Mahurangi Matters, July 2017 – Readers Letters

TANL nonsense

Heather Rogan, convener New Zealand Fairy Tern Charitable Trust

It’s hard to credit the assertions made by TANL (MM July 5) that their illegal weir on Te Arai Stream has had no negative impacts on fish, birds and flooding. Auckland Council’s ecologist, Council’s consultant ecologist and another independent ecologist have all expressed concerns about the significant adverse effects of the weir on the stream environment, fish migration and spawning, and consequently on the NZ fairy tern population. Another independent researcher who has observed NZ fairy tern foraging in Slipper and Spectacle Lakes states that it is important that “Te Arai Stream, which links these two lakes to the sea, is not obstructed by anything that could hinder or block fish passages.” What makes it even worse is that this illegal weir has been constructed in the middle of a public reserve, which was established to protect the area’s high ecological values!
We applaud Auckland Council for serving the abatement notice on TANL and look forward to seeing action taken to restore the area to its natural state.

Damn the dam

Glen Bowmar, Mangawhai Heads

Having read the article (MM July 5) concerning the weir across the stream at Te Arai, I wish to refute some statements made by David Lewis of Te Arai North Limited. I have fished this stream and one of its tributaries that comes out of the Te Arai lakes for 14 years. I never sell my catch but eat some and give others to friends and family. Mr Lewis says that fish are able to cross the weir as they have for years. Yes, years ago before the weir was raised to become what I would call a dam, they could cross the weir. The original weir created  only a minimal drop in height, which I know from personal experience enabled the whitebait to pass through. The reason for raising the weir, as I understand it after having spoken to workers involved in the construction work, is to raise the level of the water at the pump intake upstream. This is to keep the intake off the bottom of the stream and stop it being clogged up. In fact, last September when the weir had been breached on the north side, the intake was left high and dry above the stream level. So the real reason for the weir/dam is to provide deep enough water for their irrigation.

Double standards

Chris Rowe, Sandspit

What’s the difference between an unconsented weir at Te Arai (MM July 5) and an unconsented weir at the Sandspit Marina? The Te Arai weir has attracted an abatement notice from Auckland Council, which is great news.  The unconsented weir at Sandspit Marina – which dams the Brick Bay Stream – has been ignored by Auckland Council for 18 months and is one of a number of compliance issues at the marina. This is the marina which was opened to great fanfare a year ago. As the All Blacks’ coach says in relation to rugby referees: “All you ask for is consistency.” Why the double standard Auckland Council?

Vexed by Vaxxed

Cindy Lynch, Warkworth

I am writing today in response to an article (MM July 5) written by Eugene Sims of Warkworth Natural Therapies. I am incensed that by publishing this potentially damaging piece, your publication has inferred a degree of credibility to Mr Sims’ views. Until now, I have enjoyed reading your largely informative, community-focused newspaper. However, the decision to print this nonsense without providing some balance is beyond my comprehension. While the writer repeats his assertion that he “is not attempting to influence anyone’s decision” and is merely trying to help people “gather information”, he finishes by adding a link to an “independent” website which is so demonstrably anti-vaccine, it would be laughable if the subject matter were not so potentially harmful. Ideally this garbage should not have been printed but unfortunately, it was. While you inexplicably chose not to provide an alternative view at the time of printing, I will now supply you with links to credible sources completely debunking the myths peddled in the “Vaxxed” mockumentary (produced and directed by the discredited fraud that is Andrew Wakefield).

(MM provides a forum for all points of view, not just the ones that we, or our readers, necessarily agree with. As long as those opinions don’t breach normal standards of decency and respect, we will continue to do so – Ed)

Digging deeper

Jacob Le Car, Warkworth

Fantastic news that Mahurangi River is getting some much needed attention (MM May 30) – it really is the jewel in Warkworth’s crown – but there were a few points missing from the story:
Trustee Peter Thompson owns Clearwater Dredging and is being paid (by the Trust) to do the work – no other tenders were sought – in the interests of transparency this should have been disclosed.
The wider initiative to improve the ecology of the river and riparian planting sounded like all care, no responsibility. More information should be sought on what the Trust intends doing to collaborate with others on sediment control in the wider catchment, otherwise the dredging job could be the gift that just keeps on giving.
Where was the expert ecological commentary about the impact of dredging on ecosystems and biodiversity of the Mahurangi River, or is MAG and Iwi support, and Council’s granting of the consent, supposed to be sufficient assurance to readers that this has been carefully considered?
In the interests of the full story, perhaps MM would like to dig a little deeper.

