The year is 1805. Europe has fallen to Napoleon, and only the Royal Navy stands in his way to total victory. Off the cost of South America, a new conflict is brewing. Captain Jack “Lucky Jack” Aubrey of the Man-of-War HMS Surprise is under orders to sink or capture the French privateer Acheron, which has been deployed to the region. After seven weeks of uneventful sailing, the Acheron strikes first, all but crippling the Surprise in an engagement in which Aubrey realizes his enemy’s ship is nautically superior to his own. Along with his close friend and confidant Stephan Maturin who also happens to be the ship’s surgeon, Aubrey is now faced with the choice of retreating to England and admitting defeat or remaining at the Acheron’s mercy. Aubrey must now do the impossible if he is to survive, repair his ship, catch up to his enemy and defeat the Acheron–somehow.
Based on the best selling novels by Patrick O’Brien with Russell Crowe as Aubrey and Paul Bettany as Maturin this is one of the best movies about the age of fighting sail.
Come and join your friends and help raise funds for the Waiheke Working Sail project.
Environmental issues can be a source of heated debate, as we know all too well from past and present local controversies. People sometimes take up entrenched positions on opposing sides of an issue, and in a small community this can become personal and divisive. How can philosophy help?
I believe we can all benefit from enhancing our critical thinking abilities, learning how to recognise the assumptions behind our own positions and those of others we disagree with, and trying to formulate our arguments in such a way as to find as much common ground as possible with others.
Whether we are concerned about global problems of climate change, pollution, and using up finite natural resources, or about balancing the needs of humans with those of other species here on Waiheke and in our coastal waters, philosophical questions arise. Why does the environment matter? What do we owe to our own and other species, to ecosystems, and to future generations?
These are among the questions we’ll explore together in a new course that I’m offering next term at Waiheke Adult Learning, ‘Ethics and the Environment’, as part of the Community Education programme.
The course will be held on Thursday evenings from 31st October till 28th November, 7.00pm-8.30pm, and costs $80 per person.
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.
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!
NEW ZEALAND IS NOT FOR SALE – Public meeting this coming Sunday
Are you worried about who owns and controls New Zealand’s assets? Maybe you should be. Remember how our waste and recycling services contract was taken off our community-owned company and an Australian company took over?
Murray Horton, from the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aeoteroa, (CAFCA) will be including Waiheke in his NZ Speaking Tour. We are obviously a place not to be missed. The Waiheke Greens will be hosting Murrary at Surfdale Hall, 3rd April at 2:00. He will join us to speak to, and discuss, the urgent issues of the day. Hopefully he’ll manage to join us for a cup-of tea before he has to be back to Auckland on the 4:00 Ferry.
Murray will cover:
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the dangers it poses to the NZ economy and to our very democracy
Privatisation of our public assets
The relentless takeover of NZ businesses and land by transnational coporations.
He is positing that a change of government in the November 26th Election will not, in itself be enough to change the disastrous course on which this country is set. Murray will be giving us the background of information and the means to meet the most important challenge as he sees it “how the New Zealand people can fight back; it’s too important to be left up to the politicians”.
Make this whistle stop worthwhile, by coming along to the Surfdale Hall on the 3rd, and giving Murray the benefit of a lively Waiheke discussion.
For more information contact Carol Weizel <carolweitzel at hotmail dot com>
There is a receptive climate in the new council for taking another look at the library/service centre project- the mayor’s liaison has said that they are willing to open up the issue to ensure that Waiheke gets the most appropriate solution for its community. It is not a matter of taking what someone is willing to give because we might not get anything at all.
Colin Beardon will be petitioning the local board to pursue a 6-month moratorium on the proposed project to enable the community to look at the possibilities and engage in substantive consultation.
Please try to attend the Local Board meeting this Monday, 17th Jan at 4pm to give support to this effort to secure a library that works for Waiheke.
2.25 PM. Those saying you’d have to be in early were right. The Ostend Hall is filling up fast and there’s over half an hour until this thing is due to kick off. It is already getting warm and stuffy. This hall was never very comfortable with a crowd in and that’s what is rapidly growing.
The board members are already here, milling around looking stiff and awkward. They look like they just want this to be over and I can’t say I blame them. You can already tell that over half the people here have protest in mind and even Denise is looking nervous despite the obvious support she’s getting. Don McKenzie is wearing his Sunday best. In a suit, he looks diminutive, almost fragile. Jim Hannan seems to have aged decades in less than a month. There’s a slump to his shoulders that he keeps trying to straighten and he can’t seem to get comfortable. He sits, then stands, wanders about a bit and sits down again.
Faye Storer is determined to show her professional thick skin. She’s well turned out, a far cry from her low key look during the campaign. The fact that she knows most of the council staff milling about the front of the hall clearly helps.
The biggest presence is Jo Holmes. Jo isn’t wasting any time trying to appear tough. She IS tough. Her outfit, though colourful, seems well suited to the possibility of a bar brawl, and she knows she has a decent number of supporters in attendance. I’m still proud that she’s made it to the board. I may disagree with her judgment over the last week or two and some of you may roll your eyes at this but I’m damned if I’m going to regret voting for her and I’m still sure she’s going to prove herself in the long run.
