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Author/Moderator - William (Bill) Barclay 


Associate Member NZ Press Council.   

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New Regional Theatre for Hamilton

Council will consider on Tuesday a paper from Governance and Strategy Manager Angela Jane regarding a request from the WRC to contrbute to the new theatre being proposed for Hamilton. This is to replace the now condemmed Founders Theatre, and the Momentum Waikato Comminty Foundation has requested $5m from WRC as its share towards the overall cost of $73m.

The WRC has wisely constructed a proposed contribution schedule for its member councils that is far more fairly reflective of relative value than was the case for the Cambridge Velodrome. In this case Waikato DC, Matamata and Waipa are hit up for $5.54 per rating unit for capital costs, while Hauraki and TCDC are gently incorporated at $.50 a unit for capital, and $.43 for ongoing costs - $.93 all up in Year 3. 

I don't think that will break anyone, and although many may regard the charge as another step on the road to purgatory (why should we? etc etc.), I think that Angela's Paper provides sufficient justification for our involvement at this level given the numbers who travel to Hamilton on a regular basis for all manner of activity.

No doubt many will oppose it, but I think it should get up on Tuesday.





1080 Vs. Botulinum in Kokumman Case

Following on my earlier 12 February post reflecting on the unlikelihood of 1080 being removed from the DoC arsenal, Geoffrey Robinson has passed on several items of correspondence, one of which I regard as from a highly qualified and credible source that I intend to republish here in the interests of open debate, and because of my continuing respect for the position taken by Geoffrey and Reihana.

I am personally unmoved by this information, but that does not gainsay the need for full access to all the evidence relating to the continued adherence to 1080 as the primary tool for controlling pests in this country:

This is the letter from Prof. Ian Shaw from the School of Physical and Chemical Science at the University of Canterbury in regard to the devastating illness suffered by the Kochumman family of Te Kuiti. I refrain from comment - the letter stands on its own merit:

(Regrettably, I cannot copy the letter which is embedded in other email correspondence. If someone can forward it to me a easily transferable form - please place it in the Comment area, and I will move it to this position.) 

I will otherwise work on getting it up as soon a possible.





New Finance Policy

Next Tuesday's Council meeting will be considering the proposed new finance policy - published this afternoon in the agenda .

The first thing that jumped out from the paper presented by Governance & Strategy Group Manager - Angela Jane in her covering Paper was a momentous announcement that will affect every aspect of our Council's future  capital expenditure.

Readers will be aware that I have drawn attention on numerous occasions to the utterly immoral, and outrageous habit that has been adopted over the period of firstly the Leach, and now this Council of funding new assets from depreciation reserves.

This is the new wording:

"Depreciation Reserves

We have removed the ability to fund new assets from the depreciation reserves to ensure the depreciation reserves can recover and build up for the renewals that are forecast into the future."

This method of financing capital works unrelated to the assets originally depreciated (including the $700k allocated to fund the shortfall n the new Jack McLean Gym) is indefensible, and I suspect is one of the reasons for the obvious breakdown in the relationship between the new CEO and the now departed CFO - Steve Baker.  

Steve stubbornly maintained that that it was perfectly acceptable even though logic told anyone with any knowledge of Council finances that this was not the case. If depreciation reserves cannot be preserved for the purpose of replacing the assets for which depreciation had been deducted, it defies the very purpose of depreciation, and perpetually postpones liability, while cushioning councillors from electoral disapproval having to approve rate increases in order to satisfy their desire for extravagent projects.  

It is also notable that the recent Resource Management Act change phasing out financial contributions as a funding source has been taken into account in the new Policy, and the totally arbitrary targeted rate that funded economic activity has also been removed along with a number of other inconsistencies that have crept into the Policy over recent years. B & B owners will be relieved to see that their targeted rate has disappeared. There was something very strange about this rate introduced by Leach for what appeared less that pure motives.

Note that new targeted capital based roading rates to cover roading and footpaths will be introduced in each area following on the need to take account of the 1877 Roading Agreement.

There is much to cheer about in regard to the return to common sense over the use of depreciation reserves, but councillors had better be aware that fancy new pet projects will as a result need to be met fully funded  from mainly targeted (too bad about the 'three waters'!) rates, and new clearly identified borrowing. Current rate-payers will notice a negative effect, but it should bring some of the outrageous and unjustified new expenditure recently financed from depreciation reserves under much better control. 

