The Vegan Option

Flagellants

Some years ago I found myself working in an assortment of breweries over in Australia. One of these was a curious and ramshackle operation in a far flung corner of rural Victoria. The owner, my client, was a go-getting sort of fellow. He was smart, but in that limited way of the intelligent person who never got round to reading a few books and whose frame of reference was therefore somewhat limited. But he believed in getting his money’s worth from me and was forever asking whatever questions happened to drift across his mind. One of these concerned a substance known as isinglass. There was a large package of it in the brewery store cupboard, well past its sell-by date and long overdue to be thrown out. My client was curious about it and knew that at some point in the past this substance had been trialled in the conditioning tanks but then forgotten about.

I’d explained its function to him and assured him that I wasn’t keen to use it. I thought no more about it but clearly the subject had taken his fancy and he’d looked it up. A few days later he followed up on the matter, concerned that the use of isinglass at some unspecified point in the future would jeopardise the product’s appeal to what he described as ‘The Vegan Market’.

He was looking at me expectantly. I was clearly required to answer this patently foolish question. I quickly ran through a brief summary of veganism in my head, trying to put together a full and final answer for him. I pondered the unlikely idea of vegans buying and enjoying beer, concluded that he’d never actually met a vegan, (Rural Victoria remember?) and then tried to work out how to explain the motives of those who deliberately choose life’s minimum wage for themselves, taking in a look at the flagellants and hair shirt wearers of history. I considered the importance of making a clear distinction between the simple dietary choice of Vegetarianism and the far more serious social statement implied by Veganism.

Then I remembered that I was talking to an Australian and wisely decided to keep things simple.

“Mate,” I said, “Who gives a FUCK about vegans?”

And there the matter rested.

But I was reminded of this a couple of days ago when an off hand remark of mine on a local Facebook page regarding the importance of letting vegans starve as it wasn’t good to encourage them drew a seriously clenched up response from a person who concluded that I ‘wasn’t a very nice person’, (Which is no less than the truth) and that we would probably ‘Not Get On’ (Like I give a damn.)

I confess that I have an overwhelming urge to mock and belittle vegans. If I owned a restaurant I’d add a note to the bottom of the menu saying; “Yes! We have a Vegan Option’! It’s called The Front Lawn. Fill your boots Hay-Breath.”

Why do I behave this way? Aside from the whole ‘Not Really Being A Very Nice Person’ stuff I mentioned earlier? Many would say that I should respect other people’s choices in life and not be so judgemental of those who opt to eat nothing but potato peelings and hedge trimmings. But then those people are, I feel, missing one of the main areas of appeal for the vegan lifestyle. Deep down, vegans WANT to be disliked. They dislike themselves after all, so the scorn of others is as sweet as honey to them. (Though not real honey obviously since its production involves the exploitation of bees.)

“Oh come now!” I hear you say. “That’s surely nonsense! Vegans are simply people with deeply held ethical positions on animal exploitation and a need to eat a healthy diet”.

Well, bear with me and I’ll explain why you are mistaken. Because what you are describing are vegetarians, who are entirely different. Vegetarians are no bother to cater for. I know, I was one for a whole decade. If you are holding a barbecue or dinner party then the inclusion of a vegetarian or two on the guest list is no problem at all. The rise in availability of delicious products such as Quorn and haloumi cheese has made it all entirely simple. Vegetarians stopped squatting on the moral high ground years ago. The fact that Hitler and his odious side-kick Himmler were both staunch steak-dodgers and the Dalai Lama isn’t has rather put paid to that flimsy notion and that’s just fine. The important point is that vegetarians do not challenge the basic give and take nature of hospitality. Vegans on the other hand, challenge it quite aggressively. That famous joke about ‘How do you know if someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.’ is quite true. Vegans revel in their outsider status and will take any opportunity to bore you shitless with it. Because they know that their strident dietary demands are what sets them apart from normal social interaction. They have suffered for their diet and now, should you be unlucky enough to get one of them a s a house guest, it’s YOUR TURN.

The health aspect is decidedly questionable. I am quite sure that there are some people who can survive on a vegan diet and even a few who may thrive. But I’ve met quite a few vegans in the last year or two and it was quite plain that for most of them the health stuff is not that vital. I met one young German couple recently who were hilarious examples of this. Both were extensively self mutilated and both smoked heavily. The male one in particular had the pallor of a corpse and looked like he’d shrivel up and burn if exposed to sunlight. Clearly neither of them were vegans for the health benefits.