2.45 and Len Brown arrives with Mike Lee. Their reception is loud and heartfelt. You can tell right away that both of them know that this is going to be different from the other ceremonies that they’ve sat through recently. The new Mayor works the room well and seems energised. Mike Lee seems relaxed and clearly in his element. The hall is now seriously full and I’m wondering why we couldn’t get this many in for the campaign meetings.
By five to three the crowd is still trying to fill the remaining spaces and the mood of expectancy is tangible. There’s tenseness for sure, but a lot of good humour too. A bit like the Roman Coliseum must have felt during a Christians V Lions final.
Council chief Doug McKay looks amazed at the turnout as he begins his opening remarks. The Maori protocol stuff happens with considerable gusto. Then the crowd sits down and waits for the ref to blow the whistle.
As the new board are introduced you can see the way the crowd sympathies lie. The applause for the Gang of Four is light to say the least but as Denise Roche is introduced the uproar must be audible in Onetangi. Looking around I can see there are those who are not happy with the way this is going. I’m sitting next to Tony Sears and his face says it all. Len Brown on the other hand looks like a kid on Christmas day. He hasn’t had this much fun in ages. Doug McKay then returns to his prepared remarks. These are worthy but dull and the crowd seem restless as he waffles on.
Then it’s on to the declarations. Jim Hannan lurches to the podium first and I almost feel pity for the lad. The actual declaration is a limp and bloodless thing to have to read out, full of dry legalese and devoid of any big words or soaring rhetoric. Jim stumbles through it drawing derisive laugher at the word ‘impartial’. He looks like he’d rather be mopping up regurgitated tourist lunches from the deck of the Superflyte during a northerly swell than doing this and you can’t blame him.
Each board member is entitled to have their supporters join them for a photo after their declaration and Jim has to summon his two from the back of the hall.
Jo Holmes goes next and also draws a few derisive snorts as that word impartial is uttered. But the applause is more determined and her supporters make a decent go of it as they line up behind her. Jo really does have some ‘core support’ and they have seen that they need to make their presence felt.
Don McKenzie gets it over with quickly and sits down. I almost can’t watch. Don is a decent and admirable man and deserves to be on the board. That his induction to it has to be under these circumstances is little short of tragic. Let’s hope he can put Faye-Gate behind him and show us his true worth.
The order is alphabetical so we all know who’s up next. The collective intake of breath in the sweltering hall is so intense you can almost feel your ears pop. Denise Roche is called and this time the noise can be heard in Orapiu. For over half the people in attendance to stand behind her is impossible. Yet somehow it happens. Clearly emotional, Denise makes her declaration. She’s not a powerful speaker. She doesn’t have that Toastmasters knack of hammering words home like nails into thick timber. Yet that hardly seems important right now. The clumsy machinations of her rival have turned this woman into the focal point of huge community feeling and she now has a power beyond anything she could have dreamed of.
The rest of the board are expressionless. They can’t be enjoying this yet they made it happen. Just a slightly different approach two weeks ago and Denise would be making her declaration simply and resuming her seat like any of the rest of them instead of standing at the centre of a huge vortex.
Faye Storer cuts straight to it. She rattles her declaration out in seconds to light applause, stands for a few moments with about fifteen supporters and sits down again. If any of this is hurting then she doesn’t let it show. Faye may have made some disastrous miscalculations of late but she has a hide a rhinoceros would envy.
Can it get more intense? Hell yes! That was just the declarations. Now it’s time for the real meat of the business. Time for the new board to elect a chairperson. There will be no surprises of course but then that’s what caused all this. Doug McKay gets the ball rolling. Now you can see that his carefully prepared remarks are of little use and he’s into the realm of politics. Faye is nominated and the heckling begins in earnest. Any other nominations? Denise stands and nominates herself to huge cheers. But the audience’s voice is not what works in this case and she’s not getting any traction where it counts.
Faye Storer it is and the mood is now plain ugly. As she begins her speech the hall begins to empty. Many stay to listen though and there are some who try and match the feeling by catcalling those departing. Which is as it should be. Faye’s speech is businesslike but strangely embarrassing. It sounds like she wrote it the moment she knew she’d been elected and felt no need to alter so much as a word to reflect all the upheaval of the last two weeks. Controversy? Never heard of it. So the platitudes come thick and fast. Moving forward. Challenges that lie ahead. New era for Auckland etc etc….
Finally it stops and its time for Len Brown to speak. What a contrast. No fudging the issue for this Mayor. He begins by removing his tie. He must be glad to. The heat and humidity are now close to unbearable. His speech is heartfelt and inspiring. He has the ability to speak without recourse to the well worn bag of political clichés and it goes down well. And unlike the new chairperson he goes straight to the heart of the debate that’s kept us all enthralled of late. There is division and while that may be healthy for the democratic process it is now time to put it aside and work for Waiheke.
Jim Hannan rises and makes his way over to shake hands with Denise. The rest follow. Does it all seem a bit forced? Maybe too little too late? Time will tell.
Ultimately, Waiheke is better off for what has happened. All too often we go into these elections, choose a board then forget about it for three years. This time was different. We debated, we got involved, we had opinions and we chose sides. We got reminded of how good it is to live in a democracy.