Hibiscus Matters Letters - August 2017

By: Hibiscus Matters readers

Tracey first

Trevor Lyndon, Red Beach (abridged). Published August 16, 2017

Regardless of all the efforts to get Penlink built and the Hill Street intersection fixed, it is increasingly apparent that Auckland Transport, the Mayor, councillors, local boards, the NZTA, and even our local MP, are either gormless or useless. We’ve tried pressuring local boards and councillors. That didn’t work. We’ve pressured the Rodney MP, who is a cabinet minister. Again, more excuses. It is obvious that Rodney voters need to revolt. Being a safe National Party seat hasn’t got us the attention that our congestion problems deserve. There is only one candidate promising to build Penlink and fix Hill Street: New Zealand First’s Tracey Martin. If there is one proven way to scare the National Party into action, it’s Winston Peters breathing down their neck.

Great memories

Louise Carter, Army Bay. Published August 16, 2017

Pleased to see your cool little paper is still here, 10 years on. That means it arrived on the Hibiscus Coast at the same time as I did. I remember how useful it was when I was newly living in Army Bay and working out where everything is and what was going on. I have long since stopped reading the other local paper which goes straight into our rabbit hutch! Happy birthday. Keep up the good work.

Unisex does not suit all

Angeline Seeto, Orewa. Published August 16, 2017

Does anyone else take issue with the new unisex changing rooms at the newly opened council-owned Albany Stadium Pools? For the uninitiated, Albany Stadium Pools has introduced unisex changing rooms (called ‘the village’ - I kid you not) whereby every man, woman and child all use the one same changing block. This includes completely open shower blocks. There are signs saying “Please keep your togs on – showers are for rinsing off only”. So you can no longer have a proper shower, if, for example, you want to swim in the morning before going to work. I am informed that if you want to have a proper shower you have to pay for the privilege by signing up to be a member of the on-site gym where there are traditional men’s and women’s shower facilities upstairs. Furthermore, the private changing cubicles are rather cumbersome. There is a serious lack of space for your belongings - no benches and hardly any free open cubicles to store your belongings – just small pay-to-rent lockers. It lets down what is otherwise a fantastic pool complex. I am informed that these unisex style changing rooms are common place in Europe. But I for one hope this new trend does not take off in New Zealand. Would be interested to know what other people think. I know Stanmore Bay Leisure Centre is due for an upgrade in changing facilities and wonder whether this new concept is going to be adopted? At the very least I hope public consultation will be sought first, which was not done for the Albany Stadium Pools.

Auckland Council’s head of active recreation, Rob McGee, replies: “Mixed changing villages provide a unisex, universally accessible layout for people to change in. We’ve had a lot of positive feedback from people on the family-friendly design. Many people who use the pool join as full facility members, which means they can use the traditional changing rooms and showers upstairs after working out. We try to meet as many user requirements as possible and welcome all feedback about our facilities.”

Land grab opposed

Billy Beggs, Manly. Published August 16, 2017

State moves to take land away from a rapidly growing Whangaparaoa College to accommodate intense housing (HM July 19) is appalling to say the least. Robbing this space from a community already deprived of adequate infrastructure must be opposed and an effective method is to make it a political issue. Our expanding local population needs better roading and services and not another 100 dwellings, more traffic and increased pressure on utilities. This land grab needs strong and immediate opposition from our local politicians. We need to press them on this issue.

Caring service

Ruth Newbury-Swash, Matakatia. Published August 16, 2017

I would like to thank Dr Andrew Webster and Nurse Emma at Silverdale Medical Centre, for their excellent kind care they gave me at the centre recently. I was treated with respect and thoughtfulness and cannot praise them highly enough. Thanks team.

Recession due

Geoff Hansen, Hatfields Beach (abridged). Published August 16, 2017

A few facts that are so concerning. NZ had a recession in 2007/08, but to keep us in the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed, the government borrowed megamillions. The next recession in due in 2018, as predicted by Bill English about 18 months ago. They come about every eight to 10 years, triggered by an overseas “event”. The borrowings have not been repaid and the next recession is just around the corner. What are we going to do this time? Now for the biggy! NZ has not paid its way since 1974, when our exports hit a brick wall. Last year our all-important current account deficit was $8.2 billion, the highest since 2007/08 when it was around $12.5 billion in the red. If you don’t think we are paying for this big time, think again – ridiculous house prices, violence, homelessness, call for more prisons, stress in the workplace, working harder and longer for less! Our officials continue to sign dodgy trade agreements that sell our jobs, our sovereignty and allows overseas entities to come in and land bank. Rock Star Economy is the very biggest of lies – NZ is going on a road trip without a spare tyre or tools. You can check this out on the BERL Report 26 June, 2017 ‘GDP and external accounts data confirm export sector in strife’.

Neighbours revolt

Michael James, Orewa (abridged). Published August 16, 2017

On 1st August 2017, Fair Go presented a story – ‘find my property’. Auckland Council have failed the residents of 240–260 West Hoe Heights by not notifying these residents that the access to their properties would be compromised due to the development of the property over the road owned by Orewa Developments Ltd. The company spokesman told the reporter that these residents should approach him – surely as a good neighbour, he should have approached them? After all, he probably sits in an office and never travels over the dangerous access he provided for these residents. Before he destroyed the sealed road that they had always used, he should have kept West Hoe Heights for them to use and then provide a sealed alterative route, fully noticed as a detour (not just for residents – as was the case) then reconstructed the road to the east of those properties and when this was completed, then provided a temporary slip road (sealed again) whilst the road to the west was completed. Auckland Council (and in part the developers) have been incompetent in applying the Resource Management Act. The RMA states that no neighbours should be affected by any development – thus they should have been consulted. The company told Fair Go’s reporter that they have breached the consent conditions. Ian Smallburn of the council stated he knew nothing of this, and gave the impression that he didn’t really care. Do you think that the developer would tell him? No way! It would hurt his bottom-line. Mr Smallburn also talked about the Planning Rule Book. This book was penned by Council – surely the RMA overrules this? The new road that is to be constructed from Grandview Drive near the motorway to his development and Sunnyviews should have been constructed first, instead of trucks running up and down Maire Road (which was never designed for these heavy vehicles), past residential land and Orewa Primary school. Come-on council, something has got to change; you cannot continue to bow to developers’ wishes nor ride roughshod over the very people that employ you – us the ratepayers. In my opinion, if this lack of planning continues, residents will revolt, causing mayhem for developers and the council.

