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Finally, a 'Balanced Mangrove Policy!' 

If ever you have seen more wonderful example of bureaucratic double-speak than the joint presser out today by the TCDC and WRC, then I would love to see it.

It is a classic that must have taken months of valuable time to agree, and compile:

"Mr Payne said the regional council has sought to manage the mangrove removal programme efficiently and within budget, but it has consumed a huge amount of staff time and council resources, above what was expected."  I bet!

The problem is that just about everyone who knows anything about the subject, and that appears to include every man and his dog on this Peninsula, falls into one of two categories - those who are vehemently against the spread of the dangerous invasive weed, and those who consider them God's gift to natural habitat.

And ner the twain shall meet!

I have heard more passionate argument on both sides of this argument since arriving here ten years ago than on virtually any other subject, and had come to the conclusion that very few knew what they talking about for the very reason that both sides were talking past one another on two totally different issues. In fact, both sides were so adamant that there appeared little point in attempting a compromise. 

But if compromise can be achieved by 468 meaningless bureaucratic-speak words that say precisely nothing, and are more likely to infuriate both sides, then so be it.

You see, on the one hand we have a large number of Whangamata people who have seen the deterioration of their harbour and its maritime recreational facilities by the inroads of the species - either through back-block saw-milling leading to mangrove loving sedimentation, or climate-change - take your pick. 

Most of the inhabitants of this town are regarded by the other side as city bred ignoramuses who have no knowledge of the value of the plant as providing a breeding habitat for all manner of sea-life, including the fish that most of the once small holiday, now retirement village inhabitants want to be able to access. That is what the mangrove-lovers find paradoxical, and contradictory.

But views across the pristine harbour are also a major concern for the inhabitants of the valuable real-estate in the town, and to have that desecrated in such a way by the ugly and desperately un-lovely mangrove is what is even more dear to the heart of those who would break the law to ensure its removal.

The sight of hordes of these people desperately using a low tide to hack into the offending plant was almost too terrible to contemplate by the opposition, and certainly a chop too far for the Regional Council people who in the main took the entirely opposite point of view while maintaining "strict neutrality."

This set of bureaucrats tended to support the scientific view that backed letting 'nature take its course.' But the denizens of Whangamata, under the leadership of soon to retire District Councilor Jack Wells had other ideas, and threatened legal action that they would surely have had no difficulty financing had that course been followed. I well remember the deep pockets that funded the defence of the Marina.  

The members of Forest and Bird, and many similar organisations, of which there did not appear a great number in Whangamata took an entirely different, but no less combative role from all over the remainder of the Peninsula, and although facing pockets of resistance, were nevertheless the equal to the Whagamata rate-payers in putting their contrary case. The equally deep pockets of 'head office' would undoubtedly have been brought to bear in the event that the WRC had simply 'caved in' to the loud noises emanating from Whangamata.

This is the background to today's presser that attempts once more to drive a steady boat though the issue just prior to the election where it will undoubtedly form the basis of another Q & A designed to make both current and prospective councillors and board members come 'out of the wood-work' and declare exactly where they stand on the issue.

The future the current resource consent is anything but secure because it really satisfies no-one, and there is much water to go under the bridge regardless of the attempts of the bureaucrats to keep the boat 'bow to the wind.' But hiding behind the smokescreen of the Peninsula-wide 'Statement of Intent (SOI)' will not do - the problem is Whangamata's - no-one else gives tuppeny hoot!

I look forward to another passionate round of 'discussion, but hold out little hope that peace will be achieved anytime soon. Golly, I do like a good stouch!




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