Thursday, February 23, 2017


Not Altogether in Favor of Progress

Michael King (1945-2004), Being Pakeha Now: Reflections and Recollections of a White Native (Auckland: Penguin Books, 1999), pp. 74-75:
In 1969 I was asked to cover the Cook Bicentenary celebrations in Mercury Bay. There, on the beach where James Cook and his men observed the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the sun in November 1769 and claimed possession of the surrounding countryside in the name of King George III, I heard gentle and implicit criticism of policies that seemed at that time destined to reshape the peninsula's future appearance and economic growth. The keynote speaker was the chairman of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, the great Cook scholar and former teacher at my first university, J.C. Beaglehole. His idea of a fitting memorial to James Cook, he told the large crowd, 'is a place left as nearly as possible as he found it — so that you can, when conditions are favourable, almost feel his presence. I am not altogether in favour of progress, development, of more and more people living in more and more houses — even if the people and houses are undeniably nice. There is something very satisfactory about a waste of sandhills.' The irony was not lost on the audience. Only weeks before planning permission had been given to subdivide the very sandhills of which the professor was speaking.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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