Keep us safe

Diane Campbell, Red Beach. Published August 2, 2017

This whole Dynamic Lanes project shows the attitude that Auckland Transport seems to have towards the public. We are made to feel like we should be grateful for something that we have had very little input on, and that raises real concerns. I was at the meeting at Red Beach School and can see that for the wider community on the peninsula using the road as their only way in and out, it has merit. But if you’re going to use us as guinea pigs, at least make sure that the experiment is safe for all road users. I would have thought that was the very least we could expect.

Dynamic questions

Michael Skyrme, Stanmore Bay (abridged). Published August 2, 2017

I could not attend either of the recent meetings on the Dynamic Lanes, but have the following comments and queries for Auckland Transport to consider based on what was reported and quoted in Hibiscus Matters, July 19 edition. Auckland Harbour Bridge also has a concrete barrier separating the opposing traffic flows; why is this hard barrier not required on Whangaparaoa Road where the lanes will also change flow direction?  Penlink will reduce traffic flow on this section of road by more than 40 percent of the current levels. If Penlink is completed, this section of road will not need widening at all, never mind 10 years from now. Bear in mind, that while engineers believe the median strip to be a ‘wasted road space’, the existing median strip is currently the only means of refuge and safe access during peak traffic flow that vehicles must turn onto or off Whangaparaoa Road from the side roads that intersect in this section of road. Who accepts responsibility for the accidents that will occur in this lane? If AT takes safety seriously, they will do all that is reasonably practicable to ensure the safety of the public who are using the road – as legislation requires. Reacting to an incident is never the safest way.  The whole purpose of this project is to improve flow on this section of road and remove the bottlenecks already evident here. Now you have stated that the engineers do not expect vehicles to be able to even achieve the reduced speed limit of 50 kph. The problem is the bottleneck, and the bottleneck will still exist every time a vehicle needs to turn off or on to Whangaparaoa Rd. How can construction begin, in fact, how can a budget be approved, to spend public money, when the due diligence has simply not been completed? How has a Project Director / Project Manager been given an ‘Approved for Construction’ stamp at this stage of a project?  On another note, has the impact of the proposed changes to the Silverdale intersection also been taken into consideration when this trial has been ‘studied’?

Show compassion

Catarina Militia, Gulf Harbour. Published August 2, 2017

I read with a great deal of fury your two stories about hedgehogs and cat free covenants on the Coast. Both had the common denominator Hibiscus Coast Forest and Bird, “conservationists” – more like bullies. It seems to be ‘your way or the highway’. Firstly, compassion for all species, and I applaud the lady that shows that to the hedgehogs, good for you – the world needs more kind compassionate people. Hedgehogs and other species are an introduced species by man, the biggest predator on the planet. Oops, never mind, no compassion for them. Man introduced them, now let’s slaughter them! Secondly, cat-free covenants on the coast. I have two cats, one indoors and one allowed out on my property during the day only. This is for my cats’ safety and wellbeing and me, being a caring responsible owner. Neither cats have any interest in birds and if they did, they would not be given the opportunity to harm the birds. I like all creatures and my responsibility is to ensure no harm comes to any other species by my family, furry or otherwise. It annoys me greatly when a group of people think they know everything and ban everything. I am fed up with it being assumed that we are all idiots and legislated accordingly. We have a real problem in this country with abuse of women and children and animals. Broad-spectrum compassion for others (people and animals) needs to be taught at schools for those poor children that have never known it. If we start there we may have a chance at saving species and the country.

Hedgehogs “like gorse”

Angela Robinson, Hatfields Beach. Published August 2, 2017

The article on the hedgehog issue was very balanced I think (HM July 5). It is a difficult issue. I was at the library talk and think Forest & Bird was right to make any potential carers aware of the fact that they’re dealing with an introduced pest. It was important to put all the facts out there, so people can decide for themselves. It’s something I thought about a lot before I turned up to the talk. On balance I think Forest and Bird are right. There is no need to be cruel to any creature, but taking that next step of nurturing a species that does damage to our natural environment makes no sense to me. We surely wouldn’t do the same for rats or possums? Our native birds developed without ground dwelling mammals like hedgehogs. At the talk the Hedgehog Lady described the introduction of hedgehogs from England as “brought in, like gorse” – an apt comparison. With hindsight we see the problems that introducing any species can bring. Now we need to find ways to humanely deal with the effects of those mistakes on our native wildlife.

Cute carnivores

Stephen Webster, Army Bay. Published August 2, 2017

What allows hedgehog protection enthusiasts to flourish is the “cute factor”. It’s the only reason people are prepared to spend so much time and energy caring for an introduced pest. I used to value the way the hedgehogs wandered around my garden, eating slugs and snails but since then I’ve learned more about the damage they do as carnivores in our environment. It’s so important to protect our rare, indigenous bird species and that should be the priority.

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