Don’t take the Treaty too lightly – to gauge its weight, just try moving it a few hundred metres


Dunno about you, dear reader.

But Alf had been under the strong impression the Treaty of Waitangi is a document of the sort that could be carried from Point A to Point B in a briefcase.

There are three paragraphs and a few signatures.

But if you reckon you could carry it that small distance, think again.

We learn today that a stalled project to shift the Treaty from its current home in Archives New Zealand a few hundred metres up the road to the National Library is resuming.

How far, did they say?

Oh, yes. A few hundred metres.

And how long has it taken so far to get it there?

The project, known as Active Archives, was first announced in 2012 by then internal affairs minister Chris Tremain, but stalled in December last year when the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said it would not meet its deadline.

We must suppose the delivery was entrusted to Snail Mail and the snail has taken longer than a snail should, perhaps because it was kidnapped by French persons to be eaten.

But the snail had to carry something more than just the treaty, which suggests maybe three snails were employed.

The project would have seen the Treaty, as well as the 1835 Declaration of Independence and the Woman’s Suffrage petition, shifted from the Mulgrave Street building to a new gallery space in the Molesworth Street building.

Alf has been fanciful when he muses that snails might have been employed.

The fact is the documents haven’t budged from where they are now.

One of the reasons why progress has been zero is that consultations with indigenous persons are required. And with stakeholders.

An announcement sent out to staff today said work would resume on the new location for the documents.

The DIA was now seeking registrations of interest from potential suppliers for the development and design phase of the project, an update posted to the DIA website said.

Talks with iwi and other stakeholders would intensify in the coming months, it said.

What the fuck is there to discuss that will require intensifying talks with iwi and other stakeholders?

Oh – and aren’t we all stakeholders, now that the treaty determines so much of what we can and can’t do?

Yes, we are, and it’s fair to say consulting all of us would take time.

But let’s learn more:

It transpires that, notwithstanding the need to engage in deep consultations with indigenous persons and stakeholders, carrying the treaty just a small distance is not something to be undertaken without major planning.

A review into the project published earlier this year showed there were failures to stage it correctly, a lack of understanding of its complexity, and its scope had become too wide.

Hmm. So this delivery job calls for something more than slapping a postage stamp worth $2 or thereabouts on an envelope or phoning a courier.

No siree.

Out of a budget of almost $7 million, $2.3m has been spent on the project so far.

Let’s have a think about this.

The documents must be moved a few hundred metres.

So far they haven’t moved one inch – or centimetre.

But it has cost us $2.3m – just to make zero progress.

Alf suspects there has been some serious under-budgeting and the real costs will be enormous.

He now has a very good appreciation of why his good mate Chris Tremain has said enough is enough and given up on politics.

The giddy pace of getting things done was too much for the poor bugger

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