Waiheke still Kauri disease free

Kauri disease, also known as PTA (Phytophthora Agathis) is killing kauri throughout the Auckland and Northland areas.  It has been identified in the Waitakere Ranges, Great Barrier Island and most of northland’s great kauri forests. The pathogen can exist in soil as spores and it can move in water as a zygote.  Symptoms of the disease include foliage yellowing, canopy thinning, dead branches, trunk collar lesions that bleed gum and finally tree death.

Effective treatment is still in the research stage.

The good news is that both Coromandel Ranges and Waiheke Island are free of the disease.

To keep the island’s kauri free of this deadly disease there is a need to know how the pathogen gets from one place to another.  Already research shows that it can attach to shoes in dirt, or to the feet of animals such as pigs.  It can, also, be accidentally transported in the soil attached to potted seedlings or trees.

Forest and Bird have signs at the entrances of their reserves asking people to clean their shoes before entering the reserves.  However, there is opportunity to increase public awareness of the disease and decrease its accidental introduction to our beautiful island.  Involving the ferry companies more actively in a ‘keep Waiheke free of Kauri disease’ campaign would be wonderful, as the wharves are the main way that people set foot on the island.  Our Local Board could play a big part in supporting public education initiatives and negotiating with the ferry companies in partnership with conservation organisations and Council’s bio-security team to reduce the possibility of the disease ever ‘landing’ here.

Sue Fitchett 

Submission against the Application to build a Marina at Matiatia 2013

For those of you who might like to send in a submission


Submission against the Application to build a Marina at Matiatia 2013


Applicant :                   Waiheke Marinas Limited

Location of Proposal: The proposal relates to the coastal marine area (CMA) and road  reserve adjacent to Ocean View Road, Matiatia, Waiheke Island

Application Numbers:  Coastal Permit: 41032, 41747, 41748

Discharge Permit: 41522         Land Use:  R/LUC/2013/934

Submitter/s Details

Full Name/s







Address for Service (if different)





Home Mobile Fax



I/we oppose the application by Waiheke Marinas Limited to construct and operate a 160 berth marina and associated facilities, including reclamation for a carpark area, at Matiatia, Waiheke Island.

The specific parts of the application to which my/our submission relates are:

(Please tick those that apply)

  The construction of the marina facility and 55 space parking area.
  Occupation of a common (public) marine and coastal area.
  Construction of the marina in an area which is wahi tapu to Maori.
  Restrictions on public access and exclusive occupation rights.
  Construction of rock breakwaters (6000m² footprint, requiring 28,000m³ rock fill).
  The reclamation of 3020 m² in the coastal marine area to create the carpark.
  Dredging of 5025m³ of sea bottom material in the marine area.
  Construction and operation of infrastructure services(e.g. water, electricity, stormwater and wastewater)
  Marine related (ferries and wharves etc.) public transport issues for wider community in the marina construction process and in the future.
  Car parking provided by marina is inadequate to suit marina needs.
  Community traffic and parking issues at Matiatia in the construction process.
  Community traffic and parking at Matiatia and other possible long term effects of the marina.
  Ecological damage from the construction process over the short and long term, and threat to species e.g. little blue penguins nest within metres of the marina site.
  Number of boats in a concentrated area could have adverse effects on water quality, sediments and biota (living things) within and beyond the marina.
  Degrading and changing the character (aesthetically, ecologically or recreationally) of Matiatia Bay, our gateway to the island.


I/we are concerned with these matters as indicated above and with the effects that may result as a consequence thereof.

I/We wish to speak in support of our submission.

If others make a similar submission we will consider presenting a joint case at the hearing.


Signature of submitter or agent for submitter                                                                           Date

Post submission to: Auckland Council, Private Bag 92300, AUCKLAND 1142  by 5pm, 3 July, 2013

You must also send a copy to the applicant as soon as reasonably practicable to: c/-Andrew Stewart Ltd,

PO Box 911310, Auckland Mail Centre, AUCKLAND  1142, Attention : Max Dunn

Submissions Close : 5pm, 3 July, 2013


The Auckland Waste Management and Minimisation Plan – a step too near.

The new Auckland Draft Waste Management and Minimisation Plan (WMMP).  A thing we can all be proud of. Congratulations Len and the team.  There are provisions there to reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill by 30% by 2018,  There will be a closer relationship between the amount of waste you produce and how much you have to pay; and an organic collection will take food and green waste out of the landfill for composting or digesting.

The council are asking us for our thoughts on this matter, they have even produced this sweet consultation document printed on nice wholemeal paper, that asks us some questions.  Its almost as if we have a choice, or a chance to influence the process.

You can read the documents and download submission forms here: http://tinyurl.com/awmmp and you can also pick up a summary at the Waiheke Resources Trust office in Oneroa.