I suppose it should come as no surprise that so many vegans one meets these days are German. Germany has always been a big player in the ‘Self-Harm for Sanctimonious Reasons’ business. They didn’t start the Flagellant movement in the 13th and 14th centuries, that was the Spanish and Italians, but they developed it in their usual rather gloomy and mechanical way until it became a vast undertaking with hordes of glum, penitent men marching about the countryside whipping themselves bloody and moaning loudly. They also spread plague, which some people found a bit annoying.The important thing about this self flagellation was not just that you did it but that as many people as possible got to SEE you do it. The same is true of veganism. What’s the point of going to all the misery of a fun-free diet if you can’t go about shoving that misery under people’s noses?

So while it is tempting to simply write vegans off as half witted toddlers refusing any food they find ‘yuckky’, it is more interesting to look deeper into what makes people wish to go to such sad extremes in the cause of public suffering. In its most developed form we can witness the appalling self mutilation of Phillipinos each Easter, nailing themselves to crosses to prove something or other which I for one can’t be arsed to investigate. Devout sects in Italy do similar stuff as do Shiite Muslims in Iran and Catholics in New Mexico. The important thing to realise is that this pain is in no way hedonistic. These are not Peter Plomley-Walker style shenanigans involving riding crops, stern women in corsets and safe words. This is not meant to be fun and it clearly isn’t. It’s about genuine suffering, inflicted to strengthen resolve and define one’s imagined purity and singleness of purpose. These examples are all religiously driven of course, humans are always at their worst when doing nasty stuff that they imagine will make their ugly, bad tempered Gods happy.

But the dour and self denying lifestyle is not confined to those who imagine gods for themselves. Our increasingly secular world still has to provide outlets for expression among those for whom less is MORE. The stern, the unbending, the neo-puritans and the anti fun types.

I dislike these people. They annoy me and I want to annoy them. Which I clearly do.

The dissident feminist writer and academic Camille Paglia, who had already won my admiration for declaring that she cherished “performance, artifice and play rather than earnestness.” then went on to win it even further by predicting, quite accurately in my view, that this century would be defined less by the oppositions of gender, politics and faith and more primally by the opposition of the followers of Apollo and those of Dionysus. Which is pretty much what I see from where I’m sitting, (which is above a brewery, overlooking a vineyard and pondering the new drink driving laws….)

If you don’t quite get the classical allusion to all of this then look it up. That’s what Google is there for.

So if we must choose between those two vastly different sons of Zeus, then I’m with Dionysus all the way. It’s fun, frolics and great big meals with ALL the trimmings for me thank you very much. And if you are of a different view then you go for it. But don’t expect me not to mock you mercilessly. I’m only human.

Sour grapes and misinformation

During the Waiheke Local Board sour grapeselection I had the pleasure of working with the Essentially Waiheke team to win the Waiheke Local Board election.  The Essentially Waiheke team (Paul, John, Beatle and Becs) plus Shirin.  Made a clean sweep in the local elections and removed 4 out of 5 of the previous board members.

My role in the whole thing was making the Essentially Waiheke website and managing the social media.  I found it a really good experience working with a team to win the campaign.  Most of the former board members have taken defeat gracefully to their credit.  However one former board member in particular appears to have some sour grapes and not just sour but bitter, twisted and sour grapes.

Ungraceful Former Local Board Member

One ungraceful former board member has setup a blog and Facebook page which continually opposes whatever the current local board does, even if it is good for the community and continually spread misinformation and what can only be called lies and rumours in an vain attempt to turn people against the current local board.  These were the same techniques that they used during the local board elections – it did not work then and it is not working now.

After the election I believed that this behaviour would stop, well at least ease back till 12 to 18 months out from the next election.  I was wrong, it really is a continuous barrage.  I have to say that all that they are achieving with this type of behaviour is a confirmation to the general public of Waiheke that voting them out of the local board was the best thing that they could of possible done.

I would like to say that my efforts went a long way to get the Essentially Waiheke campaign team to win but after analysing the whole situation I came to the conclusion that this former board was very unpopular and would not get voted back in because of the following.

