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Author/Moderator - William (Bill) Barclay 

Associate Member NZ Press Council.   

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Monday
Apr242017

Thames War Memorial

Our Memorial has suffered from neglect for far too long, and it was overdue for a major repair job - very competently overseen by our Parks and Reserves Manager Derek Thompson.

But the final touch only resulted following a magnificent gesture by Adrian Catran and Shaun Richards to fund and install new LED lighting - this involved a new computerised switchboard that can can provide any number of lighting combinations for various occasions, but tonight it is white, followed by by poppy red at 5.30am as a magnificent tribute to our fallen. 

I look forward to being present for the dedication this evening with Chaplain Harvey Dalton, Mayor Sandra Goudie and Captain Russell Skeet doing the honours. It is incredibly important that the outstanding contribution and sacrifice made by people from this town to the prosecution of the two World Wars in particular, but not exclusively.

I applaud the actions of Adrian and Shaun who have led the way in making the modernisation of our Memorial a reality. Certain people always appear willing to put their hands in their pockets for good causes without seeking recognition. These guys fit that mould - good on them!

 

 

 

Monday
Apr172017

Trump Unpredicable? - Hardly

Trump’s triumphal demolishing of the non-Russian occupied part of a Syrian airbase is but a forerunner of what we can expect either in the short or longer term elsewhere. He is clearly excited at now having experienced what it means to be able to simply say “yes,” and have  a fusillade of missiles pinpoint a target. He is unlikely to be put off, or even slowed by nay-sayers, and those who would even suggest caution.

Those who read last week’s article in the Listener about Yale psychologist Professor Paul Bloom’s explanation of “morally corrosive emotional empathy” will not be surprised at the drawing of the logical connection with Trump’s action by Paul Thomas in this week’s issue.  

For Trump to base his missile attack in sentimental and wholly hypocritical terms – “even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered “ (by Assad) is said to have originated in the breast a horrified Ivanka. It is immaterial really - what we have regardless of the First Family horror, is an ego-driven nutter at the helm who is quite capable of far more horrific reactions based on perceived slights, and provocations.

It is textbook Bloom territory, and I suspect it was well described long before the Trump horror hove over the horizon. And what exactly is it about chemical weapons that distinguishes them from all the other weapons of war – bombing buses of refugees for instance, which makes them the object of what is clearly faux horror on Trump’s part?

In Bloom’s words:

“Empathy leaves us insensitive to the long-term consequences of our acts, and blinds us to the suffering who do not or cannot empathise with. It pushes us in the direction of parochialism and racism, is short-sighted, and leads to motivating actions that lead to tragic results in the future.”

That pretty well sums up what we are seeing evolve, probably rather faster than any of us would ever have anticipated at the time of Trump’s election.

And yet there are those amongst us who quietly applaud Trump for his “decisive action," and who argue that it is Trump’s very unpredictability that is our greatest bulwark against the steady progression of Kim Jong-un towards apparent self-destruction. Likewise, the necessary incentive to get China to turn off the taps that keep the Kim regime alive.  

It appears to me that this is gross over-simplification, and that contrary to this scenario, Trump is totally predictable – just read Bloom if you have not done so already for the simple explanation of just how this man became elected, and how his uneducated, and unsophisticated mind works. As for judging his current stand on any issue against that which he espoused during his campaign one could be excused for suggesting that the opposite was the case in every situation, whether it be Middle Eastern involvement, or tax changes. That much is certainly predicatble.  

Does anyone really believe that his enemies have not worked him out by now? That would be extremely naïve, and mind-numbingly dangerous.

 

Thursday
Apr132017

A Little More About The Greens Candidate  

Scott Summerfield has been around the Council as a Planning Officer since the end of 2014 - his name has appeared on a number of planning papers to Council from roughly the time that Katina Conomos  departed. He has now announced his candidature for the Greens, and with what is probably a very disappointing position at No. 38 on the Party List, his chances of entry through that route are very slight indeed, but no doubt he will do better next time, even score a place on the glamourous North & South group photo

Hence his declaration that he is up for giving Scott Simpson a good run for his money. Scott Sim. won't be feeling any pressure in that regard, I would not imagine, but in the absence of a viable Labour candidate - none has put his hand up yet, and past performance has been dismal to say the least, it may end up as a two-horse race, particularly with the current Labour/Greens detente that they have put in place.

So just who is Scott Sum.? The following is gleaned form an unsigned article in today's Informer.

  • He is 26 years old, and grew up in Ashburton
  • He has a degree in International Relations, Politics & European Studies.
  • And a Masters in Maori Studies.
  • He joined Labour in 2008, and the Greens in 2012, and has "a strong sense of social justice."
  • He worked initially for the Austraian High Commissionb, and then the Office of Treaty Settlements.
  • He joined TCDC at the end of 2014 - he must have been 23 at the time. 
  • He is now Group Leader - Strategic Planning - remarkable progress.
  • He was married in 2015, and his husband is GM of a digital media company in Thames. 
  • The couple live on the Thames Coast. 

Summerfield will work "part-time" for the TCDC during the election Campaign - I was not aware that such an arrangement was possible. He will certainly need to be extremely careful ithat he does not 'cross the line' during that period with statements likely to be construed as in conflict with his role a TCDC employee, or TCDC policy - that is a task that the Chief Executive will need to manage with considerable dexterity. 

He already lists housing availability and affordability, clean rivers, climate change and "arresting regional decline" as his major concerns, and more controversially, he is reported as saying: 

"I will be keeping a close eye on mining development especially on the Coromandel."

He claims to be actively involved in the Abortion Law Reform Association, and that he will continue to work with that Association irrespective of being elected to Parliament - a notable activity, in view of his apparent orientation. 

Altogether, a fairly impressive CV that may well attract a wide range of voters - probably bright-eyed youth rather than the predominantly older vote in this electorate, but even if he is unlikley to take Scott Sim. down, he could well secure a high list vote.

It does concern me that he has been granted a 'part-time' dispensation by our Council. I consider that such is questionable,' - it is our Council after all, and for him to be advising on policy during the election campaign, either in a full or part-time position stretches the limits of what is normally permitted in these circumstances.

Rob Williams may need to thoroughly familiarise himself with the requirements of the LGA and other legislation. For instance S.42(3)(a) of the LGA specifically requires the CE to:

 "Reflect and reinforce the separation of regulatory responsibilities and decision-making processes from other responsibilities and decision-making processes., and b) is capable of delivering adequate advice to the local authority to facilitate the explicit resolution of conflicting objectives." 

In the case of a public servant candidate, it is my understanding that they must resign - not work "part-time," but resign for a specific period prior to a parliamentary election, with the proviso that they get their position restored immediately should they lose.  Surely the same principle should apply in this situation with an employee of a local authority? Hopefully this will be clarified in the near future.

With rampaging Nick Smith at the dual controls, who knows what may happen to National in September, and Scott Sum. has a good example in Jeanette Fitzsimons who took out Murray McLean in a widely enjoyed boil-over. Those were the days! 