The headlines are:

  • Disposer pays for household refuse, but not recyclables, or organic waste.
  • Everyone gets wheelie bins which count how often they are used (exceptions for Gulf Islands – Waiheke gets both bins and bags)
  • Recyclables are still co-mingled – broken glass and paper together.
  • A weekly organic collection (green and food waste)
  • and some changes to the inorganic collection.

The Zero Waste website http://www.zerowaste.co.nz/whats-nz-doing/get-involved-auckland-councils-proposed-waste/
Will give you a good run down of the proposals and what is good and bad about each of them.

Please read that link as I am not going to use this blog to go over what is wrong with wheelie bins and co-mingling again. I want to look at just how non-aspirational this plan actually is.

Sadly although the plan is a step forward from the current state for most suburbs It is really flawed, its just not that obvious at first because they get to ask the questions of you – instead of the other way around. Its basically a big con – and to see that all you have to do is follow the money.

The headline aspiration is Zero Waste, That sounds brilliant, who could be against producing no waste?  But wait, what do they actually mean by zero waste – not much it seems, they mean that they want to reduce the proportion of household waste collected that goes to landfill by 30% by 2018.  So leaving aside for the moment the fact that household waste is only 17% of the total amount of stuff thrown away.  All we are talking about is burying a bit less and recycling a bit more.
As far as I can tell – if the council achieves all its aims it still won’t achieve the level of quality recycling found on Waiheke when we had CleanStream.

Still every bit counts doesn’t it? The less that goes to landfill the more that gets recycled – and recycling is good yes?

Well no.

Lets step back a moment and get the bigger picture.  What really matters is the total amount of energy used and the total amount of pollution produced in the whole process.  And perhaps the total amount of money spent in the process – who pays and who profits.

Lets take this plastic water bottle.
The plastic is made from polyethelene – a petrochemical – i.e Oil.  To make it required energy – i.e more oil, to ship it to the factory from china – oil, to truck it to the supermarket – oil and to get it home – more oil.  That’s a lot of oil to get something that falls on my roof and then comes straight out of my tap.  So when I buy it I pay, I pay an amount that represents the whole oil fuelled economy up to the supermarket – plus a few cents extra for the water inside.

So maybe I refill it a couple of times, before throwing it away, and lets say I put it in my recycle bin.  A truck comes and picks it up (oil), ships it to south Auckland (oil)  where it is sorted by machines (more oil) and then away to another plant (probably in China – a whole ton of oil) where it can be melted down and made into another plastic bottle (oil) or is perhaps just burnt to run the plant (Carbon emissions).   Then off it goes back around the loop.  That’s if the plastic gets made into another bottle,  More likely each trip around the loop the plastic is down-cycled, turned into something lower grade – like black bin bags, or fuel for incinerators.  Eventually after delivering just a few drinks of water that plastic bottle has to end up somewhere – floating in the ocean, buried in landfill – maybe in someone else’s country, or burnt up, releasing its carbon into the atmosphere along with all the carbon from all the processes and trips encountered during its lifetime.

Lets hammer that point home.  Everything that leaves your hand and hits that bin represents energy expended in its creation, and energy to expend in its disposal – one way or another that object is going to end up as some form of pollution.

Who gets to pay for all this – you and I do – after all we are the only ones in the loop shelling out any money.  And our children will too – because there will be a whole lot of hidden environmental costs that they will have to clean up too.

All recycling takes energy – its better than not recycling only because in theory it costs less energy to re-use hydrocarbons, steel, aluminium etc than to extract it out of the ground in the first place.  And because dumping stuff in holes in the ground pollutes water supplies and uses up valuable holes in the ground.

Really you need to think about not creating the waste in the first place.   Remember the mantra – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle? – its that way around for a reason.
Clearly I can replace that plastic water bottle with an aluminium flask that I could probably use for the rest of my life. Or I could just drink my water in a ceramic cup out of the tap.

The WMMP is constructed to only let you think about waste minimisation at the disposal stage. Clearly a serious plan would think about waste minimisation at the creation stage.

Another example – organic waste.
Who hasn’t had a meal, stuffed the left overs in the fridge and forgotten about them until too late, Who hasn’t had yogurts go out of date, or bananas go rotten.  We all have occasions where food gets thrown away.  Even enviro greenies growing their own garden veges have clippings, leaves, cores, skins etc that can’t be eaten.
If this stuff ends up in your everyday refuse bag – and then goes to the landfill it will biodegrade wonderfully – producing in the process quite a lot of methane gas and associated yucky gloop.  Now while there are some landfills that catch that gas and use it for electricity – ( I helped build one once). For the most part it just seeps out – the gas into the atmosphere, the gloop into the water.   Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, so along with those cow farts your rotten banana skin is doing its little bit for climate change. (although most of that took place in getting it to you in the first place).

