Gotta feel more than a twinge of sympathy for Jeremy Clarkson.
Yeah, he can be a cocky bugger. But he would have thought he was coming to a country where it was enough to seek and get permission from an elected government authority to do what he and the Top Gear team wanted to do.
That is, the BBC team planned to race a car along the sand of the Ninety Mile Beach, requiring it to be closed for 45 minutes.
But faster than The Stig can cover 400 metres down the straight, Clarkson has learned otherwise.
In this country we have ordinary people (the great bulk of us) and we have special people.
The special people are the ones who brandish the Treaty of Waitangi and demand lots of consultation.
Brandishing the treaty trumps brandishing a council authorisation.
Authorisations issued by the Far North District Council for Top Gear to do its stuff on Ninety Mile Beach accordingly don’t count for much.
Yes, they do have authorisations (see here).
Far North District Council Chief Executive David Edmunds said the filming approval was granted to the BBC on the understanding that any disruption to people using the beach will only be for a maximum of around 45 minutes and only on one day within the six-day time slot.
Being a bunch of Poms, the Top Gear team would have supposed they had been given these authorisations to do their thing on just another beach.
Local iwi have complained of a lack of consultation about the use of a sacred Maori site.
Yep. All that sand is a sacred Maori site.
But wasn’t it enough for Clarkson to think the council that gave him his approvals had done all the consulting that was needed?
In most countries this would be true.
But this isn’t just another country.
We have a treaty to divide us into “us” and “them”, or “ordinary” and “special”.
Clarkson has been put in his place for failing to recognise this reality.
One of our special people has popped up to let us know what he thinks of the aforementioned Clarkson. This opinion is far from charitable or welcoming.
It is reported here.
Local Maori are frustrated at the lack of consultation about the use of the beach by the show and council.
“You have a person like Jeremy Clarkson, who thinks he is above everybody and doesn’t need to come and talk to our people,” said Ngai Takoto spokesperson, Mangu Awarau.
In other words, Clarkson thinks he is even more special than our special people, which can only mean Clarkson is way up himself.
Clarkson would be well advised, of course, to just quietly go home or find another beach that isn’t a sacred site.
That way he won’t have to rub noses with the indigenous locals or have to endure one of their welcoming ceremonies.
Maybe that’s what he is doing, because
…the TV stars and the former land speed record holding car were nowhere to be found and the only obstruction to the beach was protesters blocking entry with vehicles.
Alf would have thought the economically troubled Northland locals, including the special ones, would have been delighted to welcome the Top Gear show to their domain.
As Stuff points out, the publicity for the Northland region on a show that is seen by millions of people in more than 200 countries will be massive.
But Awarau says the depiction of the beach as a race track is not something local iwi are happy about.
“Those 200 countries will see that place as a race track rather than what it really is: it’s a sacred pathway where we travel when we move on to the next world,” he said.
“It’s a sacred pathway not a speedtrack.”
Alf has burled down the beach on a bus, way back.
There was nothing in the signage to advise him he was being driven down a sacred pathway to the next world.
If he had been aware of this, he would not have made the journey, because he was far from ready to move to the next world.