion donated some.

The marae was well used by now, a convenient place for corporations and government departments to fulfil their treaty obligations. It was in the city and freer of protocol demands. Schoolkids loved the place and he enjoyed telling his stories to children and to people from overseas.

He played the Te Whiti character for me in Ngati Pakeha, performing on stage rather than in real life and we rehearsed at the marae. His Waikato whanau were involved and a little uncomfortable – it was, after all, a strange place culturally for the traditional person. At one stage, Bruce called together a marae committee, but we never got any information at meetings. Bruce was a one man band, a patriarch of the old sort, guided by his personal vision.

Bruce - stuff

Photo- stuff.co.nz

Eventually this became a flaw. As his body began to seize up from the hard physical labour, he was still incapable of handing over any control. The last time I was there, ten years ago, when I was doing the Rachel Corrie play at BATS, I stayed at Tapu Te Ranga and we rehearsed in the women’s whare. By then the marae was feeling a little empty and Bruce seemed a bit lonely and isolated. As I wandered around the grounds I could imagine a housing co-operative on the land down below; young Maori families wanting a house in an increasingly expensive city creating an eco village, a papakainga, with the marae as its centre; communal gardens – it could be amazing.

I wonder what will happen. At the moment the marae is closed because of earthquake and fire regulations. Meanwhile there is the story of the man who had a vision and built a marae of great beauty, overcoming all odds. His final struggle – getting the bureaucrats to let his whanau bury him on the marae. I hear today that he’s won that battle.

Rest in peace, brother.

Matariki

On the whole it’s been a good week. I ran a hangi for the first time – for the school – using a multi kai cooker. A hangi is quite an event. The farmers were particularly generous with food donations; then a group of very efficient women plus the senior students did the food prep in the Working Men’s Club. I loaded the baskets and took them to the school, stacked them into the cooker and tended it for the seven hours required – the appalling thought in the back of my mind of it not cooking properly and facing 150 disappointed people. Late in the afternoon we placed a plaque for Vicky’s tree in a simple service, before returning and nervously lifting the hangi. Luckily it was cooked through – delicious in fact. Beforehand, adults and children had played ball or sat around chatting. A community had formed around the event. The occasion was Matariki, another cultural gift from the tangatawhenua that Pakeha are beginning to appreciate.

Then onto reroofing the house. Mike, his dad, Dave, Eden the apprentice, Darryn the plasterer but adept at all trades, arrived – as well as myself. It was a bit like a Medieval guild at work, a mix of expertise and labourers, chains of command organically forming as the 100 year old roof was levered off and a much thinner, new one installed in its place. The old iron was thick and coated with coal tar, but obviously wood was in short supply when the house was built, for the purloins were an assortment of scraps. No building paper, but it had lasted 100 years and seen out a major earthquake.

As the process unfolded, I realised again how immensely skilled these blokes are. Mike solves with ease the insoluble problems often posed by these jerry built cottages. It reminded me of Sartre’s description of the working class: their freedom is based on their ability to change the physical world; their oppression lies in the fact that they don’t own the physical world. Not so in this case, which was a beautiful mix of skill and comradeship.

In the midst of this, the local reporter rang. She’d discovered a Coast Job Vacancy posted by the Ministry of Social Development. The position involved running the front of house (including the cleaning), for a motel. The applicant was required to have a degree in hospitality, at least two years experience and the ability to speak English, Cantonese and Mandarin. Wage? $16.20 an hour. We were both gob-smacked. And tourism is supposedly the answer for the Coast economy?

Finally there was a band at the Hilton on Saturday night. I took down a Cuban cigar, a gift from the ambassador and we passed it around like a joint, sharing puffs of solidarity.

Winter

Matariki approaches. Often dawn will be mellow but then the mist rolls in. The sun is not powerful enough to dissolve the moisture and dankness prevails. The chatter of the world seems remote. The exotic trees lose their leaves, the hens have stopped laying and the cat seems to be hibernating. One of the elderly men of the village died on Friday night. But the kereru remain, perched watchfully on the power lines. This is unusual.