On the other hand, it appears that my comment about borrowing for operational expenditure as outlined in my 12 February post has been picked up - the wording in the actual Policy document has been changed to the following:

"Council only uses borrowing to fund operational expenditure for smoothing the rating impact when it is appropriate to do so."

I should certainly hope so - it should be so infrequent as to be non-existent - otherwise it can become habitual.  





Latest on Gita

This is basically what we have to look forward early next week as put out by the Met. Service earlier today:

"It's got that much further to go before it gets here. At this stage, essentially we're just saying, yes it's coming to New Zealand, most likely looking like Tuesday, and most likely looking like it will cross the North Island or central New Zealand," says Ms Murray. "There is definitely going to be severe gales at some point around New Zealand. There will definitely be heavy rainfall as well."

The high tides for Thames on the West Coast are due:

Monday 19 February - 10:37 - 3.9m, and 22:53 - 3.9m

Tuesday 20 February - 11:17 - 3.9,  and 23:34 - 3.9m

These are relatively high tides, and all residents should watch for the gale conditions as occurred on 4/5 January, but with far higher precipitation - that may cause problems around creeks and streams at high tides. Caution is called for!




Jack McLean Gym 

The Jack McLean Gym, formerly known as the Zoom Zone Dry Court was officially opened this morning amongst a great deal of back-slapping, and general bonhomie by mainly black suited gentlemen, all of whom were associated with the build, one way or another.

Right at the outset I want to say that it is a most impressive final outcome, but boy, it took some angst to get there, and a great deal of the self-congratulation may have better replaced with some reflection on the failures that have bugged the build from day one. And there is no doubt that incompetence dogged the entire process. It is good to acknowledge this, otherwise there is a danger of repeating the same mistakes on other projects.

I am not going to detail the failures that I have described over several years - simply enter 'Zoom Zone,' or 'Dry Court' into the Search engine to get access to all the relevant posts.

Regardless, I am going to express my extreme disappointment at the failure of one single speaker this morning to mention the TUGPRA fund which was 'gutted' as the result of the pressure applied by Mary Hamilton and others to access over $2m from this fund in order to bolster the amount provided by Council and Community Board.

It should have been distinguished from other Council funding because this Fund is the result of careful nurturing,  it belongs entirely to the rate-payers of Thames, having its genesis in lease income from a 19th Century Government land grant to the Thames Borough Council. And now rate-payers are being 'dudded' for another $600,000 to cover the shortfall resulting from the roof repairs - borrowing against the Thames Depreciation Reserve, and thus transferring more debt to the next generation to re-pay - disgraceful!

Every single rate-payer, including a great number who will never benefit from this magnificent gym - references  this morning to "exercise classes" were laughable since such are unlikely to be available during the day.

All of us have had to accept that this is a 'done deal,' but let us not forget that for twenty years or more, the understanding was that the TUGPRA fund be allowed to build up in order to partially fund the re-location, and re-build of the Thames swimming pool - a facility that would benefit nearly every citizen, a much wider group than is likely to acquire benefit from a gym, but that argument was lost, and now we have a gym, albeit magnificent, but a vastly depleted TUGPRA fund.

The next battle will be to resist the projected inroads of the Thames Sports and Recreation Trust which is believed to have its eyes on the remainder of TUGPRA to fund the proposed Rhodes Park rugby facility to replace the present decrepit grandstand. Lip service remains being paid (including this morning!) towards the pool, but its priority remains in limbo.

But the move towards a Regional pool facility appears well under way, based on a discussion I had this morning with Waikato Sports Director - Mathew Cooper - that it almost certainly will be based in Paeroa due to the high water-table over most of Thames (and Paeroa for that matter!) - certainly those areas likely to to be otherwise suitable for an aquatic facility.

Thames residents opposing such a move are likely to be stymied by the water-table argument.



Freedom Camping

I copped some flak privately over the content of my recent letter to the HH about the inaccurate story it published the previous week about some German "Freedom Campers" whose van clearly did not qualify for that designation.

It seems that some members of the MCA (Motor Caravan Association) are under a misapprehension as to what qualifies as a registered and certified camper that meets the requirements of the relevant Act. Also, they appeared in the course of 'correcting' me to believe that the MCA establishes the rules, and is responsible for 'certification.'

