Mokihinui – Brownlee’s burp

So this week our Minister of Mining and Damming (aka Energy and Resources) let slip that the Mokihinui hydro-dam “would not go ahead”. Does he know something or was it just his ‘opinion’? Whatever the brain-burp was, he was ill-advised to say it when he has no direct decision-making power. However, it’d be nice to think that there may be Moki fans in Government – perhaps they are closet readers of the 1400-fan facebook page!

The Wild Rivers campaign was stoked to hear it – they’ve only just launched and the Mokihinui is a prominent precedent-setting proposal to destroy a river ranked seven in the country for natural values.

Metiria rafting the Mokihinui
Metiria rafting the Mokihinui

Here at the Greens we’ve certainly done heaps in and out of Parliament to tackle the threat to this premiere wild river. Our Co-leader Metiria Turei rafted it last year to check it out first hand. The Greens firmly oppose damming irreplaceable wild rivers like the Mokihinui – it’s unnecessary for energy supply, and it’s conservation sacrilege.

Peter Dunne welcomed Brownlee’s ‘burp’, perhaps inspired by the hunting lobby being members of the Wild River campaign. Labour slapped Brownlee down for his indiscretion. However, Charles Chauvel seemed to imply that Brownlee should be damming the river, without actually saying as much – or at least that’s how I interpret his three paragraph “secondly” point. Well Mr Chauvel, I recommend you read the Wild Rivers campaign information – it’s clear we don’t need to dam rivers to have a renewable energy future. Maybe I’ve misread him.

Mokihinui from the air
Mokihinui from the air

Anyway, I digress. So what does Brownlee know? While most media and comments have focused on the fact he shouldn’t interfere in the RMA consenting process – for which a decision is imminent, and will probably be appealed to the Environment Court either way – they’ve overlooked that there are two ticks required for this terrible project. Apart from the RMA, the dam requires a concession under the Conservation Act because it is on public conservation land.

And in this case, Meridian has offered a dodgy land-swap as I wrote here earlier this week.

Brownlee sits around the Cabinet table with Groser – indeed they’re holding hands in the rush to mine National Parks – and may well know something about the concession and landswap. I guess we’ll find out one day. Here’s hoping they’ve seen the dam proposal for what it is, a sacrifice of permanent, public natural capital for temporary, private physical capital – irreversible and not renewable at all.

If the dam does get approved contrary to Brownlee’s brain-burp, I’ll be the first to hop down to the river to stare down a bulldozer, if my minders will let me…

28 Comments Posted

  1. Nobody should accuse southern (low-average-income) writers and artists of being wealthy. But I wonder if anyone told the Judge that some of their best art feeds on images of bare hills and powerlines?

    “Tickling the soul” is a pleasant phrase.
    And, also from Greenfly:
    “I know you haiku.
    Not so much manipulate,
    but strip away”.
    Quite a nice little haiku in itself.


    This is an environment discussion, about fresh-water ecology, hills and a need to provide energy.

    Please recall the clever and rich people who wish to sell us nuclear power stations. They are cleverer than Greens, and richer than Greens. And they have been practising their arts for decades. And they have super-clever communication armies working for them (for communication, read manipulation – of people involved in the decision). These people are serious, and they don’t muck about. They have been known to resort to murder (usually whistleblowers and people iwho didn’t shut up when sternly instructed to).

    Coal is dirty, yes. Wind and waves are expensive, yes (you have to be fussy and selfish to object to them on noise or aesthetics – go visit some Greek islands, where they are part of the charm). Hydro drowns land, yes (this will seem a quaint old geezer argument in a few years, when our coastlines are part-drowned). But anti-nuclear has to be the bottom line.

    There are adverse consequences of a failure of installed nuclear technology. Very, very adverse. Such failure may not be mechanical. This means even the cleverest engineers cannot guard against it. And we still need to figure out how to dispose of the waste.

  2. @BJ:

    The structure could produce power for centuries… the time limit is entirely up to the maintenance crews. Don’t mis-state or exaggerate… such errors almost always come back to bite.

    Fair criticism BJ. I did a check and apparently the proposed Mokihinui dam is rated for 200-400 years, although an earthquake like those experienced last century would rapidly increase the siltation. Lake Perrine is an example of a naturally formed blockage silting up at the head of the Mokihinui gorge – here’s a photo.

  3. “The human eye is relaxed by constant movement, as of trees in the wind, or waves on the ocean”

    My favourite is NZ tussock in the wind, nothing quite like Chionochloa rubra blowing in the breeze.
    Oh and artists are psychos sapient, but instead of killing people they channel some of that energy into artistic expression and merely treat everybody like crap instead.

  4. Agreed BJ, though there may be more to it than the leverage of a company of wealthy artists. Just as a farmer fights to retain the de-natured farm he spent his life on, so the landscape artist battles to protect the landscape he painstakingly paints. I guess.

  5. A bunch of artists don’t like the fact that the dynamic grace of the big blades rotating ceaselessly on the horizon would be a visual delight that would make their own efforts pale in comparison? The fact is, these people may be “artistic” but they have no soul. The human eye is relaxed by constant movement, as of trees in the wind, or waves on the ocean, and the ceaseless and rhythmic movement of the blades would add rather than detract from both the landscape and our civilization.

    They are NOT qualified to judge a damned thing IMHO… and the notion that wind farms should be stopped based on such lunacy is even greater lunacy.


  6. No. 🙂

    There are utterences that are tuturu, untainted, original, naive, clean and joyous. Tihei Mauri ora!

