Punishment to fit crime
Robert McConnell, Orewa
Hibiscus Matters of April 17 reported the avoidable destruction of many years of work in the Nukumea Stream. Apparently a developer working upstream was fined $300 for a similar but smaller infringement last year. Having established that the fine would be a cheaper option than compliance it is no surprise that the developer chose to do nothing when heavy rain warnings were issued a couple of weeks ago. Last week I read in the NZ Herald of an importer and/or distributor being fined $20,000 for selling little yellow rubber duckies that could be a swallowing hazard for small children. The major difference I see here is that any parent considering buying a toy is able to make an on the spot assessment and decision. There is no compunction to buy. On the Nukumea Stream there is only one person who can make the decision to safeguard it and that is the property developer, especially since he had previously been made aware of the effects of his upstream activity. A fine of $300 is a joke and an insult to those whose good work was destroyed. The Court and Auckland Council must now seek a fine and reparation that will properly address the damage done.
Auckland Council regulatory compliance manager Steve Pearce, responds (abridged): Following the rain of April 6, compliance monitoring officers conducted a site inspection of Sunny Heights. They found an Environmental Manager, employed by the development, was already taking water samples. While samples taken from above the subdivision further upstream confirm that sediment was also entering the stream prior to the development site contributing to it, the tests of the water discharging off the development site showed unacceptable levels of sediment. As a result Council has now issued a total of $2250 in infringement notices to the resource consent holder and contractor. We typically work with consent holders in the first place to fix the problem but in instances such as this where the adverse effects are more significant and instructions from Council officers have been ignored, we take formal enforcement action. We have also required modifications to the erosion and sediment control devices on this site to ensure this type of discharge is not repeated. Further, the site will be closed over winter with no additional bulk earthworks being undertaken until October 2019. Our compliance monitoring team will ensure that the only works being conducted on the site between May 1 and the closure of the site relate to the upgrading of the devices mentioned, and the overall stabilisation of the site. If the public has concerns about activities taking place in the area, phone 09 301 0101 so we can investigate.
Leashes a safety issue
Roy Forster, Red Beach (abridged)
We have just returned home from taking our dog for a walk on Orewa Beach. What is normally a pleasant walk was ruined by a dog whose owner did not have control of his dog. We were on the southern end of the beach by the estuary when our dog, a Chihuahua cross, started to slow down. We noticed a black and white Collie cross approaching from behind and, not recognising the dog, put ours on a lead. Thank goodness we did because within seconds that dog was right by us. Our dog went into defence mode – barking and snapping so we pulled him back hoping the other dog would retreat. In fact it came closer and went for our dog. The owner did nothing to restrain his dog despite our requests, saying that our dog was the problem. Although there were two of us, my husband has Parkinsons, so there is little he can do in a situation like this. Only when I picked up our dog did the other one retreat. The owner walked away, with no apology and his dog still not on a lead. We know that dogs on leads are more defensive of their space, and can be more aggressive than when not on a lead, but at least leads provide more control. We shouldn’t be put in a position where harm to our dog, or ourselves, is a possibility because other dogs are not under control. I know ours is not an isolated case, where a bigger dog has harassed a smaller one on the beach and no doubt unfortunately it won’t be the last, but the rule is simple – dogs must be under control in public places.
Editor’s note: Auckland Council’s regulations state that dogs must be on-leash at all times in all council-controlled public places unless otherwise stated in local area rules.
Standing up for trees
Marina Stander, Red Beach (abridged)
Pictured above is a tree, along Millwater Parkway, that is leaning in a semi-horizontal position. This tree has been like this since last year. I have previously sent an email to Auckland Council, to report this. The tree still seems to be alive. Further along Millwater Parkway, close to where it intersects with the Hibiscus Coast Highway, in the centre of the road, there are about 2-3 more of this type of tree leaning at crazy angles. If these trees are not robust enough to withstand the weather conditions and strong winds, should they not then be replaced with trees more suited to the weather conditions? I don’t understand why we are paying rates, if things like these are not attended to. The grass around these trees is mowed regularly, so the maintenance teams cannot fail to see them. If they continue to be left like this, and eventually die, I know from past experience, that they will simply be removed and not replaced. As you turn left into the Hibiscus Coast Highway from Millwater Parkway, before you get to the traffic lights and intersection at Totara Views Drive, on the left, there are 2-3 relatively mature trees with supporting wooden posts, of which some have collapsed, and the supporting straps are in disarray. Trees all around Auckland are being decimated by developers because they are no longer protected under the Unitary Plan, and we really need to take care of the ones that are still standing, or attempting to stand.
Auckland Council head of operational management and maintenance, Agnes McCormack responds: “Thank you for alerting us to the damaged trees on Millwater Parkway. We will remove these shortly and look to replace them in our replanting season, which starts in June. Trees planted by the council are initially staked at the time of planting. Once the tree is self-supporting the stakes are removed. The leaning trees on Millwater Parkway were originally planted by a developer and then handed over to council. Unfortunately, these trees have developed very weak root systems. This could be due to poor nursery stock, planting techniques or inappropriate staking that has left these trees weaker than others. Regrettably, this does result in attrition, requiring removal and replacement. Council street trees are on a cyclic maintenance programme and inspection regime, which means that in between inspection times we rely on customers to inform us of any recent changes to tree conditions. We thank the public for bringing this to our attention and we look forward to replanting this piece of land in June.”
Pat Moore, Orewa
Having been alerted to the cancellation of an Anzac Service at Memorial Reserve on Orewa Beach and, approaching 94, I decided I would don my medals and sit quietly there on my own to remember and honour the school friends and service comrades who lost their lives. On arrival at midday I was delighted to find that an initiative had been taken to arrange an unofficial service. In the event, over 80 people of all ages came together; we enjoyed a history reading of the Anzac campaign, a bugle rendering of the Last Post and Reveille, a period of silence and a reminder of the Ode and Promise “we will remember them”. All the things we need on Anzac Day and a chance to pay tribute for sacrifice. Wherever lay the decision to cancel this event, I think we confirmed its absurdity – if we are to fear being in the company of a gathering of any size, how can we justify continued attendance at schools, hospitals or company meetings? Perhaps we should consider closing Parliament, although it seems that many of its members already avoid attendance when possible.
Editor’s note: See stories, p12 and 13 on this and other Anzac Day commemorations.
Flag ups and downs
Just been down to Remembrance Reserve, Orewa to pay our respects for Anzac Day only to find that there has been no effort by either the RSA or Council to ensure a flag is put up in respect for our fallen, as it has been every other year. They may have cancelled the service however they should have made the effort especially as a lot of people are still going there and placing flowers and taking a few moments in thought and silence. We find this a mark of total disrespect from the officials. They should be ashamed of themselves and we would like to know why this was overlooked.
Caryl Hawkins, Orewa
Editor’s note: The raising and lowering of flags on Auckland Council reserves is the Council’s responsibility. The RSA only looks after the flag on its own cenotaph. This service ended up going ahead, complete with a flag lowering (see story p13)
An Auckland Council spokesperson responds: “The lack of a flag at Remembrance Reserve in Orewa was an unfortunate oversight which came as a result of the reduction in services this year.”
Chips down for cats
I’d be afraid to own a cat now if I lived in Army Bay near Shakespear Regional Park (HM April 17), whether microchipped or not. And maybe that’s not a bad thing. The balance between our natural and built worlds has got way out of whack. Having a pest free sanctuary for native wildlife right in our midst is an amazing privilege and if the cost is for locals to consider not owning a cat, so be it. Even though I have owned several cats in my life, I believe this would be a price worth paying.
Harry Wall, Gulf Harbour