 

 

 

Thursday
Apr132017

Cyclone Cook

I am not given to handing out plaudits before the event, but on this occasion I do feel moved to make a comment about the performance of the Mayor and Council staff - in particular, Civil Defence Controller Gary Towler.

Right from day one, Gary has displayed consummate skill at handling the media - his performance this morning on NZR was exemplary, and left no-one in any doubt as the danger ahead. And the TCDC Bulletins have been equally spot-on! Likewise Mayor Sandra has been the very epitome of rock solid leadership - no panic, just the facts. 

CDC is an uncomfortable position in a situation like this - just how much information to release without overstating the situation and causing mayhem as a result, is key, and Gary has done us all a service in that regard. Despatching the teams to visits all vulnerable settlements that lie close to the Eastern shore is exactly what was required.

Those most at risk should avail themselves of the opportunity to retreat in the face of what is clearly a major threat - never mind the false heroics, and staying put just save the property - that simply puts others at risk at the height of the storm.

I am full of admiration for all the preparations - particularly the reassurance provided by the Council contractors who were very evident on the ground this morning. 

All we can do is batten down and sit it out. I have been through these events several times during 25 years in the tropics and in Darwin, and they can be frightening, but common sense will see us through okay, of that I am sure. 

Good luck!

 

Monday
Apr102017

Today's Board Meeting 

The acoustics in the Chamber are so bad that it is almost impossible to hear anyone on this current Board – they all appear to come from silent society for whom the raising of voices is a sin. Add to that Chair Connor’s laryngitis and you can understand the difficulty of being present away from the table and trying to decipher what is going on.

It has been my impression for some time that preserving this state of affairs, both at Council and the Board is deliberate, and designed to maintain ‘the secrets.’ Modern wireless amplification appears beyond the wit of staff, and the needs of those present – so ‘maintain the secret’ is the order of the day, in the manner of the Masons, to which organisation I suspect quite a number belong.

As a result, I can only give a brief outline of what occurred today.

In the first place, April Chang attended and gave a splendid and audible presentation reminding members of their responsibilities and obligations as Board members, and the manner in which their proposal to erect non-fluoridated water points in the town was both an abrogation of that responsibility in the light of the result of the Referendum, and the Bill before Parliament to move responsibility for fluoride to Health Boards.

The proposal to withdraw the previous motion subsequently passed, but with the clear and definite opposition of Chair Connors. Her complete devotion to the anti-fluoride cause has been obvious from the start, and today’s meeting merely confirmed that. She has surrendered for the present, but along with her cohort, will live to fight another day for the cause – that much is clear.

On the Mercury Bay erosion issue, the Board agreed with the proposal to fund the immediate repairs ($363,000) on a District basis, on the understanding that any permanent change of policy for the LTP will require further consideration and consultation.

This is probably all that could have been expected in the circumstances. It was interesting that Chair Connors conflated the current Ruamahunga slip as evidence that we would be better off with District funding, until it was pointed out to her that the slip was entirely a TNZ responsibility, being on a state highway, but it shows the level of understanding that exists around the table – even at the top!.

If I have that wrong, then I undertake to withdraw same – it was so dammed difficult to hear  her, and everyone else around the table, that I could not guarantee absolutely that I had it correct. There was so much bumph talked about this and other matters that I could not wait to escape the room. Initially, they were a tentative bunch, and perhaps naïve, but now they have just become excruciatingly boring.

 

Saturday
Apr082017

Thames Community Board Meeting

The Board meets Monday at 1pm and has a couple of interesting items on its agenda.

The first concerns a proposal to withdarw the rsolution that was passed at the last meeting to undertake an investigation with a view to installing non-fluoride treated water points in the town.

It appears that they have come to senses, and realised that it is totally inappropriate to consider this matter in view of the action by Government to move all control of fluoride to Health Boards, and that this was currently in Select Committee, exactly as I pointed out in my previous post on the subject.

Unfortunately, our Board became a little carried away after a presentation by the anti-fluoride lobby, and backed the resolution that is now to be withdrawn.

All I can say is thank Heaven that common sense has prevailed. Hopefully this will be the last we hear of the matter, but don't hold your breath!

The other matter concerns a move to change the oversight of the Board Website so far run by Guru Digital in a thoroughly undistinguished manner. In fact, my website gets more hits than theirs based on the statistics they provide in the Paper.

Apparently on the instigation of Transition Town Thames, they now wish to switch the oversight to Inlet Technologies, who have recently based themselves in the town. Fortunately there does not appear to be any more money changing hands with this move, but it is early days!

What concerns me is that I can find no record of achievement, or indeed registration, let alone who runs this outfit, but in its usual un-inquiring manner I guess the Board will make the switch, and worry about the consequences later.

Don't you just love it.  There are still more  chiefs than Indians running around our Board office dreaming up projects of this nature that appear to go no-where, or suffer from lack of financial nous. The sooner Rob Williams restores sanity to the area board office situation, and puts the skids under a few the better.

 

 

 

Saturday
Apr082017

Hearings on King Salmon a Wakeup Call

The hearings under way currently on the proposal to move fine King Salmon farms to "High Flow" areas of the Sounds from the current "Low Flow" areas that have permanently polluted are a clear sign of what we should expect here should the sea-farming proposals currently being promoted and tendered by the WRC go ahead. 

The situation is almost exactly replicated here in the Gulf, with no clear evidence to date that the tidal flow is anywhere near adequate to deal with the pollution that will inevitably result. 

Here is the an extract from today's 'Whaleoil" blog post that that entirely reflects my own view on the situation:

"The fact that there isn’t a single reason for these new farms, with the company, the council and the employees all stating different reasons, sets off a number of red flags.   Why your own employees would make submissions because they fear that they might not be able to have a job unless King Salmon gets to move the farms is rather worrying to me.  What do they know that we don’t?

The way National is going about things these days, all this consultation will be moot anyway.  A backroom deal that won’t be on an agenda, minuted or announced will quietly make its way into the process allowing King Salmon to expand its operation.  Nathan Guy has all but signalled that he’s willing to assist to get this past all the other stakeholders that are essentially against it. (My bold!)

They have already been uneasy neighbours.  There is no “right” for King Salmon to expand further and take more public resource away from the rest of the population.  Unlike the water that falls freely from the sky and is then bottled and sold, once you convert the Sounds to salmon farms, they are no longer a public resource.  It’s similar to allowing a company to build a factory on DOC land.

The real problem KS is facing is that their current farms are affected by the cumulative waste that has built up underneath them, causing yields to drop and diseases to strike more frequently.  Moving them for “environmental” reasons is basically just so they can start again, but this time in a high flow area, so they hope to push a similar point where they have “over fished” their farm well into the future."

 

 


Saturday
Apr082017

Auditor General Again Drops The Ball

Readers will be aware of my long-standing complaint of the manner in which the Auditor General defines his/her role in providing oversight that rate-payers, and tax-payers should be entitled to expect in regard to the manner in which their councils operate. Oversight is lacking to the point of being more or less non-existant, and as a result, complaints generally receive the 'hear-no-evil, see-no-evil, speak-no-evil' method response. 

