What a shame they agreed to bribe the tribe.
What a shame they did not reply to the Tuwharetoa extortion demand of $58,000 thus:
“We refuse to pay you so much as a bent cent to swim in our largest lake.
“And it is our lake. Not your lake. It belongs to us. All of us.
“All the people of New Zealand.
“You claim that Lake Taupo is a taonga. (Let’s face it, you claim anything you can extort money for is a taonga.)
“How very conveniently you use the modern meaning of that word, and not the 1840 meaning.
“And yet surely, if you’re talking Treaty rights, it would be only fair to use the meaning current at the time of the Treaty?
“Of course, we know your tribe did not sign the Treaty.
“But they were happy, were they not, to accept all the wonderful benefits of modern civilisation that flowed from it?
“Just as their descendants are happy to use it to screw money from their fellow citizens.
“But back to the meaning of taonga, circa 1840. You see, we looked it up. And what did we find?
“In the only dictionary current at the time of Te Tiriti, taonga was defined as ‘property procured by the spear’.
“And the man who defined it for Cambridge University was none other than the great Ngapuhi warrior chief Hongi Hika, in England looking for guns.
“You want a second opinion? Then let’s take the next dictionary, published in 1844 — four years after the Treaty.
“Same thing: taonga: ‘property’. Nothing about treasure. Or wind. Or radio waves.
“Or lake waves.
“Taonga to your part-ancestors was their stuff. It was their chattels. The cloaks they dressed in. The hooks they fished with. The tomahawks they butchered their slaves with.
“It most certainly was not their whole ecosystem. It was not their language. It was not everything their great-grandchildren would one day take a shine to.
“You cannot spear a lake.
“So if you want us to bribe you to swim in that lake, you’re out of luck.
“On behalf of all decent New Zealanders, who, unlike you, have a highly developed sense of fair play, we will cancel this event for good rather than submit to your bribery and corruption.
“When the mayor and citizens of Taupo deservedly condemn you for your greed, do not blame anyone but yourselves.
“Let your greed be on your conscience, if you have one.
“Unlike you, we do not believe New Zealanders should have to pay a licence fee for the use of their country.
“Taupo mayor Rick Cooper says your moneygrubbing makes him feel sick.
“He is not alone. All of your fair-minded countrymen are sick and tired of being shafted by two-bit tribal racketeers.”