Hibiscus Matters Letters - September 2017

By: Hibiscus Matters readers

Not for tourists

Peter Evans, Orewa. Published September 20, 2017.

I note with concern the proposal to develop over 15,000 square metres of land on the corner of Millwater Parkway and Bankside Rd with the aim to devote 62 percent of the development to service tourists from the People’s Republic of China. Located as it is, very close to both KingsWay Junior School and Silverdale Primary School, surely this is a prime location for local residential development. I cannot see the attraction of the site as a tourist accommodation venue with absolutely no tourist attractions at all within the immediate area. The land provides an opportunity to develop a community where children have easy and safe walking access to schools thus not adding to the ever-growing traffic congestion in the area.  Tourist accommodation remote from the adjacent tourist attractions will conversely generate more vehicle trips. It doesn’t take a degree in town planning to recognise the benefits of surrounding local schools with residential development. This seems yet another example of selling off our land to overseas buyers attempting to gain acceptance by devoting the minor part of the development to addressing the current housing crisis.  This will be a very token gesture indeed. This development is close to local schools and should be reserved for residential development.
Editor’s note: The developer says that the tourism component has been taken off the table, as a result of public concern. See story.

Not that Fiona

Fiona McKenzie, Red Beach. Published September 20, 2017.

I find it necessary to publicly clarify, in response to the letter Privileged Information by Fiona Mackenzie, Whangaparaoa (HM September 6), and multiple others by the same author previously that the letter, comments and opinions expressed within, did not originate from Fiona McKenzie of Red Beach. Thank you.
Editor’s note: This is the first letter that Hibiscus Matters has published from this writer that we are aware of.

Road worries

Kim Hanna, Stanmore Bay (abridged). Published September 6, 2017

Whangaparaoa turnoff to Red Beach lights needs four lanes and a median lane urgently! Auckland Transport’s three lane, $1.2 million Suicide Lane is dangerous and unacceptable. This 3km section of road has four intersections and many private entrances turning off it. Rodney ratepayers pay Auckland Council more than $80 million annually and Council spends around $30 million in Rodney. We are going backwards! Whangaparaoa Rd and Beverley Rd intersection is a disaster, as is the entrance and exit from the New World shopping centre in Stanmore Bay. Obviously no planning was done for this heavy traffic area? Tindalls Bay hill has one of the steepest grades in the country and has continual traffic delays with heavy trucks grinding up the hill. Council spent $1.5 million realigning the top of this hill, but didn’t put in a passing lane. Another disaster! Gulf Harbour ferry parking is inadequate. Silverdale Park and Ride is soon to have an elaborate bus station. Who needs a bus station? We need more car parks. Come on Councillors – do something positive, get us a four-lane road from Red Beach lights to Whangaparaoa turnoff. Our rates can certainly pay for this project.

Wetland wonders

Diane Lindsay, Army Bay. Published September 6, 2017

Earlier this year I moved to Army Bay, with our section overlooking the large trees in the Okoromai Wetland. I have been delighted with the birds using these trees and visiting our garden. We have a large family of California quail, a handsome male pheasant, kingfishers, chaffinchs, yellow hammers, tui, blackbirds, fantails, silver eyes, sparrows, spotted doves, minah birds, a flock of goldfinches, greenfinches, swifts/swallows, kereru and the occasional pukeko. We also see heron flying around and roosting in the large trees and can see lots of black swans in Okoromai Bay. I am not an expert on the birdlife of New Zealand, having recently arrived from UK but following a tour of Tiritiri Matangi I am really hoping that some of its other bird species will make their way ashore too. I would also like to extend a big thank you to the volunteers responsible for the programme of trapping that they maintain in the wetlands. It is vital to the health of Shakespear Regional Park wildlife and the recently introduced Kiwi.

Better planning needed

Roy Forster and Nigel Thomas. Published September 6, 2017.

