Mahurangi Matters, 27 March 2023 – Readers Letters

Lack of trees

I am not known for letters to the editor, but I do wish to comment on a recent article headlined ‘Weather inflicts horrendous damage on Kaipara Hills farms’ (MM Feb 27).

Now, I certainly do not wish to denigrate our farmers, as I have the utmost respect for the agricultural community as a whole.

I do, however, lament the lack of trees or ground cover shown in the photos of the worst slips. Is this the result of five or six generations of over-farming on vulnerable land, when all the signals over at least the past 30 years have strongly suggested that these delicate areas demand stronger erosion control management?

Would the damage have been less catastrophic if better land management had been practiced, replacing trees and ground cover that has been removed by previous generations?

Please do not take this as ‘farmer bashing’, as particularly at the moment they need all the moral support they can get, but I guess you get my drift.

When I travel around rural and urban New Zealand, I am really troubled by generations of irresponsible denuding of what seems to be very vulnerable land.

To me, the headline totally misleads, and removes human responsibility. ‘Weather inflicts horrendous damage on denuded Kaipara Hills farms’ would have been more accurate.

Mark Newcomb, Sandspit

Shrinking habitats

Thanks, John Richards, for questioning the effectiveness of dog management at Snells Beach (MM Mar 13).

At first we thought about responding with all the facts, but then wondered what is the real issue for guardians of dogs who deliberately take their pets into the small sections of protected coastline.

There’s plenty of information about dogs and their impact on endangered wildlife of Aotearoa, and we’re unsure bombarding people with more facts is of much value. The point made in the article ‘Stop pussyfooting around’ (MM Feb 27) was that there are no controls for companion cats that predate wildlife on public land. However, most other threats can be addressed.

Snells’ small protected northern shoreline accounts for only 28 per cent of the complete beach. To the south, where dogs have more freedom, few shorebirds roost, and to our knowledge none nest within the less protected area.

We’re sure John knows that more than 20 species of endemic and native birds, and occasionally marine mammals, find refuge at the northern end of Snells Beach where dog restrictions change with the seasons. Where New Zealand’s dog owners can go with their pets changes and shifts as much as the sands on the shoreline. It’s not easy to keep up with what’s what, but council websites are a great place to start. Understandably, John and many others are confused about rules and they could end up in deep guano should they walk a pooch in the various no dog zones at heaps of popular beaches.

Was he being disingenuous, perhaps stirring up a cat vs dog vs mustelids vs rodents debate? All these introduced critters are predators, and all threaten New Zealand’s biodiversity.

Since 2021, Boathouse Bay and Snells Shoreline Conservation Community trapping volunteers have eradicated nearly 900 predatory rodents and mustelids.

Most dog owners respect the protected but shrinking habitats of wildlife and a few let the masses down.

We invite people to ask us questions face-to-face in respectful conversations. We’re online or chat to us at Snells Beach during our monthly volunteer mornings, our community events, or our first planting day on Sunday, July 9.

Jackie Russell, Snells Shoreline Conservation Community, a Forest & Bird Warkworth project

Regarding cats and dogs

Decision time for Snells Beach and Omaha – birds or dogs running free? Birds or cats roaming around at night? Cat management legislation will only get passed into law if there is a change to what is acceptable to the majority of society.

Once a law is enacted, enforcement becomes the next issue, as is clear with existing dog legislation.
Ruud Kleinpaste, in his recent presentation at Mahurangi College, proposed that education is the answer. He now chooses to work with children. Our environment will be in their hands very soon.

Perhaps they are less likely to take extreme positions in the birds vs cats/dogs situation, and see that we can have native birds and domestic pets, provided each ‘side’ respects the values held so dearly by the other side, and takes steps to act accordingly.

The standards of cat management need to be clearly communicated – keep it inside at night, get it neutered, have it microchipped and registered, feed it a high-protein diet, don’t leave it home alone for long periods of time. This creates the space to deal with feral or stray cats, because all those with a loving home are safely tucked up inside.

The cat issue is a national debate long overdue for sensible discussion based on facts, not emotion. It is not up to “the Council” or “the Government” – it is up to us. Friends, neighbours, family – voicing concern. While the wheels of democracy grind on, this problem could easily be solved.

Ngaire Wallen, Campbells Beach

Sleight of hand

As the financial year draws to its close, we can all look forward to one certainty – our (sic) banks will have made record profits.

How many of us realise that a considerable proportion of these profits are accrued through the use of cards, as opposed to cash? As an oft-quoted example, a $50 bill spent at the beginning of the day will be worth the same at the end. A dozen or so card transactions, over the same day, will have had a fee or percentage clipped each time, ensuring the bank has made money at each point of sale.

Cards may be convenient – but at what cost is this convenience to the users and the retailers, many of whom seem to have overlooked this voracious sleight of hand? One retailer I know states that it costs him around $2000 a month in these “transaction fees”. From the bank’s perspective, it is a genuine case of “money for old rope”… people are actually paying, every time to make a purchase.

Technically, the card owner does not pay, but every recipient does, and the banks must love it. Given our storm-ravaged state, I suggest our political servants at least discuss this clever extortion.

Crispin Caldicott, Makarau

Parked up

Another frantic Friday afternoon at the Warkworth Community Transport Hub. I took this picture about 2pm on Friday, March 10, while out walking my dog. Worth every one of our rates surcharge dollars … not!

Ray Eder, Warkworth