The bus was pulling out of Te Kuiti when I heard about the fire at the Sky City Convention Centre. The rooftop burned for five days, fueled by insulation materials and the rubber based sealant that appears to have ignited first.
My phone was constantly emitting Civil Defence warnings about the toxins in the air while all round K Road and Queen Street people walked in safety masks.
The next day I took a bus to the airport and walked the 5 kms to Ihumātao. I was around for much of the next four days, helping with odd jobs and chatting on the atea. I did some night shifts at the ahi – a fire that had burned for nearly 100 days.
You can really talk around a fire. I think it’s because staring in lets you stop and listen. Manaaki people. Hospitality and care. The more I think about the problems of climate change the more threads lead me back to the way we saw the world before the Project of Empire.
Qiane Matata-Sipu told me of the price paid at her whenua in the name of progress: the maunga removed to build roads, the moana used as oxidation ponds, the awa turned into a landfill. Just as the waterways were beginning to heal thousands of litres of dye were dumped, killing everything off again.
Bizarrely, the millions of litres of water used to dowse the burning rubber in town was pronounced ‘clean’ just as I was leaving town. It would soon be making its way out to Ihumātao too.
I received a letter from the campaign via Action Station, asking for submissions to Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. There’s only a few hours left so follow this link and send in your support:
My additions to the submission:
The enormous destructive force of capitalism is coming to the back of the woodpile. The driest pieces are being thrown in the flames now. To the North of this island you can literally see it glowing now as Spring ignites Australia. Whatever place you have in this moment, whatever lever is yours to throw, know that the extinction rate was multiplied one thousand times by our civilisation. The book of life is closing around us and there is much to be done.
Apologies for the sound quality on this one – I didn’t have all my gear and we were in a portacom.
This episode was recorded at Ihumātao. Next episode is from Parihaka. I recorded them in the other order but I’m letting the story lead us back there.