Mahurangi Matters, 10 April 2023 – Readers Letters

Kaipara farming defence

As a fourth-generation daughter of “the denuded Kaipara Hills farms”, referred to by Mark Newcomb (MM March 27), here is my reply:

He says he is not denigrating farmers, yet he aims loaded comments such as “generations of irresponsible denuding”. Unfortunately, he chose the wrong “generations” to criticise.

Yes, parts of these hills should never have been stripped of virgin native forest. My brother and nephew (5th generation) plan to retire some sections back to trees. Ironically, it makes more financial sense to earn carbon credits by tree planting than it does to produce food.

Their plan is to plant natives, not pines despite the fact that they earn two to three times more carbon credits and, in 30 years, would provide a cash crop, but also a source of more slash and erosion.

In the 1960s, my Kaipara Hills farmer father was one of five founding members of the Farm Forestry Association, an organisation ahead of its time promoting trees on farms. He was a conservationist before it became trendy, a respected source of knowledge on all native flora and fauna, and an active member of Forest and Bird. My mother and he spent many voluntary hours doing some of the first replanting on our Hauraki Gulf islands, among other places. He spent his lifetime strategically planting our Kaipara Hills farm, being a pioneer of using poplar poles to prevent erosion.

In following generations, my sister-in-law has propagated thousands of native seedlings, bush remnants are fenced, my nephew and his wife are active members of the Forest Bridge Trust, do extensive pest control, constantly review their farming practices with an environmental lens and in 2018, they won the Ballance Farm Environment Award, which celebrates sustainable land use.

Would recent damage have been “less catastrophic if better land management had been practiced?” – some of the worst damage to the farm was from pine slash. It washed down from the neighbouring property (recently harvested), gutting creek banks, stripping replanting and destroying re-fencing. Slash is a first for the farm. There is more to come – it clogs the Pinui Creek and Hoteo River – ready to do further damage.

Ironically, the worst damage was from trees. I am glad my father is not here to see his lifetime’s work so devastated. One hillside he planted when a young man went down like dominoes. There are also slips in areas of mature natives, taking down good-sized trees.

These recent storms were a 100-year event. (In 1924 my grandfather recorded 14 inches of rain in six hours. The farm suffered equal devastation.) The record rain softened ground, which was followed by a cyclone. Trees went down, triggering landslides.

When you whakapapa to the land, it is heartbreaking.

So yes, Mark Newcomb, at the moment my nephew needs moral support. Perhaps you would like to donate to a re-fencing fund or volunteer at the next planting day on the farm? It’s great you care.

Alice Sullivan, Kaipara Flats

Raised crossing opposed

I find it hard to justify the cost or need for a raised crossing outside Warkworth Primary School. There are warning lights well before and after the crossing during morning and afternoon use, an area coated with anti-skid and crossing monitors. It works really well and has done for the 33 years we have lived on Hill Street.

Hill Street has got increasingly busier with many trucks, day and night (and probably more in the future as the subdivisions go ahead), private cars, metro and tour buses that are quite low, motorbikes especially on the weekends, and emergency vehicles that must use Hill Street to avoid traffic on the main road.

The noise and exhaust pollution created as they all brake, navigate, thump off the hump and then chop through their gears to get up Hill Street will affect residents and the school.

The community that needs to be consulted must include the people who have to drive over the crossing.

Please don’t raise the crossing. The raised crossing in Woodcocks Road is a hazard and hated by all who navigate it.

Clara Forno, Warkworth

Political expediency

I was disappointed to read (MM March 27) that just a couple of weeks after the region has experienced several catastrophic climate change induced weather events, that two of the youngest members of the Rodney Local Board have been lobbying to reallocate money destined for the shuttle bus trial for Warkworth and instead channel it into roads.

Surely those who have far longer to experience the bad affects of climate change than us older citizens (who actually welcome this convenient form of public transport) have a responsibility to future generations to support getting CO2 emissions down.

Cutting out sensible public transport options is not going to help with that.

Without doubt there is a vocal and very active roads lobby in the Rodney Local Board area, so quite frankly this looks like political expediency and protecting votes.

Neil Anderson, Algies Bay