Fun and Frolics By The Seaside.

“But things happened and there was stuff and shenanigans. Beautiful word. Shenanigans.”
From Dr Who.

Now we’ve had a day to ponder the stirring events at Wharetana Bay there are all kinds of interesting points that we shoul

d consider. The local Facebook pages lit up with posts. The TV news coverage was surprisingly detailed. My story on here got over four hundred views in twenty four hours which I believe is a record. (My humble thanks.) And this morning the Kennedy Point roundabout had sprouted an endearingly tatty sign saying “!SACK! Paul Walden” (This has since been amusingly altered.)

And there I was thinking we were in the political doldrums. My usual level of devotion to this island community always goes through the roof when we all start shouting and blithering about issues, and real issues have been a bit thin on the ground of late. So when yesterday’s splendid shenanigans erupted it felt wonderful. Everywhere I go I’m hearing people talking about it. Most are supportive but a few are grumbling about how ‘disgraceful’ it all is.

Now the day is getting on and I am supposed to be making beer. But the urge to give this particular brew a stir instead is powerful. So let’s take a look at a few angles that have emerged. In no particular order….

Firstly, it’s a bit of a shame that the island’s boaties couldn’t have made a better showing. There was some talk on Facebook of organizing a flotilla to block access to the bay. Then it all went very quiet and anyone watching might be forgiven for thinking “Hello…They are planning something here. They just don’t want to give the game away.”
Sadly, there was no game, which was a pity considering how easily just a few sail boats could have blocked off the bay until the high tide passed. Though I admit I know nothing of such activities so I won’t push that line any further.

Then there is the telling business of the arrested protesters and the unwillingness of the police to actually lay any charges. Several of the doughty folk taking part were entirely willing to be arrested. Their point was that if the charges went to court they couldn’t be made to stick, what with the dubious legality of closing a public reserve. The authorities clearly recognised this problem as well.

Now it was clear that we had quite a few real veterans of public protest down there showing us amateurs how it’s done. But then Waiheke has long been a home to many such motivated people so we shouldn’t be surprised. While most of us left on our own feet, unwilling to be carried off by long suffering members of the constabulary, others followed their own instincts, made themselves heavy and were rewarded by being bodily removed like many times before. “Go Limp!” they advised us.

But, let’s be clear on one thing. Bandying words like ‘brutality’ and ‘thuggishness’ about as the pictures emerged on Facebook is really not helping. The police behaved with the calm restraint typical of this civilized and polite country. They did their job and nothing more. Nor did any of the protesters offer them any violence. We all knew that by going there we would find ourselves being asked, officially, to leave. Those who were hauled out by their arms and legs CHOSE to leave that way. So if you are one of those Perennially Indignant types trying to make a point by bleating about brutality, please stop it. You just sound silly and petulant and are NOT HELPING. This isn’t the bloody Springboks tour, it’s just a local spat over a bad resource decision.

Amid all the delighted reaction to all of this let us spare a thought for the opposition. Halfway through the proceedings yesterday a man pulled up by the old villa and walked towards the protesters. He began shouting. I was too far away to hear what he was saying but was keen to go and talk to him about his views. Sadly he retreated almost immediately so his opinions, whatever they were, will have to go unrecorded. The various facebook pages filled with comment, yet it took until this morning for anyone to even attempt to raise an argument in favour of either the development or the local board and council planners. The supporters of the local board are difficult to hear. Almost impossible in fact. And yet, one of their favourite mantras, whenever they write in to the papers, is that THEY are the majority and those of us who disagree are a foolish and tiny minority, horrible malcontents and trouble makers who can be safely ignored.

Right….That’s a tiny minority who somehow manage to pretend that we are numerous by each having a dozen or so facebook accounts which we use on the People’s Parliament to make it look as if there are hundreds of us pointing out the dismal failure of the board like the dead bodies propped on the ramparts in Beau Geste. In fact, we have got so good at it that we even disguise ourselves as our fictional alter egos when we go out. Check out the Waiheke People’s Parliament to see how duplicitous we are! Sure it SAYS there are two hundred and fifty of us, but really there are less than half a dozen. See all those names listed? All fake. Except me, Hans Versluys and Susi Newborn. There, you got us. We invented all those other names to fool you. We made it all up. All those other people you see posting are us wearing a bewildering variety of wigs and silly hats.

NOT!

