Comment by Greg Treadwell
The thing to remember about Waiheke politics is that as important as the number of people who support you is the number who don’t. The amount of precious time board members and gulf councillors have lost to defending their position locally on a number of occasions every week and again at the monthly board meeting has usually been directly proportionate to the size of the last hornet’s nest they kicked. Unhappy islanders are wont to queue – even patiently – for their right to be heard (happy islanders are too busy being happy to care, of course). The amount of local angst is directly proportionate to the amount of time the board spends stalled, inward-looking, forced to long, fruitless discussions about process, and making sure each member is fully heard before any vote is taken, completely predictable though the result may well be because of the numbers game we’ve already seen at work. Board members – even those who, by dint of their alliance, can dominate the decision-making if they choose – will need to feel they have won the discussion, and sometimes, yes, even the moral battle, before they raise their hands in unison and inflict the inevitable on the underdog. But the outnumbered, too, have every right to speak. It all takes time, this passion. A reasonably happy board, with everyone feeling pretty much heard, is a much leaner, more productive machine. By far. A board under fire – as this one is likely to be – is regularly distracted and in strategising mode.
That’s the tragedy of Faye-Gate. Lost woman hours.
Annoyance was plain in the letters columns from people who perceive in the objectors a kind of intransigent denial of the election result, which is an unfortunately two-dimensional take on the issue. In fact, I would have thought the election result was pretty satisfactory for supporters of Denise Roche, who polled significantly better than anyone else and seemed assured of some real influence and an opportunity to bring the skills they clearly believed she had to the job. Is there a clearer statement of what – or, indeed, who – the island wants than the numbers of votes cast for each candidate? That’s why so many islanders are walking around this week red with apoplexy and smoking from the ears. They feel personally aggrieved by the dismissing of their wants even before, it seemed, the starting gun had gone. Elections give a sense that we’re all playing the game nicely, but the rules suddenly changed and people feel tricked, powerless. On top of all that, the multitudinous supporters of the island’s most popular candidate are now being called extremists when, surely, in the context of this community that must make them the boring, old mainstream majority. I would have thought.