Mike Hosking is a breakfast host on Newstalk ZB.

Mike Hosking: Lot of fuss over Waiheke bus

Waiheke is about sun and grapes and vineyards and views and peace ... it is a jewel. Photo / Supplied
Waiheke is about sun and grapes and vineyards and views and peace ... it is a jewel. Photo / Supplied

There has always been a tension about Waiheke.

It was never displayed better than this past weekend, as a bunch of poor tourists who probably thought they were there for a good time ended up the victim of an angry protest by a bunch of locals who are over the buses, or more specifically the double decker buses, clogging their precious island and causing what they would claim is needless congestion and mayhem.

The buses are double decker of course because this country is enjoying a tourism boom.

Never before have they come to this country in such numbers - 3.5 million and counting.

There is no sign that the boom will tail off, but with it has come the issues.

There are the genuine issues, like the lack of hotel rooms, the pillow tax that Phil Goff wants to put on, the calls for a tourist tax to fund toilets and car parks.

But then there are the faux issues like Waiheke's dislike of all this success.

The irony of the buses is they're run by the same people who run the ferries to the island in the first place.

The ferries are hated, it is a ramshackle backwater service, the likes of which is the inevitable outcome of a monopoly.

It is some of the most expensive water going, because the only time there is any competition Fullers have successfully managed to freeze them out of business and keep the stretch for themselves.

Fullers is not liked nor respected.

There have been protests over the ferries this past summer as locals literally could not get off the island due to the fact that the queues were too long, the boats were too small and Fullers seemed incapable of recognising summer is a busy time and providing enough vessels for the job.

But having eventually got them to the island, they now put them on big buses, much to the fury of the locals.

The Waiheke tension has always been that mix of those who want the place to themselves and resent tourism, success, growth and the income it brings.

They want to remain left alone.

Juxtaposed to that are the millionaires who've bought the lifestyle blocks, planted the grapes, land their helicopters, support the many restaurants and vineyards and generally embrace what really is a spectacular part of the world.

For a country that makes no small part of its income from foreigners happy to travel half way round the world to come and see us and spend their hard earned money, the simple truth of it is we need to embrace it.

Hell we should be thrilled to embrace it. The New Zealand tourism story is one of modern business's great successes, which is the bit that the protesters on Waiheke don't get or don't want to get.

They can't have it all ... you can't live in isolation and still expect a welfare system, a health care system and an education system.

The income to pay for it all comes from somewhere ... for this country it's milk and meat and produce from the ground, and a place that millions want to pay to see.

The more they protest, the worse the image.

The worse the image, the more the word of mouth travels that this is not a place where you're welcome.

Waiheke is about sun and grapes and vineyards and views and peace ... it is a jewel.

Not only should they not be hijacking buses, they should be welcoming these people with open arms.

They should be thanking them for their patronage and money and interest.

They should send them away with a feeling that this is as good as it gets and they can't wait to be back.

And they should be waving them off on a ferry service that actually represents the values and practices of modern business representing an industry that recognises the value of what the tourist means to us all.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf04 at 29 May 2017 10:34:32 Processing Time: 1089ms