Reflections

Brian Turner

 My parents first introduced me to Central Otago in the 1950s. I’ve grown more and more familiar with and attracted to, and by, the place, as the years have flown by.

 I shifted inland to live in 1999 and, after having been here for several years, a few of us started the Central Otago Environmental Society (COES). We felt there was a need for another genuine and sincere environmental watchdog to aid others eager to help maintain that wonderful ‘World of Difference’ that the CODC touts. And good on them – the them, of course, being the citizenry’s elected representatives and staff of this often strikingly lovely place.

 We all have slightly different perspectives on what we like about this land – its mountains, rivers, valleys, heritage, and so on. In my case it’s got a lot to do with what I see as our duties towards those who follow us, and that means accepting that the land and much that lives here is a community to which we belong, and towards which we owe a duty of care.

 I see environmental protection as essential, a benefit not a cost to human society, and that we have moral and ethical responsibilities to more than other human beings alone. That we have still to properly discharge such duties is in part because too many of us regard nature as a commodity belonging to us; so we call fish and birds and water and trees and other non-human creatures and plants resources and, in so doing, tend to regard such as utilities mainly to be used as we see fit. This is often bad news for the natural environment.

 I am not anti-progress, far from it, but we need to understand and accept that while certain changes are hard to avoid, not all change is progress. A lot of people fail to make that distinction.

 I am for betterment in every sense. I think that humans have done and created all manner of things of which we can be proud, and for which we can be grateful. But, often, much that is promoted as ‘development’ is anything but. In fact it often results in irreparable damage. One can justly say that, in some instances, ‘balanced development’ is an oxymoron.

 For decades now I’ve felt we ought to act as guardians rather than overlords, and do everything we possibly can to protect and enhance our world of difference. My parents frequently reminded me that while we had rights we also had duties and those duties extended to other living things.

 Worldwide humans have been using up nature’s capital too fast and nature is calling in her debt. New Zealand’s society and people generally is still insufficiently aware of what is happening elsewhere, still too eager to continue with practices that result in further deterioration of the natural world.

 Since we founded the COES we have worked hard to produce informed and responsible submissions on numerous issues and proposals within our region: resource consent applications in respect to consents related to new and heritage buildings and subdivisions; submissions in respect to energy projects (dams and wind farms among them); submissions to ORC and CODC water and regional and district plans; and so on and on.

 Numerically we would love to have more members, if only to spread the workload and to avail ourselves of more ideas and a greater variety of knowledge and skills. But for all that we have received a lot of support and encouragement. Hearteningly, considerable support has been received from people all over New Zealand. This region’s appeal nationally is greater today than at any time in my memory.

 So how about giving us a donation or two, and joining us? It’s hardly expensive. In fact, we’ve just decided to wave our formerly ‘hefty’ $10  annual subscription fee altogether. What do you think?

 ends

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