At this time of the year it is best to imitate the animals and the birds. The dogs continue their routines, even swimming in the pond. Two hares on the bottom field scamper across the grass. It being the shooting season, a large contingent of Paradise Ducks have taken up residence. Amazing how they know. Whenever we arrive they circle noisily. I begin to detect different patterns in their honking. Perhaps they have speech. Flight or fight?

I tried to talk to a troubled lad. What do you want to do job wise? Shrug. No idea? Shrug. A boy without boundaries, the world bleeding in, a boy bleeding into the world. What’s power? I ask him. Money. Have you got any? Shrug. How will you get some? Shrug. Where do you belong? I don’t belong anywhere. How’s that feel? Shrug. He’s waiting for a uniform and a strong leader.

Whereas nature is certain. The seed tries to grow, no matter what soil it lands on. If it takes root it seeks the light. The hares will eat and reproduce and run from danger. The ducks will circulate to warn of invaders. The natural world doesn’t shrug.

Caroline has acquired a new knee – the tips of the bones replaced with Titanium. Extraordinarily clever. Once she would have had to be left behind. That’s the upside of modernity.

Last night we gathered around a bonfire. Once we would have had to carry the flame from place to place, with someone’s role to be the guardian of the fire. If he failed he would’ve been severely punished, even killed. For the clan would have to wait for lightning to strike.

Another leaf falls. The remaining apples have rotted on the branch. The soil rests, closed. An absolute stillness prevails.

Another few days and the cycle of regeneration begins. A hangi is planned and we will place a plaque in front of Vicky’s tree.

P1060286

A new ritual for the village will have been established.

The coming election – the real issue

NZEI meeting

Kate Fulton (Green Party), Michelle Lomax and Damien O’Connor (Labour) – photo Rory Paterson.

I attended the first candidates’ meeting, called by the local branch of the NZEI – the primary and preschool teachers and support staff union. The candidates were asked to present their relevant policy, followed by discussion. Only Labour and Greens were able or willing to attend, which made for a focused event.

Both parties have been listening to NZEI and they both promise a funding boost, are both against charter schools, are both keen to see support staff properly recompensed, are wary of the Community of Learning model (COLS), which could turn into managerial rather than board of trustee governance at the local level and were suspicious of COOLS (Communities Of Online Learning) as being a way of undermining the teaching profession. I would be paranoid about a Ministry that comes up with such dumb acronyms. Damien O’Connor, sharing that paranoia, saw National as being determined to break down the solidarity of the teachers union.

In the discussion, the teachers yearned for greater autonomy for schools to deal with the issues they are facing, rather than having to jump through the myriad hoops held up by agencies supposedly there to help. Often these agencies will simply restate what is obvious to the teachers, offer no solutions and instead make for further form filling for already hard-pressed teachers. They wanted smaller class sizes for obvious reasons. There were reports of having to deal with ever increasing numbers of special needs children and families in crisis – caused by increasing identification of special needs but also caused by poverty. Homelessness is not an issue on the Coast, but the meeting had to consider how a teacher deals with a student who has spent the night in a car.

As the discussion continued, I realised that what educators are faced with, and what we are more generally faced with, are the results of the ideology of managerialism (the organisational model of neo-liberalism) being applied to the education system. It has been similarly applied to health and social services, including housing.

Managerialism was first practised by Nissan Car Manufacturing (it is sometimes called the Nissan Method) and involves stressing the production line (in car assembling that involves speeding up the line – that way you get greater output) until it breaks down. When it does so, you apply some further resources at that spot. It also involves just in time resourcing rather than having to warehouse raw materials. The focus is on outputs (that’s where you get your money and earn your profits) rather than inputs. In manufacturing it increases efficiency and therefore profit. Workers are stressed but expendable. The whole system runs on anxiety and greed.