  • Firstly they got voted in with a minority of votes because the votes were then split between some really good people.
  • They then disgraced themselves with the way that the Chair of the board was chosen and the side-lining of Denise Roche when she got a majority of votes.
  • I heard all sorts of stories which may or may not be true of funding cuts, issues with resource consents and general opposition from the council for anyone that opposed what the previous local board did in anyway shape or form.
  • They then appeared to make a lot of controversial decisions which went against what the public Waiheke wanted and appeared to have hidden agendas with very little transparency.
  • They disgraced themselves again with the way they side-lined Paul Walden after he won the Waiheke Local Board by election.
  • They then did not participate in public campaigning meetings.
  • They sent spam out as part of their local board campaign.

If I did not know better, I would of thought that they did not want to get elected back onto the local board.  So all I can conclude is that they got themselves voted out, all the Essentially Waiheke team had to do is put a half decent team together to oppose the previous board members  and it worked a charm – a clean sweep.  As a side note the current local board is not half decent but really a great bunch who want to work together for a better Waiheke.

This continuous barrage of misinformation and sour grapes does nothing but discredits the one sending it

This continuous barrage of misinformation and sour grapes does nothing but discredits the one sending it so I have not even bothered to comment or engage in it till now.  The only conclusion that I can come to is that the reason for this constant misinformation and opposition to whatever the local board does is because members of the ousted local board want to get voted back in, in the next local board election.

As a recap – they got voted in with a minority of the votes because of vote splitting, they then lost approximately 30% of their voting support base in the most recent election, they do nothing positive for Waiheke to date except oppose whatever the new local board does.  So they really are deluded when they believe that they will ever get voted back in.

What can you do to stop the spread of misinformation?

  • Block anyone spreading misinformation on Facebook
  • Never comment on misinformation, even if it is to correct as this helps spread it
  • Don’t visit any blogs spreading misinformation
  • Remove yourself from any Facebook groups / pages that spread misinformation
  • Then tell your friends to do the same

By allowing yourself to read this stuff and even commenting on it actually helps the spread of it.  All they want is an audience so if you remove yourself and encourage others to do the same you can help minimise the spread of this garbage.

Written By Dan Ballard,

 

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.

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

The Thunder of Hooves

Some political scandals have the most prosaic beginnings. A hotel gets burgled, a dress fails to make it to the dry cleaners or a TV cameraman ‘forgets’ his tape recorder in a café. And when such events develop a life of their own and begin to gi

ve off a scandalous aroma then the first eager scribe who gets to dissect the story in public is duty bound to name the affair by choosing some key word and tacking the suffix ‘Gate’ onto it.

Well, what do we call this nasty business on the golf course? ‘Horse-Gate’? ‘Golf-Gate’?

No. If we are being realistic then the only gate in this case was ‘OPEN-GATE’.

Someone didn’t secure their horse, the horse went walkies and took a short cut over the golf course without replacing its divots as it went. Regrettable certainly, but hardly the stuff of which political upheavals are made. The event stirred a brief flurry of comment on Facebook last Sunday but as just a basic animal control issue it hardly seemed worth getting that excited about.
That was until the limp organ formerly known as the Waiheke Marketplace decided to cover the story, and in doing so surrendered the last tattered shreds of its credibility as an independent voice in local media. The page two story was the usual mess of disjointed squawking that we’d expect, full of baseless assertions about willful damage and deliberate vandalism. But the photo that went with it seemed a bit odd. What was so dreadful about this incident that local board leader Faye Storer was called away from her Sunday breakfast to be pictured with golf club staff and police, crouching on the dented greensward and looking concerned?
There could be a perfectly innocent explanation of course. Perhaps the Leaderene was breakfasting at the golf club that morning by chance? I’ve heard the café there is very good. It is possible that, seeing some fuss being made outside, she set aside her coffee and croissant and ventured out to see what was amiss, arriving at the same time as the photographer and being ‘smudged’ by simple chance.

That alone was hardly earth shaking stuff. But to get to the meat of the matter one has to turn to what passes for a letters page. Now most weeks the Marketplace letters page is a sad affair, rarely covering half a page and filled with tiresome bleating content from the semi-literate.
Not this week! Let’s turn to that page and see what we can make of it. Firstly there is a slab of bombastic nonsense from golf club president Graeme Orr. In it he makes it plain that in his view the incident was deliberate. Someone saddled up their huge and possibly rabid horse and intentionally rode it back and forth across the greens to cause maximum damage. Nothing resembling proof is offered of course, but hey! Who needs PROOF when you’re on a roll?