In today's NZH we have another example of this ridiculous running for cover when questions were asked by the Herald  regarding the failure to report inadequacies in the oversight of Government funding by Sport NZ when it came to the allocation of $805,000 to a trust run by a North Shore developer to set up a training base for Yachting NZ on Takapuna Beach - a move strongly opposed by the Community Board, and finally dropped. 

Here is the story:

"Sport NZ paid out $805,000 to HAT, led by Auckland developer Peter Wall, without a sod being turned or resource consent granted. Nor, as the OAG discovered, a funding agreement being put in place with HAT.

Documents obtained by the Herald through the Official Information Act revealed Sport NZ were unable to provide OAG staff with any documentation supporting the additional payments to HAT.

The OAG found Sport NZ's business case to support investment in the centre to be "limited" and criticised the absence of any formal contract with HAT.

"In our view, the lack of a funding agreement and associated reporting to date does not represent good practice," the OAG wrote to Miskimmin in June last year.

Despite these issues being identified, the OAG rated both Sport NZ's management control environment and financial information systems as "very good" and its annual review briefing to the government select committee.

The OAG also suggested follow-up questions the committee may like to ask of Sport NZ, but none of these referenced the messy yachting centre deal.

And here is the 'kicker':

The OAG's parliamentary group sector manager, Henry Broughton, said in a statement the findings from the investigation into Sport NZ was a separate matter to the annual audit."

"We do not provide a clean bill of health as such, but rather our annual audits provide assurance ... about whether a public entity's financial statements comply with generally accepted accounting practice in New Zealand and fairly reflect its financial position."

That really says it all in a nutshell. A total abrogation of responsibility, and a definition that the Parliamentary Committee providing oversight of the OAG should surely be investigating, and taking appropriate action.

We can have no confidence that the OAG is providing adequate oversight of ours or any other Council if this case. Internal auditing by private audit firms does not substitute because of the generally limited scope of their role, and the fact that their liability is limited by over-lapping of responsibility with the OAG. And councils generally lack the professional competence necessary to disentangle the resulting reports. Exhibit 'A' is now in the process of being episodically revealed in the West Coast Council. 

 

 

 

Thursday
Apr062017

Maori Party Renaissance 

Today's article in the NZH by Claire Trevett provides an excellent summary of the change in fortunes of the Maori Party - up from 1% to 4% in the One News Colmar poll.

It provides the sequence of events that has led to this admittedly flaky result that Marama Fox has the specific task of stabilising. And she has shown some real political skill in doing so to date, firstly by standing up to Hone Harawira over his sudden withdrawal of suport for Te Ururoa Flavell's Maori land reforms. He needs Maori Party support more than it needs Mana, and she immediately returned the compliment - round one to Marama.

Labour then attempted to flail Maori over the support for Nick Smith's RMA changes. He had conceded to Maori involvement, but not veto powers over RM deliberations, and the removal of ministerial veto over the ability of individual councils to impose GM sanctions.

The devil is in the detail of definitions as is so often the case - does it extend to grasses and trees as Marama contends, and Phil Twyford denies? Nick Smith is content to leave it to the courts to determine the matter based on definitions in other legislation. One thing is for sure - it does not extend to animals or health research, and I guess that is a relief, but the Feds are having conniptions over any restrictions whatsoever.

One way or another, it does appear a signal victory for Fox and the Maori Party that should translate into solid votes come September.  Quite apart from Marama's new-found prominence, one should not overlook the influence of Tuku Morgan in the background. His swaying of the King movement in behind the Maori Party of which he is President cannot be under-estimated. Morgan may appear on the surface the King's surrogate, but the significance lies in the symbolism. 

The Maori seats become more and more important for National to hang onto power come September, and the actions of Labour's bumbling leader in denying the Maori Party kaupapa will only serve to solidify the trend away from Labour.  

The Point England development debacle is a significant case in point - Labour's new opposition is hard to rationalise - is it because of its kaupapa? - unlikely, in view of Ngati Paoa's undoubted pre-eminant Treaty right, or does it fear being left behind with the Green's teary support of the dotterel whose supposedly fragile existence has been used far too often to prevent reasonable development?   

 

Wednesday
Apr052017

Just What Is Going On With Enforcement?

It is a toss-up between Rachel Stewart and Dr Mike Joy as to who is their greatest bete noir, and the one that brings the well honed defence mechanisms orchestrated by the Feds to the fore. Rachel Stewart's article in the NZH today is a case in point.

But those two are by no means alone in their apparent futile quest to seek greater use of enforcement powers already granted to the Regional and District authorities. Indeed, the failure is inescapable when viewed in the light of the most recent report from the Environmental Defence Society by Dr Marie Brown that found that the problem was:  

"the sheer expense for councils to prosecute lawbreakers. Other major factors included poor quality law, a lack of audit and oversight, and politicised decision making."

Political interference has been the one consistent theme since a Report from the Auditor General in 2011:

"Lyn Provost stressed that councillors should not be involved in investigating breaches or deciding whether to prosecute. At all four regional councils investigated in the report, elected members were found to have been involved in prosecutions to some degree."

Does anything change? - hardly, the only reason farmers stand for these Councils is to ensure a last bulwark against any action by enforcement is totally as a 'last resort, the old mantra of "education first, and last' comes into play.

The other age-old technique to keep the wolves at bay is to encourage reduced enforcement capacity, and incoherent reporting over the 78 enforcement authorities - for that you can blame the Department of Primary Industry which appears incapable of overseeing the Act.  Why else could E Can get away last year with failure to prosecute a single infringing farmer despite hundreds of complaints, and clear evidence of over-extraction of water entitlements?

If you imagine for one moment that this problem is recent, and/or minor, consider the following. On 6 September 2014 Dr John Zeldis, then principal scientist at NIWA was reported in the NZH saying:

"Water in the Firth of Thames has become increasingly acidic because of a build-up of nutrients from rivers which receive run-off from farms on the Hauraki Plains.

Regular measurements taken by Niwa since 2010 show the water has become oversaturated with carbon dioxide, which could endanger the health of shellfish and juvenile fish."

In 2010, they began testing for carbon dioxide and found levels in the Firth were well above the atmospheric level.

Hauraki Gulf Forum manager Tim Higham said the research was one more indicator that showed the gulf was in decline.  

"It's a red flag that we should take pretty seriously."

The findings were followed by a warning last November by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, Jan Wright, that continued expansion of dairy farms would further degrade the country's fresh water.

It is 2017, and nothing has changed - Dairy NZ still claims huge progress is being made by farmers investing in fencing, and that education is the answer. Its Chief Executive Tim Marckle is still attacking the messenger - Steve Joy, saying that:

"It is unfair to single out farmers when there were many pollution sources.

I haven't heard Mike Joy say what others should contribute in big cities, small towns - they're all going to be in the firing line."

Call it obfuscation or call it for what it really is - downright and delierate dishonesty.

