Hibiscus Matters letters, July 3, 2019

By: Hibiscus Matters readers

Closure questioned

Pat Moore, Orewa (abridged)
Like many others, I walk regularly through Eaves Bush because I believe that bush walking is one of the great NZ freedoms. I am well aware of the serious threat of kauri dieback and would be strongly supportive of necessary efforts to defeat it. I deplore, however, learning that the right to access the tracks has been cancelled despite the admission that, as yet, there has been no evidence of the disease in Eaves Bush (HM June 5). May I suggest that the biosecurity manager owes it to the public to give us the following information (see questions and responses below).
Auckland Council biosecurity manager, kauri dieback, Lisa Tolich, responds: What is the state of dieback in the other areas? The temporary closures are also happening on tracks in other parts of the region. For a number of parks, the closures are precautionary. Where dieback is confirmed, it is important we take steps to ensure that the disease is not spread to neighbouring healthy reserves. Where the disease has already been diagnosed what curative measures have been tried and with what results? Phosphite is being researched as a means to slow the spread of the infection, but does not cure the disease. Research is also underway to test the effectiveness of Mātauranga Māori in conjunction with microbiology. Is there any evidence of the disease being related to the age of the tree? Or that younger trees are being affected by spread from older trees? No. It kills most, if not all, kauri, regardless of age. The delay between a tree becoming infected and showing signs of infection varies and it is common to see a tree killed by kauri dieback next to a tree that appears healthy. On the evidence to date can we be confident that the disease can be eradicated? The focus of the national kauri dieback programme is to manage the risk and spread of Phytophthora agathidicida to kauri forests as well as its impacts on communities, culture and the economy. A National Pest Management Plan was recently put before cabinet to establish clear objectives and a nationally coordinated and consistent approach to managing the risk. If adopted, this plan will become operative in October. Is there any evidence to support the use of the spray for footwear offered at Eaves Bush? If so, instead of expecting walkers to spray the bottom of each foot, would someone consider that it would be simpler and more effective to create a shallow concrete bath across the track entrance which visitors could walk through? Sterigene is highly effective at killing the pathogen that causes kauri dieback. It needs to be used after scrubbing off soil debris, as the use of it alone will not remove soil. What should be the criteria to justify the reopening of the track? The criteria for re-opening tracks to the public are to be defined by the national pest management plan. There will be a minimum standard to ensure that the appropriate mitigations have been put in place for tracks located within three times the drip zone of kauri. The mitigations will change depending on the requirements of each track and could include a mix of boardwalk, boxed steps and aggregate. A capital work programme has begun and will seek to provide kauri safe access in a staged fashion. (abridged)


Open workshops

Bruce Walling. Stanmore Bay
Kiwis have fought, died, marched and championed for democracy here and abroad. Terry Moore’s excellent Local Opinion of 6 June clearly highlights how much our Local Board flagrantly and frequently abuses this principle. Democracy is meant to be a transparent process. Our Board makes decisions meant to be in the best interests of all of us. They have taken on the responsibility to tackle this, using what funds they have managed to squirrel from the Super City. But they also very much need to heed and be aware of what the people want, worry about, think about and generally have to offer. Unfortunately, without having a clue what business is being, or will be, discussed, we the ratepayers and residents may only see their (selective) decisions after they have been made. Mostly, it seems, behind unnecessarily closed doors. They do not seem to even give any prior notice of what business will be discussed. Genuine confidential matters should be the exception, not the rule. There are not even proper minutes. What are they afraid of? So I sincerely urge readers to get behind Terry and Hibiscus Matters to get these forums properly opened up. And for our Local Board to be unafraid of, indeed welcome, local input. We should all be on the same page. The media cannot report if they are in the dark as to what is in fact going on. Let’s work and communicate together for the best for our area.


Rejected offer

Peter Thomas, Stanmore Bay
The phrase ‘beggars can’t be choosers’ may be very non-PC these days, but it came to mind when I read in your fine paper about the offer to build Penlink being turned down by Auckland Transport and others (HM June 19). Very disappointing.


