Whoa there traveller – cough up with some koha if you want to go further

No, it's not highway robbery if we give you a plate of pork and puha in exchange.

No, it’s not highway robbery if we give you a plate of pork and puha in exchange.

Alf is by no means surprised to learn that the organiser of a controversial fundraiser has defended the stopping of travellers in the middle of the road to ask for cash.

That’s because – if the sheila’s name gives any clue to her ethnicity  – the organiser is one of this country’s indigenous persons.

Indigenous persons (liberally interpreted in this country to apply to the descendants of any immigrant whose boats got here before Abel Tasman or Captain Cook) have been accorded special status by our Government, perhaps because The Boss was having one of his brain fades when the Maori Party pressed him to endorse the idea.

The upshot is that indigenous persons can proudly lay claim to a great array of special entitlements, and it seems that the right to hold up people on roads in the Coromandel and relieve them of some of their money is one of them.

Accordingly we learn from Stuff that –

Coromandel group Koputauaki Combined Community Centre carried out fundraising over Easter Weekend by stopping cars on an open road and asked for gold coin donations.

Thames Coromandel District Council said the activities breached a council bylaw, and that council had spoken to its lawyers about the breach.

Community centre treasurer Karo Hikairo confirmed they did not have a permit but said that type of fundraising was a just small part of what they did.

This Hikairo sheila explained that this meant her gang happy little band of community fund-raisers went further than simply holding up the traffic with a stop-go sign to ask for koha (specifically in the form of a gold coin).

There was also a food market and people who donated were given food from it, she explained.

Alf can imagine the delight with which Jewish or Muslim travellers greeted the gift of a plate of pork and puha when it was duly brought to them…

But hey – they can’t complain they got nothing back for their donation and if they don’t like pork they should shove off and live somewhere else.

Hikairo is obviously a very enterprising sheila of the indigenous persuasion.

“It’s not just stopping on the road, that’s just a little drop in the big fundraising bucket, we don’t even have to do that.

“We can go the the local motor camp and sell them hangi, there are so many options for fundraising that we do.”

The money would be used to fund projects such as putting a permanent wall near a cemetery that was being washed away into the sea and making walkways in the local area, she said.

“We’ve got a little office now for our aspirations and dreams, we’ve had toilets and showers put in and we’ve had the kitchen improved and plan to put disability ramps in.

“Lotteries have been supporting us and we’ve been trying to do the fundraising and we’ve also got members paying fees.”

Hikairo is a sensitive sheila as well as an indigenous one and said she could understand why people might not like the stop-go sign idea.

“People didn’t like our stop-go sign, maybe we should put a ‘slow down please, donations’ sign.

“The stop-go was all about safety, we didn’t want to wave our hands at people, we tried to keep the safety aspect at the front of our minds.”

She said she had largely ignored the media attention towards the fundraising.

“At the end of the day, we got a profit for the community centre, so we achieved our goal.

“That’s the long-term goal, heading towards a strategic plan for the wider community to make it a better place.”

But she also said it was hard to raise funds within such a small community with relatively few people in it.

This raises a small question in Alf’s mind: if it’s a small community, are they building an appropriately  small community centre?

Or does the need to dip into the pockets of outsiders suggest their ambitions extend to something much grander?

No matter.

They are special people and the rest of us should be thrilled to be able to chip in.

Only those of us who are mean-minded might reflect on a fascinating cultural difference: in the world of the indigenous person it is fair game to stop passing cars if you are running short of dosh and persuade those inside to cough up.

In the world of we non-Maori persons, this sort of carry-on is regarded as highway robbery.

In more civilized times it was a hanging offence, as Dick Turpin learned.

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