Saturday, 8 July 2017

Weka woo

Excellent feature on Roger Beattie over at Stuff. Looks like DoC's investigating him for his excellent Weka Woo hats (buy them here!)
Beattie has been described as an eco-anarchist with a knack for turning obscure ideas into successful businesses.

He farms giant kelp, sells paua pearls and breeds lines of obscure sheep, including one he helped invent.

He is a staunch libertarian. His conservation ideals stem from his belief in the power of commerce to solve problems.

"Passion lasts for a certain period of time, but commerce has stamina," he said.

"The thing about bureaucracies is they would rather not make a decision that's positive and run the risk of it turning sour when it's much easier for them to say no.

"I'm the complete opposite. I'm a serial entrepreneur – I understand risk, I can manage it."

Earlier this year one of the Port Hills fires started across the road from his farm. He joined firefighters and his neighbours in putting out the fires, which razed the hills opposite, now a patchwork of green and rusted grass as it regenerates.

When the area was evacuated, Beattie refused to leave. If they forcibly removed him he would have sneaked back in.

The same principle of civic disobedience applied to his conservation beliefs.

"We have the world's worst statistics for birds becoming extinct, becoming endangered," he said. "If we don't do something about it it's going to keep getting worse.

"Bureaucracies are totally risk averse, and no one is panicking. The public get it very, very quickly. We need to have a series of circuit breakers. There needs to be a tipping point, and I think we're on the tipping point."
Beattie also featured in NZ Farmers Weekly in June:

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