This is incorrect of course, and the mere fact that one of the critics of my letter maintained the his camper was certified even though it failed in every respect to meet the legislated certification requirements - it has a simple 'can' in lieu of a fixed accessible toilet with capacity for three days use, and for 12 litres of water per occupant aboard as required under the Act.

There are in fact many independent 'certifiers,' and it is noticeable that many more van hirers are building their newer units with the necessary facilities, and presumably charging accordingly; but there remain thousands of uncertified, and uncertifiable vans on our roads.

Here is an article from today's NZH that puts the whole issue into perspective from the point of view of a enforcement contractor employed by the Queenstown Lakes Council - a Council that basically copied our by-law  word for word when its success was proven here.  We have much to be grateful for to the staff who at the time drafted this by-law, and them made sure that it was fairly implemented. It is pathetic that so many other councils (i.e. Whanganui) choose to market themselves as 'open for Freedom Campers' and thus impose intolerable conditions on their rate-payers for some ideological rationale. 

Long live freedom camping in designated areas for properly certified camper vans - a great deal of gratitude is also due to our current Council employees and contractors who have to carry out the unpleasant enforcement task at all hours. There remain plenty of camping grounds for un-certified campers with all the facilities they require. They should use them.





Targeted Roading Rates

The paper on Targetted Roading Rates contains am extremely good explanation of the 1877 Ngaiti Maru Agreement that enabled the road from Thames to Paeroa to be built, and a justification for the setting new targeted roading rates to take this Agreement into account, and thus exempting qualifying Ngati Maru who benefit from the 'in-perpetuity' provisions of the Agreement from the upcoming date of the Hauraki Settlement.'

I commend Scott Summerfield's paper on the subject -0 it is the best summary that I have seen to date. The justification for the change is based on the difficulty of exempting portions of the general rate and/or portions of a targeted rate, Council has been advised to new targeted roading rates to be set as part of the 2018/2028 LTP for each community board area, and thus enable exemptions for Ngati Maru landowners. .

We will all (excepting Ngati Maru) end up paying more.

I suggest you visit the Updated Ngati Maru Land Map here. I bet you were not aware of the full extent of this ownership, or the amount said to be 'under investigation.' But on the other hand, take good note of the area identified as Maori Freehold Land Blocks - presumably owned or climed by those registered as, or claiming to be Ngati Maru. This map requires a great deal of further explanation I suspect - it is not all clear.





Rates Remission Policies

These relate both to standard Remission Policies, and Postponement and Remission of rates on Maori Owned Land.

These have been in existence since 2003, with regular reviews since as required under the LGA. They need reviewing at this point for the 2018/28 LTP.

In both cases, the Policy operates:

"to alleviate hardship for individual ratepayers in the District who may struggle to pay their rates, while ensuring that the potential revenue is not lost entirely by creating statutory land charges on property to recover the postponed value of rates once the property is sold."

The policy operates to eliminate risk to the Council as far as possible, and incorporates the procedures and interest rates, and charges applicable. The Judicial Committee overseas the onerous conditions set down in the Policy regarding the circumstances of the applicant. Security is of course paramount.

Separate, but similar conditions apply in the Maori Rate Postponement Policy - mainly related to the effects of multiple ownership. Remission is available where the land is unable to be used for any economic pursuit, and from which no income is derived. Other conditions apply.

All in all, the combined policies are non-controversial just as long as officials exercise judicious control over their administration, and as long as Council maintains due diligence over the total liability carried forward from year to year, which appears to be the case.





Maori Interests

The three other papers on import all relate to various ori interests that are long-standing - apart from one on Maori contributiuon to Council decision making.All three are Scott Summerfield papers.

The Contribution paper is designed to reflect the requirements of the LGA 2002, and should be non-contentious in this day and age, and incorporates the following Policy Statement that I guess was adopted in full on 31 January.

The Council intends to undertake the following steps, to foster the development of Māori capacity to contribute to its decision making processes:

1. the Council will compile a database of those who wish to be considered Māori for the purposes of the Local Government Act 2002. The Council will maintain a process to ensure this database is current and up to date.

2. those who have identified themselves as Māori will be specifically targeted for consultation when the Council decides that it wishes to consult. Where specific legislation requires specific consultation with Māori or Tangata Whenua, then the requirements of that specific legislation will override this step.