So it is great that in the plan the council will provide you with a small bin you can use for your food and green waste, and will collect it weekly so it doesn’t get too smelly.  After that they will drive it all somewhere (oil again) and, compost it, then drive it to a garden shop (oil)  where you can buy it back again.  They might not even compost it – instead using it as fuel for a small energy plant – great eh, slightly less oil gets used and the carbon ends up in the atmosphere anyway.

Or you could just put it in a compost bin in your garden – save all that oil and get your own compost.   Or if you don’t have space or quite enough waste to keep a compost heap going you could use Bokashi – basically a pickle barrel that does a similar job.

So again the solution offered is to collect, and dispose, out of site out of mind,  Instead of teaching people how to create less organic waste in the first place, and how to manage it themselves.

Researchers have found that if you can’t see how much waste you are producing then it is easier for you to produce more.  Or put the other way around – when people are asked to weigh the amount of food waste they produce they then start to produce less, sometimes a lot less.

You see – This is not really about waste minimisation at all – its about money,  who gets to make some money out of the whole system and how can they maximise their profit. That lovely consultancy document is actually someones business plan.

Making all the bins alike, using bins rather than bags, using complex RFID counters, co-mingling, routing all recycling through a central processing plant.  These are all steps that allow a company to start to build a monopoly business in waste management.   They all make it harder for competition to enter the market.

That monopoly gets paid for the amount of waste that it processes, It gets paid to collect stuff, paid to move stuff, paid to sort stuff and then gets to sell the stuff as well.  The only person who is paying in this loop is you the householder. either directly or through the amount the taxes and rates pays on your behalf.

Such a company’s fundamental incentive therefore is to have as much stuff going around that loop as possible.  That’s why the bins are so big – It hides just how much stuff you are throwing away.  It makes it possible for you to feel good about recycling while making them a fat profit, and increasing the GDP of the country.  Now really I’ve no problem with someone making a profit for performing a good service – My issue is when what makes good business sense to them – makes bad sense to the environment.

At the end of the day – everything that you throw away represents energy expended and at some point in the future – water pollution and greenhouse gases.  So unless the plan gives a strong incentive for EVERYONE involved to reduce the TOTAL amount of waste in circulation we are actually going to get the opposite effect.  Yes there might be a reduction in landfill – but there will be an increase in energy used and pollution generated.

Any guess what – when oil doubles or triples in price – this business model is going to go bust anyway. That whole lot of driving stuff around just won’t make sense.

A real plan would move from householder pays to producer pays  – where the companies that put all this stuff together in the first place – the excess packaging, the unnecessary bags, bottles, cans, uneaten, inedible food etc.

A real plan would reward me more – for using less stuff.  For buying a big bag of beans and learning to cook instead of canned baked beans.  For learning how to not have to throw food away.  For learning how to do my own compost and grow my own tomatoes.

A real plan would allow local communities to create local solutions, rewarded for overall gains in sustainability, energy and pollution reduction.  It would encourage local boards to establish by-laws restricting disposable bottles, or requiring deposit returnable bottles.

So Auckland Planners – I’m giving you a C+ for a first effort. Now go back and work out what it would take to get an A.

Experiences of International climate negotiations

Another update from Luke – the official ‘youngest person at the COP16 conference’ – love seeing it all through his eyes…

Hi Guys!

This conference has been an eye-opening experience for me recently as to where real climate change adaptation is likely to take place, and by far the most opportunity lies at grassroots community level, which makes what we’re doing seem all the more important. At the international level is seems unlikely anyone will enter a second commitment period under Kyoto unless the developed countries (primarily the US) take the lead. The US wants to see ‘voluntary commitments’ and measuring of success by ‘how well we meet those  commitments instead of measuring actual reductions’ which is ludicrous and would see developed countries make pledges of around 4-8% rather than the 40-80% needed in a second commitment period to keep temperature rise below 2 degrees! even if they could, the negotiators have said “we could never agree to how much should be pledged by nations in an adaptation fund” which is what the global public sees as a success in Cancun.

I asked the panel “Do you believe that we can properly address the issue of climate change using market mechanisms? (that is the carbon trading proposed under LULUCF and REDD+) given the current state of a global economy based on exponential growth on a finite planet?”. Their answer was a straightforward, honest and said one with out even any hesitation, as if a great burden was being released off their (the negotiations) shoulders.

“No”. “It never has done, it is not working now, and it never will work in future”.

And then, while I was still in a state of utter disbelief that they would have the decency to say that, a second panelist stated “The road to hell is often paved with good intentions”! It made for a very heated discussion! (while the cameras started to click away…). They ended the session on a positive note by literally saying that “Our best chance is in resilient community action”. I should trust my intuition more often. The same plenary panel has decided right there and then to continue the discussion in an open press briefing with media from across the world present tonight at 6pm (1pm today NZ time), and I intend to ask the same question, while introducing myself as the ‘youngest person at this conference’ which I found out I am! Hopefully the panel will be just as honest in front of global media.