It is fundamentally the future intrusion of the nitrogen time-bomb into rivers and waterways that is the problem - not some red herring about excrement, or 'swimability.' It is the long term effect of intensification that has led to this situation, and that will not disappear, no matter how many fences are built, unless like Trump's they extend one metre down and can retain nitrates. 

And only more stringent enforcement of existing powers under the RMA will even partially cure that inevitability. You simply cannot educate without a big stick with people who generally don't, or won't accept that they are the problem.

How often does this have to be repeated?


Tuesday
Apr042017

Today's Meeting

Nothing else matters in regard to today's meeting other than the Annual Plan debate on district funding of the Mercury Bay erosion. It is a critical decision, and showed clearly the utter naivete of the new Thames councillors who demonstrated that they had almost most no clue as to precedent, nor how to deal with the hostility of the Three Musketeers from Whitianga.

McLean, Fox and Kelly (Board Chair) dominated the discussion, and in particular, McLean deliberately attempted re-write a resolution from last year that provided interim district funding for immediate erosion control. This was a deviation from standing Council policy that this work is 'locally funded.' The words "domineering," and "bullying" came immediately to mind. 

Attempts are being made, as outlined in the post below on the Annual Plan, to move the responsibility for this work to 'district funding,' for obvious reasons, and clearly, our intrepid trio are determined to have 'interim' changed to 'permanent,' and thus create a precedent that will benefit Mercury Bay rate-payers forever.

Both Whangamata and Tairua representatives at the table expressed real concern at this move, and indicated that the Mercury Board representatives will not have it so easy at the 'closed door workshop' tomorrow that has been called to discuss the deferred section of the Resolution, but I suspect that will only last until they can see the advanages of the change to their own needs. Here is the 'deferment' section::

"Defers a decision on the Mercury Bay Coastal erosion programme to the Long Term Plan discussions within the framework of a district-wide coastal management strategy"

After an excruciating debate, again dominated by McLean/Fox, and during which the unforgivable excuse "un-afford-ability" was proffered, Mayor Sandra negotiated a extension of the current 'interim' policy until the end on June. This will enable the continuation of the current stalled works  at a 'district' cost of $360,000, until final resolution. Note that this is the first time since the Eastern Seaboard Wastewater scandal that I have heard the 'unaffordable' mantra used at the Council table. 

McLean tried desperately to get immediate acceptance of the 'permanent district solution,' but fortunately Governance Manager, Angela Jane demurred, and pointed out that it may well require 'consultation,' and at least a further Council meeting to confirm whatever is decided at tomorrow's Workshop. It will have to come back to the May meeting to be incorporated into the 2017/18 Annual Plan. McLean would have known this, and hence his attempt to alter hsitory, and the wording of the 2016 resolution. 

I am not hopeful of any solution acceptable to our rate-payers - I talked to Sally Christie and Rex Simpson who both appeard to be under the sway of McLean. Strat and Tony Brljevich appeared wide awake to what was taking place, and I suspect Mayor Sandra likewise. Fox/McLean will not get it all their own way tomorrow, but they are so dominant, that it will be difficult to avoid a resolution that is essentially disadvantageous to our interests. 

Rex Simpson's view is that we have 'eqivalent' erosion problems at Manaia and Waiomu, and possibly elsewhere - exactly the rationale that Fox and McLean want to push. Tairua, Pauanui and Whangamata want their share of 'district' funding and likewise every other settlement on the East Coast. The Trio won't mind their assistance to get trhe motion through. 

I can do no more than bring this issue to your attention. If you are concerned, then you need to contact those who will vote on this issue on your behalf - Simpson, Christie and Peters are the Thames councillors. A call to Sandra won't do any harm - she is political animal through and through, and will react, particularly if it comes down to her casting vote where she should normally support the status quo - local funding, but I would expect her to seek a compromise that will avoid setting a precedent. 

 This is the most important issue arising in our Annual Plan, but there are others that I will deal with in due course - particularly that related to our almost certain 5 - 6% rate increase. Steve Baker reverted back to his age-old 'delayed-capital-works' explanation to allay concerns about increases, but the Zoom-Zone Dry Court revision, and current storm damage are moving targets that will most likely kick existing anticipated rate hikes to touch. The May meeting will surely provide more up-to-date figures. 

 

 

 

Monday
Apr032017

Chief Executive's Report

Here is the Chief Executives Report for February and March

It is an admirably shorter version of what we have become used to, and for that we should be grateful, but one is left wondering as to just what has been left out. This Report used to be presented in Public Excluded for the purpose of enabling the CE to provide what may otherwise be confidential information, and keep Council better informed about what was going on behind the scenes.

I wonder if it would not be better for all concerned for his Report to be split into two to enable that practice to continue. I suspect that the current Report is simply a pro forma that is designed to keep the wolves at bay. The temptation is to believe that everything of real importance is 'workshopped' away from prying eyes. It would be preferable to see some greater attention in his public reports to those matters that we know are taking place, including efforts directed to re-organisation.

I guess that is a futile dream, but the public of this District is entitled to know more than what is currently being shared. This is just a prod - finding a balance can be extremely testing on the skill of a CEO in these circumstances, but Rob could be making a greater effort in my opinion.

 

Monday
Apr032017

District Licensing Committee

Readers may be interested in the make-up, and remuneration of the District Licensing Committee that meets regularly to renew, and issue new licenses. Not a particularly arduour function one may have thought as most of the actual work is done by staff, and the Committee normally simply endorses that work.

Nevertheless, it is one of those functions that needs to done, and councillors in particular normally relish the opportunity to supplement their income through the earning of the generous fees that are available on ‘piece-work’ basis.

A paper outlining the staff recommendations goes to Council tomorrow.

Here are the rates:

Members of the District Licensing Committee are remunerated in accordance with section 195 the Act. Commissioners are paid $624 per day ($78 per hour for part days) and list members are paid $408 per day ($51 per hour for part days). 

Here are the conditions:

Any meeting of a licensing committee must have a quorum of three (a chairperson and two list members), unless the application(s) are unopposed and not objected to, in which case the quorum required is one who must be the chairperson.

Staff consider a two commissioner model is preferable to the status quo model (one commissioner and one deputy chairperson) because it would enable workloads, absences and potential conflicts of interest to be better managed. Routine time demands of alcohol licensing matters can be challenging for elected members.

Under this model commissioners and committee list members may vary meeting to meeting (may operate on a rotational basis or otherwise) in order to effectively manage unavailability due to holidays, sickness or other contingencies without disrupting the service provided

Staff recommend all appointments be for a term of four years, expiring on 30 April 2021 (to keep outside of the Local Body election cycle).

Here are the staff nominations: (likely to be confirmed tomorrow)

Murray CLEARWATER  (Commissioner & List Member)

Peter FRENCH  (Commissioner & List Member)

Shaun COLE   (List Member)

Brent HOLMES  (List Member)

Cr Louis Anthony (Tony) FOX  (List Member)

Cr Murray MCLEAN  (List Member)

Cr Rex SIMPSON  (List Member)

 

 


Friday
Mar312017

2017/2018 Draft Annual Plan at Council Tuesday

The Draft 2017/18 Annual Plan goes to Council on Tuesday morning.

