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Ruta Mave: An opportunity to make the right decision on Vaimaanga road diversion

Monday 23 October 2023 | Written by Ruta Tangiiau Mave | Published in Editorials, Opinion


Ruta Mave: An opportunity to make the right decision on Vaimaanga road diversion
A Google Maps image showing the ring road around the abandoned Sheraton hotel, which is now being redeveloped in Vaimaanga. 23102036

Every man and his dog are commenting on the old Sheraton site and its development and rightly so because prior to the announcement the current ring road will cut in behind the complex, everyone was happy to see the site being cleaned up, writes Ruta Mave.

Knowing it was in local hands was another tick to wishing them well with their endeavour, even if some questioned the integrity of the site when the original builders used ‘rusty second-hand equipment’.

Who am I to say or comment. I am not a builder, engineer or developer with years of success. I am one of thousands who drive, run, cycle around the island and will be personally affected by this innocuous decision. So on behalf of the little people who pay taxes and suffer the axes of government decisions that impact our lives I question this decision.

Businessman and developer Chris Vaile said he took on the project in a “fit of madness”. I know little about Chris but I heard he donated free diesel to help the elderly and tar sealed in front of the Arorangi CICC for the 200-year celebration makes me think he has a heart.

Vaile stated they don’t plan on making a large amount of money they just want to cover costs and not kill themselves in the process. He also says “it won’t be a five-star resort and they are going to do it different from the original concept”. So why not change the one element that will save money and conflict?

Quoting the interest of people thirty years ago is not relevant today.

Vaile and Pa Ariki have the opportunity to make it relevant.

The reasoning for a five-star resort was to increase tourism. We managed without the five-star guest list and another Jetstar Sydney flight bringing $30 million more into the country says we don’t need it. 

Vaile is using his own financing. He is not beholden to anyone so he could use his heart to decide how he will affect the majority of local people? 

Why would a businessman want to just “cover costs”? The fact they don’t “plan” to does not stop them from making an enormous amount of money. 

I can humbly admit my level of a “large amount of money” is in a different stratosphere from Vaile and Pa Ariki but I hope in my heart they acknowledge they have enough current business deals and land giving income they can see the long-range value of not upsetting the public pawpaw cart – which will inevitably ensure them good dividends and peace of mind than it will from dividing the island with this ‘horseshoe’ diversion and potentially putting lives at risk.

Ambulances attending crashes that happen frequently by YWAM will be slower. Do they want it on their conscience if people suffer or die from not being reached sooner?

Pa Ariki is a tribal title holder, this land will apparently pass on to the next Pa Ariki when Marie passes; will they hold the same views?

Tribal titles are not a matter of succession, it is customary process to decide and bestow the agreed new representative by respective families and customary institutions based on papa’anga and parameters like living in the vaka.

It is unimaginable in today’s land court that one person would be given this massive area of ownership for only themselves. I am certain the customary idea of carrying the tribal title is that the person represents – looks after and shares with their kopu tangata. Income is earned from lots of tribal title lands in Vaka Takitumu including the palace, while elderly live in substandard containers.

Vaile calls the “curse” a “fairy tale”. They say “e mata to te enua” the land has eyes and chooses the person. Maybe Vaile is the right person or maybe the curse has yet to strike? Maybe “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle” especially when the love for money is greater than the love for people.

What an opportunity for two people in a powerful position to give credence to what is right and proper now. An astute lawyer can argue Pa Ariki is owed millions but we, the people, appeal to the heart and soul of two who can change the original concept for the greater good.

Keep the newly upgraded road in place, continue access for locals and tourists so the ‘curse’ will not roar its rearing head and only good things will come to you both here and now on earth as it will be in heaven.

For the lawyer there is one letter of law that needs to be added to make this right and that is the letter ’s’ so the documents read Chris Vaile and the landowners.