Admin Stuff

A brief note to say that a couple of older postings were found to have been modified recently to contain spam links. I’ve corrected the ones I found but please let me know if you spot other obvious modifications. e.g links to adverts etc.

Please – all those with author status, change your passwords if you have one that may be discoverable -e.g if it is a name or dictionary word.

To put this into context – this site gets about 300 attempts to post spam comments a month and over 16,000 since we opened.  most of these are captured before you ever see them. This is the first time I know that anything got through.

Andrew

Parasites

Alan’s article on “Turf Wars” is well-spoken, as always.  I would, however, make a distinction between the wealthy lawyers, developers and sports stars who actually want to live here, to be part of the island, and those who only seek to maximise profit from their ownership of land here.

The former are responsible for the gentrification of Palm Beach, Church Bay and such.  If they end up overwhelming the aging hippie population and remaking the entire island in their own self-satisfied image, well, I personally will be sad — but they did nothing that we didn’t do.  The Rocky Bay hippies took over their paradise from a bunch of retired World War I veterans from Panmure, who I’m sure bleated about the loss of neighbourhood character.  The veterans had taken it from the O’Brien farmers, who had taken it from Ngati Paoa, who had taken it from Ngati Maru and so forth.  Turf wars indeed; the argument of prior occupancy cuts many different ways.

On the other side are the profiteers, like the owners of the atrocity at Wharetana Bay.  These are not people who want to “live their island dream” or participate in island life in any way.  They want only to sell Waiheke’s charm as if they had had a hand in its creation.  They are parasites in the most literal meaning of the term: disposing for their own benefit of an asset that someone else has created.  Their position is morally indistinguishable from theft, systemically indistinguishable from infection.  They do not seek to remake the island, but to consume it.  They intend to ingest it as it is, and once the maximum profit has been chewed out of it, to spit it out and move on to the next unspoilt paradise.

So, how to deal with these two groups, each of whom threaten the island’s character in very different ways?  The first group, those who live here, are a social and cultural challenge, and must be handled in social and cultural ways:  Give them a personal stake in the preservation of the island’s unique qualities.  Invite them to enjoy the many walks and special places that Waiheke has to offer, or to join the Historical Society, or to drink an island-brewed beer.  They are human, and were drawn to the island, whether they understand this or not, by a charm whose survival cannot be taken for granted.

The second group, the parasites, could not care less about the long-term survival of the island charm they seek to consume, any more than I cared about the long-term survival of the banana I ate this morning.  Parasites can be dealt with in only one way: antibodies.  These work by neutralising an invasive agent’s ability to pilfer nutrients from its environment.  Short of actual violence, the only way to get this done here is through restrictive laws.  Since our Rodney Hide-designed supercity will never implement anything of the sort, Waiheke’s future depends on its political independence.  We are not talking about a cultural challenge here; the danger of the parasites is physical, not social.  Once Wharetana Bay has been destroyed, it’s gone forever, or at least for all of our lifetimes.

The same can be said of our entire island.  There is a great monetary incentive for profiteers to turn all of Waiheke into another Gold Coast or Miami Beach, a wasteland of absentee-owned vacation rentals heavily marketed to those who prefer their beaches endowed with the familiar noises and smells of urban crowding.  The only way to block that nightmarish future is to make it unprofitable, and to do that we shall have to take control of our own political destiny.  Regime change on the Local Board?  Sure, that’s a feel-good tactical move; but as long as we remain under the parental gaze of the supercity, no number of Paul Waldens will permit us to rescue the island we all love.

Turf Wars

A month or two ago I wrote an article on the early morning s

henanigans at Wharetana Bay. Not the most objective piece of journalism I freely admit since I myself was sitting, arms linked, with the protestors rather than observing impartially from the sidelines and taking notes.

The protest, and the public debate that followed are matters of record now and the issue was duly flogged to death in the papers in true island style. Yet the string of comment that followed my article grew to such horrendous length and became so thoroughly disagreeable that I stopped even looking at it. I suppose I could have worked out how to purge most of the torrent of nasty crap that was written but then I felt that it might be better to leave it be as it was;

A. Freedom of speech in action.

And,

B. Demonstrative of a certain mindset that deserves further attention.

By all means go back and read through it but don’t expect to be in any way edified by the experience. In essence, there are those who felt affronted that a wealthy property developer, having managed to cleverly worm his way round the legalities of building a non compliant dwelling and massively pissed off the neighboring property owners into the bargain, should have found himself publicly challenged by some insanitary, rag tag rent-a-crowd of drug addled tree huggers who had somehow managed to drag themselves from their enseamed beds at an ungodly hour of the morning to voice their disapproval. How dare they be so beastly? Why were they even allowed near the place to foul the air with their Marxist bleatings?

