The importance of vigilance – Basil Holmes

As one of the island’s and NZ ancients I applaud any idea and above all actions that will strengthen and defend the democratic traditions of the NZ people. We do have such traditions, and we do have a history which includes on both Maori and Pakeha sides battling in many different circumstances for the preservation of freedom and the rights of the people.

Always there are elements eager to oppose these aims, usually where financial interests are involved . We have not yet returned to some of the dangerous moments of the past where the full power of the State has been used against the people or particular sections of the people in NZ.  However vigilance, particularly in the present state of the world, is of enormous importance.

The best place to be actively vigilant at the moment is obviously in our own backyard i.e. Waiheke. With the sudden turn of events now arousing concern amongst many of the most active participants of the recent local election it is truly heart-warming, as the cliche has it, for myself to see the outburst of demand that democracy, honesty, truth and old fashioned fair play has come to the forefront very rapidly around this Local Council issue.

Our history tells us that inevitably the more noble the aim the more there is resistance but ultimately and inevitably the loftier goals including the truth are reached.

Anyone who has any notion at all to keep the Local Board serving the people of Waiheke and fearlessly struggling for increasing local power in the face of the new giant city and the CCOs deserves to be heard and their ideas considered. The need to make sure to defeat any weakening of Denise’s role on the Board is very central to this at the moment.

Respect for the people votes is a bit flimsy in some quarters apparently. This is a dangerous trend. One we have to change quite firmly, without any hesitancy. This is how history is written and evolves. Now part of the front line for this is currently on Waiheke. We shall win. This much is certain.

Best wishes to all fighters for Waiheke democracy and Denise Roche.

Basil Holmes.

Pulling Together

I had a lengthy conversation yesterday with Faye Storer regarding the recent allocation of roles in the local board. I allowed Faye  to give her explanation of what is going on. I listened carefully, so that I could understand her position. It was also the first time we’ve ever spoken together.There were many reasons cited why Denise has been functionally excluded, but I could not say that any of the points were substantiated, they served more as justifications or rationalizations.

The following are verifiable facts

  • Denise was not a part of the consultation process- she was handed a list of pre-determined roles which she had no part in making up
  • Four against one is the dynamic that has been stated repeatedly
  • Denise is publicly characterized as “Green” and “Extreme Green” and is being pigeonholed as having suitability for only a limited role on the board

This is the most important thing to keep in mind:

An effective chairman brings disparate groups together, is inclusive and adept at delegating. An effective chairman finds common ground and works behind the scenes to keep relationships strong and productive. So what Faye has to demonstrate to Waiheke is NOT that she can get three other board members to support her, but rather that she can is capapable of acting in Waiheke’s best interest. What is best for Waiheke is that both past councillors share a balance of responsibility in a way that authentically honors both, not one at the expense of the other.

NONE of this had to happen this way. We all knew from the start that both Faye and Denise would win. The top question on everyone’s mind, voiced many times during the election was, “Will Faye be able to put aside the events of three years ago and build a positive, constructive relationship with Denise?” Because it is public knowledge that Denise has made various attempts to build a constructive relationship with Faye outside the campaign and has been rebuffed. This is the elephant in the room that no one is talking about.

This is a problem that everyone saw coming a mile away. Faye has had ample time to meet with Denise and work things out, but this course of action has been avoided. The lip service to ‘working together’ will not hold up in the long run and this is exactly the hamstringing of Waiheke that everyone feared. This is short-sighted political thinking and will hurt the community as well as the local board’s effectiveness.

It is quite easy to come up with a good spin to justify various board actions, but over time the true intentions surface, and the board will lose the trust of the community. This problem could fester and haunt the board for the next three years. Waiheke will not tolerate a return to the block-voting tactics of the C&R- dominated City Council we just left behind. Waiheke needs the kind of inclusive board that is in line with Len Brown’s style of management.

The newly-elected board members may feel that since they were elected, their personal political views are endorsed. That would be a fatal mistake. This board needs to prove that it can live up to the glib election promises of working together.

