Your feedback: Parks, dogs and education

I read with interest "Grounds for complaint" (The Aucklander, April 19) and empathise with several of the points made as rugby is also faced with the same dilemma.

[But] to get a more accurate idea of the percentages of who is playing which winter code (and therefore affected by ground closure), it would be appropriate to do so on player numbers as opposed to team numbers, given rugby teams have a minimum of 15 players at senior level plus seven substitutes; junior rugby teams are made up of either 10 or 15 players on the field, plus substitutes.

Soccer is five-a-side game [at junior level], hence more total teams. This is in reference to the statement in your article which read "Soccer is worst affected because of 4666 teams playing the three football codes in Auckland, 65 per cent play the round ball game, 22 per cent play rugby and 13 per cent league".

If you look at player registrations across the two codes, as per the summary from the Orakei Local Board minutes (April 4) on the Sport Facility Plan, it stated there are 31,300 people playing football affiliated with 52 clubs across greater Auckland during winter.

In rugby, final registered player numbers for 2011 across the greater Auckland region were 38,038.

Therefore, basing the participation percentages on individuals instead of teams, would give you a more accurate representation for each code.

Auckland Rugby is working with North Harbour Rugby, Counties Rugby and Auckland Council to develop a 10-year Greater Auckland facility plan focusing on rugby club and ground facilities. This plan has already been completed for soccer, netball, hockey and cricket.

Rugby is in phase two of this process, likely to be finished by September 2012.

Like other winter codes we are affected by ground closure and with registration numbers for 2012 already reflecting a 15 per cent increase in junior playing numbers on the back of RWC2011, we are very keen to see as many grounds open each weekend to provide matches for more than 38,000 registered players across greater Auckland.

Ground closure is a key problem for all codes, and improved fields are needed, whether it is through drainage improvements, sand-carpeting or artificial surfaces, which all come with significant price tags and interruption.

However, until improvements can be made to more winter code outdoor venues, high percentage ground closure will continue to impact across the region. A common misconception is that Auckland Rugby close the grounds therefore causing the cancellation of weekend rugby. It is important to clarify, ARFU does not decide on ground closure across the city - we are given direction by the council on which grounds will be closed and therefore have to manage the weekend's fixtures accordingly on the reduced grounds available.

This is not a new problem but at least there are moves in the right direction between the affected codes and council to find solutions and improve grounds in the medium to long term. - Matt McHardy, Rugby Operations Manager, Auckland Rugby


I am one of the 10,000 students who have been inspired, encouraged and enlightened by attending Auckland University's Continuing Education programmes over the last few years ("Door to slam shut on learning", April 26).

I have just completed my 12th course. These have been many and varied and always stimulating. I place high value on lifelong learning and am distressed to hear that this avenue will not be open to me or the people of Auckland in the future.

I am a psychotherapist and have particularly valued the opportunity to encourage my clients to increase their confidence and self-esteem and reach their potential by further learning. Your brochures are always visible in my rooms.

This opportunity for connection with the wider community is of the utmost importance and, in fact, I see it as a responsibility of a learning institution. Many of my clients would not be tempted by an academic or research-based programme - at least initially - so where else can they have the courage to begin at midlife to learn in a less challenging environment? Please reconsider your budget. Enrichment comes from learning, not $. - Colleen Paisley


I am not a dog owner, but it is clear the backdown by the councillors in the face of selfish single-interest group pressure means the beleaguered ratepayers will have to fund the deficit that will arise from the management of dogs ("Owners hound council", April 26).

Am I surprised? Not in the slightest - it will be just another impost that can be passed on by councillors whose paramount interest is in being re-elected.

I would be grateful if Mr Brown could tell us why he now says, "We got it wrong" and what that error is going to cost the ratepayer who is not a dog owner. But I won't hold my breath! - Michael Saull

I, like many dog owners, am up in arms about the proposed fee increases but there is one particular detail which I find wholly illogical, namely that dog owners with desexed dogs will pay the same ($120) whether they have a dog owner licence or not. I would be delighted to be corrected on this but from all that I have read I can't see it any other way. I would like to know, therefore, what motivation remains for any dog owner to bother to get a copy of the dog owner licence booklet and turn up at the relevant location to spend two hours acquiring a dog owner licence if the fee is the same as for someone who does not. It would seem that few, if any, owners would bother to get a dog owner licence as a result, so that "responsible dog ownership" becomes potentially less prevalent. I am not sure this is a good message for the authorities to be sending out. I would be interested to know if anyone else agrees with me or have I got it completely wrong?  - J. McLauchlan

As we were going to press a new proposal was put forward to address this. Click here. (More dogs feedback in the same story) - Editor

- The Aucklander

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