Then there is a similar letter from S Williams of Blackpool, also taking the view that the damage was entirely deliberate and couched in the kind of terminology usually only used for deploring major acts of terrorism. I mean really!
Riding Club president Claudia Lapp is allowed to ’Call for calm’ as the paper hysterically puts it, and suggest the possibility that this was simply an escaped animal.

But it is the letter from Faye Storer’s faithful sidekick Jo Holmes that gives the game away and shows this for the deplorable beat-up it clearly is. Holmes’s letter is so ludicrously over the top, so revoltingly embellished with hyperbole that a chap could develop indigestion simply looking at it. The best is saved for last as she tops off her frenzied epistolary confection with that famous quote concerning good men doing nothing and the consequences thereof.

Well…I see your Edmund Burke quote and raise you one Shakespeare;

“The lady doth protest too much methinks…”

Way, WAY too much. So much in fact that it would alert even the most room temperature intellect to the fact that this is about a lot more than just a temporarily damaged golf course. Because let’s face it, when it comes to willful vandalism this island is not short of egregious examples, many of them council approved and drawing no comment at all from our local board.

So what is really going on here? Could this be the opening salvo of the current board’s election campaign? Didn’t that chap we all elected to fill the vacant spot on the board have something to do with the long running tension between those who like pretending they are in charge of what is really a powerful motorcycle with a nasty, brutish intelligence tucked away somewhere behind the scary lawn mower attachment at the front and those whose lives revolve around the questionable delights of poking a small white bouncy ball around a lawn with a metal stick?

Of course he did. And now it seems that the board, annoyed at finding themselves stuck with a new member voted on by a population still seething with annoyance over their clumsy and arrogant behaviour following the last election, are looking for ways to destabilise him. Well, that’s politics I suppose, and if Paul Walden is feeling beleaguered right now by the crass and vulgar attempts of his fellow board members to smear him with this then it is really part of the game.
Yet he should take heart and look on the bright side. The attack on him has been so crudely handled that it seems very likely to rebound on those who staged it. The obviously coordinated nature of the letters in both the Marketplace and the Gulf News must have seemed like a good idea to the perpetrators at the time but in cold print they look as phony and contrived as an episode of Masterchef.

The efforts of both Storer and Holmes to stir the pot are so cretinously shabby that they reflect shamefully on both. If this is any indication of how they intend to carry on in future then their removal from office next election seems not only desirable but imperative.

The person whose careless attention to detail on the matter of horse confinement caused all this really should own up. It’s only fair. Horses are huge, dangerous things and allowing one to roam is reprehensible. I know these things happen from time to time but in this instance your lack of care has caused a truly toxic outcome.

But above all, to George Gardner, editor of the Marketplace,
SHAME ON YOU.
Was the final loss of your paper’s independence and credibility really worth it? Are you now so lacking in editorial control that you were required to stand aside helplessly as your paper was hijacked for a beat up as cheap and trashy as this? Are you really expecting any of us to respect your paper’s integrity, (such as it was) in future?

A bad business all round folks, and where will the trail of poison lead next? I have a few ideas and I very much doubt that this will be my last word on the matter.

Hui on the Food Bill

Hi Everyone

Thanks to all those who attended the Hui on the Food Bill yesterday.  I thought I would write a quick summary and action points so that people get a sense of what happened if they weren’t able to attend.  It’s probably incomplete or I may get some things wrong so feel free to add to and correct my email.

Thanks to Huhana Davis and Denise Roche and Piritahi Marae who made the event possible and to Stephan who came up from Malborough to talk about the Bill and its implications.

Key Decisions

1  That One Waiheke All list will be used to communicate on this issue
[Andrew says: you can sign up by registering at http://onewaiheke.opengroups.net, or clicking the link in the box to the right.]