When applied to education, health and social services, it sets up intolerable tensions. In the past, these systems have focused on inputs: What do you give a student? What does a family require? What makes for health? But suddenly it is about the numbers achieving a national standard, the number of operations, social housing as a precise output, number of social work cases processed…

In education, teachers and parents have resisted the methodology, but nevertheless, the attempts to impose it continue and produce stresses which can overwhelm – someone told me that at the moment, two principals resign every week. National Standards (measurable outputs), Charter Schools (let education become a market), under resourcing, imposing a managerial model, performance pay, bulk funding have all been imposed or attempted to be imposed by National. Mangerialism has now penetrated all areas of society as an ideology, including government departments. It has become the only game in town.

Of course, some technical adjustments within managerialism are useful, but the real issue is to get rid of the ideology and that now requires a revolution. Only when that revolution is proposed do people become energised electorally.

So far, that’s not happening and the election, while still important, is promising to be a relatively dull affair.

Class struggle (2)

There was interest in my introducing the concept of class struggle into the Living Wage debate, as it occurred in a provincial town; to see in fact, councillors representing a class interest. Let me extend the concept, to see if the much-used paradigm of ‘community’ also has a class struggle component.

P1050772

Summer Festival, Blackball

Community is almost universally seen as a good thing (only being questioned for a period by identity politics activists who saw community as often rejecting difference). And of course, community can take many shapes: geographic, ethnic, gender, special interest to name a few.

When I was a kid you didn’t hear the word much. There were no community centres or community programmes. People sometimes talked of there having been a strong sense of community during the 1930’s Depression; that was about it.

Yet everyone who worked belonged to a union, there were lots of sporting clubs and church groups, the Communist Party existed, the Methodists in the district ran a dance for teenagers every Saturday night, Friday night shopping saw everyone in the town centre stopping to chat, the watersiders got through 1951 and draconian emergency regulations only through community support, pitching the family tent at a communal campsite was the common thing to do for a holiday, Saturday night saw eight hundred people in the picture theatre and family doctors really were family doctors; so in reality, there was a stronger community than now.  But there was a nasty homophobia, the Maori were still living in the sticks and married women mainly stayed at home.

Then, in the 1960s, community became a buzz word. Living more communally was a way to challenge consumerism, war, nuclear threat and environmental degradation. Being involved in a community, smoking the occasional joint and learning from indigenous cultures would lead to a change of consciousness. So, communes, community centres, community art centres, and community health centres sprang up as a way of challenging the capitalist system. But the impulse could degenerate into a lifestyle.

Then neoliberalism arrived and government services were privatised. Unemployment grew, the regions were hard hit, a whole lot of people got hurt, and community groups had to form to try and pick up the pieces. For a while they did so critically, understanding where the problem lay, but then funding mechanisms quietened them down and community became a buzzword for helping those who weren’t making it, who were falling through the cracks, individuals who weren’t setting and achieving goals, who were not getting onto the success ladder. An underclass of such people developed (over-populated by Maori and Pacific Islanders) and the helping became more and more targeted. The little community helpers disappeared and the big corporate ones grew, with ever larger portfolios. The charitable scene truly arrived with multinationals and the super-rich dispensing some of their wealth to the poor. It all became globalised, while still mouthing community, when, in reality, it constantly attacked community relations and continues to do so.

Like consumerism, while huge in scale, this pattern is nevertheless still operating at the grass roots level. Take a village on the Coast. The extractive industries which once were the lifeblood have all but disappeared.  People survive by doing some paid work and a bit of hunting and gathering. There are a couple of local businesses. The hotel is somewhat marginal in the off season. Then a great walk or a cycle way is proposed. Economic possibilities surface. Who’s going to take them up and in what manner?

The Ministry of Social Development arrives with a buzzword: community-led development. The community is like the individual. It must set goals and then achieve them. Council join in the game. A leftie activist, supported by the unions, sees the possibility of a co-operative of locals operating. MSD and Council don’t understand the concept so support the more normal business model. In fact they lead the development, using the local community organisations as a front, a disguise through which they open up the community to the commodity relations of tourism. A class struggle begins to occur and parallel systems exist.