Mahurangi River Advisory Board chair, Penny Webster, responds:
The resource consent was granted by the Auckland Council after about 12 months of the Trust working with the officers and others, and that process would have looked at effects, etc. of dredging the river.
Obviously we would love to work with community groups about upstream cleaning and planting. I have actually discussed with the Chair of the Environment Committee how to involve others in the way that the Mahurangi Action Plan was implemented.
As for Peter getting the dredging job, we have documented prices from several others to ensure we are getting a fair price. The benefits for Warkworth outweigh any negatives.

Thumbs up MM

Warwick Spicer, Auckland
(Warwick Spicer is the former editor of the Auckland Star – Ed)

Thank you Mahurangi Matters reporter Ben Donaldson for the publicity accorded to the Omaha Beach Bowling Club (MM July 5). Recognition of achievements within community groups, such as the Omaha club, is so important to developing the spirit that drives those involved and, hopefully, encourages others to join in. That has been a vital function of suburban newspapers, since the metropolitans have favoured becoming a vehicle for columnists rather than a record of news.

Targeted rates OK

John and Barbara Maltby, Point Wells

We would support a targeted rate for specific projects (MM June 14). The rate would have to be applied to properties in the area of benefit and could be used to raise loans, which would be underwritten by the targeted rate. Ms Houlbrooke’s suggestion that at the same time the transport levy over Rodney properties, for which we get negligible benefit, be abolished is fair. Of course, there is little chance that the Auckland Council would ever agree to relinquishing control to the local board or give up the revenue stream that they happily take out of Rodney. By far the greatest hope we have of gaining control over Rodney’s rates is to support the Northern Action Group campaign to form a separate Unitary Council for North Rodney. This campaign is entering a very interesting phase this election year and is not dead in the water by any means.

Back off Goff

John Clements, Orewa

I read with dismay and alarm (MM June 14) Mayor Goff’s alleged ultimatum to Cr Sayers that there would be future consequences for Sayers and his constituents if he did not support Goff’s so-called “pillow tax”. Whether one agrees with the tax or not, Sayers was doing what he was supposed to do – representing the people that elected him. That’s democracy at work. Mayor Goff’s response was an attack on it. It’s a bad omen.

Salute to Sayers

Alan Kendall, Snells Beach

Fantastic to read that Cr Sayers is fighting hard for Rodney. It looks like he has a tough battle to get Mayor Goff to loosen the purse strings for Rodney. However, I admire the way he’s standing up against the Mayor and fighting so hard for us. It can’t be easy. Keep up the good work Cr Sayers.

Callous employers

Sarndra Urwin, Warkworth

When the fire siren goes and the ambulance is on its way, our first thoughts are usually of our family and friends and hope it’s no one we know. But not so, apparently, to many employers. I was astonished to learn that most employers do not allow their employees, who are volunteers for these emergency services, to attend during their working hours. I wonder if the employer would be so reluctant if they thought it may be their house on fire, or their family in the crash? What sort of message is this sending to our up and coming young adults?
Call me old-fashioned, but as an employer myself I would be honored to have such a community spirited employee, who spends their free time training to save lives instead of watching telly.

Limiting speed

George & Christina Winch, Matakana

We believe the current speed limit of 100kph on open roads is unsafe and should be reduced to 80kph, especially on State Highway One.
From Warkworth to the tunnels, it is highly dangerous with its narrow winding roads, particularly at peak times, after dark and in bad weather.
Can someone tell me why the speed limit on this dangerous stretch of road is 100kph, the same as the motorway which has two lanes and a safety barrier?
Speed is the main cause of serious accidents, but the authorities and police don’t want to know. If they were serious about reducing our shocking road toll, they would reduce the speed limit.
Instead, they always take the easy way out by reducing the alcohol limit and then waiting outside hotels, etc., instead of patrolling the main highways, making it difficult for people to enjoy going out to dinner.
Wellsford to Warkworth is mainly an 80kph zone – why can’t we have an 80kph zone between Warkworth and the tunnels to keep our families safe?

Sloppy drivers

Nikki Amiss, Kaipara Flats

I have just read the article titled ‘Safety questions surround intersection’ (MM Jun 1). The problem is not the intersection, which is clearly and very visibly marked with Give Way signs, but driver inattention. The only thing I would add to this road issue is the large hedge, on the corner of Mansel and Woodcocks by Mitre 10, which blocks the view of vehicles coming out of Mansel Drive, giving drivers on Woodcocks Road no time to react to any careless driving.