Come on you pro-board types. Get real. YOU are the minority. Off hand I can list a dozen or so of you and I pay attention to this stuff. I’m sure I’d meet a few more if I played golf but I can’t raise that level of boredom. For all your bluster the fact remains that you don’t have the numbers to raise a rival Facebook page to state your point of view. I wish you would! It would make dialogue so much easier. Maybe one or two of you, (Or indeed all THREE) might like to write something and post it on here? Your thoughts would be welcomed. And we PROMISE to post it unaltered. We want to hear from you. We’d love to read WHY you think Faye Storer is a figure of towering statesmanship. We are agog to learn why you see the Wharetana Bay business as an excellent step in the right direction or why we need to stop questioning the Auckland Council when they force their wishes upon us without adequate consultation. We’d be fascinated to know why you think the island should be run like Queensland’s Gold Coast.
Otherwise we will never understand you. “Hedgehogs,” we’ll keep thinking, “They can hide, but they can’t run!”

WATCH, LEARN, AND ABOVE ALL REMEMBER.

Wharetana bay, 7.AM Monday 1st of October 2012.

So the Spring tide came and went, leaving two more bits of unwanted debris washed up on our shores. The builders and house movers looked bemused, the police and Rent-a Cops looked embarrassed and the protesters looked furious. It was cold and very wet, especially for those hardy souls who braved the sea up to their waists and kept this unpopular development delayed, (Though sadly not enough).

Now I haven’t been on a protest in many years. My original approach as I got down the slippery path to the beach in the dark was to observe and report. Do my best to look as if I was sporting one of those classic hats with a PRESS tag in the band. “A protester? Not me Officer! I’m just here to get the story!”

It didn’t work. There were simply too many people I like and respect already there blocking the barge’s access for me to sit on the sidelines. In seconds I was sitting on the damp sand, arms linked with those around me and showing willing in the matter of slowing down one of the most contentious developments this island of ours has seen in years. Banners were held up, chants chanted and views made very plain.

It had fallen to the hapless Gary Wilton to be the Council’s man on the spot and he did his best to read out the notice detailing the closure of the reserve for the day. I heard the first few words before the cat calling drowned him out. You have to hand it to Gary. In a community that views Council staff with contempt and loathing, he manages to be the one staff member we can’t bring ourselves to dislike. They ought to put him in charge of teaching the rest how to appear human in public. Had any other council employee attempted to do what he did the abuse would have been vicious and uncompromising and quite right too.

Still, there was the local version of The Riot Act read out and it fell to the rather embarrassed looking constabulary to enforce it. No surprises to see Martini Gotje targeted and hauled away past the barriers first. That lad has Veteran Protester written all over him and the police know to eject them first.

One by one we were all escorted or dragged (According to personal preference) from the beach. That left four or five hardy types right in the sea in front of the barge. They did magnificently. One by one they were removed by cops who had to wade into the water to get them. One of the last to go was local board member Paul Walden, making his point very firmly and establishing himself as the one Board member who actually bloody LISTENS to the disquiet of the community on this issue. Long may he do so.

Well, the barge was going to get in. We all knew that. But the point was very firmly made by both sides. They can do as they please, we won’t go along with it. Because what we saw this morning was PRIVILIGE. That’s ‘Private Law’ in its original form. Yes, there are rules and regulations by the pound. Vast books full of niggling laws and requirements that we must all comply with if we so much as want to build a garden shed. Did I say ALL? Silly me. If you can afford it, then the law will look the other way while you do whatever the hell you like. Spend enough and they’ll even provide policemen to keep the little people away while you break it. Then, elected officials who should know better slide away from the whole mess describing it as ‘A sad and sorry saga’.

Right. But can we add the word ‘Corrupt’ to that description I wonder? Because there was more than a whiff of it around this morning. The council of course absolutely HATE that word. They go mad with vexation if anyone mentions it. But, can I offer them a suggestion? If you folks don’t want us thinking that you are all as crooked as corkscrews with your grubby fingers in every brown envelope full of hard cash then stop BEHAVING as if you are!

Likewise, if you were, just as an example, the Chair of a local community board representing a small community that sees you increasingly as a half witted, soulless robot who doesn’t give a damn about what their community wants or needs then stop behaving like one. Especially if you harbour any ambitions of still being in office this time next year.

