TupperWaka Draws World Attention


How many more silly little scraps will we have before the RWC 2011 in front of an international audience?
After the long Queens Wharf debate finally leading to the dismantling of one wharf shed and the birth of a Party Central officially called The Cloud, along comes the TupperWaka or WakaGate “scandal.”
A waka-shaped pavilion, 60 metres long and almost 15 metres high, will be tied up to Queens Wharf alongside The Cloud for 17 days at a cost to taxpayers of $2m to promote Maori culture and business.
A combination of things involving Auckland’s waterfront, Maori, taxpayer grants and the RWC2011 is a toxic mix, an easy headline-grabber that’s easier to debate that what will happen in Libya or how we re-create the shattered Christchurch.
It can and will occupy the shallow media’s headlines for weeks and will distract us from the economy, Christchurch’s post-quake’s situation and other much more pressing issues.
The Aussie media has already grabbed it and run headlines about our plastic waka scandal.
And that’s partly at the heart of the problem.
The boat is plastic.
The Greens immediately threw up their hands of the mention of PVC and Labour’s Shane Jones issued a statement that “this idea is simply out to lunch,” and $2m could have produced a fleet of beautiful waka, authentically handcrafted from kauri or totara. It was he who likened it to Tupperware.
Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples, waving about these images of the waka waxed lyrically: “The Waka will provide the cultural heart of the entertainment programme on Auckland’s waterfront.”


We can’t avoid such a controversy without the inevitable race angle.
Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell called Jones’ comments a bit rich when the Labour government spent $33m on the Team NZ boats but did nothing to enable iwi or Maori to capitalise on the America’s Cup event.
Ah yes, the rich white man’s sport of sailing subsidised by Labour while Maori in their waka got nothing.
Then to add to the comedy, ACT’s Heather Roy opened up room for everyone to jump in with their Lotto wish list of what they could have done with $2m - a favourite Kiwi sport, as soon as they don’t like MPs getting BMWs or government departments handing out hip hop programmes free.
She rushed out a statement with a calculation that the money could have been better spent providing essential health services for hundreds of patients - 51 hip replacements, 31 hiatus hernia procedures, 41 grommet operations, and 116 cataract operations.
Hey, I might put out a statement after my post on the lack of a crossing at Sturges Rd, saying it could have afforded traffic lights outside 3 railway stations! LOL
Rodney Hide, who was never a fan of Auckland Maori representation on the council and other race-privileged deals, predictably blew a fuse saying it was wrong that Ngati Whatua would own the plastic boat even though the taxpayers are paying for it and it sent the wrong signal when the Government is supposed to be saving money.
His latter point is a fair one but $2m is small compared to the money which seems to have been poured into the RWC.
I didn’t hear a whisper from Auckland ratepayers, for example, about the $120,000 for a countdown RWC clock.

Oh did we mention the $9m Cloud so people can get drunk and fall in the harbour?

We know the international media will have their spotlight on us during the RWC 2011.
Can you imagine if there’s a real scandal. Like a rail signal failure and the trains to Kingsland break down. Shudder.




  1. kel says:

    Good piece of entertaining writing!

  2. Feijoa says:

    Classic case of bad communication. Endless listeners were writing into Morning Report asking why the waka would be made of plastic not wood, missing that it was a structure not an actual boat. I imagine the callers on talkback radio stations were less polite.

    I reckon the cloud thing is more of a waste at $9M. Or the holiday highway at $2,000,000,000.

  3. Feijoa says:

    Heather Roy forgot to add this one to her list:
    100 return business class flights for Rodney Hide and his girlfriend to London.

  4. Bad ACT to follow says:

    Or 100,000 yellow suits for Rodney.

  5. Lioc says:

    You learn to expect this sort of corruption in New Zealand.

    We don’t have money for anything else, but it’s all good when it comes to an ugly tacky waka for a $300 million tribe.

    I suppose it brings brownie points.

  6. Luke says:

    Even more of a controversy today with the word coming out the much hyped ‘Cloud’ isn’t even going to be part of Party Central, and will only hold trade shows for big wigs!
    I think the Prime Minister has totally misled the public about this one. Totally different to the impression that was given last year.

  7. Owen Thompson says:

    The taxpayer pays $2M for a piece of plastic that Maoris will own afterwards.

  8. Max says:

    “I didn’t hear a whisper from Auckland ratepayers, for example, about the $120,000 for a countdown RWC clock.”

    Uhm, actually instead of such peanuts, I instead I have been complaining about the millions and millions of loans for the RWC that our Councils have agreed to “secure” (i.e. pay off) with both Banks and Len Brown being too worried about their election numbers to say “screw that”.

    “You learn to expect this sort of corruption in New Zealand.”

    Meh, as much as I dislike all this spending on the RWC, I wouldn’t call it corruption. It’s just politicians spending money on stupid things and over-hyped events I don’t agree they should spend it on. But I think we are still not too bad in NZ regarding corruption at all.

  9. Chris Ra says:

    Woo hoo can’t wait to go visit the great waka pavillion - I want a ticket already

  10. Tim says:

    What Waka? Where?


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