The days when the Plan was subjected to a measure of public consultation are long gone. Such consultation is now regarded as ‘optional under certain circumstances’ by way of the amendments to LGA (2002) undertaken in 2014. Council is under no obligation to consult on matters that have already been ‘decided.’ Convenient eh!

Council is now able to ”proportionately” tailor consultation depending on significance as defined:

  • carries a large financial consequence,  
  • affects a large proportion of the community, 
  • mpacts on present or future interests of the community (including Māori values and their relationship to land and water), 
  • affects the level of service of a significant activity, (where annual expenditure of the activity is $1 million or more) 
  • has a high level of community interest, or 
  • has controversial consequences.

The entire process for our Council to date has been conducted behind the closed doors of Community Board and Council ‘Workshops.’

One significant sentence in the Paper as presented is as follows:

“The collective rates increase and/or singular budget changes can trigger the need for formal consultation.”

Here are the rate increases proposed in the  paper have been now been released for the first time:

Community Board area          Local CB rates only              District plus CB area rates

Thames                                           10.38%                                  4.56%

Coromandel-Colville                        -2.57%                                 1.33%

Mercury Bay                                   10.12%                                  4.08%  

Tairua/Pauanui                                 1.08%                                  2.13%

Whangamata                                    1.83%                                   2.32%

It appears that our Council consider that these increases do not constitute sufficient of a “trigger” to institute consultation, so that is what we are to be ‘stuck with.’

I disagree, and consider that our new Council has been deficient in fulfilling its duty to ensure that rate-payers have adequate notice, and opportunity to provide input in regard to the proposals contained in the Annual Plan.

Note that the Paper contains substantial detail regarding what is to happen in Mercury Bay with the Town Centre Upgrade and Erosion Project,  but almost nothing in regard to Thames where the detail has stayed well behind the 'closed doors' of 'worksops.'

Note also that the above rate increases do not include the projections for Stage 2 of the Whitianga Town Centre Update – only the $5.2 required foir Stage I – consultation is proposed for Stage 2.

Note also that the following additional capital works projects are included in order to accommodate the upgrade (stage 1)

  • Water Supply $220,000
  • Stormwater $500,000
  • Roading $363,304

These are not insignificant, and reflect the decision some years ago to ‘District fund’ these items. It is significant in view of the unequal balance of development taking place throughout the District, and the fact that we in Thames (and probably Coromandel) are shouldering a disproportionate burden in this regard. I have been accused of ‘bleating’ on this issue, but am unfazed – I will continue to ‘bleat’ regardless  

Note also that the rate increase incorporates provision for the following Community Board additional items beyond those already advised (and consulted) under the LTP:

  • Thames Security Cameras Stage 2 $26,058 
  • Thames bus trial funding $39,000
  • Thames indoor sports additional operational funding $41,613
  • Thames Community Board grant funding to the "The Treasury" $30,000
  • Coromandel Hall foundations renewals $250,000
  • Tairua/Pauanui walkway grant $50,000 
  • Royal Billy Point boat ramp and jetty upgrade $65,000

The inclusion of the Thames Bus Trial is certainly a welcome addition, but the questions now raised regarding the substantial additional cost of the Zoom Zone Indoor Dry Court – that  could be anywhere north of a million based on information already leaked, could become really significant, and add to the already substantial 4.56% Thames rate increase by the time it is approved. The report on the debacle won’t come to Council until 16 May – and the additional cost approved in time for inclusion in the final Plan due to be approved on 27 June. That could push the Thames rates increase well over 6% - don’t say that you have not been warned.

I have indicated previously that the whole Dry Court Project had been badly handled right from day one, and I have no reason to adjust that opinion – it is my view that will be further cost imposts before the project is completed with this contractor, and one must wonder just what risk was and is being absorbed by Council that should in effect be that of the contractor. These questions may or may not be answered on 16 May. Certainly the financial ability of the contractor (Stanley Construction) to shoulder any risk raises real concerns.

The other major issue that arise from this Annual Plan document concerns our liability for protecting the East Coast from inundation – Tsunami, weather, or climate change (rising sea level). There is reason to believe, both from statements made in this document and by the previous Council and Mayor that we are being softened up for the inevitable “we are all in this together” rationale that will lead to the sharing of rating liability over the entire District, and this will certainly not be insignificant.

Indeed, it could well become one of the major issues, if not the major issue facing rate-payers over the next few years. The signs are already there with attempts at all stages of current protection work to avoid any suggestion of ‘capital works’ where possible. Maintenance and replacement of any existing structure can thereby be spread through District expenditure in accordance with current policy.  Any suggestion of ‘capital works’ with regard to erosion control will require the formal adoption of a ‘district funding strategy,' or continuation of the interim 'District' funding as at present, but that has definite limits. If I am not mistaken, the intent is that this should become set policy before the end of this year, and couyld be 'sneaked through' at any time.

If you require further evidence of just what is being cooked up in this regard, I suggest that you read very carefully the wording of the section Mercury Bay coastal erosion programme in the document.

“The estimated costings demonstrate that erosion control can be achieved at significantly less cost than through wall structures and that over a four year period all 15 of the Mercury Bay beach areas could be restored at a total cost of $1.15 million. This compares favourably to the Brophy Beach rock wall project cost of $1.2 million (to date).

The Community Board are requesting this work be funded by a district funded budget. (my caps) Two years ago there was a mix of local and district funded coastal erosion projects being funded (the first district funded project also provided protection for a Council owned road). At last year's Annual Plan discussions the Council agreed to district fund all the current projects while the district coastal erosion strategy was completed. This strategy and the Council discussions to be had during its development would determine the best source of funding along with particular strategies that would address the different landforms affected (east coast versus west coast beaches and coastlines) and encompass the emergency coastal protection works policy under Section 330 of the Resource Management Act. 

The strategy is not yet complete and is due to be presented to Council during the level of service workshops for developing the Long Term Plan in June 2017. A workshop to help develop the strategy is scheduled for 5 April (the workshop paper is in the Extranet for elected members).” Note that 'Extranet' is the private Council internet communication available only to councillors.

The recommendations include:

4.    Defers a decision on the Mercury Bay Coastal erosion programme to the Long Term Plan discussions within the framework of a district-wide coastal management strategy.”

I am extremely concerned that this is an attempt by the relatively wealthy Eastern Boards, but Mercury Bay in particular, to spread the consequences of some very unwise town planning, and individual decision-making regarding the siting of residences, across the entire District – both Thames and Coromandel being demonstrably less able to afford such an imposition, and quite disproportionately less likely to require similar erosion protection.

Everyone needs to follow this argument closely, because it is highly likely that we will have this proposal put in place one way or another this year for adoption in the 2018/2028 LTP. It could be accomplished before sufficient consultation has taken place, allowing West Coast ratepayers to provide reasoned  input into a policy that would be just about impossible to alter once put in place. I have warned of this possibility now for over four years, and it is now coming to pass.

