Random Play by Graham Reid

Alternative Nation*5: The money-go-round

Here follows a transcript of the recent interview between Linda Clark and the Chairman of the Grievance Industry Council, Mr Rangi Paterson.

Clark: Good morning and welcome, and . . . I mean, one of the things we want to talk about is Labour’s intention to settle all land claims by 2020 and . . .
Paterson: And good luck to them.

Clark: You don’t think that’s possible. I mean, is it not possible?
Paterson: Oh it’s possible, but some would say lighting a match on jelly is possible. Look, we have a series of obstacles here that will need to be addressed which no one is talking about at the moment.

Clark: Such as? I mean, like what?
Paterson: Well that’s not for Maori to say, that’s for others to come to us and find out.

Clark: But I am asking you now, I want to find out.
Paterson: Then you’ll have to ask.

Clark: Well, I mean, I am asking. What are these problems?
Paterson: Now, I can’t speak on behalf of anyone other than our committee so that’s a question best addressed to others.

Clark: Well, I mean, what can you say on behalf of your committee?
Paterson: Well, that this is a matter which needs long and deep discussion, and that it cannot be hurried along just because some politicians want to put a deadline on things. It doesn’t work like that.

Clark: Then how does it work?
Paterson: To be honest, it doesn’t.

Clark: Pardon? You mean this is impossible? I mean, it isn’t possible to solve these claims at all?
Paterson: I’m not sure I’m saying that, I am just saying that the systems we have in place might not be the best ones to resolve it.

Clark: Then, I mean, are there better systems? What would you suggest? What better systems would you suggest. I mean . . .
Paterson: Look. I am the Chairman of the Grievance Industry Councfil and we are a big and diverse organisation. We have gravy trains and committees to consider.

Clark: Well . . .. right and . . . I mean, is there any way . . . ?
Paterson: The thing is that no consensus will be reached unless until everyone agrees on which direction the waka is headed.

Clark: Well, I mean, doesn’t everyone want these claims settled sooner rather than later?
Paterson: Not everyone.

Clark: You mean the fringe groups and activists are using this process for their own agendas?
Paterson: Probably, but there is a bigger stumbling block.

Clark: And that, I mean, is that . . .?
Paterson: What Pakeha don’t understand -- and I am part Pakeha myself so there’s half of me which doesn’t get it either -- is that we are dealing with complex interrelationships between hapu and iwi, historical injustices and settlements involving many millions of dollars. And of course pigs’ backs and . . .

Clark: Pigs’ backs?
Paterson: Yes, the place were lawyers live. In Maoridom we have a saying, “Te kanawa, te awamutu, rongotai e whenuapai te hokianga.”

Clark: Which means?
Paterson: A pig can roll in shit many times but a lawyer will still hang on and come up smiling.

Clark: So is this about lawyers? I mean, is it in lawyers best interests that these claims drag on for years? That seems highly unlikely.
Paterson: I wouldn’t want to be drawn on that one but you and I know who is doing well out of the process, and it sure isn’t Maori. Political parties are just revving up people right now to get some traction. You know that, I know that and they know that. Maori genuinely want this to be settled so we can get on with our lives and make some serious investments and so on to get us off welfare and get better education for our kids. We are not dragging things out because it's not in our interest to do so, but if it is going to be dragged out then we must get organised.

Clark: Which is why your group formed? I mean, your committee is . . .
Paterson: Exactly. For years we heard that there was this train full of gravy running around the country and people were hopping on board. But we engaged a team of Queen St lawyers 18 months ago and they have been looking for it and haven’t been able to locate it. But they are still looking. And this is a costly process so we need a significant cash injection from the government to carry on our investigation. And as far as our Grievance Industry Council is concerned we are just here to represent our people and seek finality, once and for all. If not now then later, or maybe some time after that.

Clark: So nothing you have heard from any of the parties in this election sounds viable to you. I mean, is there anything that you have heard from any of the parties in this election that sounds viable to you?
Paterson: In Maoridom we have a saying, “Kakapo he tui te kiwi e mutton bird”

Clark: I know this one, it means “If you cast a single line you will catch a single fish but if you throw out a net you will get a big feed”.
Paterson: That’s correct.

Clark: But, I mean, how does that relate to what we are talking about?
Paterson: Exactly. And that’s the kind of understanding we are hoping to achieve by continuing the dialogue.

*Alternative Nation is an on-going satirical column and as such any resemblance between people living, dead or in-between (such as Act and Destiny candidates) is entirely deliberate. Many reading Alternative Nation have taken it seriously. They believe politicians could actually say and do things like those reported in Alternative Nation. That must scare you. It sure as hell scares me.