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It’s a time of denial

by Lindsay Shelton
There’s a lot of denial around. And not only about metadata and spying. Closer to home:

A 1920s house near the construction site of the Kapiti Expressway is suffering from strong vibrations which are cracking the walls. The owner says the vibrations have been so severe at times that she’s had to drive to a car park to do her university work. “You just cannot concentrate with the constant shaking. Some of the jolts are like magnitude 5 earthquakes.”

But the local authority insists there’s no problem. Kapiti Coast District Council resource, consents and compliance manager Andrew Guerin says the Alliance organisation building the expressway has carried out monitoring which indicated the vibration was within levels approved by the resource consent. An Alliance spokesperson repeats the claim, saying that monitoring carried out in the area surrounding the house showed vibrations were below consented levels. No doubt there’d be more denial if anyone suggested that the approved levels were wrong.

Roading projects seem to bring the possibility of much denial: the Transport Agency in denial about community opposition to a motorway through Takapu Valley; the Transport Agency in denial about the urgent need for a cycleway between Petone and Ngauranga; a Regional Council staff member in denial about the wording of the decision to reject the Basin Reserve flyover.

At Parliament, there’s been extraordinary denial about the importance of Kate Sheppard, the leader of the movement that won New Zealand women the vote. Plans that had been agreed to erect a statue of her have been rejected by the (male) Speaker.

“After careful consideration I have declined the request for the statue to be placed on display or housed at Parliament,” he ruled, coming up with some fairly unconvincing arguments. “This is a busy time at Parliament and space constraints, future requirements and use of the space in public and function areas cannot be overlooked.” The statue, more than two metres tall, is made from layers of Perspex glass which have messages against domestic violence inscribed on them. “I think the Government giving a spot to her and then turning around and saying no is a real indictment to their attitude towards domestic violence,” says Kiri Hannifin of Women’s Refuge, which built the statue.

Then there’s Ma’a Nonu, playing with a broken arm for more than ten minutes in Saturday’s test match. Teammate Conrad Smith: “I … said ‘you’ll be right’ and hoped he’d carry on, but it was pretty obvious from then on. He … played a fair bit after that, but you can just tell with someone you’ve played with quite a lot [when] they’re not quite right. I wasn’t surprised at halftime when the docs were able to look at it and took him off.” Nonu, no longer in brave and painful denial, has had a steel plate inserted in his broken arm. To paraphrase the words of Toby Robson: men in denial playing on with serious injury are part of All Black folklore.