A group of resourceful young men attempt do something positive, only to see the results of their initiative destroyed by authorities.
by Martin Harris 12/7/19
In the aftermath of the earthquake destruction and subsequent interminable rebuild woes and uncertainties surrounding Christchurch, mental health issues with local youngsters has been a cause of considerable concern. So, when a group of twelve year old boys put aside their Playstations and venture outdoors into vacant land to create their very own BMX course, one would expect their initiative to be encouraged and rewarded.
As detailed in an article by Stuff yesterday, local boys eyed up an abandoned and un-utilized piece of “red zoned” ( deemed unsuitable to build dwellings upon) land in the Sumner locality, and spent three months shoveling and constructing, attracting interest and interaction from other boys. Together they created a “bike park” where they could exercise and practice their skills, spills and thrills on bikes. One young lad actually sold his games console in order to purchase a bike so he could participate.
One can imagine the sense of pride and accomplishment, the forging of new friendships and team spirit that this endeavor created.
One can also empathize with their feelings when confronted with the sight of their hard work levelled. No forewarning, no consultation. The excuse given by “caretakers” of this red zoned area, government department LINZ, was initially that the humps and jumps made “land management” (ie mowing the grass) difficult. Perhaps realizing this sounds somewhat flimsy, the reason for the destruction of the youth’s hard work has now been cited as “safety concerns”.
As Stuff’s follow-up item demonstrates, the access to this land is now padlocked and “draconian” signage erected.
While the majority of comments about this situation have favoured the boys and their incensed parents, some have remarked that the land doesn’t belong to them. But is that truly the case?
Who owns the red zoned land in Christchurch?
The NZ government has purchased this land. With whose money? As public servants employed by The People and supported by our taxes, surely the government (and their departments) are therefore managing this land on our behalf, at our cost?
Well, it’s not that simple. The owners of this earthquake ravaged “red zone” land are The Crown. The NZ government manages the land on behalf of it’s “owner”, the British Monarch.
I’m sure Her Royal Majesty has great use for this land and would be quite perturbed to discover that a group of young men are utilizing it for constructive endeavors. Hmmm. So where exactly does The Queen get her money from?
Every year, the Queen gets a chunk of cash called the Sovereign Grant. It comes from the treasury and it’s funded by taxpayers, according to the BBC. The basic agreement is that the Queen gets the grant in exchange for surrendering all profits from the Crown Estate— the Royal family’s massive portfolio of properties — to the government. Every year, the Queen is given an amount of money equivalent to 15% of the Crown Estate’s profits from two years ago.https://www.insider.com/where-does-the-royal-family-get-money-2017-1
So, as convoluted as this situation may be, the ultimate owners of this “Crown Land” are We The People. The taxpayers.
Technically, these resourceful twelve year old boys were making use of land that belongs to everyone in the British Commonwealth. As for LINZ, I repeat that they are merely caretakers. Public servants.
“The Crown Estate is not the personal property of the Monarch. It cannot be sold by the Monarch, nor do any profits from it go to the Sovereign.” Source
While it is understandable that there has to be administration and management of this public land, the manner in which this particular situation has been “managed” has been mean spirited and thoughtless, without consideration for this team of boys who ought to be commended for their initiative and hard work.
All LINZ has managed to accomplish through their poor management, is to create resentment, and to crush the spirits of these lads. One has to ask why nothing was said in the three months these boys toiled, why the land was openly accessible in all that time if it was hazardous, and why no one saw fit to consult with the boys and their parents to find an alternative venue among the many acres of empty land managed on behalf of The Crown?Why they had to wait until the work was done before destroying it?
I’d suggest that, at the very least, LINZ owes these young fellows a sincere apology.