If this were a kindergarten class, the situation would be dealt with by having the disputing parties engage in a project together, to allow them time to get to know each other and actually experience working together.

My wacky suggestion is for this local board to attend one or more Waka Ama practices together- perhaps weekly. I’m serious, pulling together is more than just a cliche. This community will accept nothing less than real teamwork.

Thank you for your time,
Millie

Denise Roche – Dear Waiheke

Dear Waiheke,
I want to thank the 2239 voters who elected me to the Waiheke Local Board. I really do appreciate your confidence in me. Sadly my colleagues on the board – Faye Storer, Jim Hannan, Don McKenzie and Jo Holmes – don’t share your confidence.

The first decision for the new Local Board on the 6th November will be to decide who will be the chair and deputy chair for the next three years. I had called an informal meeting with the local board members to start to discuss this and possible portolio roles on Thursday.
I was really keen that we should meet because as a group we hardly know each other. I thought it would be an opportunity for us to talk about our passions and what we hoped to achieve as a board for our community and begin to develop criteria on how we could make good decisions – including for the chair and other roles on the board.

But at the start of the meeting Faye handed me a sheet of paper listing all the roles which they had already divied up between the five of us including allocating the role of chair to Faye and deputy chair to Jo. The discussions that produced this sheet of paper were kept secret from me.

I was gob-smacked at the level of pre-determination here. None of these people actually know me. But these four people had already decided things about me without me – and I had no opportunity to inform them or defend myself.

It’s the way the decision was made, rather than the result, that concerns me most.

I had hoped that as a board we would be able to make good decisions together. Good decision-making requires all participants to take an active role. It requires participants to keep an open mind. It requires people to sit down together and look at all the available information, explore options, maybe robustly debate some of the points and in the end come to a decision. Additionally, for elected representatives, the Local Government Act applies. This requires board members to take into account the views of the community when making a decision. Unfortunately I was locked out of the decision-making by the other four elected board members and clearly your 2239 votes are irrelevent to this decision as well.

It saddens me that at a time of incredible opportunity with the new council and local board structure our brand new elected board members are kicking things off without the slightest nod to a transparent decision-making process. What does this say about their intention to act democratically?

On Thursday Faye told me that I am a ‘minority’ on the board. I had hoped that oppositional politics was behind us – as these were the people who made campaign promises that they would be happy to work as a team.

I’m greatly disappointed about the way things are starting off. I remain grateful to our community for the support you have shown me as your elected representative. I am especially appreciative of all of you who have argued and engaged with me and shared your thoughts and ideas because you keep me accountable. I trust you will continue to do so and will do the same for the other board members too.

Again, thank you for your vote.

Denise Roche

‘IN DEFEAT MALICE. IN VICTORY….REVENGE.’

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Well, this is not a good start. Suddenly, all the campaign analysis I was working on gets brushed aside by the news from within our new supposedly ‘united’ Local Board. In what appears to be a well organised power grab, Denise Roche has suddenly found herself marginalised by the rest of the members who met without her to divide up the board’s powers for themselves before presenting her with the results of their deliberations.

Team work? Forget it. All that stuff during the campaign was just to get your vote. So what if Denise Roche polled highest? Seems that counts for nothing. The rest of the ‘team’ have better ideas and you the voter will just have to get used to it.

If you didn’t catch Faye Storer’s interview on Waiheke Radio this morning then I urge you to go to the website and listen carefully. As a display of political evasiveness it was masterful. As a taste of what is to come it was chilling. When asked about the emails and phone calls that have been flying around the community in the last twenty four hours she denied any knowledge of them. Then she went right ahead and proved she knew exactly what was being referred to. But every question got side stepped with Storer’s well worn stock of patronising clichés. I find myself wondering how many times we can hear our new Local Board chairperson presumptive utter the words; ‘What you have to realise…’ before we have them carved into a large piece of four by two and beat her round the head with it.

Oh I’m sure the Gang of Four will spend the next few weeks smugly justifying themselves. The tattered remains of our two local papers will vaguely attempt to cover the matter in their usual semi literate fashion. And the liberal left, after much hand wringing, group hugs and cups of herbal tea, will fire off a few petulant and long winded letters in support of a local representative who deserves so much better from everybody.