This bracing view was then developed upon by the casting of aspersions on the excellent facebook page ‘The Waiheke Island People’s Parliament’. ‘Unrepresentative’, ‘The usual suspects’, ‘Hippies and troublemakers imagining themselves to be the true voice of the island’ etc.
The fact that WIPP has been a huge success and has proved way more entertaining and vibrant than the letters page of the papers is neither here nor there. Nor is the fact that it’s membership numbers in the hundreds, (All of whom, it should be noted, are deeply interested and involved in local politics) apparently relevant. The four or five opponents that dived into the discussion seemed to think none of that mattered.
This is given added vexation by the unwillingness of these folks to actually identify themselves. They seem happy to carp and moan and insult, yet seem to believe that they may freely do so from behind a cover of anonymity. Wow…how courageous. We might do well to heed the excellent advice of the British writer and humourist David Mitchell who recently suggested that anything at all published on the internet without being signed by a real person to be automatically dismissed as mere vulgar graffiti.

But never mind all that. If ‘Grumpy National Voter of Surfdale’ and ‘Rip-Shit-And-Bust,-Wreck-The Joint-For–Profit’ of Ostend don’t feel like being as open as old ‘Sod the neighbours, I’ll do what I like in my garden as it’s my right’ of Rocky Bay did then it is not for us to disparage them for it. I’m not here to fan the flames of such silliness, merely to put some perspective on the matter.

What I’d like to suggest is this; If you don’t find Green Party voting, Herbal remedy imbibing, left leaning, anti corporate, development resisting types to be your cup of tea then maybe Waiheke Island isn’t the right place for you. Because, and I really can’t stress this enough,

THEY WERE HERE BEFORE YOU.

Let me repeat that with an exclamation mark in case the full import didn’t get through.

THEY WERE HERE BEFORE YOU!

Back in the 70’s and 80’s Waiheke was considered a wasteland of alternative types. Bleeding hearts and artists. Hippies and Wobblies. Beneficiaries and Solo Mums. If you were a smart and go ahead sort of person who drove a nice expensive car and wanted to drink in flash city bars then you shunned the place and fair enough. But, while you were living it up in urban splendour, all those hippies made this island in their own image and a bloody good job they made of it too. So don’t (and I mean really DON’T), imagine that the attitude of “Nice island hippies, now piss off, WE want it now.” is going to go down well. You got here too late.

Let me give you an interesting and contrasting idea to ponder. When I first came to New Zealand it was to take a job in Westport on the South Island’s west coast. A strange place I’d have to say. But, despite it’s remoteness and it’s foul climate it was settled by hardy types who made it in their image. ‘Coasters’ are a funny lot. On the one hand cheerful and hard working, on the other parochial, standoffish and downright stupid. They operate on the basis of using whatever resources can be exploited to keep themselves fed and housed and when that resource is gone they sit in the mud moaning for handouts until the next boom happens. It’s nasty, but it’s THEIR TURF and if that’s how they want to live then let them be. Suddenly turning up there in your hippy van with the anti mining stickers holding the windscreen together, setting up home and shaking your dreadlocks in horror at the way the place is run is just downright RUDE. If you don’t like it then piss off. Stake your own claim to somewhere and run it according to your own values but don’t imagine for a moment that trying to change your new home to your own liking is anything but ignorant and stupid.

After all, if you decided to settle in Epsom or Remuera and then started carping about all the horrible lawyers, CEO’s, television presenters and grotesque black ‘Insecurity Mobiles’ about the place then you’d be laughed at. Too late mate! They got here first and they like it that way.

But back to Waiheke. I myself got here in 1997. I loved it. I’m not a left leaning greeny either. And yes, I find some of the attitudes expressed here to be rather dim and foolish. There are those on WIPP whose unthinking opposition to business and development I find childish in the extreme. Yet I don’t abuse people for them. In fact many of the people whose ideas I oppose are fine folk and good friends of mine. I support them publicly for my own greedy self interest. I own property here. It is now worth TWICE what we paid for it. Why? Because it’s value is driven by how amazingly nice the island is. If we all stand by and let badly thought out development take place then my property value will decrease. My plans to spend the rest of my life here will have to be rethought and I’m damned if I am going to let that happen. If I’d wanted a fast, urban lifestyle then I’d have settled in the city. But I didn’t. I came here instead for the charming, rural feel of the place and I want that preserved. As the excellent chap John Hawkesby once asked; “Why does everything have to be like the Gold Coast?”

He made a good point. If a development like the idiotic Matiatia project is mooted then it must be resisted. Likewise the foolish marina idea. These have no long term benefit to the genuine residents. But have you heard a peep out of any of us regarding the Isola Estate development or the Eco-Zip? Of course not. These are fine projects. They bring actual benefit to the island instead of a fat, short term profit for some crowd of talentless developers who have no long term stake in the island we call home.

So, in conclusion, if you agitated pro development types crave the roar of bulldozers, the cosy intimacy of infill housing, huge strip malls full of shops selling stuff you don’t need, wide roads buzzing with Red Bull addled teenagers in low slung cars and the vibrant buzz of unbridled, balls out, free market excess, then Howick is right there for the taking. Go on. All it takes is a ferry ride. You’ll be so much happier.

And so will we.

