Give the Land a Voice

I recently attended Land Information New Zealand's (LINZ) 2nd annual Crown Property Forum in Wellington.

LINZ has some exciting ICT initiatives that they are developing to help make Crown property information more accessible to more people. These initiatives include the Crown Property Disposal Portal, the Crown Property Network, continued expansion and enhancement of the LINZ Data Service and a proposed centralised register of Crown property. All these initiatives are great steps, leaps even, in the right direction.

However the most valuable part of the day-long Forum was the chance to connect with other Crown agencies, local authorities, iwi and other Crown Property suppliers. We shared experiences, successes and frustrations. Together we brain-stormed about the future of Crown property.

It reminded me of a trip I took about a month earlier. I drove 13 hours return to a remote school that had been closed and was in the disposal process. There I met with representatives of the local hapu and descendants of the original owners that had gifted the land to the Crown for a school site 131 years ago.

I listened to their aspirations for the use of the school and learnt of their tupuna and whakapapa and their strong sense of kaitiakitanga for the land.

Prior to this hui I had been grappling with a complex Public Works Act disposal. The report seemed difficult to write. After the hui, I realised that the property I am dealing with is not a 'disposal' but is a 'way forward'.

I recall Ian Taylor CNZM, founder of the cutting edge Animation Research Ltd, saying during a recent presentation that the footsteps of the past show the way to the future. The hui had paved the way. When I got back to the office the words flowed.

I welcome ICT initiatives, but at the end of the day you can't beat communicating and sharing information face to face.

Land is the cornerstone of NZ, but it is the people who give the land a voice.