Faye Storer must be so proud. The new board hasn’t even met formally yet and already we have an issue so divisive that the inaugural meeting will be marred by protest. Won’t that look good to the rest of the city?

I could think of a few rude words to describe her right now. But I’m going to go with the worst of the lot. Politician.

OH BIOSPHERE, BIOSPHERE! WE HARDLY KNEW YE!

I’m not generally one for omens, portents and the threat of curses, but the more I look back over the Local Board elections the more I see a pattern forming. A sort of ghastly jinx hovering over the whole affair that makes me think someone should d

o a head count at the sports park gates and see if any black roosters have mysteriously disappeared in recent weeks.

I refer of course to the Biosphere proposal. Like some terrible stink bomb, this idea seems to have spattered anyone who even got close to it and marked them as entirely unelectable. Only Denise Roche seems to have found a way to side step the curse and get elected despite her support for the idea. Was it a talisman of some sort or perhaps some kind of unguent prepared from weird magical ingredients that kept Denise safe? Whatever it was she clearly kept the secret to herself.

Looking at the pasting poor Colin Beardon took last week puts me in mind of those excruciating clips one sees on Youtube from time to time. They usually involve motorcycle stuntmen, mountain bikers or downhill skiers. The ones where some heroic chap starts off on some ill thought out venture involving high speed and inadequate protective clothing. It all starts off fine then suddenly everything explodes into a whirling mess of indignity and compound limb fractures.

And so it was with Colin Beardon. His proposal, built up over a couple of years with such meticulous care, proved to be political suicide. Yet was it really THAT dumb an idea? Certainly making it his entire platform wasn’t that smart, especially when we consider Mr Beardon’s undoubted intelligence and energy which could have been turned to various other considerations to good effect.

At the start of the campaign I was quite prepared to pour scorn on the UNESCO stuff. Too much too soon, wrong idea at the wrong time etc. Yet despite myself I was impressed by Mr Beardon’s professorial manner, his calm delivery and fine grasp of local issues. And while I was far from convinced that anything that combined the UN with Waiheke Island was a good idea, I did at least think it deserved some discussion once the Super

city mess had settled down a bit.

But no. Down it went in flames taking several other candidates with it including the highly electable Andy Spence whose exclusion from this Board will, I believe, come to be seen as the biggest mistake this island has made in ages.

Before I leave this subject however, I’d like to draw your attention to a most interesting article that appeared in the Waiheke Marketplace. You can find it here;

http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/waiheke-marketplace/4059464/Batting-for-a-biosphere

Note how Jo Holmes, Faye Storer and Don McKenzie dismiss the idea. So far so good. But the plot thickens as we reach Jim Hannan’s quote. In the archived online article he states; “I have absolutely no faith in the United Nations.”
Fair enough. The UN can be seen by many as a perfect example of the limitations of committees. While a good idea in principal its actual performance in the real world leaves a bit to be desired.

But, any of you who can dig up a copy of the original newspaper will be fascinated to see what he said next. I myself held on to a copy, so allow me to reproduce for you what Mr Hannan ORIGINALLY said. Ready?
Quoth he; “What I do find difficult to understand is that a group of people who did not want to become part of Auckland City would align themselves with an organisation that is about one world government. I find that utterly bizarre.”
Oh dear oh dear. He lost any chance he might ever have had of getting my vote when he said something so amazingly stupid. ‘One World Government’? When you find anyone uttering that phrase you can be pretty sure that the speaker may also hold unusual views on subjects as diverse and outré as faked moon landings, black helicopters, Freemasons, Illuminati and Bohemian Grove owl worshippers. I tried to ask him about this on the radio website but he ignored me.
Leaving aside the fact that anyone who REALLY knows what’s going on can tell you that it’s ROTARIANS who are trying to establish domination through one world government, we are left with the question of why this quote was edited out of the online archive. Did the Marketplace decide to remove it or did Paranoid Jim insist on a spot of spin doctoring after the fact?
I think we should be told.

