Rant about noise not on deaf ears

By Ewan McDonald


That may be another story, I wrote at the end of my rant about late-night - to be precise, very early morning - construction work disturbing the good citizens of Parnell. Turns out I was right, and here it is.

For those who missed Chapter One ("What's that racket"): our household, and apparently many others, woke at midnight on a Sunday by what sounded like a chainsaw to the power of 4000. When I got through to Noise Control at 2am, the council officer said he believed KiwiRail was working on the railway. He explained the council has no jurisdiction over motorway or railway work. The noise stopped about 3am.

On Monday another council officer rang to say that no, it wasn't KiwiRail, it was Ports of Auckland doing some late-night construction on the wharves.

We can't do much about it, the official continued, because we don't have authority over the docks. Which seemed more than a tad odd, since the port is what Rodney Hide called a "council-controlled organisation". He did like his little jokes, old Rodders.

The council was going to contact the port and "have a word with them".

Which is where we'd got up to when the chimes of deadline rang.

THE VERY next day ... phone rang again. And again. First call was from a helpful chap who co-ordinates the Downtown Residents Action Group or somesuch, who gave me a list of numbers to call if it happened again, and told me why the cruise ships berth bow-first at Princes Wharf instead of stern-in, as they do at most other inner-city docks around the world. This may be of interest, or annoyance, to Devonport residents, but I'm not one, so it's not in my front yard.

Second was another even more helpful chap from the council (and that is emphatically not - so emphatically that I'll put it in italics to underline the point - not a joke). This fellow wanted me to know that they'd got on to to the port and found it not to be the source of the noise at all. The noise had been caused by KiwiRail after all.

And then the emails began. First, Ports of Auckland wanted me to know that the port is not engaged in secret nocturnal construction activities, and I'm happy to set the record straight right here and now.

Second, KiwiRail put their hand up for disturbing the neighbourhood. "We had a team working near your home carrying out some welding work to remove a track joint - we are having to do this right across the network in preparation for electrification. This did prove to be more disruptive than was anticipated and we apologise for that disturbance. We also received a complaint from another resident on Monday and stood the team down from any further night works in that area.

"A lot of what we need to do on the railway is noisy. We try to be a good neighbour by doing as much of that noisy stuff during the day as possible - but inevitably a lot of must be scheduled for the night shift, when it doesn't impact on train services."

Just the residents. But, to one council noise control officer, one council-contracted noise checker, two more council officers, one ports engineer who was extremely civil in the circumstances and one railways senior communications adviser, thanks for going to all that trouble on our behalf. Oh, and to you, dear readers: thanks. I slept more soundly on Tuesday night knowing that your rates and taxes were really working for us last week.

WHILE WE'RE on the subject of my domestic life, which I know is vitally interesting to all of you, I have to mention that Hush Puppy, our almost 20-year-old mostly whippet (who I also mentioned in last week's story) passed away on Friday - just a month after she featured in our cover story on the proposed Auckland waterfront coastal walk.

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