We, as part of the Youth zero carbon strategies working group are planning some very important actions. We are firstly writing and handing out a ‘real’ agenda at the conference highlighting what really should be on the table in terms of UNFCCC workings. Then we are proposing an action right outside the Azteca Plenary hall at the Moon Palace with a guy in a business suit with UNFCCC written on it standing at a tap, with a sign saying ‘SUPPLY’ and then a hose to a swimming pool of large container where there is a youth member holding the end of the running hose with a sign next to him/her saying “DEMAND”. In the role play the youth asks the unfccc to “turn off the tap” but the unfccc refuses to do so, and instead asks the youth to stop it (ie; try to control demand). After trying 101 ways including water balloons and sellotape and countless others it is given up and the container overflows. Visually communicating that the only way to limit GHG’s in the atmosphere is to control supply rather than demand. This group is being led by a friend of mine named Kjell, who I joke about as being a ‘universal translator’ because he speaks 8 languages, fluently!

So keepin it brief… I gtg. But i have also left my contact details with the UNESCO reps here in Cancun. :p


Phonemast and the Media

Part 4 of Stephanie’s summary of the phone mast issue.


(A) National Media

It has to be said that the national media appear to have entered into a conspiracy of silence on this issue.  When the NES was pushed through Parliament under urgency (in the last days of the Labour Government) neither the usually vociferous opposition nor the media had anything to say about it.  As the NES allows the telcos to install their cellphone transmitters on any lampost or public infrastructure completely unnotified and each of the three telcos intends to have a 3G mast every 800 metres across suburban New Zealand, this law affects everybody.  WHY weren’t we told?

Perhaps it is fear of loss of advertising revenue (from the cellphone companies) that makes the mainstream media reluctant to cover the phonemast issue.  However, this does not explain why the TV news shies away from this subject.  Augumented by a heavy private security guard presence, a squad of police in riot gear along with a paddywagon and police helicopter were employed to quell the peaceful protest of  about 36 people (including children and elderly) objecting to the installation of a 2Degree phonemast at Rowan Hegley’s home, (145 Clovelly Road, Howick), early this year.  The TV newsreader that night merely said “the police were called to a protest in Howick today.”  and that was the extent of  coverage on this event.  (That same night, much mention was made of two young girls shaving their heads for charity).

Whilst denying the public coverage of such items as the above-mentioned incident in Howick, The NZ Herald enthusiatically and uncritcally accepts information provided by the cellphone companies’ PR teams.   Recently the Herald trumpeted the results of a study pupportedly showing that phonemasts are safe.  Dr David Black was quoted extensively in this article.  Dr Black’s was the only ‘expert’ opinion sought and disturbingly,  the Herald made no mention whatsoever of the fact that he works for Telecom and Vodafone.

(B) Local Media

Radio Waiheke has interviewed Dr Stuart Reuben once and myself twice (these interviews are available on their website).

Both the Gulf News and Marketplace have given excellent and impartial coverage.  Suprisingly, given the Gulf News’  recent reputation as a “green” newspaper in some people’s eyes, the Marketplace has given this issue more a bit more coverage, particularly to do with the anomalies in the council’s planning consent and ex-mayor, John Banks’ support of the campaign for safer sites.

(C) Letters To The Editor(s)

Over the last two years both local papers have published a number of letters written by those espousing the precautionary principle in relation to the safer siting of phonemasts (eg not installing masts near  kindergartens, hospitals or schools, etc.) and others opposing such caution.  Many letters have been written (I know because I wrote most of them), but this correspondence cannot be called a debate as the defenders of the cellphone industry have refused to answer any  questions at all. Sometimes this correspondence has been quite acrimonious, even downright rancorous, therefore much more entertaining judging by the messages received and people stopping me in the street at these times.

Travel update from Luke

Ola Amigos!

I have been enjoying myself very, very much these past few days. I finally met up with the UNESCO people here in Cancun and sure enough one of them had been to Waiheke before and so knew the place well and gave me some clear advice. Sounds like Colin’s got his facts right that’s for sure, and we’re doing all the best things to do, and not rushing the process which is good. I have got the card of the head guy in Paris who co-chairs UNESCO.  Appears the best thing to do to raise public profile would be to invite the NZ branch people or some people from Noosa Biosphere reserve over.

COP 16 is all over for me now! No more plenaries thank you very much, and no more IPCC, ODEAC, UNFCCC, SBSTA, or KP, COY, and whatever else comes to mind. But the second lot of us will be going in from tomorrow and I will be playing an important motherly role in making packed lunches out of dinner leftovers from the night before, reading through the daily programme and sorting out what we need to be going to as a delegation and at what times, and acting as daily coordinator for the next 3 days. Everyone will feed into me what their plans are for the day around breakfast. I am still keeping myself as busy as ever, and I have a whole day side conferencia in a 5-star hotel called the ‘Rio Cancun’ from 9-5 tomorrow on the ethics behind climate change and the ethics behind the UNFCCC workings, which I consider to be very important in addressing the issue since it is more a moral and ethical issue than a political issue.