3. the Council will identify key issues of particular interest to Māori.

4. the Council will gather information on Māori perspectives about Council activities.

5. the Council will consciously build on the good quality relationships that have already been established.


Implementation of this policy will be undertaken by completion of the steps outlined above at the direction of the Mayor for governance decisions and by Chief Executive for operational decisions.

  Measurement and review
This policy will be reviewed by Counci before adoption of the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan



Zoom Zone Dry Court

I had a timely reply this morning from Laurna White regarding the costs incurred to date in the remediation of contract defects at what is to be now known as the Jack McLean Gym at the High School, and which will be opened at 10am on Friday.

Here is Laurn's reply: 

  • The project budget 2016/17 was $5.51.
  •  Council approved an additional $572K in December 2017 to complete roof remediation, and gave direction to staff to to pursue liability costs relating the remediation work.
  • The total approved budget is now $6.08m

I guess that this information would have been released in due course, but it should not have had to be chased in this manner.

Laurna has indicated that I would have to approach Mary Hamilton's Sport & Educatioin Trust direct to obtain information regarding its minutes. Well rubarb to that! She assures me that it played no role in the oversight of the remediation, but I remain curious as to the final result of its fundraising effort, and whether or not it achieved its target.

Whatever is the case, we as rate-payers stand to be 'dudded' once more on this contentious project. Let that not be forgotten as we head into the opening festivities.





Mangrove Management Bill 

This was another of the relatively important matters placed on the 31 January Agenda.

There is absolutely no doubt about where our Council stands on the matter regardless of the caution urged by environmentalists, including Professor Maxwell as reported in my 29 January post.

I don't intend to incur the wrath of those who are advocating for the legislation in order to enable Council to designate areas that may be cleared of what they regard as an incorrigible 'weed.' There is little chance of altering their thinking, or course of action, already widely supported by the majority of our Council, and more importantly, our Mayor.

All that I can say is that at least we in Thames should have the option of retaining the entire mangrove eco-system that we recognise as important to our coastal protection the health of the Gulf. We need to ensure that those who we elect locally recognise this need, and take steps to implement those protections rather than get sucked into the dominant mindset.

Whangamata will undoubtedly institute measures to ensure that their views and recreation facilities are protected, and if that involves the removal of mangrove, so be it. That would appear to suit the ambiance of the place, while creating a risk that the remainder of the District should not be required to share. The sight of the blackened mess at low tide where illiegal removal has already taken place should give pause, but that is unlikely.   





Liability Management Policy

The paper on this important, if esoteric subject was presented by the new Corporate Group Services Manager - Karl Dudley, who has come to the Council with a fine reputation, and for somewhat of a relief after many years of Steve Baker brooking no criticism.

I don't intend to examine the policy paper presented by Karl Dudley, except to say that it appears to make some substantial changes from the that has been followed for many years. I intend to deal with but one where I believe that there remains a major anomaly. It relates to the manner in which internal loans (borrowing!) are handled. This normally constitutes borrowing aginst depreciation reserves to fund new capital works.

Readers will be aware that I have harped on about this for many years, but strangely, whenever I raise finance issues, the numbers of readers falls away sharply, so I have learnt to leave well alone except where I feel that there is a major issue that should be examined in the light of recognised IAS (International Accounting Standards) and 'best practice.

Here is the statement at 7.5 of the Investment Management Policy as proposed, about which I take issue:

"The Council undertakes internal lending. Loans to each activity are set up within the internal debt portfolio based on approved loan funded capital expenditure, or operational expenditure (my caps) through the annual planning and/or LTP process and allocated to the activity incurring the capital expenditure. The following operational parameters apply to the management of the Council's internal lending portfolio:

  • all internal lending activities are consistent with the principles and parameters outlined throughout the liability management policy.
  • the Council seeks to firstly utilise reserve funds and if insufficient reserves are available utilises external borrowing mechanisms.
  • in determining an activity centre's maximum internal loan amount, any existing depreciation reserve amount or other related amount is firstly allocated to that centre. Any additional funding is provided through internal loans. (my caps)
  • the Council seeks to match the maturity and interest rate profile on its internal and external borrowing and investing activities. Any mismatches are managed within the liquidity policy outlined in Section 7.7."

