Alf is regarding Maori structures with a huge new regard.
Maori meeting houses and other marae buildings contain qualities that he cannot ever recognise or appreciate.
But nor can can any non-Maori building inspector.
Nope. You’ve got to be an indigenous person to recognise and appreciate these qualities and determine whether a building is culturally safe as well as structurally safe.
Accordingly an inspector who can’t brandish the right ethnic credentials should not be entitled to examine these buildings and determine their fitness to survive an earthquake or whatever.
We have this on the expert authority of an associate professor of architecture, who happens to be an indigenous person, although Alf is sure this would by no means affect or influence his professional judgement.
Accordingly we should pay heed to this gentleman.
He brings a fascinating racial element into the building inspection business because the way he tells it, no non-Maori is capable of giving marae buildings the once-over and judging if they meet all requirements.
The professor has been chatting with Radio NZ.
The consequence was this news item.
The government has selected the wrong department to enforce rules to make marae buildings earthquake resilient, an associate professor of architecture says.
Unitec Institute of Technology’s Regan Potangaroa said the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment did not have enough cultural nous to oversee upgrades to meeting houses.
Alf can be very naive about these things and – silly him – had imagined that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment might be able to hire the appropriate cultural nous.
Dr Potangaroa wanted Te Puni Kokiri to take the lead once the new building laws kicked in, because it could be trusted to understand the cultural safety and cultural value of marae.
He said Te Puni Kokiri, with its marae development funding, would understand the diversity of the some 1,300 marae affected by legislation to upgrade earthquake-prone buildings.
The legislation, presumably, is the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill which is currently before Parliament.
Alf will be paying close attention to it, now he is been alerted to the need to ensure the buildings on a marae are culturally safe.
He would like to think non-Maori could be trained to ensure the required cultural-safety features are not missing from buildings on marae. Or anywhere else, come to think of it.
Cultural safety has become an important feature of nurses’ training, after all.
But we can be sure Dr Potangaroa will have lots of strong objections to that idea.
The impediments to proper instruction in these matters are complex, the sorts of things that have confounded all of Alf’s best efforts – for example – to see the taniwha that can get in the way of an otherwise good public development.