Paddling our waka

By: Wayne Walker

“Does it make the boat go faster?” was the test for improvements that Sir Peter Blake applied to win the America’s Cup.

It worked – and the same type of test can be applied to Auckland Council, Government and our community. With money tight, and too much to do, we must make the most of the resources we’ve got.

Applied locally we could ask: what projects can make a positive difference to the most people? Small things matter as well as big things. Often it can just be a matter of doing something a little differently to add a gain.

For example, at the Silverdale Park and Ride having a free left turn at the new exit would improve the flow of traffic along the highway; buses could pull out when the eastern lights at Pointon Road are red, saving a possible additional stop.

Completing the roading connection from Bunnings/Pak ‘n’ Save to Highgate Business Park, and linking to the right with Curley Ave, could revitalise the Silverdale Village area, adding another 60,000sqm of town centre that would allow apartments on top of commercial and retail space. With easy walking distance to shops, the park and ride, Silverdale War Memorial Park and close to the 4500 jobs at Highgate that are coming on, this project ticks the boxes – especially helping the housing shortage. It would also free up a congested stretch of the Hibiscus Coast Highway between East Coast Rd and Whangaparāoa Rd and avoids another set of lights at Silverdale Street. And a significant financial contribution comes from the landowners and developers.

Many local organisations have projects that make a significant contribution to the environment and lifestyle of the area. Forest & Bird and Restore Hibiscus Coast have a trapping programme that aims to make the Coast pest free. We will see a quantum leap in birds and wildlife, reductions in the nuisance and damage from vermin, and cost savings. Groups like Love Soup reduce food waste and help people in need, while the network of Op Shops allow reuse of a vast array of goods – many of which also meet people’s basic needs.

Would that the government could provide the modest financial support that previously enabled community education to thrive on the Coast. Ōrewa College ran low-cost courses after school hours that provided life-enhancement, recreation and skills to many – a path also to potential employment and business start-ups, connecting people and community. Great use was made of the school buildings and facilities with a contribution to school costs.

This newspaper also forms part of the ‘glue’ in our community. It enables people to have a voice and find community news against a background where many newspapers are struggling to survive the competition from online platforms like Google and Facebook. The advertisers and contributors, as well as articles that are newsworthy, researched and relevant, provide insight into our community that is appreciated by many.

As the Coast is bouncing back after Covid-19, it is refreshing to notice the ‘local’ – the patronage of local shops, friendliness on the street, participation re-building in local clubs and groups, and the new people in our community – Kiwis returning and others making a life-changing decision to live and invest here. Together we all ‘make the boat go faster’.

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