We are pleased to read that Auckland Transport (AT) have listened to the residents most affected by the introduction of the dynamic lanes (DL) on Whangaparaoa Road between the Red Beach and Hibiscus Coast Highway intersections, however their changes are still not enough. Not introducing the dynamic lanes in the morning is a sensible move, but they should be never introduced in the mornings. What point is there when increased traffic flows are only going to clog an already bad bottleneck earlier than is current. To make it work there needs to be three lanes between the Whangaparaoa Road/Hibiscus Coast Highway intersection and the motorway. This would entail widening the Silverdale/Weiti River Bridge, as well as much ground work, at a no doubt exorbitant cost. But to improve the traffic flow, and justify the morning dynamic laning, surely this would be required. Adding another left turn lane at the Whangaparaoa Road/Hibiscus Coast Highway intersection is unlikely to help. Already by 7.30am, and sometimes earlier, the one lane turning from Whangaparaoa Road into the Hibiscus Coast Highway is practically at a standstill. This is due to merging traffic coming from Orewa and Millwater. This volume has increased exponentially over recent months, and with the development of the new subdivision in Red Beach, and further development in Millwater, traffic volumes here are only going to increase. Pedestrians – we pity them. Presumably when AT refers to pedestrians, they are mainly referring to public transport users. AT suggests they walk to the nearest light controlled intersection. If they live mid-point in the dynamic lanes section, this could be a one kilometre walk to get to the nearest intersection, and then several hundred meters to the bus stop. The southern side of Whangaparaoa Road does not have a footpath. Right now this is a muddy stretch in parts and some sections have a steep slope. Granted summer and dryer ground is on its way, but then so is another wet winter. Not to mention that none of the bus stops have bus shelters. Come on AT – aren’t you supposed to be encouraging commuters to use public transport? Hmmm. Consider putting pedestrian crossings near the bus stops to help the pedestrians. Cyclists – guess they are completely off the AT radar. Commuters should be able to cycle safely to the park and ride station but as cyclist David Squirrel says ‘one would be mad to try and do so’. Surely cyclists would be helping to alleviate the pressure currently put on the car parking at park and ride stations, so they should be encouraged. The park and ride can’t cope with current demand and when expanded, it will soon fall short. Build for the future and construct a multi-story car park as ground will soon run out there. Speed limit 50kmh. That’s much better than 60kmh but it still means opposing vehicles passing each other at 100kmh and possibly faster. Normally this would probably not be a problem, but the flush median strip is narrower than the two road lanes. When these lanes become three they will be considerably narrower than the existing two lanes. Throw into the mix the wider girth of tracks and buses and you have vehicles passing each other perilously close. Maybe the speed limit should be reduced to at least 40kmh. Emergency vehicles. Looks like there is no reprieve for them. They will still have the flush median in the mornings, for a while, but in the afternoons they will either have to use the oncoming traffic lane should it be free and duck into the main flow of traffic when it’s not, or use the Red Beach route as an alternative. In a matter of a life and death situation this could lead to the latter. Right turns from Whangaparaoa Road into driveways and side roads. This has the possibility of causing much frustration as, if oncoming traffic prevents a vehicle from doing a right turn, all traffic behind will be held up until the right turn can be executed. This will either hold up all traffic heading west in the morning, and the inside lane of the two lanes heading east in the evening. If a no right turn ban is implemented, and this is on the cards, it’s a 4 to 5 kilometer detour for us to use the Red Beach route. At peak hour that results in huge delays and puts us on an already increasing congested route. Finally – why are we doing all this? Council blunders and greed that’s why, for allowing continual growth in an area that does not have the infrastructure to sustain it. Get the infrastructure right first and then bring in the extra population. We believe that is called planning.

Privileged information

Fiona Mackenzie, Whangaparaoa. Published September 6, 2017.

I write in response to the article Jackson Rebukes Brash from same Orewa Stage (HM August 16).  Willie Jackson is not keeping on top of current affairs if he thinks Maori groups are not receiving “special privileges”. Just this year, approximately 580 claims for varying levels of control of every inch of New Zealand’s coastline (including all of the Hibiscus Coast) have quietly been lodged. All associated legal expenses (whether the claims are frivolous or not) have to be paid for by the taxpayer (– so that means less for health or education). Meanwhile, other Kiwis wanting to defend their interests in the coast have to pay all costs themselves.
 The same situation applied to the Auckland’s Unitary Plan. Staff included many totally unreasonable demands of the Independent Maori Statutory Board with no questions asked. It took a few civic-minded individuals paying over $100,000 of after tax dollars to hire lawyers to prove that just the imposition of thousands of “Sites of Significance” (which impacted homeowners) were unsubstantiated and unjustified. 
Currently Auckland’s Local Boards are being “encouraged” to develop Relationship Agreements with each of the 19 Maori tribal groups in the region. These guidelines state that the tribal groups should be “prioritised as key governance stakeholders; should be engaged earlier than the general public; should have greater levels of shared decision-making power than other stakeholders; should be recognised as co-governors; and they should be empowered to propose the scope and extent of their own involvement”. Guess who’s paying?
 These are just a few examples of the “special privileges” being handed to tribal groups in New Zealand today. None of these opportunities for unelected, unaccountable power and control (paid for by taxpayers and ratepayers) are being offered to any other Kiwis.

