If you saw Ric Kayne in the Wood St courtyard reading the daily news and occasionally sipping his coffee from a takeaway cup, would you really know who he was? How many of you would recognise him? He is a businessman like so many of our readers but he is American and that seems to get people fired up in itself for some reason. The only difference is that he has been more successful than most of us.
The ink was barely dry on our regional papers when local keyboard warriors made a beeline for their computers eagerly pursuing the ‘A’ button – ‘A’ for Abuse. Of course I refer to the mainstream media article announcing Kayne plans to build two new beachfront links-style golf courses adjacent to Tara Iti, on part of a 764 hectare block of land. Of this 200 hectares will go to Auckland Council to extend existing reserve areas, as he has already done at Tara Iti. Plans include visitor accommodation, clubhouse, lots for homes, a public camping ground near the beach and a retail centre for food and surfing shops. Local Iwi Ngati Manuhiri are under negotiations to partner Kayne in the development which still must get Overseas Investment Office approval to proceed.
In the meantime social media has been alive with both negative and vitriolic responses from conservationists, birdwatchers, dog walkers, Uncle Tom Cobley and all, against the proposal citing desecration of “our pristine land“ and whatever other negative narrative they could think of. We’re talking well over 1000 acres here. Some are bemoaning access to beaches. Is there public access to beaches via this land? If there is, it is but a single track. How many of the moaning public actually know where the boundaries are to this swathe of windswept real estate that predominantly grows lupin and marram grass? How many grizzlers actually play golf?
I perceive the crux of this matter centres around an eleven letter word. No, it’s not ‘environment’, it’s actually ‘billionaire’! For some reason the fact of someone having greater monetary wealth than the norm instantly turns them into an ogre. Never mind that they are developing a wasteland that will be kept in pristine condition, never mind it will encourage overseas income to our growing town, never mind that it will promote tourism to the area on a worldwide scale given time. Plus it’s tourism of the best kind – eco tourism – for the diehard Greenies. Golf is a prime example of a low carbon footprint tourism activity and it would not take much to set some parameters around a positive long term strategy to benefit the entire area and appease the nay-sayers.
I wonder if the community realises how much Tara Iti and Ric and Suzanne Kayne have given back to the community of Mangawhai, their latest fundraising effort donating $100,000 to various entities. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily entitle them to anything. You don’t have to love the man. A more personable guy would be hard to find, but let’s look beyond our own personal feelings especially if we don’t know him. Iwi too are criticised when they do nothing with their land. Here they will be sharing in promoting employment and advancement of the area and creating an asset worth many times what it is today. And guess what? The land isn’t actually going anywhere. It will still be there except it will be better taken care of and utilised in such a way that we may all benefit in the long run.
Personally I believe it won’t happen overnight – but it will happen.