Listening to the news on Radio NZ this morning, there was a report of some government politicians, particularly John Key and Bill English, expressing concerns about foreigners (Chinese in this instance) buying large amounts of NZ farm real estate and other assets. His catchphrase on this is along the lines of “if we don’t watch out we’ll become tenants in our own country” – meaning foreigners will own major land and we’ll just be paying rent and working for them.
My mind wandered back to an article I posted in April that compared the sale of land and assets – in the name of inviting overseas investment to create jobs – to the early colonisation of New Zealand and the transfer and alienation of Maori land. As the news item proceeded I began changing a few words in the comments being quoted from Key and others to take it back to sometime around 1840 (give or take a decade or so), when the Treaty of Waitangi was signed.
This imaginary excerpt from the imaginary Maori Communications Service:
‘Fears that pakeha settlers could muscle in on Maori land and farming have sparked a last-minute rethink on land sales taking place around Aotearoa. Super-iwi leader Hone said he is deeply concerned about how much land is being sold which, despite beliefs to the contrary, may be lost to Maori forever.
‘Hone warned that, despite their small numbers right now, the huge resources and financial backing of the settlers could see them one day become dominant players in Aotearoa’s economy. “The concern, I guess, is that there is so much wealth out there that they could literally buy Aotearoa’s productive base. It’s not impossible. That’s the question – what do we want to be? Do we want to be tenants in our own country or do we want to own our own destiny?”
‘The problem for Maori is twofold. First, the leadership cannot force individual Maori farmers to refuse to sell land. And second, the pakeha have so much more money that they can effectively control land prices to the point where Maori cannot afford to buy land that other Maori want to sell to cash up their assets.
‘Super-iwi spokesman in charge of finance, Wiremu, said that a review being considered at Waitangi was trying to strike a balance between protecting important assets and allowing sufficient foreign investment to create jobs and increase individual Maori wealth.’
‘Coming up next, the weather forecast ……’
(Back to 2010) And if you’re wondering if I made this up, well most of the words are exactly as spoken or reported in this morning’s paper – just change the leaders’ names to Johnny and Bill.
At least modern New Zealanders know how the country was taken over first time. Now we need to remember that it can happen again if we let greed and the almighty dollar rule.