I also finally got permission for our garden hose extraction action at the Palace! But the secretariat are so stringent they won’t even allow us to have water! It’s paranoia if you ask me. Oh well, there’s the Via Campesina march tomorrow down Ave Tulum which last year had 40,000 participants and this will test them to the extreme, provided there are as many people as last year, it’s so hard to tell. The caravans have taken over in the last two days, after passing through all of mexico over the past few months… I bet they’ll bring out the tanks after all. A lot of people have lost faith in the negotiations and so all the activists that camped outside Copenhagen last year aren’t here this year, but there are more people at the actual conference, with the rumors pointing at around 45,000. We’re gonna use water anyway, because I’m the one held accountable for it and I’m not in the conference anymore so they can’t kick me out, and so I say yes. We’re painting some banners and stuff tonight.

I have been invited to stay on a floating island made out of plastic bottles just off Isla Mujeres sometime this week. The bottles are held together in nets and the island built on top, apparently there’s a cottage, a waterfall and even mangroves growing on this tropical island, and Kjell is friends with the guy who built it. It is very cool and you can check it out on Wikipedia. It is the second one this guy has built cause his first was destroyed by a hurricane. I am also going to visit a REDD forest and the indigenous people that live there, on Thursday on a Mexican govt tour, and I’m also hoping to visit Chichen Itza before I go so it makes for quite a lot of day tripping! (more investigation continues at Soberani’s tomorrow).

I have been getting out and about a bit more often lately, there’s been more on around town. I went to the YOUNGO party at Klimaforum on Thursday night for a start. It was about 12km into the rainforest in a place very much like Te Moata, except with a massive open grass field. They had a funky reggae band there who put on a really good show, and we spent our time dancing the night away. There were also these people who did gymnastics with fire, and one girl who did the hula with her hoop on fire, it was amazing.

But by far saturday night was the best. All the NGO’s (non- government organizations) banded together and hired out Senior Frogs for the yearly NGO party. The whole place was pumping! Just to top it all off they had yet another street festival last night, and we watched some of the Mexicans breakdancing in the park.  They are erecting a massive Christmas tree in the middle of the plaza this week, which made it all the more enjoyable. I can consider myself spoilt rotten. All this time I never drunk more than one pina cilata!

The thing I enjoy most about mexico is everything that is happening around you. Just walking down my normal route to Soberani’s on Ave Coba today there’s the usual traffic and I get passed by a bus that was so overloaded with people there were guys hanging out the open door waiting to pay their fare as the bus is moving. The whole pavement and most of the street is flooded in ankle-deep water because the water mains burst last night and there’s this poor builder knelled over on the pavement with 8 different cement and tool filled buckets floating around him as he tries desperately to fix it. I witness a guy stealing from the street vendor as she has her back turned and just to top it off as I’m admiring the craziness of this situation I realize the cause for the traffic hold up, turns out this guy’s mini isn’t starting and I find myself pushing it down the street for him with a bus behind me as he jumps in and tries to start it. Only after a guy came running out of a restaurant literally with a spatula in hand to help me push did we finally get it going!

I’ve learnt my fair share of what to be careful of while here. The open world is a lot different to NZ and unfortunately you just can’t trust anyone.



Is it dry? Yes, but for how long?

Thanks to a new service at NIWA we can now get some of their cool climate data plots for a site much closer to home than previously.  Up until recently the nearest climate station that I could get plots of rainfall from was at Whangaparaoa. However the climate out on the peninsular is slightly different than on Waiheke thanks to the positioning of the Waitakere Ranges.

NIWA process their various climate stations around the country into a tidy grid of virtual climate stations each about 5km apart. This allows us to have a better idea of the real data for Waiheke.

Here is the key plot – for detail of how to get your own see http://andrew.avowkind.net/wren

It shows the accumulated rainfall for this year, compared with last year and the long term average.

This is a live chart so each week you visit it you’ll get the latest information.

Last Year

Take a look at the blue line. Compared to the long term average – the black line it is nearly flat from Dec to May. That was our four month drought. But as you can see it followed an equally dry Oct/Nov broken only by what I recall as a single rain storm at the beginning of December.  We caught up again in May but the total for the year was only about 1000mm compared to the average of 1200mm.

This Year

Follow the red line, and look at the red bars which show monthly total rainfall for each month. August/September were wetter than average while again Oct/Nov have been dry.  If we don’t get a burst of rain in December then we are back in the same situation as last year.