2.  The Food bill has had a first hearing.  It is unlikely that it will be reopened for submissions.  However, it is possible that the Select
Committee could hear submissions in a particular community.  As Waiheke is a place where there are a number of initiatives – food coops, small growers and producers, buyer’s club, etc.  it seems like a good place for them to come to, to get a sense of what we need from a Food bill.
In order for this to happen, we would need to lobby the Select Committee and the Chair.
Denise to be in contact with Stephan – to a) get his email, b) provide list of Select Committee and Chair.  c) It would be good if Stephan could draught the kind of request we need to make so that the Select Committee has the right kind of pressure to listen to comments and submissions here or at least have our comments included in their decision process.

3.  To find a way of describing cottage/small scale growers/producers (at the moment this is poorly defined in the bill)

4.  Exemptions to compliance will be on a case by case basis so one option is for all of Waiheke to apply for exemption or for all small scale growers/producers to band together to seek exemption and their own compliance rules – which could be that we comply to the current rules on safe handling of food.

As an additional point, it’s a good Idea to circulate this widely to people/coop lists etc/growers to join the discussion.

Key Points from Discussion

The Food Bill is primarily about Food safety in terms of preparation and handling.

While we are concerned about GMO – this bill is not really about the growing of seeds and plants which is covered elsewhere.  The intention is to make it clear in the Bill that it does not refer or encompass seeds.
However, in terms of food safety labelling of food as GMO is not seen as important or a health risk and yet many of us do want to know how the food is labelled.

It has been designed primarily with our export markets in mind and what big distributors/growers do with food and seems to neglect what small scale growers/cottage industries do.

There was a strong feeling that Waiheke small scale production should be exempt from this Bill and it does not apply to the kinds of things produced here.  Also that instead of complying with the Bill and tweaking it, we should not be forced into it at all.

Initiatives that challenge Community enterprise should be resisted and that we don’t need more regulation than that which is currently available.

Costs of compliance could force small producers out of the market or inhibit people from having a go at starting up a food business.

Penalties may increase from $5000 to $100,000 which is also a disincentive.

They need to define cottage industry and have some sort of blanket exemption that covers this – not say that they will exempt people on a case by case basis.  If you produce food, you shouldn’t have to spend time complying with additional paperwork to get an exemption.

Food labelling.

The Bill currently says something to the effect that if you don’t eat animal product because you are a vegetarian, that is an ethical issue but not a food safety issue.  However it was felt that  a) people’s ethical/religious views should be respected b)  people need to know what’s in their food as they may be allergic and they have a right to know if their food contains cloned or GMO organisms, what additives are in it as well as the country of origin.

Bartering

The notion of bartering needs to be clearly defined or removed as a) it’s impossible to police, b) it’s ludicrous that trade in produce needs to be micromanaged.

Ministerial power

It seems the Minister has a lot of power to add/remove things which seems wrong.

Some things in the food bill may not be so bad – the fact that compliance is standardised across communities.

This Bill is not the TPPA, but it’s exclusion of the needs of small growers/producers and community initiatives provides a potential challenge to our ability to grow our own food, provide for our own community food security, and encourage local entrepreneurship.

Stephen and Denise have both said that they are interested in supporting this issue.

Kind regards and please do feel free to add/or correct what has been written, perhaps in the same thread so it’s not lost.

Shirin Brown

21st Century Coastal Shipping in the Hauraki Gulf

If Waiheke’s motto is  ‘far enough behind to be ahead’ then a new project on the island soon hopes to make the same true for coastal shipping in the Hauraki Gulf.

The Waiheke Working Sail project plans to match the need for alternatives to fossil fuel-based transport to and from the island with a long overdue revival of a productive working sail industry capable of providing a livelihood for local young people.

Waiheke Working Sail is the beginning of a journey back to a low carbon, low energy, coastal shipping future while creating boatbuilding apprenticeships and sail training.

The project members will be giving an introduction presentation as part of the Sustainability Festival on Monday, 16 January, 7pm at the Oneroa Bowling Club. The evening will cover an overview of the project and ways to get involved.  Also, Waiheke sailor and designer, Bernard Rhodes will share his new ideas for a custom-made, wind-powered cargo ship.

