Hibiscus Matters letters – March 18, 2020

By: Hibiscus Matters readers

Open workshops

Claire Teirney, Stanmore Bay (abridged)
I’m writing regarding our local board making their workshops public. I believe that this absolutely needs to happen with the exceptions being when there is a commercial or privacy issue that means a portion, or all, of a workshop cannot be made public. Full disclosure: I was a local board (Hibiscus subdivision) candidate in the last election, but I was also part of a group who lobbied regarding the dog bylaw that was passed in 2019 – and it is the experience that I encountered during that time that flagged to me just how important it is in the democracy process that workshops are open for the public to attend. In fact, both the Devonport-Takapuna and Kaipataki Local Boards on the North Shore had their workshops open during last term, so there is a precedent and it can be done. With the dog bylaw there was meant to be a local board workshop followed by a Business Meeting. Business Meetings are always public meetings and this is seen as allowing the public to see their board’s view regarding an issue. However no local board in Auckland had a business meeting regarding the dog bylaw and only workshops went ahead – most behind closed doors. Therefore, the public had no chance to discover the board’s position. This also meant that it was only at the Regulatory Committee meeting, when councillors were voting on whether the bylaw should progress as it was recommended by staff, did any local board feedback see the light of day  – but only from 11 of the 21 local boards. Due to advice from staff, the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board did not submit any feedback and the only reason that their view on the bylaw came to light was when Councillor Watson flat out asked Council staff what was the view of the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board. In querying the lack of Business Meetings regarding this bylaw, I found out that there was a move within council that “formalised feedback from the local board chairs in memo form is more often, moving forward, likely to be accepted as a decision on behalf of the board.” In other words, items may not go to business meetings for a resolution and only be covered in workshops. In my view this makes the case for workshops to be made open to the public a necessity. Under section 14 of the Local Government Act 2002, one of the principles is that a local authority must conduct its business in an open, transparent, and democratically accountable manner. Opening local board workshops to the public allows that principle to be met. I hope that the board ensures that workshops will be made public.

Editor’s note: Hibiscus Matters also hopes the workshops will be made public. All four of the elected Hibiscus subdivision local board members campaigned on ending closed workshops, although there were two different schools of thought on how it could be achieved. Neither of those options – no workshops, and two business meetings per month; or open workshops – has yet been put to a vote at a public meeting. We understand that work is in progress, however and await some action.

JC fan

Harold Thomas, Orewa
I see in the February 5 issue of the Hibiscus Matters, in the Feedback column, that our esteemed commenter John Clements has resurfaced – good on you John! We had thought that you had moved out of the district in one way or the other. You talk of them winning, but here you are in full voice again. There are those in the Council who properly use the powers and prestige their Office gives them. Sadly there are those in the Council who revel in that power and prestige but do not properly do the work involved. You have the gift of exposing those weaknesses and full marks to you JC. Please do not give up as you have a loyal following who always find your comments most interesting.

Dog rules for people

Wendy Anderson, Manly (abridged)
Re the article about the confrontation that Richard Field and his dog Jett face on Stanmore Bay Beach (HM March 4). I feel that Mr Field is misusing the privilege he has in being able to take his dog on to the beach at any time. He may be legally right but not morally or ethically. With the privilege comes a responsibly. He states they he takes Jett off the leash and without her jacket when on the beach so she can run and have fun. Therefore, to me, she is no longer working and therefore should not be on the beach when the rules are in place. She potentially becomes a nuisance to other beach goers just like any other unleashed dog on the beach. The dog on beach bylaw is so Mr Field can go on to the beach, not so that Jett can go on the beach for fun. It’s just for three months and other dog friendly places can be found to exercise Jett as other dog owners do.

Traffic marches on

Geoff Marshall, Army Bay
A new academic year has started and with it the return of the crawl to get through Whangaparāoa in the morning and evening. Has any consideration been given to making the triangle of Whangaparaoa Road, Wade River Road and Link Crescent into a multi-lane, one-way system without traffic lights, to speed traffic flow? I know that it’s very short notice, but it would be very good to have a trial on March 22nd, the Weet-bix TRYathlon event, which usually causes absolute chaos.

Elephant ride disgusts

Leonie Ariel, Orewa
I am disappointed dismayed and disgusted that The Travel Brokers are still promoting travel packages with elephant rides. I am referring to a travel feature in our local newspaper Hibiscus Matters (March 4, page 17). Young elephants are tortured with horrific implements such as bull hooks and other inhumane methods to train them to carry people which is totally unnatural and painful for them. All for making profits. Shame! I suggest you do some research into these cruel practices so you can re visit your policies in promoting cruel tourism. There are rehabilitation sanctuaries that can be visited instead.

Patty Brown of The Travel Brokers responds (abridged): I sincerely apologise for the picture I submitted for publication in Hibiscus Matters. While visiting India in early 2019 I participated in this sightseeing tour to Amber Fort and the mode of transport was on an elephant. This is no longer an option and has been replaced with a bicycle or jeep ride. The Travel Brokers promotes and works in partnership with World Animal Protection and has a clear animal welfare policy to not support or promote any sightseeing tours in regards to unethical tourism practices. Our company only works with suppliers who support and maintain the highest standards in animal protection. It is with deep regret that I chose to participate in this particular tour, which involved an elephant ride. I am sorry that within this article I have been seen to not comply with this. I can assure you I am an animal lover, did not mean to cause any offence and would not support the promotion of such unethical tours to my customers.
Editor’s note: The ‘Wow Factor’ stories in the travel feature were supplied by the travel agents – a chance for them to tell readers about the places they have visited and consider amazing.

No elephant riding

Kiri Martin, You Travel Orewa (abridged)
We were somewhat concerned to see elephant riding at the Amber Fort in India in the recent travel feature (HM March 4). I have recently taken a group to India and we choose not to ride elephants, instead using 4WD jeeps. We felt that this reflected badly on the travel industry and wanted to share our view on this. You Travel work in partnership with World Animal Protection and will not support any tourism activity that exploits wild animals. Elephants are cruelly trained to be used for elephant rides. Wildlife should be viewed in the wild is our firm belief. We have taken the Treadright Pledge, which includes the statement: “When I experience wildlife, I will do so in nature. I will not ride animals that ought not be ridden, nor support animal cruelty in any way.”


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