Graeme Gash

As I look back over the last four months I feel a sense of deep pride at the way the community of Oratia has risen so heroically to our defence. It is tinged somewhat with trepidation. Because Watercare are, of course, maintaining their game-face right to the end, no doubt resolute in their determination to show no favour to any party and thereby undermine the validity of their ‘process.’

And so we carry on, fighting to make Watercare as aware as we can that Oratia will be a disastrous option, for not only us, but for them as well. Because let’s face it: we have, to date, been unerringly polite and well-behaved. And in the name of rationality and reasonableness, we have kept it up for around four months now, despite the unlooked for stress, the lack of sleep and the absolute disruption to our daily lives.

If the decision were, though, to go against us, you would see an Oratia unleashed. Because at the end of the day, Watercare have descended upon us in all their might, with all their ratepayer-funded resources, like a pack of marauding plunderers, looking to take what is not morally theirs to take. The history of this place, how deeply its generations are embedded into the fabric of the Oratia community, has been well documented, so there is no need for me to revisit that ground.

What I will say is that there has been a body of resolute souls who have fought on, tooth-and-nail, day after day, week after week, month after month, in defence of the moral high ground. Because believe me, we own it! These wonderful people, from both inside and outside the Red Zone, often from beyond Parker Rd itself, have been generous in the extreme with their time, energy, courage and often stunning creativity, buoying each other up through the tough times and donating a myriad of talents and skills to the cause via an array of age groups. There are many of them.

Behind these folk are the dozens who turn up in support every week to our committee meetings; and beyond them, the glorious hundreds upon hundreds of Oratia locals and their neighbours and friends who have stood to be counted every time we have asked them to, meeting after meeting. Without you, we would have nothing. And beyond even that are the many individuals and businesses who have supported us in truly humbling ways, donating vast quantities of time and resource to help us realize our goals. To them, to all of you, I say whichever way this goes, we won’t forget you. I could not be prouder of this community.

Oratia is a special place, replete with powerful values and a deeply rich and interwoven history. New Zealand’s favourite Austrian, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, put it thus: “If we do not honour our past we lose our future. If we destroy our roots we cannot grow.” Wise words, Watercare. Heed them.

Graeme Gash, 18th May 2017

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