WWS was started in 2011, with the aim of reviving a Waiheke-based shipping programme using purpose-built vessels. The project is still in its conceptual stage but has already brought together people with a variety of skills, from boat designers to RYA sail instructors, to working sail enthusiasts. The presentation hopes to engage interest in the community for the possibilities within the realm of coastal shipping for the 21st century. Ever-rising petrol costs have alerted many on the island to a pressing need in the future for alternatives to fuel-based transport. Already there has been interest among businesses pursuing low carbon and CarbonZero policies. Many find it an added selling point in a market that is increasingly aware of the need to cut down on fuel usage.

Although coastal sail shipping cannot hope to compete in the immediate future with fossil fuelled shipping methods, the timely pursuit of alternatives might just leave Waiheke in a strong position in the long term, as well as encouraging new business and trades. In 2012 WWS will be hosting historical reenactments of Shipping voyages around the Hauraki Gulf. Information is available on the website: http://waihekeworkingsail.onewaiheke.org

Anyone interested in the possibilities of Coastal Shipping please come along!

Land of Plenty

On a Sunday stroll down our street, we met one of our neighbors whose house had been robbed the previous night while the 7 inhabitants slept. No one was harmed, and no one even awoke during the intruder’s visit. The burglar took only a wallet and even at that left the wallet and most of the contents on the property. They found the wallet later in the day in a clump of bushes, along with a wallet belonging to someone they did not know, also with most of the contents inside.

The above incident says to me that we are coming into harder times and some people are in grave trouble around here. The homeowner was dismayed at the intrusion, as he was used to leaving his doors unlocked, the Waiheke way. When I remarked that the crime suggested to me someone who was in need, just targeting cash and leaving the rest, the swift reply was that, “Those people get lots of money”. I left it at that because it was obvious the person was upset, but it has been haunting me, this illusion that just because I myself might not be in want right now, that everyone else must doing so well. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, ‘those people’ do not have enough to live on, whether they are on a benefit or working to get by. And ‘those people’ include, for me at least, some of my dearest friends and relatives.

My step son Ben is 20 years old, just starting out, and making his own way in this world. He has had a good public education, in England and New Zealand, he is intelligent and well read, and widely respected among his peers and wider community for his integrity. He has willingly worked at jobs that were not ideal, and even so, he was unable to find enough work. Part time and on-demand labour with no security or benefits is the order of the day for young people. Although this young man proved himself reliable and in every way a good employee, he was not given the increased hours he asked for. He was also denied advancement in the various companies he worked for, no matter how long he worked for them, through no fault of his own. He cannot make enough money to live in what most people would call ‘normal circumstances’, no matter how hard he has tried.

What do young people do when faced with these realities? Many more are staying in tertiary education, where they can receive some support while they work on gaining more skills. In Ben’s case he has made a political statement of the injustice. This is a societal problem and he deals with it creatively by working in Community Gardens and many other cooperative ventures.

These days there is no way to get ahead by simply showing up to work and following the rules as we’ve all been taught. If you are not already ahead of the wave then you are likely getting caught in the undertow. Ben has been a Fregan and has various methods for obtaining food for free. The minute I wrote that statement I felt compelled to add, “but he does it legally”. The notion that Ben is free to starve disturbs me greatly. This is really at the heart of it- no free education- no free lunch- no free anything. These are the cornerstones of our current political climate. I guess this seems fair to most people, but it is not just. The story people tell of having made it on their own is a fairy tale. I never made it on my own. I had a LOT of help, and I made mistakes which would have eliminated all hope for my future, had I not received assistance at those times.

The story that Anyone Can Make It, and If You’re Not Doing Well It’s Your Own Fault , are favorite bedtime fables for members of the silver democracy, of which I am a reluctant member. The Silver Democracy are the people in their 50’s and above for whom the policies in this and other countries are geared to serve best. A Silver Democracy is a democracy by and for the older generation, brought about by the decades of voting for those policies which serve their own interests at the expense of other generations. The men in Parliament right now, some of whom are advocating cutting benefits and increasing education fees, were the recipients of all of those benefits themselves. Free education and public assistance were the order of the day when they were starting out.

New Zealand is failing its youth and vulnerable populations, so now is the time for compassion, not recrimination. It would be to our benefit on Waiheke to aggressively pursue an alternate story line- food and shelter for people, not for profit. Lets get back to the attitude of previous generations of looking out for everyone, because when we don’t, it only hurts our own community. Deal with it now in a positive way, or we will surely be dealing with it later more dramatically, as the cycle of crime and punishment increases.