Not a NIMBY

Angela Scott, Silverdale
I imagine you will get a lot of letters about NIMBY-ism following the story about the Pet Refuge neighbours (HM June 5). Might I put an alternative point of view? It seems to me from your story that it is not so much an issue between the neighbours and the refuge, but between the neighbours and Auckland Council. Why would they not consult neighbours? Above and beyond the normal issues of having a potentially noisy and smelly pet holding facility next door, there are the concerns in this particular case that may be raised about security and privacy. Those are relevant and should have been dealt with by proper consultation. Even when you are providing a valuable service to the community, you should not be immune from those requirements.


Not neighbourly

Jasper and Catarina Militia, Gulf Harbour
Shameful and selfish are words that spring out when reading about the neighbours opposing the Animal Refuge to aid Women’s Refuge in helping more women and children escape domestic abuse (HM June 5). The NZ statistics are shocking and it is everyone’s problem. Why would you want to aid the abuser and not assist in everyone getting free from constantly being terrorised in the place they should be safest? Noise, stress and disease (really) are your concerns, what about theirs? Abuse takes place across all economic levels. Julie Chapman had brilliant idea and should be commended, and the community have jumped on board. Everyone can see the benefits for everyone. If they turned up on my street with this refuge, I would be offering my help and happy to do it. I see it as a huge win/win for the community and New Zealand.


Listen to neighbours

Harry Johnson, Dairy Flat
I think the Council made a poor decision not to consult the neighbours of the Pet Refuge during the resource consent process (HM June 5). During my OE I lived for a while near a Council animal pound in a semi-rural part of the UK. It was not right next-door, but across the road. Nevertheless, the constant whining, barking and howling of dogs was enough to drive us all to drink. It also made our animals – ducks, geese and sheep – jumpy. The Pet Refuge is a brilliant idea, there’s no doubt about that. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be listening to neighbours and taking heed of their concerns.


Funding reporters

Allanah Kalafatelis, Head of Communications, NZ On Air (abridged)
I’m responding to your opinion piece on June 19 in Hibiscus Matters. There are factual errors, which may mislead your readers and may also have contributed to your opposition to the Local Democracy Reporter (LDR) initiative. Firstly, the funding is from a one off allocation in Budget 2018 – not the recent Budget. The 2018 funding created an RNZ/NZ On Air Innovation Fund which has supported more than 25 projects of which the LDR scheme was the last to be announced. The funding was not announced by the government – NZ On Air’s funding for public media is deliberately arms-length, a very important point when we are considering the independence of journalism. The LDR scheme is a response to the widespread claim that local authorities are not being reported on adequately and that ratepayers and citizens deserve better. I am sure you are doing a fine job in your neck of the woods – unfortunately that’s not the case universally. The LDR idea is based on a scheme run by the BBC and was proposed to us by the NPA, which has the capacity to run a pilot project throughout the country. We can make no decisions about the future reach of the scheme until we see what impact the pilot has.
Editor’s note: Apologies if any readers were misled. Our opposition to the scheme, and that of several other community newspapers, remains. The key point was the lack of consultation with independent papers and the fact that large corporate media organisations will have access to copy that has been paid for by taxpayers. We argue that the lack of local body coverage, if it is an issue for those papers, is a question of priorities not resources. We have no issue with such material going to publicly funded RNZ. Hibiscus Matters understands that the Community Newspapers Association was to ask questions of the Minister on these issues at its recent conference.


More options needed

Francis Green, Arkles Bay
Great to see all those sculptures for Orewa in your last paper (HM June 5). A couple of questions: why were only two artists given the opportunity to create works for this space, and is ‘none of the above’ an option we can give in feedback? Let’s see some more options.
Hibiscus & Bays Local Board deputy chair Janet Fitzgerald responds: A local gallery approached the local board to create a sculpture trail around Te Ara Tahuna Estuary Cycleway and Walkway. Instead, the local board suggested they lead a project to replace the water feature at Moana Reserve. Their brief was to design a sculpture with a water component which has certain technical requirements given the site’s location. Because the sculpture replaces the old fountain which couldn’t be repaired, it must fit strict criteria governing Auckland Council’s renewal budget and the funds can’t be allocated to other projects. The community is currently being asked to give feedback to the local board about the sculpture designs. If people’s preferences are different to the options being consulted on, there is space to state their preference on the feedback form.

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