NOTE: This article was written by ALAN KNIGHT. The one who makes beer. He’d even add a clear picture [see below: ed] to this if he knew how. If you wish to add comment then you are welcome to do so. However, if these comments are not signed with a genuine name then they will be ignored. It’s only fair.

shame on the vandals

Shame, shame, shame on the vandals who tore our community owned studios down and left a pile of rubble for landfill and shame on the local board for the cack handed mishandling of the whole process.

While i accept that the studios were to come down to make way for the new library there was no need to evict the community groups 6 months before anything was done at all to the site. The community would have been richer, through rents recieved and facilities open and community organisations woulkd have been stronger through having their occupancy undisturbed over winter and would have been happy to accept a fortnights notice. Moreover there should havce been a discussion with our community on how best to recover and recycle the building materials. The huge glass windows and doors would doubtless have been an asset to community gardens looking to construct a glasshouse. The beams and roofs would have been a godsend to scouts and others needing to build shelter.

I am seriously pissed off at the waste of an asset that belongs to us all, I am angry that what was a resource is now going to costs us all to truck to town and put in a landfill. And I am troubled by the lack of accountability from our leaders who seem untroubled at wasting what we have already paid for and costing us to dump what we might have reused.

The situation is emblematic of a wider malise where our rates and our resources are mistreated and we are not consulted as if we were not the owners but some inferior beings.

There are some fine staff within council who will be very angry at this latest environmental vandalism and my hope is that our protest might ensure a more consistent environmental and community policy across council thnat will help them to do their jobs and give us the city we deserve.

To reach this nirvana will require local political representatives who share our values. will fight for our vision and protect what we have.

From John Stansfield.

The Truth That Makes Us Safer

An Open Letter to Auckland Transport and the Waiheke Local Board

I am concerned with the recent centre line painting on Wilma Road. As a local resident, I ride and walk my children to school there very regularly. I drive it too. I describe it as “shared environment”. We all use the narrow road space and as drivers, we locals are aware of the high regularity we will meet active users- walkers, joggers, horse riders and cyclists, around one of those bends.

To make things clear, I am not advocating for the road to be widened or for footpaths or cycle lanes here, at least not past Dickson Rd. Those thousands of dollars would be wiser spent elsewhere and deprive Waiheke of one of its best remaining rural character roads. No, I would rather we carried on sharing with grace.

Since the line painting however, I have concluded that this is now harder. Vehicle speeds appear to have increased and outside the car, I feel we are more vulnerable. Interestingly, inside it I feel more comfortable with my speed and the formality of the road.

I believe this is because the lines set up an unrealistic expectation of a clear lane ahead. This “false sense of security” is a dangerous thing, because it is rarely so. We are in fact regularly required to cross the centre line to pass slower active users and the last thing we need coming at us then, is a secure and over confident driver, going too fast to avoid a head on collision.

I understand that some may be surprised by the fuss over “just a few paint lines” but I would ask you to walk the road now. When you are there, every little thing needs to help you.

I also understand that the previous near invisible lines, could have understandably been seen, by a conscientious asset manager to be in need of replacement. So lets not make this a personal attack on them.

However, I do believe we should now assess the outdated paradigm that was nicely fading away up until a few weeks ago. AT and the local board are apparently relying heavily on “shared space” design to keep all users of a reopened Esplanade safe and happy, (if not out of pocket and covered in dust). If so, it is surely critical for AT to get shared space right where there is already undeniable and necessary car use.

I understood that best practice in “shared space” design is critically built on a sense of “ambiguity” to encourage slower speeds. That sense of discomfort and “edge” we drivers feel is the truth that makes us safer.

Wilma Road before the line painting was more “self-explaining”. It “told” you the conditions are complex and you should drive to them. Most drivers were highly considerate because of this. They understood (and thankfully some still do) that the road was saying “slow down you are here and so are those more vulnerable than you”.

Wilma Roads, ditches, narrow bends and overhanging trees all send those messages. However, the new line markings attempt to create structure and regulation that in truth, cant be achieved (nor should it in my view) without massive engineering investment.

The centre lines try to make the road something that it is not. From a rural single lane road with passing places into a fully-fledged two-lane road. I believe this is fighting the roads natural sense of place, sending all the wrong messages and making the vulnerable more so.

I respectfully ask to meet with Local Board representatives and an AT officer who has training and experience in shared space design. Afterwards, I hope that any other interested local residents can be involved in a discussion about the issues: That we can then jointly consider an improved set of asset management guidelines for Wilma Rd.

I believe AT needs to set a more appropriate level of service for the road, one that works with its character instead of against it and focuses primarily on the needs of the vulnerable. I believe this is best achieved through road design that encourages vehicle speeds of less than 30K/hr. I don’t believe that will cost thousands of dollars.

However, those are just my personal views, I am sure there are others out there too. I now hope that the Local Board and AT can begin to facilitate this important community discussion. We have  many other roads just like Wilma. Many are key assets to our tourism revenue and “Waiheke feel” culture.

Regards,

Tom Ransom 14 Hillside Rd, Ostend Tel 3723215