"All right, some say living standards have lifted. But by
We're an increasingly disease-ridden, consumption-besotted
And how ethical are our large companies? It wasn't very long
ago that a chief executive of Telecom as good as said it was
normal business practice to dupe, or confuse, the citizenry.
Wasn't she saying, in effect, 'Everyone does it'? Can we say
Meridian is any different?
"Would government ministers have been so eager to instruct
the Ministry for the Environment and the Department of
Conservation to support Project Hayes if the government were
not receiving substantial income from Meridian's activities?"
"Our economy should be required to serve the natural
environment, not the other way round.
"Everything we do should be in accord with that rule. So far
the opposite has usually proven to be the case.
"Clean and green, environmentally responsible and savvy New
"For decades now New Zealanders have listened to soothing
prattle about 'balanced growth and development', only to find
that much of what occurs has lacked balance.
"Is it any wonder many of our so-called 'close-knit
communities' have become divided communities? So far,
balanced growth and development has mostly proven to be an
"It is true that the magnificent uplands that include the
Rock and Pillar Range, and the Lammerlaw and Lammermoor
ranges, are not in the same state that they were before the
advent of humans.
"But, relative to most of the countryside, they retain more
of what we recognise as uniquely part and parcel of what is
distinctively southern New Zealand. By contrast, much of the
landscape east of the area proposed for Project Hayes has
been greatly altered.
"When I was a boy, most of the country from on top of the
hill above Outram and all the way across to the western
skyline to the Lammerlaw, Lammermoor and the southern end of
the Rock and Pillars was a shining, rhythmic sea of springy
Now it's mainly green pasture. When will our urge to alter,
modify, stop? Those ranges belong, deserve to be seen, as
part of what we know and love as iconic Central Otago. For
Meridian to say otherwise is sophistry.
"As sentient creatures we have duties for the term of our
natural lives. A core duty is to take responsibility for more
than just increasing the material well-being of today's
"As the Native Americans asserted [and as I observed in an
earlier section of this book] we don't inherit the Earth from
our parents, we borrow it from our children.
"This doesn't mean that people are unimportant; it means that
unless they treat our natural environment with due respect
then they are unworthy of respect themselves, and will be
held to account.
"We've long been too big for our boots.
Which is what Eugenio Montale, the Nobel prize-winning poet,
meant when he wrote:
Twilight began when man thought
himself of greater dignity than moles or crickets.
"Or, to quote from another poet, Edward Thomas:
When gods were young
This wind was old.
"In other words it's about being, as a people, as a species,
Brian Turner's Into The Wider World: A Back Country
Miscellany is published by Random House (Godwit), and out on
Friday, August 15.