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Guest writer Alan Knight reflects on the aftermath of the election.
Now that the election results are in and the surprising outcome is becoming apparent, the people I am most interested to watch are the professional doomsayers. The bleating, permanently depressed types who have, for the last few months clogged up the comments sections of the Herald with their gloomy nonsense about the real meaning of the Supercity.

You know the ones I mean. The ones who start each comment with variations on the theme of; “Now that Democracy has been destroyed in Auckland……” before rambling on about the likelihood of John Banks being allowed to bulldoze their homes with them still inside while Rodney Hide sells their children off to be made into pet food.

Where are these people now? Are they happy with the outcome that has left the ‘Corruption & Rorts’ party in tatters and Len Brown sitting in the Big Chair draped in Mayoral Bling? Are they flushing away their Prozac prescriptions and using thoughts of Mike Lee’s majority to keep them happy instead?

Somehow I doubt it. When sundry millenialist types trudge back down from whatever hill top they had chosen to sit out yet another postponed apocalypse you never see them looking happy at their deliverance. Quite the opposite in fact. But then again, if you’ve spent the last week giving away your worldly goods it’s going to be a bit awkward going to ask the neighbours if you can have your sofa back.

Our doomsayers probably never took their fervour quite that far and a good thing too. But where are these people now and what are they thinking? Are they glad that enough of their fellow voters looked long and hard at the issues and voted against the asset stripping of the city? Or is it possible that deep in their gloomy little hearts a C&R landslide was what they craved?

When you’ve nursed that chip on your shoulder for long enough is there not a chance that you might miss it if it were somehow brushed away by some well meaning person? When that cloud of self righteous gloom that’s kept you in its shadow since you first joined the Student Union all those years ago suddenly gets dispersed, do you then moan that you don’t have the right sort of sunglasses to keep the unaccustomed glare from your squinting eyes?

If you have any sense then no, you don’t. But since when was sense the main priority among the bleating Sheeple?


My advice right now is GET OVER IT. Enjoy the moment. Open a bottle of something nice and get the neighbours round to help you drink it. Then, tomorrow morning remember how lucky you are and think of ways to keep that luck running. After all, its not every day you get given a whole city.

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Green MPs Sue Bradford and Sue Kedgley

Green MPs Sue Bradford and Sue Kedgley give a brief rundown on the report from the Royal Commission on Auckland Governance. While supporting many of the concepts for better regional coordination, it goes too far in concentrating power into the hands of an executive Mayor.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZcFu1DZbbFY

Pita Rikys on Governance and the Gulf

These turbulent and uncertain times have presented the Gulf communities with a unique opportunity to put a case to Government for a Governance model that is structured around and provides for the essential differences of our environment and communities and the challenges they face. In addition it allows us to create a Governance model that will be the key agency for integrating and driving development of our community. Finally, it can also be a model to reality test appropriate participation in Governance by Tangata Whenua at the flax roots / grass roots level.

We, as a community, therefore need to develop our ideal Governance model and the case / justification for why we should have it. Our wisest heads should also work out the strategy that will ensure it is packaged and pre-sold in a way that ensures its adoption. Some good ground preparation type work has already been done in the latter regard, and needs to be built on.

We are indeed fortunate that we have a lot of the ground work for this task already completed or underway through a range of different groups working in their areas of specialist interest, in the community. We are also fortunate that we have high levels of specialist expertise / experience across almost all of the critical areas that need to be considered, available to us from within our community. The critical challenge is how to facilitate bringing those individuals, and groups and that work, expertise and experience together into the comprehensive case we need, to inform and support our Governance structure and systems.

Now a taste from my personal ‘dream times’ as to where this might take us. Obviously models and tools of Sustainable Governance fit well with the ongoing Environmental challenges we face. They also represent a good selling point in terms of a case to be put to the Government. The island and its community can be offered up and used as a safe test bed for this work. Within that thinking from the schools to a custom designed specialist Tertiary level institution, we as individuals and as a community can own and develop this work and the intellectual property it represents as a powerful tool and opportunity for social and economic development and enhancement. The same flavors and focus can percolate through, inform and be reflected in almost all other areas of activity within our community, education, transport and tourism in particular. Innovative projects for creation of quality employment can be leveraged off these developments.