El Niño, La Niña

One thing is different – The state of the El Niño Southern_Oscillation.  This irregular fluctuation in the boundary between the cooler drier south polar air and the warmer wetter equatorial air is one of the main causes of annual variation in our climate.

From NIWA’s latest climate outlook: A moderate to strong La Niña is well-established in the tropical Pacific, and may strengthen further through the rest of 2010.  La Niña conditions are likely to continue through to autumn of 2011. In the North Island, rainfall is likely to be normal or above normal, with above normal soil moisture levels and stream flows in the east,

The basic rule to remember is: El Niño = Drier, La Niña = Wetter (for NZ North island at least)

So it could go either way – we may see a return to wetter weather and an average year in total, or we could miss out on a couple of crucial storms and have more drought than last year.   This is one issue about climate change that you need to bear in mind – things can change in either direction – what rising CO2 levels really mean is more energy in the atmosphere and more volatility in the climate.  Drier drys and wetter wets and extreme events more often.

Note: I am not a climate scientist or a meteorologist I am just reading the graph as I see it.

Soil Moisture

Here is a soil moisture plot from the same source. I’ll leave you to interpret it. but basically if there are red bars along the bottom your plants probably need watering.

For Waiheke weather see: http://www.waihekeweather.net/

Our Man in Cancun

Luke Carey is a young man on an environmental mission.The 16-year-old Ostend resident is the youngest person to be selected from more than 120 applicants as one of 12 New Zealand youth representatives to attend the COP 16 international conference on climate change in Cancun, Mexico.

The conference is being held by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). http://unfccc.int

COP 16 is being held in conjunction with the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), the thirty-third sessions of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI), the fifteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Further Commitments for Annex I Parties under the Kyoto Protocol (AWG-KP) and the thirteenth session of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA).

From Luke Carey, Cancun


I’m sitting on the computers at cancunmese fully registered for COP! with my badge and all stating me as a member of the UN i feel so important! The african delegation is sitting next to me and the japanese behind me. The venue is a long way out of town so if we don’t want to be missing important events we figured as a delegation we’d better be leaving cancun early each morning. It’s amazing here! it’s a giant center as big as the asb showgrounds or bigger with hundreds of different stalls with the organization’s name on the top. I’ve sat at the European Union stall and taken a photo for you guys which i will bring back home! There are plenty of others though, ranging from countries such as ‘malawi’ and ‘Tuvalu’ to the ‘Asian counter alliance organization’ (ACAO) and the ‘Global Wind and solar energy fund’ and ‘Jewish People’s Alliance’ and even the ‘Oil Producing Economies Coalition’ (OPEC) which is made up of Saudi Arabia,UAE, Russia, Iraq and those countries, who just try their best to turn the negotiations into a shit-fight and make more money out of oil extraction in the meantime!

Registration was easy, there were no queues, and it took like two minutes, a huuuggggeee improvement from last year where the delegation was standing in a line two miles long for 5 and a half hours while it was snowing! And to top that off, they were gated in by barbed wire fences and patrolling riot police with guard dogs at the same time! The mexicans are brilliant! (and it’s like, 26 degrees here!). I am glad that they have computers here because the internet at the hostel is terrible! I’ve been resorting to ‘Le Casa Del whopper’ or Burger King, which in mexico has free wireless internet instead, but it’s still so slow! This is like a godsend!

The security here is insane though! on the 20min drive out of Cancun along the motorway we must have passed at least 6 army trucks parked in the bushes on the side of the road with army men poking their heads out of the top armed with MK 57’s and ready to shoot. There was three ‘federal policia’ checks much like the drunk-driving road checks in NZ, and even once we got here We lined up and had our passport checked by armed army officials. The Taxi driver said to me they have over 9,000 federal police here in Cancun at the moment and I walked outside just before and looked out past the barbed wire fence into the rainforest just long enough to see a camouflaged army guy hiding in a little treehouse up in the tree looking straight down at me and armed with an automatic rifle!

I love Mexico. I have had no problems with sickness or anything, i am enjoying the spicy food now and it’s far healthier than in NZ, it’s so lovely and warm all the time and the beaches are amazing. The spanish language is beautiful and the city is so bustling and full of culture, like the “celebration of diversity’ festival and the independence day festival there’s just so much exciting stuff on here. The other NZ guys are calling me a human GPS because i just seem to intuitively know how to get places, what buses to catch and where things are!

I was yesterday put in charge of setting up the YOUNGO text alert system, so have been getting the contacts of over 700 youth delegates, which i then hope to put onto a laptop (not mine!) and then send out instant text notifications of actions within minutes, which gives us the ability to mobilize thousands of people within minutes for marches, protests, media campaigns and more. As youth we more easily gain approval for actions from the COP secretariat and are already building a giant climate pyramid out of over 50,000 boxes from a disused warehouse 5min walking time from our hostel. these actions frequently become the associated pic that international media put on COP headlines to the world and each millions of people.

