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Thursday, 29 January 2009

NOT ORCLAND

This is Waiheke Island. It is an island in the Hauraki Gulf. It is a Hauraki Gulf Island. It is not an Auckland Island, it is not an Auckland City Island, it is not an Auckland City Suburb Island. It is in name, in geography, and in ecology a place apart, a place that rightfully belongs with the other places of the same kind.

Waiheke is immersed in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, which is dominated by three elements: the broad waters of the Gulf, the Coromandel Peninsula and the Gulf Islands. The peninsula and the islands are the only elements immersed in the park; together they have the bulk of the land area and the coastline.

Waiheke is not inextricably linked to Auckland. There are transport links, as there are with everywhere else in New Zealand; there are economic links, as there are with all the rest of New Zealand, for which Auckland is the economic engine; there are personal links, as there are with all the rest of New Zealand. But none of those define our true existence. We are islanders not Aucklanders.

If Auckland city, even the entire Auckland region, were to vanish off the face of the earth, Waiheke would remain. It would go through a time of hardship as it adjusted, but it would survive. But if the Hauraki Gulf were to vanish it would vanish. It is the Hauraki Gulf that we are inextricably linked to in the true sense of that term. We cannot escape from the Gulf; we can escape from Auckland.

If you live next door to the Smiths that does not mean you must think of yourself as part of the Smith family and change your name to Smith. Even if you stayed on your side of the fence you would still not have to let the Smiths run your life. Living next door does not mean that you belong neck and crop to your neighbour.

Especially if your neighbour is the neighbour from hell. Then you owe it to yourself to look elsewhere for good friendship, and if you can find it to nurture it and let it nurture you.