Because for me at least, that is the main thing that keeps me involved in watching all of this. Wharetana Bay isn’t the first place on Waiheke where some spoiled rich idiot wanted to do something ugly and it won’t be the last. But if we have all learned one important lesson today it is this; The Auckland Council treat us with contempt. They couldn’t give a damn about us as long as we keep paying their extortionate rates demands and do as we are told. And if that wasn’t bad enough we have a local board who don’t care what we think either.

Still, only a year to go until Faye Storer and her cronies have to get out and about in an effort to keep themselves in office. Last time round they all said that they would LISTEN.

They LIED.

I won’t forget that and neither should you.Wharetana bay, 7.AM Monday 1st of October 2012.

So the Spring tide came and went, leaving two more bits of unwanted debris washed up on our shores. The builders and house movers looked bemused, the police and Rent-a Cops looked embarrassed and the protesters looked furious. It was cold and very wet, especially for those hardy souls who braved the sea up to their waists and kept this unpopular development delayed, (Though sadly not enough).
Now I haven’t been on a protest in many years. My original approach as I got down the slippery path to the beach in the dark was to observe and report. Do my best to look as if I was sporting one of those classic hats with a PRESS tag in the band. “A protester? Not me Officer! I’m just here to get the story!”
It didn’t work. There were simply too many people I like and respect already there blocking the barge’s access for me to sit on the sidelines. In seconds I was sitting on the damp sand, arms linked with those around me and showing willing in the matter of slowing down one of the most contentious developments this island of ours has seen in years. Banners were held up, chants chanted and views made very plain.
It had fallen to the hapless Gary Wilton to be the Council’s man on the spot and he did his best to read out the notice detailing the closure of the reserve for the day. I heard the first few words before the cat calling drowned him out. You have to hand it to Gary. In a community that views Council staff with contempt and loathing, he manages to be the one staff member we can’t bring ourselves to dislike. They ought to put him in charge of teaching the rest how to appear human in public. Had any other council employee attempted to do what he did the abuse would have been vicious and uncompromising and quite right too.
Still, there was the local version of The Riot Act read out and it fell to the rather embarrassed looking constabulary to enforce it. No surprises to see Martini Gotje targeted and hauled away past the barriers first. That lad has Veteran Protester written all over him and the police know to eject them first.
One by one we were all escorted or dragged (According to personal preference) from the beach. That left four or five hardy types right in the sea in front of the barge. They did magnificently. One by one they were removed by cops who had to wade into the water to get them. One of the last to go was local board member Paul Walden, making his point very firmly and establishing himself as the one Board member who actually bloody LISTENS to the disquiet of the community on this issue. Long may he do so.
Well, the barge was going to get in. We all knew that. But the point was very firmly made by both sides. They can do as they please, we won’t go along with it. Because what we saw this morning was PRIVILIGE. That’s ‘Private Law’ in its original form. Yes, there are rules and regulations by the pound. Vast books full of niggling laws and requirements that we must all comply with if we so much as want to build a garden shed. Did I say ALL? Silly me. If you can afford it, then the law will look the other way while you do whatever the hell you like. Spend enough and they’ll even provide policemen to keep the little people away while you break it. Then, elected officials who should know better slide away from the whole mess describing it as ‘A sad and sorry saga’.
Right. But can we add the word ‘Corrupt’ to that description I wonder? Because there was more than a whiff of it around this morning. The council of course absolutely HATE that word. They go mad with vexation if anyone mentions it. But, can I offer them a suggestion? If you folks don’t want us thinking that you are all as crooked as corkscrews with your grubby fingers in every brown envelope full of hard cash then stop BEHAVING as if you are!
Likewise, if you were, just as an example, the Chair of a local community board representing a small community that sees you increasingly as a half witted, soulless robot who doesn’t give a damn about what their community wants or needs then stop behaving like one. Especially if you harbour any ambitions of still being in office this time next year.
Because for me at least, that is the main thing that keeps me involved in watching all of this. Wharetana Bay isn’t the first place on Waiheke where some spoiled rich idiot wanted to do something ugly and it won’t be the last. But if we have all learned one important lesson today it is this; The Auckland Council treat us with contempt. They couldn’t give a damn about us as long as we keep paying their extortionate rates demands and do as we are told. And if that wasn’t bad enough we have a local board who don’t care what we think either.
Still, only a year to go until Faye Storer and her cronies have to get out and about in an effort to keep themselves in office. Last time round they all said that they would LISTEN.
They LIED.
I won’t forget that and neither should you.
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