My concerns here relate to the use of borrowing, either internal or external for operational purposes. That as I understand it is totally contrary to 'best practice,' and has never been part of any past policy of this Council, or any other. Operational expenditure should always be met from rating or other revenue. Councillors should certainly be seeking a full explanation for this policy as it is worded

Secondly, I can only assume that the second phrase in caps ("Any additional funding is provided through internal loans") is in fact a misprint. If not, then it seems particularly anomalous, and worthy of an explanation by Mr Dudley. It simply does not make sense as it stands.

There are other issues that i could raise, but prefer to avoid some of the more outrageous gobbledegook used in this draft policy for the next ten years to others more qualified, and better able to comment. Surely a policy of this nature can be expressed in a manner more open to the understanding of the average councillor. I would venture that not one of the present crop would have the slightest understanding of the majority of this paper.




1080 Will Remain Regardless Of Opposition 

The item on the 31 January agenda relating to pest control had its genesis in a total 'cop-out' motion crafted by the them Mayor Barriball to mollify a delegation of anti-1080 people who applied great emotional pressure at the 16 December 2009 meeting to have our Council 'ban' 1080. Of course, it never had that power, but in the heat of the moment, the Council acceded to the Mayors piss-weak proposal and motion:

"Agrees to advocate to the Minister of Conservation that where possible animal pest control in the ThamesCoromandel District be undertaken by trapping, hunting and non-residual poisons."

As was to be expected, the quite substantial and impassioned anti-1080 section of the population latched on to the motion and has periodically thrown it back at each succeeding Council in an endeavour to strengthen its back-bone in its dealings with Government over the matter.

So here we go again with another appeal to the Minister seeking that he/she takes steps to eliminate the use of 1080 by DoC. Never mind the impracticality of "trapping, hunting, and the use of non-residual poisons" as alternatives to 1080 - I will incur the utter disgust  of my old friends Reihana and Geoffrey Robinson for saying it, but I make no apology - I have looked at the evidence, including that contained in Reihana's book, and remain convinced of the correctness of the DoC policy, and despair of any attempt by ministers of whatever stripe to remove 1080 from its arsenal.

Hence the careful wording of the suggested motion in Scott Summerfield's paper acknowledging the documents provided by the petitioners, and reiterating its 2009 position. It will not satisfy the anti-1080 forces, but it serves the purpose, and neither increases or decreases the scope of the original motion that has clearly been carefully filed in Wellington.

1080 is here to stay - I cannot see much chance of that position being altered regardless of the pressure being applied from the margins of all three governing parties.  





Climate Change

The risible claims made by Alastair Brickell in last week's HH ('Converstaions') invite an immediate and damming response, but what is the point - he is clearly beyond delusional on the subject, and unworthy of any response likely to increase exposure for his predictable and derisive attempts to discredit Denis Tegg'scommendable efforts to bring some common sense to the deliberations of our Council on the matter. 

His suggestion that what happened on the Gulf coast on 5 January was somehow simply an aberration of the natural meteorological cycle, totally unrelated to sea-level rise must be rejected in the face of the evidence that has accumulated over the last ten to twenty years. Unfortunately, there are many who for one reason or another - mostly I suspect related to their own particular risk profile, prefer to agree with Brickell and his ilk.

I suspect that there are several in this category on our current Council, and hence the reluctance to adopt the 1.88m guideline suggested in the Report suppressed by the previous Government, but which was nevertheless well known to all and sundry, including our Council long before it was promulgated by the present Government. 

Our Council could well have adopted this recommendation without waiting. The dilly-dallying will be to the ultimate disadvantage of every rate-payer as the consequences of sea-level rise and climate change  become clear to all, and insurance companies introduce changes that will demand decisions on just where liability lies, and how it is to be funded. 

It should never have approved the resource consents for Whitiange Waterways, Cook's Beach and Richmond Village referred to in an earlier post - a thoroughly cynical attempt to get them through before the new rule came into play - this will be to its eternal shame, just like Smith, and rightly or wrongly, smells of 'collusion' - not a good look for what is supposed to be a responsible Council.  

Anyone with any doubt about the insurance effects should listen to the Wallace Chapman interview this morning with Catherine Iorns from Victoria University Faculty of Laws. 





TCDC Holds "Special Meeting" At Whitianga 

All it takes is for a small advertisement in the HH for TCDC to call a "Special Meeting" off its announced annual programme of meetings. I have no idea when this happened on this occasion, but have no doubt it was at some stage early in January that the 'Workshop' in their published programme was morphed into a 'Meeting.'