Projecting into the future, development gets dumped on the town, more and more visitors arrive, the price of property rises, locals can’t afford to live there any longer and the precarious and badly paid jobs are taken over by young people on working visas. The community is, by now, fragmented and new community groups are required: addiction counselling, suicide prevention… The school is collapsing because of lack of numbers; young people on working visas don’t have kids in tow. The big tourist operator moves in and buys up the place. Has the co-operative managed to survive?

_72015404_clinica

This class struggle at the community level has taken place most formidably amongst the indigenous people of Chiapas, Mexico’s poorest state. There it’s been the Zapatista against the government and NAFTA. But it is also taking place in less articulate fashion in every village on the globe. We just don’t see it happening.

zapatista-portada

photo: Dorset Chiapas Solidarity

Class Struggle

P1060271

Locals about to enter the struggle

Class struggle: An old fashioned title and an old fashioned concept, side lined currently by the weekly increase in the number of gender possibilities.

But in an age of growing inequality perhaps class struggle remains relevant?

Unions West Coast and the Mawhera Ministers Group went to the Grey District Council’s Annual Plan with the proposal that they research what it would cost for the Council to become a Living Wage Employer, and then consult the ratepayers as to whether they might bear the cost, which by our estimate would not be large. Such a move, as well as providing the proven benefits of increased productivity and less staff turnover, would have a reputational benefit, with the Council being seen as progressive and up with the go-ahead cities, rather than red neck and conservative. It would of course also provide an example to local employers.

The Living Wage Movement is interesting politically. It’s not advocating under a party umbrella, or a union umbrella, but seeks a broad coalition of community groups in each locality to argue the case. And the case is to a large degree, an ethical one.  Employers should pay a sufficient wage for families to have enough to live on.

And the Living Wage case has been well researched. The concept is based on a ‘normal’ family of two adults and two children, one of the adults in full time employment, the other in half time employment. They now need $20.20 an hour to cover their costs. It means that if they are earning the minimum wage they are $300 a week short. That’s a considerable sum. Of course poverty is relative, but nevertheless poverty in New Zealand is leading to homelessness, overcrowding, malnutrition, health issues, the reappearance of diseases like TB and rickets, children deprived of educational opportunity, chemical abuse, family violence and criminality… All this is well known and statistically verified.

It would seem hard to argue against this case. Can you really advocate that families should not have enough to live on? Yet Council rejected our proposal. ‘It is not Council’s role to intervene in the setting of the minimum wage and Council relies instead on the market.’ Suck that up.

Well, we did and discovered that there had been another submission on the Living Wage, and one we hadn’t noticed: from the NZ Taxpayers Union. This is an Auckland-based lobby group set up by people to the right of the ACT Party. They are obviously worried about Councils getting involved in this Living Wage nonsense and have done their own ‘research’ which they are now presenting to Councils up and down the country. They have decided that the Living Wage concept is flawed. Here’s why:

If you raise low wages ‘artificially’, it will mean higher-skilled people rush in and take those low-waged jobs and then there won’t be work for low-waged workers. Quite an argument. Don’t abolish slavery because then all those free whites will want to work in ‘dem cotton fields and there won’t be any jobs for the black folks – or the illegal migrant or the backpacker on a working visa…There won’t be work for those people who milk the cows, tend the grapes, pick the apples, collect the rubbish, clean the office blocks, serve the coffee, wait the tables – for the higher echelons of society (the teachers, nurses, doctors, engineers, managers etc) will be rushing to take their places. They also throw in the perennial neo liberal argument that bodies funded by rates or taxes and therefore not being disciplined by market forces, have no business distorting the market. It would be better of course if they didn’t exist at all.