I went to a workshop yesterday where  I heard about the zero carbon strategies of Costa Rica, Australia and the UK from international researchers around the world and good old Kirkle is leading the long term strategy working group which is addressing the inability to properly act upon climate change because of our economic system that relies on infinite growth on a finite planet. We are looking at this issue and the possibilities of an alternative non-growth based economic model but there is not alot out there yet. The best option that has become obvious to me to avoid catastrophic economic meltdown in the next twenty years with high inflation and the US$64 trillion of debt of the US alone is to diversify local economies that work independently of the global economy through the introduction of import-replacement quotas and strict foreign investment rules. This is important for NZ because we have been importing more than we are exporting for the last 20 years, which creates a financial deficit that is only met through loss of economic value in the dollar or by the selling of assets, NZ’s most valuable asset;land, to foreign control. This experience is constantly expanding my idea of climate change adaptation and connecting the dots for me, and i have had a fair few lightbulb moments and alot of ideas to present when i get back.

Probably most important that I have come to realize after flying halfway around the world that the whole concept of international climate change negotiations is an absolutely ludicrous approach and is going to get us nowhere. The only legally-binding agreement that founds COP is the kyoto treaty which is reaching the end of it’s first commitment period with no or very little progression made and little progress on finalizing a second commitment period, once this is gone countries have no reason to actually meet their promises. It is a process of consensus decision-making within 160,000 people making any sort of an agreement here, so no wonder it’s taken 17 years and we still haven’t had viable, measurable and legally binding outcomes! These guys have been negotiating my entire life! (but you can’t force a negotiator to stop negotiating and find a solution if he gets paid to keep on negotiating!). Of course that’s not the case of all the negotiators because many are passionate about finding a solution but it is an issue we face.

Any action addressing the issue of climate change is far more likely to come at a grassroots community level. I am sorry to say. But when i look around i see so many ways and contacts that can be really useful for waiheke as a community to become more sustainable, and that for me is inspiring.

Sure it’s busy as hell here, but because of our vigorous delegation planning we are managing this “structured chaos” okay and are coming out a mile ahead of any other youth delegation on the planet. We are recognized as being super-organized now, and everybody knows us! We have a policy document that is becoming widely read and is recognized as being well-written, we’re very well-positioned in COP, and have awesome matching shirts and a giant fern,and apparently we’re even more good-looking than any other youth delegation! lol.

I’m having a ball of a time! I have never been so motivated and enlightened in my life as being here in Cancun, my first time overseas, in viva la mexico, with such an awesome bunch of like-minded people and an incredible opportunity to change the world. Cop hasn’t even started yet! It’s awesome!

Adios Amigos!

If you have a moment and wonder what our 12 intrepid climate change youth are doing in Cancun, take a look at this link:


They are really into it, and doing us proud.

They’d also LOVE some feedback, comments, and a word from home.  They’ll be clocking up some hours, and sooner or later the tiredness will get to them, and about then a word from home will be just the ticket.

Phone mast and Community Board

Part 2 of Stephanie Honeychurch’s overview of phone mast issues.

The role of the (previous) Waiheke Community Board regarding the phonemast issue

Recently  Andrew Crawford, Dr Stuart Reuben,  Ruth Gracie and I were interviewed by another TV researcher about the Waiheke phonemast protest.    In June, Stuart and I were interviewed for a doco called ‘Invisible Forces,’ due to go to air in March.  I mention this, because if the second doco goes ahead that will be two TV programmes (particulary, the second), that relate to and shine a light on our previous Community Board’s farsighted actions on  behalf of Waihekeans and by extension, all New Zealanders.

Denise Roche, as Councillor, was delegated by the Board to write to the Prime Minister to ask him to “urgently instigate a review of the National Environmental Standards (NES) for Electromagentic Radiation and the placement of cellphone masts.”  The Board made a resolution to keep lobbying Parliament to review this clearly unjust and inadequate law which was largely written by the cellphone companies themselves and acts to their benefit and to the detriment of ordinary people.  Anyone doubting this, should look up “Txt ‘M” To Mobilise,” by John Landrigan, written for The Aucklander, in which the telcos openly admit their involvement in the NES.

The Community Board’s awareness of this issue began in August, 2008, when Dr Stuart Reuben presented medical evidence of a multiplication of ten times the national average rate for cancer  at Netanya in Israel for two consecutive years after the installation of a cellphone transmitter.   This is by no means the only study showing serious harm.  Stuart is an internationally recognised medical scientist having discovered the formulae by which blood flow is measured all over the world, he is an Oxford graduate and has four degrees with Honours, a background in cardiology and was Head of Research for Pfizer in America.  Stuart is more highly qualified than the doctor advising our Government.