  7. Greenfly,
    Doth not each word that cometh from thy mouth, that doth not seek only to bestow information, seek to manipulate thy brother and thy sister? Even then may information be bestowed in such as way as to manipulate.
    Each word, each nod and wave, be but a tool with which to alter the thoughts, and through this the mind, of the other.
    Is this not the art of debate? Of politics? Of interaction? Of life?

  8. Poetry? I know you haiku.
    Not so much manipulate, but strip away dross, plaque and expose enamel.
    Don’t you seek to manipulate the minds of and souls of others?
    I do.

  9. Greenfly,
    No joy in winning an easy battle. The satisfaction is of the challenge.
    Not psychopaths, but they, like psychopaths, seek to manipulate the minds and souls of others. May be to different ends but both a successful artist and a successful psychopath must develop said skill into an art unto itself.
    Indeed does some art tickle my soul, as does much else. The ability to tickle, and to inspire, lies in all forms of communication, both linguistic and visual.

  10. Sapient – ha! Indeed. No joy in winning, eh!
    Merely satisfying the mind and moving the soul?
    I’m for that! Artist are psychopaths? We are the victims of art? Bring it on! It’s easy to filter harmful from inspirational, isn’t it?
    Art is most certainly not mechanical – on the contrary, it leaps across mechanical boundaries and tickles the soul. Are you not tickled?

  11. Greenfly,
    You know me, always out to take a loosing arguement; no fun to be had in a winning arguement. 😛
    Art is mechanical; merely imitating the real, satisfying the mind, and moving the soul. The first is that which has taken the longest to master; simple imitation with a hint toward the not quite displayed. The second is very much about ratios, shapes, and tints. The last, as calculated and considered, and in the same manner, as a psychopaths manipulation of their victims.

  12. Sapient – feeling gladitorial tonight, eh!
    Artists in the south are a bolshy and well connected lot. They know Sam Neil.
    The secret to Art is out? B*gger! Can you tell me?
    Millions of people (?) can make fine art paintings? Please paste link.
    Art is bloody, not circuitry. No?

  13. Greenfly,
    And being an influential artist gives one credibility in any field outside of art? I would question if it even gave them credibility in art, given the present state of the field it most certainly does not grant them any credibility in declaring something attractive; at least none more than any other human.
    Anyway, art is dead. The secrets are out and millions of people can make fine art paintings and sculptures. Hundreds of millions if you consider computer aided art as art.

  14. I like the thumbs system, it shows that at least some people are actually reading the posts and thus there is at least some point in arguing with someone whom wont accept they are wrong other than improvement of ones own insight. That said even though most of the thumbs I get are down.

    It is a stunning river but unless we stop population growth and per capita energy consumption growth we will need some new sources of energy generation. I would prefer we stopped the growth but we should not say that the river should not be damned under any circumstance as there are situations where it is simply the smart thing to do.
    On a related point: WTF! Why one earth did the wind farm down south get turned down? The scenery is hardly as attractive as the locals cite and windmills would probally make it look better in my opinion. It is hypocritical to say that we want more wind generation but then oppose it in the most practical, and thus the first to become economic, places. It is pure NIMBY bullsh*t. The hills around palmy are far more attractive and, while I would rather they were covered in native bush, are not ruined by the windmills but enhanced. The first installations provided enough for palmy, the many more installations since have provided many times more than the city could ever hope to use unless we were to start producing fuels from it.
    Sometimes the NIMBY attitude of the Greens and the sustainability goal work well together; wind farms is not one such instance.

  15. fwogblog,
    You should get rid of these stupid thumbs up thumbs down like or dislike reports.
    Farrar used them to encourage proper right wing thought.

  16. One worries that it is a bit of bait and switch. I mean it’s great if they block this, but not when National use it later to point to how environmentally friendly they are while they rape other natural resources.

  17. The quality of New Zealand’s wind resource is such that it could supply 100% of our current enectricity demand from 0.5% of our land area.

    Increasing the proportion of wind generation from 3% to 25% would require just 0.14% of our land area and enable achiement of 90% renewable enrgy from wind alone.

    This 0.14% of the country needent be the landforms that we most value for scenery or biodiversity. But to avoid the loss of wild places and rivers for energy generation, while increasing the share of renewable energy in our generation mix, we should seek to designate which areas we want to use for this purpose.

    One way to do this may be to add this third part to policy 4 of the proposed NPS on renewable enrgy:

    Policy 4

    By 13 March 2012, local authorities are to notify, in accordance with Schedule 1 of the Act, a plan change, proposed plan or variation to introduce objectives, policies and, where appropriate, methods, into policy statements and plans to enable activities associated with:

    iii, designating which areas of land identified as having excellent potential by generators for generating electricity from wind can be set aside for possible development for this purpose.

  18. Frog

    The structure could produce power for centuries… the time limit is entirely up to the maintenance crews. Don’t mis-state or exaggerate… such errors almost always come back to bite.

    However, we should be building infrastructure around added wind and geothermal and the flow through cook strait first.

    It is always possible to build this dam if we absolutely must. Its place on the list should be further down from the top… but I am not keen to just say no to every damned dam that gets proposed.


  19. Indeed Good Frog. My ‘scuse’ was a double-take at the idea that Brownlee and Groser (oh that it might be ‘green groser’) recognised such and responded honorably.

  20. Now a wild river, which is public and irreplaceable, and has immense biodiversity and public values. That capital would be replaced by an industrial structure to generate power and profit for a few decades. It cannot then we returned to a wild river – hence it is not renewable.

    This is a point NZIER recognised in their report this week – that trading away natural capital often results in permanent capital loss.

  21. Here’s hoping they’ve seen the dam proposal for what it is, a sacrifice of permanent, public natural capital for temporary, private physical capital – irreversible and not renewable at all.

    ‘Scuse me?

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