Thank you Mahurangi Matters for your bold article “Log’s waka credentials looking a little shaky” (MM May 16), regarding the log uncovered on the Puhoi motorway project. For the following reasons it could never have been a waka: 1. Who on earth in their right mind would build a boat in a metre deep of mud and water. 2. Maori would reduce the weight of the log by up to 80 per cent before hauling. 3. Broken branches were visible on the log. Imagine trying to pull that out of the bush. The reality is there was a major flood that took out the bridge on SH1 many years ago. Trees, logs and silt blocked much of the river.
My father, who would be about 104 today if he was still alive, remembered it well, pointing out things of interest. For instance, the fields to the left of SH1 south of the bridge used to be a mangrove swamp, but became covered with huge amounts of silt, logs and all manner of debris. The log in question is consistent with a section of kauri tree that snapped off during felling. The stones, rocks and other timbers under the log are all consistent with a flood. Most importantly, the final resting position and the other debris around it would indicate flooding. Too much time and taxpayer money has been wasted by the academics, bureaucrats and Maori trying to create news and history. Get on with the real task, please.
Ian Morrison, Snells Beach
Tolls not taxes
It’s clear the regional fuel tax and Rodney targeted rate for transport are unfair to Rodney ratepayers (MM May 30). These taxes are an extra transfer payment to help pay for central Auckland infrastructure and services that provide no direct benefit to Rodney. Regardless of how Auckland Council chooses to present it, whatever gets spent in Rodney on transport is already financed by our rates and local charges. Politicians and councillors have ignored citizens’ and ratepayers’ strong preference for congestion charges or tolls for transport, choosing instead a tax and rate that is easy to collect and merge with other revenues for spending. Those who pay can never really see what, if any, benefit they get directly for their payment. Unfortunately, the political reality is that local road usage charging would work too well. We would all see and demand that the money goes where it is intended and politicians would not be able to allocate revenue raised as it pleases them. Like Auckland’s rail system, the Hill Street intersection could have been fixed years ago if the money and the commitment was there. Why not have a toll on Hill Street intersection users to gather the extra needed to support a permanent solution? Yes, politicians tend to get captured by the system that pays them and gives them the power and authority to spend our rates and taxes as it please them. They will not quickly give up anything that will make them more accountable to local communities. What have our local board members achieved to give them authority to spend more of Rodney’s rates on our transport problems, and to show us where our rates go to prove that? Our councillor puts up a good fight on our behalf, but he and other like-minded councillors are outnumbered by the Mayor’s central city voting bloc. So, think about this when you vote again next. Who’s standing for us, and who’s standing for themselves? And how do we ensure smaller (minority) communities get a fair deal when they are dominated by the (majority) communities seeking to benefit themselves from the growing citification of our landscape.
William Foster, Leigh (abridged)
Mayor Goff’s announcement that some (but not all – good on you Cr Greg Sayers for voting against it) Auckland councillors have voted to apply an 11.5 cents per litre fuel tax to the whole region is not only premature but arrogant in the extreme and makes a mockery of our democratic Parliamentary system. This tax is not even legal yet as the enabling legislation has not yet been passed. The bill has only just been reported back to Parliament and has yet to survive two more debates in the House before it becomes law. Imagine how much egg Goff will have on his face if just one of the coalition partners decides not to support it. Either NZ First or the Greens could scuttle it if they truly had their populations’ interests at heart. No doubt Goff has spent many hours bending the collective ears of his Labour buddies over this and it makes you wonder just who is running the country. If Auckland Council cannot make their books balance and provide the necessary basic infrastructure for Auckland then they should first be looking to the other side of their ledger and cutting out some of the many extravagances from their programme before dipping into the public purse for more money.
With the Rodney Local Board having recently opted for a targeted rate, plus the regional fuel tax and the government’s proposed increase in excise tax (both of which will hit us in North Rodney harder than our city counterparts as we have no public transport system to speak of), we in North Rodney are facing a triple whammy. Many will no doubt face considerable financial stress.
Bill Townson, Scotts Landing (abridged)
In defence of rats
In a letter arguing for the protection of the wallabies on Kawau, your correspondent says that they should not be treated like rats (MM May 16). Perhaps it is not unreasonable to ask why rats ought to be treated less humanely than wallabies? Rats have social structures and exhibit altruism that vies with and frankly exceeds that of some humans. I am as ready as the next person to fly into a rage when I see that a rat has found the avocado high up our tree and half eaten it before I even knew it was there. Difficult as it is to accept, that is not the rat’s fault. It is suggested we ought to take it easy on wallaby because they have been here for over 150 years. Rats have been here much longer than that. Based on the logic expressed, there is not a very good case for retaining white humans, whose environmental damage and habitat destruction since they arrived is truly monstrous in scale.
Bruce Rogan, Mangawhai