Be aware, be very aware! East Coast protection will cost millions, and will become a recurring nightmare. To rationalise 'District' funding for this purpose on the basis of 'equivalent risk' on the east and west coasts is demonstrably false, if not fraudulent. East Coast Councillors who we need not name, but who will be perfectly obvious will push like hell for the change, and ours are likely too naive to understand the long term ramifications of what is being proposed.

East Coast councillors won the wastewater scheme battle - they should not so easily accomplish this piece of outright chicanery, but they will because they are better organised, and have local media that keeps their population substantially better informed than ours. Ours sleep-walk by comparison.      

 

 

 

Wednesday
Mar292017

31 March Comes Round Again 

31 March has come round again - the time when I seek support for maintaining the blog by asking for $25 pledge to the cause of keeping up to date with what is really taking place in the District.

I seek this contribution on 31 March, 30 June and 30 September each year - contribute once, twice or thrice depending on how you feel about the value of the blog. Note the bank account details above - names not required!

The total contributed does not, and is not needed to to compensate for the time I put in - it is simply a token gesture that indicates to me that the effort is worthwhile. It may even 'pay-off' in the form of oversight of what is going on, and just how our hard-earned rates are being nurtured, or not.

Please do not feel obliged, but I know that there are several hundred regular readers out there who must be getting some value from the blog - otherwise, why would they bother?

Please consider the value that you obtain from whatever I am able to glean, and make a contribution. It basically covers the operating costs, and not a great deal more.

Thank you in advance if you feel you able able to contribute.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Mar282017

Another Debacle - This Time, The 'Sport's Arena' 

The following is the sequence of an email exchange between myself and the Communications Manager at the Council - Laurna White, and her off-sider Michael Dobie. 

I am grateful for the candour displayed by the Council in making this information available - I imagine that it must have been authorised by the CEO, if not the Mayor, and that is in direct contrast to some experiences with the previous regime.

I have seriously considered Laurna's oblique request that I consider keeping the matter 'confidential' on the basis that "sensitive commercial negotiations " were under way, but on the basis that this is a public institution, and that considerable time has apparently already elapsed between the time that the 'over-run' crystallized, I do not believe that it is in anyone's best interests to keep it under wraps any longer. I have therefore concluded that the exchange should be published in full. 

From: bill barclay <billbarc@slingshot.co.nz

Date: 22/03/2017 2:06 pm (GMT+12:00) 
To: Laurna White <laurna.white@tcdc.govt.nz
Subject: OIR
Laurna
I have received very disturbing, if unsubstantiated reports from two sources of a major cost overrun on the Zoom Zone Dry-Court, and would be grateful if you could make the following enquiries on my behalf::
a)      Has there been a cost over-run in regard to the construction of the Zoom Zone Dry-court?
b)      If so, for what reason? And
c)       By how much?
d)      On what date did the over-run materialise?
e)      Was the over-run the result of conditions discovered since the commencement of the work? And if so
f)       What were those conditions?
g)      If this is the case, and the over-run has occurred,  is it intended to report same to the Council meeting on 4 April?
Should these reports have some substance, I will understand if staff may wish to  have the opportunity to report the matter to Council before releasing details, but it would assist greatly if you could confirm or deny the basic facts surrounding the existence of an over-run, and the likely amount involved.
Many thanks, as usual.
Regards 
Bill 

From: Michael Dobie [mailto:michael.dobie@tcdc.govt.nz]
Sent: Thursday, March 23, 2017 1:30 PM
To: Bill Barclay
Subject: FW: OIR
Hi Bill,
Laurna's asked me to work with the project manager and the Thames area manager to provide the information you've asked for.
I'm hoping we'll have something for you early next week.
Best regards,
Michael
Michael Dobie 

Sent: Thursday, 23 March 2017 2:40 p.m.
To: Michael Dobie
Subject: RE: OIR
Thanks Michael. I will certainly hold fire until then!
Cheers
Bill

From: Laurna White [mailto:laurna.white@tcdc.govt.nz] 
Sent: Tuesday, March 28, 2017 2:39 PM
To: Bill Barclay
Subject: Indoor Sports Project
 

Good afternoon Bill,

Following up on your inquiry I can confirm that there has been a variation to budget for the Indoor Thames Project, which the Project Manager and the Chief Financial Officer will be bringing a paper to the Thames Community Board and Council in May, which will outline the updated financial forecasts, along with a request for additional funding for the project.

 At this stage I cannot provide you with any further information on the updated forecast cost of the project as we are in currently in discussion with contractors and suppliers on updating this information - based on their work completed to date, and proposed work yet to be performed - which means we don't have final, definitive figures at this stage.

 

The figures presented to the Thames Community Board last week at a workshop were a "ball-park," estimation, with the understanding that a final forecast would be weeks away.

The Board was asked to keep the following discussion confidential, as Council staff are still in sensitive commercial negotiations with contractors and finalising a number of proposals and their associated cost implications, The workshop was to provide the Board with some financial context against which the Board was reviewing its Annual Plan expenditure for 2017/18.
 

Best regards,

Laurna

Readers may draw their own conclusions regarding the manner which the business surrounding this whole project has been conducted - as readers will be aware, I have drawn attention on several occasions to the amateurish manner in which the actual contract was put in place by the previous Council. 

It is of immense concern that having committed $5m or thereabouts to this major project on which there was only limited rate-payer support, there is now the suggestion of substantial additional cost under negotiation, or alternatively attempts being made to get this contractor off the project. 

It is my understanding that the cause of the problem may lie with the discovery of unacceptably high arsenic levels, particularly under the carpark after construction commenced. If that is the case, then it can only indicate that inadequate soil testing was undertaken prior to commencement, or that it was only undertaken under the actual building site. If this is the case, then it amounts to total negligence on the part of the staff responsible, and/or the consultants employed to undertake the preliminary work.

I say this because it was common knowledge in this town that there were extensive underground mine workings at that carpark site. Council was informed of same, and it was ruled out for that reason in 2008/9 when possible sites for re-building the town swimming pool were under consideration. The massive work that was undertaken on the carparrk early this year - far beyond anything that was obvious in the contract, may now be explained, but hardly excused.   

The whole rationale for, and the manner in which this construction has been undertaken, and funded, is worthy of a full investigation by the new Mayor and Council. This is of such importance that it may require the employment of a someone highly qualified in this field to review the entire process to date.

In the meantime, expect a substantial impost on rates as a result of this 'blow-out,' and even the possibility of litigation. The record of this contractor should become part of any such review, but the likely failure to undetake appropriate soil testing is of far greater concern, and cover-ups of responsibility simply unacceptable.

 

 

 

Friday
Mar242017

Whitianga - Hahei Coast Walk Feedback Published

Feedback on tourism related infrastructure for Hahei now out.