Brash comments

Don Brash, Eden Terrace, Auckland. Published September 6, 2017.

You recently reported on a speech by Labour candidate Willie Jackson in which he claimed that my speech to the Orewa Rotary Club in 2004 was a “cynical, manufactured, racial smear, calculated to twist the best egalitarian values of us as a people into a misdirected mob, with all the rationality of a lynch mob.” (HM August 16). He claimed it “sowed anger, fear and resentment”. He argued that it was quite false to claim, as I had done, that Maori had been given greater civil, political and democratic rights than any other New Zealander. Then how does he explain the Independent Maori Statutory Board, whose unelected members enjoy voting rights on most Auckland Council committees? Or the requirement imposed on all local governments to consult not just with their community but especially with its Maori members? Or the insistence in many Treaty settlements on co-governance between local government and local tribes? Or the massive funding – up to $412,000 per claim – provided by taxpayers to support claims for customary marine title over enormous tracts of the coastline? Or the lower corporate tax rate on Maori incorporations, and the zero tax rate applying to the businesses which have emerged from Treaty settlements? I stand by every word in my Orewa speech.

Partnership praised

Joanne Myers, Orewa. Published September 6, 2017.

Refreshing to see Willie Jackson talking about the need for a real partnership (HM August 16). This country in 2017 is multi-cultural, not bi-cultural, but Maori’s role as tangata whenua is unique and brings with it rights and responsibilities. I have been to a number of events at our local marae in Silverdale and there is a lot we can learn from their open, positive and supportive approach. It gives me hope that we can work together.

No peace after Penlink

Peter Wilson, Stillwater. Published September 6, 2017.

There are those on the local board and on the Peninsula who are celebrating the developments on the Penlink project, and the potential of a 10 minute saving on your trip to and from the North Shore motorway car park. However, I would invite you to share a thought for those of us who will have to live with the massive negative effect of this road. If and when the road is complete, Stillwater residents, such as myself, will get the benefit of better access. But with that comes the loss of the peace and quiet which makes our village so special. And imagine, if you can, the disruption during the construction process. Tree felling, earth movements, bridge building will be noisy and dusty for months on end. We have one road in and out of Stillwater and the intersection with Penlink will need slip roads and a flyover. Is that going to be achieved without horrendous consequences for our travel? Of course, the argument will be that it is for the greater good, but just remember, it is Stillwater’s eggs that are being broken for your omelette.

Get onto the grass

Garry Leslie, Matakatia (abridged). Published September 6, 2017.

A short while back the long time mowing contractors were dumped for an Australian owned company in a move to “a more holistic approach”. I guess that can be interpreted as “not mowing the grass regularly” because all I see around the place is unmowed grass were it used to be regularly maintained and looked great. I live at Matakatia and I’ve never seen the park or beach front so unkempt. They can’t say it’s too wet, as the beach front is always mowable and the other night a car was doing donuts on the park and it didn’t get stuck! Anyway, like all these people who want to change tried and true, they have failed miserably.  As for the Silverdale roundabouts – I drive all over Auckland and these are by far the most tragic looking of them all.

Auckland Council’s acting head of operational management and maintenance, Simon Randall, replies: Our maintenance contractors are committed to delivering the highest standard of community services for Aucklanders. We urge anyone with concerns about maintenance to call us on 09 301 0101 so we can look into the matter and ensure continuous improvement. Concerns about maintenance of roundabouts can be reported to Auckland Transport on 09 355 3553.

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