This gives it the opportunity to move the meeting to another centre, and deal with important business that it seems to feel the public has little or no need to hear about. I say this because no pressers were issued before or after this meeting relating to any of the important matters placed on the agenda for 31 January.  

This is surprising because here is a list of the items dealt with that I intend to analyse over the next week before the programmed meeting on 20 February. You may judge for yourself the importance of the  matters on the 31 January agenda right here ie:

      1.  An attempt to distance itself from 1080 pest control,

2.  Its Parliamentary Governance Committee submission on on the Mangrove Management Bill,

3.  Adoption of Maori contribution to Council decision making policy,

4.  Adoption of Rates Postponement Policy, and Remission of Rates on Maori Freehold Land,

5.  Revision of climate change assumptions for 2018/2028 LTP (the 1.88m rise recommendation previously ignored),

6.  Overview of 1877 Ngati Maru Roading Rate Agreement,

7.  Investment and Liability Management Policy. 

These matters require significant decisions - far greater than those considered at earlier meetings. You will get my drift when I suggest that calling a "special meeting" for the purpose, and moving that meeting out of Thames appears on first examination to be a deliberate attempt to keep these matters, and the outcomes from public gaze, and therefore 'secret' - this is reinforced by the absence of pressers, though outcomes should be disclosed in the minutes on next week's agenda. At least they eschewed 'Public Excluded' where items of importance have often been consigned in the past.

As indicated, I intend to analyse each of the papers that formed the basis of these discussions during the coming week. Most emanated from Policy and Planning Manager - Scott Summerfield, whose integrity on the 'Public Excluded" issue I totally rerspect.





Tararu Arts Centre Impasse

For those who are interested, here is an exchange today with TCDC Comms. Manager Laurna White:

"The situation at the Arts Centre appears to have deteriorated into a ‘Mexican stand-off’ with the Council not seen a good light.

The occupants are busily dismantling,  and seemingly rebuilding at their own pace, apparently in total dis-regard for the Court order – whatever it was!

Residents of Tararu are becoming totally frustrated as they see what appears to be defiance of the law, and the Council.

Can you provide an up to date version of events from the perspective of the Council, and an indication of what exactly is planned to deal with the situation."

And Laurna's response:

"The occupants have disregarded the court order requiring them to remove all illegal structures for the property, despite Council discussing the requirements of the Building Act 2004 and the order of the Court on a number of occasions..

That means we have had to go back to court for another order to allow us now to go and dismantle the illegal structures.

We applied to the court for this new order before Christmas, and it is only now being heard by a High court judge this week, so we are awaiting the outcome of this.

We need to follow the correct court process. We are aware of frustrations from the community and we are liaising with affected parties, as well as keeping the Thames Community board informed of the situation so they can work with the community."

I am also awaiting another response on the Dry Court debacle - subject to a "Grand Opening" on the 16th. Information about costs and where they will lie is particularly difficult to access, and I am not sure why. I am also about to seek access to the minutes of Mary Hamilton's Committee that has been responsible for overseeing the project. That should be interesting, as long as they are subject to the OIA, and I fail to see why not. 

We are indeed fortunate to have Laurna as Comms. Manager - she is absolutely 'up-front' in her responses, as far as she is legally able, and for that I am grateful.






Just in case you don't have the full picture for the first few days of February:


1 Feb Thursday           8.27am   4.3      8.54pm   4.1

2 Feb  Friday               9.20am   4.4      9.47pm    4.3

3 Feb  Saturday          10.11am 4.4       10.38pm  4.3

4 Feb  Sunday            11.00am 4.4       11.27pm  4.1

5 Feb  Monday            11.49am 4.3       00.16am  4.0 (Tues)

Watch the NIWA Synoptic Charts each day to see just how tropical storm Fehi develops.

It appears headed for the South Island arriving Thursday as things stand, but as NIWA say, "nothing is locked in."






I think that we would all agree that there is an excess of unremarkable, or repetitive letters in the "conversations" section of the Hauraki Herald.

But lo and behold - last Friday, we had some really sensible and timely letters, led by that of Denis Tegg drawing out attention to the utterly irresponsible manner in which our Council has failed to follow the "unpublished" draft Government Guidance on 1.9m sea-level rise that should be applied in considering any development proposal. 