Thanks largely to Andrew Crawford’s brilliance and sheer persistance, all three of the telcos sent management to meet with the Waiheke Community Board. The telcos were asked to take four actions;  to involve the public in the process, to implement a post-installation health monitoring programme, to update the relevant standards (unchanged since 1998) and most importantly, to sign a guarantee that there will be no health effects. All four actions were declined.  Disturbingly, whilst insisting phonemasts are safe the telcos emphatically refuse to sign a guarantee that there will be no harm.

After this Chairman Tony Sears said “one of the things that came out of the meeting is that communities need to put greater pressure on central Government for stronger standards.”  The letter to the PM states that “It is the Waiheke Community Board’s view that the standards that are currently in place offer no protection to ordinary citizens and we would appreciate your response on how soon the National Standards can be reviewed.  Members of our community also have criticisms that the independent panel of experts that were part of reviewing the existing standards are not independent and are too close to the industry.”

The Board’s letter to the PM also states that “On Waiheke our community has concerns based on the growing international evidence that there are health risks associated with living near cellsites.  In addition the real estate industry is reporting that properties situated near cellphone towers are devalued by their proximity to the sites.  It is unfair in the extreme that it is the neighbours that bear the consequences of living near these installations, but have no say in their placement.”

It is known that proximity to  even a lampost-type phonemast automatically devalues neighbouring properties from 10 to 15%.  This figure can go higher because the larger the number of masts, size or public notoriety of the cellsite the more it devalues surrounding properties..  Marine 3G cellsites transmit for up to 30kms, the older, 2G versions transmitted for up to 11 kms.   The current proliferation and closeness of 3G phonemasts is purely profit-driven, but as the long term effects of EMR come to light, it seems our children will be the ones to pay.

Raising a standard up the mast

children in movie signs wearing tinfoil hats to protect against alien signalsDiscovering the One Waiheke website recently has given me joy (which goes to show what a boring life I lead).  Alan Knight’s superb ‘Media Watch’ in particular, has given  great pleasure but some mental anguish and confusion also.  I voted for Nikki Kaye, but help pack the Gulf News for a couple of hours on Thursday mornings, which must surely qualify me to be a “Bolshevik Cohort” or at least have latent pinko tendencies according to Alan, (who makes more sense than  most politicians).  My political leanings ARE decidedly wobbly having veered from side to side voting either Labour or National, whichever one appeared to be the lesser of two evils at the time.  Rather like voting for Len Brown because he is not John Banks.

After many years of total political apathy/cynicism/disinterest I underwent a strange transformation when in a fit of NIMBYism I did some serious research on phonemasts.  Over the last two years I have met (and harangued) MPs Cath Tizard, Nick Smith, Nikki Kaye, Phil Twyford and Jacinda Ardern.  Once one of the world’s worst correspondents, my Cornish cousins assumed I was dead for years.  Now, in my evangelistic fervour I have become a Forrest Gump of letter writers in my determination to publicise this issue.

It is true that ignorance is bliss, but it is not true that what we don’t know doesn’t hurt us.  Therefore, I intend to share the burden of accumulated information on this subject with One Waiheke readers as time and energy permit over the next few weeks in the hope that in becoming aware of all the dodgy aspects (vested interests, junk science, etc.) others will join the push for change.   We expect our elected government to protect us, yet history has proven that when it comes down to money, governments everywhere are reluctant to let go of the lolly.

With regard to the phonemast issue (National Environmental Standards)  both major parties are as bad as each other.  Trevor Mallard, as Minister for the Environment, pushed the NES through, under unexplained urgency in the dying days of the Labour  Government.  The usually nosy, noisy Nats said nothing and the folk-dancing Green’s drug ridden views were pointedly ignored by the media, who because of the timing of this Bill were in a pre-election feeding frenzy anyway and couldn’t be bothered with real reporting.  Since then a number of petitions objecting to the NES including the Crawford (Waiheke) petition were sent to Parliament.  A Select Committee was formed, made certain recommendations such as removing vested interests from the Government’s advisory panel.  The Government declined to accept any of the recommendations.  This is like Rothmans and Pall Mall advising the Government not to listen to those naughty, trouble-making malcontents who sign petitions or even to pay attention to their own MP’s recommendations such as smoking is perfectly safe because Big Tobacco says so.

Campaigners do not want to abolish cellphones or to halt progress.  Since 2008,  New Zealand has had one of the most permissive, slackest standards in the world in relation to the siting of phonemasts and levels of radiation.  Marine 3G cellsites can transmit for 30 kms.  The current proliferation of masts is purely profit driven.  Campaigners believe that New Zealanders should at least have the same standard of protection that much of Europe and even such countries with poor human rights records such as China and Russia have.  This is not unreasonable.

In case in the future anyone whose name has been associated with mine wishes to disown me, ( for whatever reason), please note that unless quoted, all opinions given are entirely my own.