Mahurangi Matters, 13 February 2019 – Readers Letters

Out damned weir
The proposed removal of the Warkworth Weir (MM Jan 16) has sparked a remarkable outpouring of emotion, but little objective analysis. I feel that it’s time for some pointed questions and a few facts. The crux of the issue is the aesthetic and historical value of the weir versus maintaining a population of endangered native fish in the waterway. Can whitebait get up the weir? The answer is ‘no’. Ninety per cent physically cannot make it, and the other 10 per cent are bird tucker. Inanga, which make up 90 per cent of whitebait, cannot climb more than five centimetres. Take a look at the weir – they’ve got no chance. The remaining little battlers that manage to reach the two narrow channels in the weir get picked off by birds or whitebaiters. But there are native fish above the weir – how did they get there? Little known fact, but Auckland Council has been running a Trap and Transfer programme for the past decade to restock the population upriver. That programme is clearly an expensive ambulance at the bottom of the cliff approach, so they want to return the river to its natural state. The weir above Mahurangi College has already been removed as stage one of the project. But why not put in fish ladders? These expensive, large metal ramps – not the most attractive river feature – work in small streams but would get regularly washed away in the Mahurangi River. Strong water flow would also block most whitebait from getting up them. They are susceptible to vandalism, and the whitebait are still extra vulnerable to whitebaiters and birds at those points. So what would the river look like if the weir was removed? Well, it would look like a river, rather than a millpond. Given that the last swimming sports there occurred before the advent of colour photography (and before the water quality plummeted to its current murky state), I think it’s safe to say those days are gone. Remember them through pictures, then take a walk upriver past Mahurangi College where that weir was recently removed to see what a beautiful natural river looks like. Could the removed weir be the centrepiece of a museum exhibit? Hmmm, historic blockwork – limited visitor appeal I imagine.
Since the actual structure itself has no inherent value, I suggest that the weir has served its purpose and that our natural environment is far more precious.
Neil McGarvey, Sandspit

Pull the other one
The Auckland Council’s plan to remove the historic weir in Warkworth is not a very well thought out plan. It is more than a 100 years old and an icon in Warkworth. It is a beautiful and calm place to sit and watch birds, people and water flowing. If the Council must remove a weir, why not concentrate on illegal and unconsented weirs? The one installed at Te Arai Stream is sure to be easier to dismantle. And what about our whitebait?  They cannot get upstream so the birds are no longer able to feed when the inanga go up and down. Remove the weir at Te Arai first.
D Kerrigan, Te Arai Point

Unnatural weir
If I may please add my two cents to the argument of the weir in question. After reading your article I can appreciate both sides, however I would like to make a few basic points, which I believe may be quite relevant although I am no expert. Firstly, it does appear that the Council has the health of the river and ecosystem as its main objective, as I feel the Council wouldn’t want to spend the money otherwise. It also appears that the majority of the arguments are based around historic significance and aesthetics. I thought New Zealanders had moved past this line of thinking to give way to the bigger environmental issues. There is mention of pollution and heating up of the water, etc. However, wouldn’t the removal of both weirs allow the water to flow faster therefore flushing better? Water naturally cools when flowing. Final word, currently it is not how nature intended it.
Peter Hill, Whangateau

Water matters
I was interested to read of the proposal to remove the concrete weir next to the Bridgehouse on the Mahurangi River (MM Jan 16). There seems to be more concern about some old concrete than the water itself. As mentioned by Dave Parker, this water was once swimmable for both Dave and elephants. But former councillors oversaw the degradation of this beautiful fresh water section, as well as the salt water section by the wharf. How you might ask? All the sewage from the area near the college, Palmer Street and so forth flowed to a pumping station behind the Mobil garage on the river bank. At times this pump failed and was removed for repairs, which could take a week or so. Meanwhile, raw sewage flowed directly into the river. It quickly became unswimmable. I say clean out branches and logs, check the water quality now and get Dave and the elephants back as quickly as possible. Let kids jump off the bridge and use kayaks to explore the lovely section of the river. If experts need the concrete wall removed so be it. The water is what is important.
Warren Agnew, Scotts Landing

Beautiful weir
So we’re going to build a brand new highway for whitebait while the local “human” population has to continue contending with the hideous Hill Street intersection.
Something’s wrong with this picture.
Anita Mexted, Snells Beach

Failure over footpath
I read with interest the article about the standard of the footpath in Queen Street, Warkworth, outside the ANZ Bank (MM Jan 16).  I tripped over uneven cobblestones in this same place on 16 February, 2016 and badly injured my right hand. I received medical attention within one hour of the incident. My doctor told me it would take up to two years to fully recover and this proved to be the case. On the day of my accident, and in between medical appointments and X-rays, I reported the matter to the local service centre of Auckland Council.  I was given a case number and told I would hear further within 10 days. I did not, and each time I made an inquiry about progress, I was given a different case number.  I did have a telephone conversation with a customer service representative at some stage when I was told an arborist report was being sought. At this time I said the area needed roping off to prevent another person falling and, in particular, people with mobility issues. This request was acted upon and is one of two visible actions ever taken on my many calls to Council.  In June 2016, feeling totally exasperated with the matter, I wrote to Council seeking reimbursement for the additional medical cost I had over the ACC coverage. This brought a very swift reply and a  decline to my request. It did, however, bring about a telephone call with a Council legal person. Again, I was promised the matter would be elevated with some urgency, especially when I pointed out that the unsafe area had grown due to inaction on the part of the Council and that the area was also an eyesore. Within about two weeks a patch of about one square metre of hot mix was laid over what is a very large area of uneven cobblestones. My final inquiry to the Council was 18 February 2017. In line with previous inquiries, I have heard nothing further.  Three years of inaction.
Ruth King, Warkworth

Me, too
I read your article about the footpath hazard outside the ANZ on Queen Street and would like to point out that the footpath outside New World on Percy Street is also dangerous. The tree roots have lifted the grille and footpath pavers around the trees. After a fall there myself, I mentioned it to the manager of New World and sent him a photo of my face that was injured. I also broke two teeth and had to have crowns fitted. This was expensive, as ACC only covered half the cost. As these trees are outside a supermarket near a crossing and a mailbox, surely it’s important to have this problem addressed? Many people, especially the elderly are at risk.
Gay Callaghan, Warkworth

AT spokesperson Joanna Glasswell responds: “Auckland Transport is currently investigating repairs to the footpath on Percy Street. Given the footpath has neighbouring trees, we are currently looking at the best way to do repairs around the trees without having to remove them. In the meantime, we will look at what remedial works we can do to make this section safer.”

AT nonsense continues
Once again, the Auckland Transport (AT) nonsense continues. The explanation (lack of consent and funding delays) by AT spokesperson James Ireland as to why it has taken three years to fix the broken footpath outside the ANZ bank is unacceptable (MM Jan16). To take so long to remedy this problem illustrates again the bureaucratic madness of AT and Auckland Council. To suggest that more trees be planted in the same place beggars belief. Walk along this inappropriate small block footpath and you will see many more bricks lifting just waiting to trip people up. This lack of action follows upon other ridiculous decisions made by AT concerning our area. The decision to make the Matakana link road only two lanes instead of four, the decision not to join the Matakana link road straight on to the new motorway (as happens at Orewa and Silverdale), the failure to make a slip lane from Sandspit road into Warkworth and AT’s denial that there is a parking problem in Warkworth shows just how out of touch AT are with the views of locals. It is not the stupidity of the bureaucrats at Auckland Transport that astounds me, but the extent of it.
Bryan Jackson, Snells Beach