Results from feedback around the development of a car park and roading improvements on Lees Rd Hahei, to manage growing tourism numbers, has found that 68% of submitters supported the proposal on the proviso that there was improved infrastructure and more thought around future planning for the wider area.

Late last year Council requested staff obtain further consultation with communities over peak summer to get a better understanding of their preferences on relevant tourist related infrastructural investments affecting Hahei Village and its surrounds. This is due to the growing number of visitors to Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach and the likely impact that the proposed first stage of "Te Ara O Hei," walkway from Whitianga to the Blowhole, south of Hahei Village would add to tourism growth.

A total of 275 feedback forms were received from 1 December 2016 - 6 February 2017, with 87% of submitters being ratepayers (42% of those permanent and 45% non-resident) and 13% from people just visiting the area over summer.

Key themes from the feedback was:

  • Hahei is overloaded for a short 3-4 weeks of the year and it's getting worse. 
  • Given the increased tourists numbers recently experienced if this growth continues without proper management the numbers of visitors going to Cathedral Cove is destroying the quality of this attraction and visitor appeal.
  • An overriding theme from submissions was the need to sort out Hahei's infrastructure first, and give some time to consider all options for how traffic and visitors can be better managed at peak times, before providing more tourist attractions to Hahei itself.
  • The general feeling was that Hahei does not need any additional reasons to visit it and the load should be spread across other attractions on the Coromandel.

More specific feedback:
1) On a car park at Lees Rd.

  • 68% were in support of this as a way to address traffic issues during the peak summer (Christmas-New Year).  Of that 68%, many based support on conditions including having appropriate supporting infrastructure  for tourists (including toilets) that parking and shuttle fees be structured so locals are free or discounted, car parking rates are reasonable and incentivised and that effective, clear directional signage was in place.
  • Supporters also indicated the car park needed to complement the existing Hahei Village Entrance car park (which is closer to Hahei Village), as part of a wider need to manage parking and tourists. Supporters also questioned the timing and costs of building the car park if the tourist numbers are only an issue for 6-8 weeks a year.
  • Of the 28% that opposed the proposal, the common themes were that Hahei and Cathedral Cove was already too overloaded with visitors and promotion of other areas on the Coromandel was needed, that the car park was a waste of money as it would only be used over peak summer, that the existing Hahei Village Entrance car park was working well now and had the potential to be expanded and that the Lees Rd car park would take visitors away from Hahei Village.
  • The other 4% of submitters neither supported nor opposed the proposal.
  • 23 submissions were from Lees Road residents. There was a fairly even split with 9 submitters opposing the Lees Road car park, with 13 submitters supporting it, albeit conditional in many cases.  1 submitter did not indicate a preference either way.

2) On what Council's priority for service provision to Hahei and surrounds should be.

  • Traffic management and car parking was the top priority that submitters believed Council should be focused on.  (107 submissions)
  • This was followed by river/stream quality (45) followed closely by improved tourist facilities like toilets (42) and improved wastewater facilities (41).
  • Drinking water quality was the next priority.

3) On the proposed "Te Ara O Hei," walkway from Whitianga to the Blowhole, south of Hahei Village, that is part of our Coromandel Walks project, www.tcdc.govt.nz/tearaohei

  • 55% (142) submitted in support of the proposed walk, while (117) 45% were in opposition.
  • Of the 55% that supported the walk, the clear message was conditional on infrastructure like toilets and parking be sorted out first, before attracting more visitors to Hahei.
  • Other recurring comments included taking time to work the project through, that the walk to the Blowhole was a "dead end,' so a return route and parking needed to be developed, along with comments that the walk needed to go through to Hot Water Beach.

That should give Council 'food for thought,' but I suspect that there is so much committed to this project now that they will simply 'plough ahead,' claiming 'majority' support, and regardless of the unanswered outstanding issues.

Hahei Residents & Ratepayers will need to marshall their concerns to ensure that at least the infrastructure they seek is in place - otherwise "qualified majority support" will be used sideline their concerns.. 

 

 

 

Friday
Mar242017

Come On Bill, Get On With It!

Leaving aside ones (or at least my) visceral and immediate revulsion at anything either Hager or Stevenson produce, the reaction of the former Minister at the time of Hit and Run, Wayne Mapp, leaves no way out for Bill English. An inquiry is both inevitable, and urgently required. Any further delay will destroy whatever remains of his credibility. "We are not going to be rushed into an inquiry" simply does not 'cut the mustard,' and if he doesn't know it - he should. 

"Left wing conspiracy theorist" may represent a fair description as far as the majority of us sceptics are concerned, but the veracity of the evidence produced in Hit and Run is compelling, and no statement to date by either the Defence Force, or Government Ministers respond in any credible manner to the bare charges as set out in the books 120 odd pages. On the other hand, the immediate outbursts of ignorant National back-benchers should be placed in context, and in general treated with contempt.  

I guess the immediate reaction by most of us, is or was that it is all ancient history, and best left under the mat, but once Pandora's box is opened, it is hard to close until the nagging doubts have been answered. Only a properly constituted and empowered inquiry can do that. 

Wayne Mapp's description - "Our biggest and most disastrous operation. A fiasco," both then and now will not go away - that is the inconvenient truth that Bill English has to accept as the final nail in the coffin of being able to avoid the issue. Someone, or many are responsible, and only an inquiry can can lay the ghosts to rest. Nothing otherwise can remove the image of the soon to be shrapnelled 3 year old that graces the cover of Hit and Run as a clever Hager marketing tool. 

The threat of action by some international group aiming to establish that a 'war crime' has taken place should not in itself provide incentive for action by our Government, but it should not be forgotten that such action is quite likely when the evidence is served on a plate, and the perpetrator can usefully be labelled as an example. Little old New Zealand could very well fulfill that convenient role, and be pilloried as a result.  

No, all in all, you have no choice Bill - get on with it, and get it off the table before it becomes a political 'hot potato' that you will forever regret. Throw your well known, and often respected caution to the wind. 

 

 

 

Thursday
Mar232017

Paul Majurey & Tupuna Maunga Authority

All has been very quiet around the traps of recent days, but the release of details of THE SETTLEMENT cannot be too far away. Every resident of the District should be familiarising him or herself as to us how things are likely to operate when the co-governance provisions come into operation – in particular, just how our Council will be required to work hand in glove with whatever the Hauraki Collective puts in place to hold up their side of any Agreement.

For a hint as to how this may operate, it may be instructive to pay particular attention to the Geoff Chapple Article in this week’s Listener on the operation of the Tupuna Maunga Authority (overseeing Auckland’s volcanic cones), and chaired by the redoubtable Paul Majurey. [My apologies - I cannot establish the link with the Listener for some reason - Bauer Media appear to be blocking it!]

For those readers who are not entirely familiar with Paul Majurey, perhaps it should be pointed out that he also chaired the Tai Timu Pari Hauraki Hauraki Gulf Marine Spatial Plan -Sea Change that was approved in November 2016, but the adoption of which by the Hauraki Gulf Forum chaired by John Tredigda has now been put off until June this year.  It ran into strife in February when our Mayor suggested some substantial improvements, and I guess they are working their way through the process at present.