What is most alarming is to realise that the Grey District Councillors, all of whom are local business people, accepted this nonsense rather than the Living Wage argument, and did so for class reasons. They are there to make sure Council looks after their own interests. As employers they have no wish for an example to be set. But at least  they have revealed their politics, and can no longer hide behind a ‘service to the community’ mask.

Battling these people and the class tendency they represent is what is meant by the term, class struggle. To summarise: while the gender issue may be rolling down the highway, the class issue hasn’t moved an inch.

Heritage

I spent an hour last week listening to the oral submissions to the Grey District Council regarding History House, the nearest the town comes to having a museum. It is funded by the Council but run by a group of volunteers who oversee a big collection of photographs which have been donated, plus some objects. It has been located in an old building down by the wharves and the building is both out of the way and has been judged an earthquake risk, so has had to be closed to the public.

Estimates vary as to the cost of getting it up to standard but they tend to be in the $300,000 range. It is the only cultural institution to be funded by the council but visitor numbers have been low; it’s out of the town centre, perhaps difficult for visitors to find and its exhibitions don’t change. There has been no curator or curatorial function.

The local I-Site, run by a capable entrepreneur, proposed to the council that the I-Site take over the running of the facility, move it to an empty shop by the railway station where visitors disembark daily from the popular Trans-Alpine train, develop some souvenir type product for sale, extend opening hours and make it ‘modern’. The council accepted the proposal and were now hearing submissions.

However, most of the people speaking were against the idea. By handing it over to business interests, it is commercialising the town’s heritage. It will lead to the probable demolition of one of the few old buildings remaining. The volunteers who have given generously of their time feel betrayed. Donors will object if money is being made from their donations.

Sartre has the concept of the practico inert, the dead weight of the past and I felt this as people tended to ramble on.

The I-Site manager told the meeting he had made the proposal in good faith. Business is about location. No one goes to the present place because nothing changes. You go once and that’s it. The volunteers have his respect and they can still be involved. Here was a man with the praxis of business, born from the need to make a profit or at least break even.

I was there to speak of the need for the curatorial role to interpret a collection, to enable an ongoing dialogue with whatever is happening in the community. But on this occasion I certainly felt like an incomer, an outsider.

Heritage is a bemusing field. There’s an interesting book I made a contribution to: Heritage, Labour and the Working Classes, published by Routledge in 2010. One of the writers states that heritage was once focused on architecture and archaeological sites: the old, the beautiful, the great and the good – castles, cathedrals and Stonehenge. It was a matter of celebrating in nostalgic fashion,  past economic and cultural elites. But of late, given the demand for diversity, it is a much wider field which encompasses ‘places, artefacts, and cultural expressions inherited from the past which reflect nations, communities, families and even individuals.’ But it has also become a field that ‘defines the disturbances, irregularities and uncertainties of the present, much more than it truly represents the past.’

This is certainly true of History House. Faced with the need to move to an economy based around tourism and dairying rather than extraction, Greymouth/Mawhera has to embrace the visitor. It has no great natural attraction so is relying on its ‘heritage’. After the train trip how do we get people to stop in the town rather than immediately heading off to the glaciers and Queenstown?  The council and the I-Site see an opportunity, but the traditionalists are nostalgic, sensing that the museum’s ability to validate the community and families and local individuals will be lost.

There is no easy solution and this ‘disturbance’ will continue to fester. This is where the curatorial role will be vital: to validate the community in a way which is of interest to the visitor, who is often after a genuine cultural experience rather than a souvenir. The souvenir, if you like, should come at the end of that experience rather than being that experience.  But curators are expensive. As I said to council, there are people in the community who could curate an exhibition on a koha basis. If you can make a film you can make an exhibition.

There is as well, a structural problem to be solved: not just a business, not just a community group of volunteers – what about a co-operative with the stakeholders (including the I-Site and the Friends, plus Heritage West Coast, Greymouth business etc) becoming  shareholders and the council as patron? This could drive a road down the middle of the muddle and become a win-win situation?

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