Succumbing to the blandishments of developers, and ignoring the realities of sea-level rise has become par for the course  for this Council, as it was for its predecessor. The needs of wealthy developers are always put well ahead of 'silly guidelines,' and the risk to rate-payers arising from any resulting disaster - think Tsunami at Whitianga Waterways, and Whitianga Town Centre, and even miminal inundation at Richmond Village, and liklihood of consequential claims against the Council, and you will get the picture. 

Great letter Denis, well supported by perennial writer, Peter H Wood, and by an entertaining display of Gary Blakes wide knowledge of all things maritime - confusing at times, but on the whole, an excellent reminder of a great number of well known truths. I particularly liked his reference to mangroves when read in conjunction with the article by Teresa Ramsay on Professor Gordon Maxwell - a real expert on the subject, and whose lucid article directly contradicted the amateur mangrove removal experts touting for petition signatures at Saturday's Whangamata Market Day. Jack Wells would have been proud of them. 

The state of the Whangamata harbour would appear to precisely bear out Professor Maxwell's theories, and should be a warning to all those whose anti-mangrove prejudice is placing us all at risk. Public submissions on the bill  (promoted by Scott Simpson) close on 23 February. Be aware that the promoters are mounting a furious campaign to have the bill move through the House and thus give our Council the power to order mangrove removal (after formulating a 'plan' of course!) A majority of our councillors have indicated support for the bill, so if you oppose it, now is the time to submit an objection.    

This was followed by a reasoned reminder by Catherine Delahunty of the dangers of dredging in Coromandel Harbour to enable a marina to be built to accommodate the 'gin palaces' of Auckland's wealthy elite - a favourite holdover from the Leach/Hopper regime, and one that acquired substantial support from his unlamented Economic Development Committee.

Just look at Whangamata, and the other marinas on that coast to see what Coromandel would be in for, but that is a minor consideration when placed up against the dangers of contamination. Catherine's wonderful term "flirting" is well applied to this crazy proposal. When will our councillors ever learn that development is not the 'be-all and end-all' of running this District? Their job is to get the balance right - not fall over themselves to satisfy every developer who comes into sight. Diana Rutherford put her finger right on mark in that regard.

Would it not be wonderful if the HH were able to print letters of such quality on a regular basis? 





We Have Been Warned - This Time!

Gary Towler's timely warning, buried in a presser regarding sand-bags, needs to be heeded. 

This is exactly the kind of warning that should have been issued prior to the 4/5 January event when conditions appear to now be replicated by those predicted for early February - high spring tides combined with an approaching massive low associated with a tropical cyclone.

Depending on the wind direction, this could repeat the midday conditions on 5 January with substantial flooding risk to coastal areas in the lower Gulf, or if it comes in from a more easterly quarter, it could affect the Eastern Seaboard which missed the 5 January event.

Readers would be well advised to read Jamie Morton's story in today's NZH 

And take note of the the Sunday 2pm NIWA annimation.

It is great that Civil Defence are 'on to it' this time - I trust that regular updates will occur during the week ahead. Those that missed out last time should note that the damage occurred with with just inches of water seeping through doorways. lifting of any thing of value is the least that you should do, but sand-bagging is essential to protect lined areas - particularly if they have insulation.

And to counter complacency, be warned that insurance companies are already indicating refusal to renew cover, and dramaticly increasing excess's  where claims have occurred. 

It is essential that you take whatever measures that are available to you to avoid having to claim. I realise that this is a 'smart-arsed' comment, but it is realistic. 





Jacinda Sets The Pace 

Somehow, today's news came as no surprise.

See my post of  20 October - "A New Day Dawns" when my suggestion that taking time off to have a child would simply represent what comes naturally was no 'shot in the dsrk' - it just seemed a 'no-brainer,' and being able to give Winston the limelight he so desperately seeks was inevitable under the Agreement. Everyone should be happy, but do not in any way under-estimate the damage that he can do even in six weeks.

The fact that Jacinda claims that she only knew six days before the settlement of the Agreement, should raise some eyebrows,  but give her the benefit of the doubt. All the usual suspects have of course rushed to her defence and offered all the usual platitudes. Prior knowledge would not have made one iota of difference anyway.

Good luck to her and her partner, Clark.