Stretching beyond that again, if we take on board opportunities flowing out of the information age revolution [ found for example in the writing of leading thinkers in this area such as Yochi Benkler ] we can not only fundamentally transform, for the good, the architecture of democratic participation but we can clearly create, drive and own our very own Sustainable Economy.  

I am strongly attracted to the vision in the ‘Man and the Bio-sphere’ Reserve concept Colin Beardon elaborated on in the last issue. I do not think we can reach that objective in one jump and that we need to prove to the powers that be that we can really walk our own talk. In terms of the immediate position and as a transitional step to Colin’s objective I believe we need a separate unitary authority with the optimum level of local control and decision making. This is the case we have to make to the Government both in submissions to Select Committees and via direct lobbying and representations.

How do we get there? ‘We bake the cake together’ –  said the little Red Hen, or in this island’s case, maybe it is the Little Red Rooster.

Pita Rikys

16th June 2009

Another Day another Battle.

It is said that Generals always plan for the last war, failing to understand how the world is changing, Thus cavalry are sent into battle against tanks, and nuclear powers find themselves fighting against terrorists.
The plan for Auckland Governance and the super city is another example of this last war thinking. The introduction to the bill describing the ‘problem’ talks about weak and fragmented regional government with poor community engagement.

The goal of the writers to to foster growth and prosperity allowing Auckland to compete as an international City. Boundaries are being redrawn to extend the urban region of an already sprawling city.

However growth is an inherently problematical concept, growth without control or limit is a cancer, growth results in polluted air, rivers and oceans, exhaustion of natural resources, depletion of natural capital and human society.

Auckland doesn’t need to grow – it actually needs to shrink. It needs to go on a diet of common sense and vision, that can result in a leaner more self sufficient city, or rather a collection of vibrant communities from which a larger city emerges.

The battles of the next few decades are not going to be how to achieve a ring of motorways around the city, or how to bring all utilities, water, electricity, sewage, waste under single authorities suitable for privatisation. The battle is not how to compensate for lack of community engagement by centralising power into a few talented – but ultimately flawed hands.

Auckland needs to prepare for the way the world is changing, we will be living in an era of energy descent, where year on year fuel will increase in cost several times above any growth we might achieve, we will be living in an era of climate change where even a 1 metre rise in sea level will swamp parts of the city and motorway network. We may live to see New Zealand have to cope with vastly increased numbers of economic and environmental refugees as those who can flee the worst affected regions of the northern hemisphere.

In times of strife an inspiring and talented leader is always a valuable asset, but the the test of a leader is their ability to delegate and bring in the efforts of the crowd. No one person, nor one small group of 20 representatives actually has the experience, knowledge and motivation to deal with the thousands of individual issues that arise in a city.

Without a strong level of community engagement, without strong communities full stop there is no effective city, there is no effective ability to achieve a happy and successful city or resiliently weather change.

The Royal commission complains that there is little community engagement. The Government’s proposal is for 30 small local boards; without any power to effect local change; without any power to provide checks and balances on the centre. Such boards will attract no person of thought or ability, A talking shop is of limited value, less so when everyone knows that they are not being listened to.

The Solutions to tomorrows problems come from the crowd, they come from each person engaging in their community and changing their own behaviour. A city council is not going to achieve zero waste without being led there by the people, A city council is not going to be turning the suburbs into local food production centres.

There is a choice now – create local boards with real representation, power to hire and fire, power to get things done, to encourage innovative solutions. to be a place where local skills and talents can be expressed. local boards that form the good soil from which the city central authority can grow. Where diversity is expressed.
The alternative is a single tier Auckland, a few true blue councillors and their big business partners. nothing effective below – and the energy of the people wasted in fighting city hall, or routing around pointless and ineffectual plans.

This is why I will be writing a submission to the parliamentary select committee on the Local Government (Auckland Council) Bill. Even though this topic would normally have me asleep in seconds I feel that everyone needs to speak out.