In each case – the Sea Change, and the Maunga Authority have statutory powers, and in the case of the latter, those powers appear to be being exercised in a rather ruthless manner by the chair – Paul Majaurey. And just who is Paul Majauarey I hear you ask? He a lawyer (LLB Hons), and a former senior partner in top law firm – Russell McVeigh, and now practices on his own account as a partner in Atkins Holm Majaurey (AHM)

More importantly, he is Ngati Maru, with connections to Ngati Whanaunga, Ngati Tamatera, and Ngati Paou (Marutuahu), is co-negotiator for Ngati Maru with Wally Ngamane on the Hauraki Collective, which he also chairs. All in all Paul is very busy when it comes to treaty settlements and environment law issues – particularly as they pertain to Maori. He is also an extremely close confidant of David Taipari who heads up Ngati Maru, and who for the last two terms has chaired the Maori Statutory Board of Auckland City Council. 

The consequential prestige flowing from this role for Ngati Maru and Murutuahu should not be underestimated. Between them, David and Paul are predominant in Maori affairs in this part of the country, regardless of the fact that Ngati Whatua have already achieved the direct benefits, and in particular the cash-flow of their settlement. Hauraki will settle shortly, and the benefits of waiting until they achieved all they wanted cannot be underestimated. It will have been a lucrative, if frustrating wait for many of its members.

Why I have explained Paul Majurey’s ubiquitous involvement in virtually every aspect of the settlement and its consequences both here and in Auckland is because Geoff Chapple gave an extremely good oversight of just how he operates, and we have no reason to believe that his involvement here would be any different.

The operations of The Tupuna Maunga Authority are shrouded in secrecy according to Chapple – no agenda, no minutes, and more importantly no explanations, simply dictat. In answer to whether it is the intention of the Authority to lock the gates on the other four maunga (Victoria, One Tree Hill, Albert, Roskill and Wellington) before the end of the year as has happened at Maungawhau (Mt Eden), his answer was simply “Yes.” No need for discussion.  “This is what Maori want” he states, but the article reveals that there are many who believe otherwise including Hone Mutu Retimans, a prominent North Shore kaumatua. He is one who is extremely critical of the decision as it effects Takarunga (Mt Victoria).

A Herald Digipoll in January 2015 showed 58% of Aucklanders favoured the Maungawhau closure, but only 28 % favoured extending closure to other maunga. Mangawhau had  particular problems with hundreds of buses disgorging tourists on the landmark, but push-back appears to be growing as the TMA action elsewhere begins to hit home.

Majarey on the other hand has no concerns. He told Chapple that Local Boards had no say in the matter - "In terms of our specific statute, there is no process for objection." Though he does concede that anyone can go to the High Court - yeah right! This is despite an assurance from Treaty Minister Chris Finlayson in June 2012 that "There will be no change s to existing public access and use rights."

According to Majurey, "The Treaty Settlement (Ngati Whatua) puts the Maori view at its very centre. The governance of the maunga is equal between the council and the mana whenua, and Tupuna Maunga Authority makes its decisions in accordance with its statutory purpose." So this is apparently what 'equality' represents in Paul Majurey's view, or is it simply that he and his Authority fly under the Auckland Council radar?

Majurey proceeds to argue that “The colonists, then, had their turn, and now Maori have theirs." He appears to reject any complaint about lack of consultation and those who disagree with the changes  which are due to be implemented before the end of the year. All the other maunga will follow as funding allows in coming years. Leaving aside the degree of difficulty that applies in regard to walking access to each of the cones, it is actually the attitude of Majurey that I find of greater significance as we approach co-governance in this District. 

Majurey reverted to the "pedestrian danger" argument when confronted with concerns expressed about access by Grey Power and others. A grotesque suggestion of coded locks with codes provided to worthy applicants by Council bureaucrats raises practical questions, and Hone Mutu Retimana for one simply rejects the proposition that cars should be restricted from going up Takuranga (Mt Victoria) 

But what is of far greater importance as far as we are concerned should be the contempt displayed by Majurey for normal consultative processes, and the dictatorial manner in which he (and presumably the other members of his Authority) have displayed in regard to the manner in which these rules have been and are being imposed throughout the Auckland Isthmus.

What is unanswerable is that the Government, through the Treaty process has allowed this situation to develop with provisions that enable tribes to determine exactly how leadership and authority is be established. The example of Majurey in the TMA should not be underestimated when it comes to the manner in which co-governance is implemented here. It will set in stone financial and political clout that extends well beyond the tribe into the use of natural resources and planning processes of the reformed RMA. This clout is totally devoid of transparency and accountability.    

I trust that there will be adequate safeguards put in place in regard to the manner in which co-governance operates in this District, but fear that such are beyond us, based on what information has already leaked about the content of the Settlement.  On the face of it we have every right to be fearful, and both Finlayson and Nick Smith need to be held to account. I for one will not be climbing aboard Finlayson's guilt trip express. 

 

Friday
Mar172017

Nick Smith In Trouble, Again!

You simply would not know the subtleties of what goes on in Parliament if your sources were confined to RNZ or the MSM. Politik and now Newsroom are fortunately providing an alternative by which we can continue to admire Nick Smith’s privileged ability to ‘stuff-up’ everything that he puts his hand to, under the benign sponsorship of his great mate – Bill English.

The latest example is his inability to handle, or let alone understand Marama Fox’s motivation as she continues to put a fire under just about everything that he attempts to do by threatening to remove the Maori Party’s support every time she knows that Seymour and Dunne have washed their hands of whatever Smith is trying to put in place.

Their motives are purely political of course, but Fox’s motives are quite different, and in the case of her refusal to support the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill are designed primarily to gain brownie points over the Greens, whose anti GM stance has been part of their very fabric.

Fox is claiming, or appears be claiming that Smith reneged on an earlier promise to remove the sanction clause that allows the Minister to over-rule local attempts to retain GM free status. This currently applies in Hawkes Bay to the immense frustration of farming interests that have a vested interest in introducing genetically modified crops. Local choice would I imagine make their introduction elsewhere moot, and probably impractical.

Smith has fought for the retention of the Bill’s basic tenets for over two years, and it is becoming very late in the piece to be having to deal with a recalcitrant Maori Party holding out on what to him and his party is an essential element of their legislation. Fox is adamant that she earlier had the assurance of the removal of the offending clause, and has only reneged when they saw the final draft of the Bill. Be that as it may, it is a sticking point that once again demonstrates Dr Smith’s incompetence, as if we needed anything else to convince us..

Marama is coming into her own as a wily Fox, and she has proved extremely adept at manipulating her party’s two votes in this minority situation. Should Maori manage to claw back any more seats from Labour, as appears likely, they will be formidable in any possible National coalition, and provide a highly likely connection for Labour along with NZ First after election night when Labour’s agreement with the Greens dissolves, and the negotiations begin.

No-one should be counting their chickens until then.