Mahurangi Matters, 14 February 2022 – Readers Letters

Hoteo criticism rebuked

I was very taken aback, but hardly surprised, to read in the latest Mahurangi Matters (Jan 31) that Richard Griffiths was sorely disappointed to see “no improvement in riparian protection whatsoever”. And, of course, the obligatory cow in the wetland photo.

There will be many landowners and agencies who will be saying here we go again – the pointing finger, blame game; call it what you will. Richard, I would urge you to find out the facts before making such statements.
Most landowners who have a boundary with the main river itself are actively engaged in fencing this off. I say most because, as with vaccination against Covid, there are still some who are not. As well as this, many farmers in the Hoteo catchment, which includes Tomarata and the Whangaripo Valley, are fencing off the tributaries of the Hoteo. Research work, funded by the Auckland Council, enabled the prioritisation of the Kourawhero project as a most significant contributor of sediment to the Hoteo.

Over the last eight years, agencies such as Whitebait Connection, numerous Auckland Council grant schemes, Ministry for the Environment, the Kaipara Moana Remediation and the Kauri Dieback Protection Fund, as well as landowners themselves, have contributed a great deal of time, energy and money to protect the Hoteo. These agencies will, no doubt, be as disappointed as I am to read that this is not being acknowledged.

There are numerous barriers to action – the main ones being time, energy and money. The main one is, of course, money and not only to build the fence but to put in an alternative water supply.
Instead of using your energy to point the finger, I would urge you to consider instead, “How can I help?” Perhaps set up a fundraiser such as buy a metre of fence ($25) to help protect the Hoteo? There are thousands of kilometres of waterways that feed into the Hoteo that need protection.

Each journey begins with a first steps. I just ask that you please acknowledge the steps that have been taken.

Gill Adshead, Glorit

New Year fireworks

It is sad but not unexpected that Anthony Grant has little respect for rural concerns about the Sculptureum’s New Year fireworks (MM Jan 31). This is all too common among city dwellers who see the rural areas as their rightful playground. Nor does he have any apparent concern for the impact on the many bird species, which are supposed to have a measure of protection in the Unitary Plan. His property is NOT in Matakana. It is in Omaha, the catchment of the Whangateau Harbour and Omaha Bay which, thanks to efforts by the Omaha Beach Community and the Whangateau HarbourCare Group, has some protection in the Unitary Plan from the rampant development favoured by Mr Grant. This catchment is designated Rural Coastal as it has the role of protecting the waters, bird and fish species and is of visual significance. Long may it remain so.

Elizabeth Foster, Whangateau

Now’s the time

Warkworth’s greatest asset is the river frontage but most shops turn their back on it. The two large retailers intending to move to the future Woodcocks Retail Centre (MM Jan 31) are creating a unique opportunity to turn the whole emphasis around. We suggest we could start with a raised promenade incorporating open air dining, a sunny aspect and a great view. Now is the time to come up with an exciting Town Centre Plan and make Warkworth the envy of the rest of Auckland.

Roger and Patte Williams, Warkworth

Cycle appreciation

A big thanks to the Warkworth Riders Group for the huge improvement of the cycle trail from Jones Road to Takatu Road. I was unaware that this was all done with volunteer help and funded by the Warkworth Riders Group. An amazing effort and I am sure I am not the only one who has appreciated the changes … a much easier and safer ride for all. I was told that they didn’t want names mentioned but I think this effort should be acknowledged not just taken for granted. This community is so lucky that we have so many people willing to put their time and money into projects that benefit the whole community. Thanks!

Michele Wade, Omaha

Back to essentials

Phelan Pirrie correctly says (MM Jan 31) that issues of rates levels and Council funding are more complex than can be encapsulated in one-line slogans. “Freeze rates” is no more useful than “climate emergency” in getting fair and reasonable Council decision-making. But that is the nature of political slogans and groups. We respectfully suggest even Rodney First is not free from the temptation to oversimplify issues, or prefer ideology to analysis.
The Rodney Local Board has a thankless and impossible task – to satisfy endless demands with precious little authority, no staff, and a derisory share of Council resources. Yet Phelan’s comments offer no solutions. We hear the tired refrain of “challenges” and the hoary old chestnut that more spending needs more funding.
Councils need to stop investing in assets and services that don’t have assured future cash flows to fund them and that it can’t service without rate increases.

It also has to stop spending rates money on non-essential services – like social, environmental and cultural wellbeing stuff – that the Government should pay for (e.g. why not start by giving Auckland’s GST back?), not to mention social infrastructures like housing, health and education. The Productivity Commission’s reports identified that problem.

That way we can hold real property rates levels to match property based services to population growth, with productivity and efficiency gains to provide the bonus.

Public transport is essential and desirable, but should pay its way. Ghost buses just evaporate money. Light rail to the airport is never going to pay its own way – Rodney won’t benefit, but guess whose pockets Council’s hand will be in to make up the shortfall?

William Foster, Northern Action Group chair

Speed criticised

NZ Transport Agency reduced the speed on SH1, between Warkworth and Puhoi, in 2021 in an effort to make the road safer and yet there seems to me more serious accidents that have closed the road since.

I feel that the reduction in speed has caused at least as many accidents if not more, as impatient drivers are tempted to take more risks.

It would be interesting to know the yearly accidents that closed the road in the preceding five years and the number since the speed was reduced.

Mark Croft, Scotts Landing

For NZTA’s response, see story