Trump only the lever for change

Bryan Gould may well be right in his assessment about a Donald Trump presidency. However Trump was merely the catalyst and the vehicle that disenfranchised and disenchanted American voters used to clean out the Washington "rat's nest" and that can only be a plus. The Brexit vote had all the same hallmarks.

By default I guess, Gould implies that somehow Obama (who achieved virtually nothing in eight years) and the flawed Hillary Clinton were better options. Personally I think not. The fault is clearly with the American electoral system which has been trashed by those citizens who placed blatant self-interest before community good.

Rob Paterson, Mount Maunganui.

The joy of birds

I enjoyed Jamie Morton's articles on birds. People underestimate the value of birds in gardens. I do not need to spray for aphids or poison snails, the birds eat them all. In spring I watched a tui looking for codling moth caterpillars on my walnut tree. All that is needed to encourage birds into the garden is water, a shallow birdbath that they can stand in while bathing is ideal.

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Tuis love a good bath. In winter I feed the birds, but we also have trees that produce food. Thank you Jamie, it made a nice change from all the unpleasant news and reminds us that the simple pleasures in life are often the most rewarding.

S. Hansen, Napier.

Why we have beggars

Michael Stevens suggests "begging" is the result of the reform process of the early 80s. Incorrect. The social dislocation witnessed is the result of welfare itself. Welfare support, absolutely vital for some but abused by many, stripping them of personal ambition, self reliance and attitude, in the process becoming afflicted with that common ailment "inertia". An overhaul of the welfare system is long overdue. Incidentally "Rogernomics" proved to be New Zealand's salvation.

Peter J. Edmondson, Tauranga.

Fifty shades screenin

gI am absolutely appalled that TV3 would choose to air an R18 (and in my view) pornographic movie on public television in the weekend, let alone at 8.30pm when most children are still up! My 15-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter will not be allowed near the TV during this time. I call on other parents to protect their children from this filth. It does not promote healthy relationships and is extremely damaging viewing. Any advertised product shown during this movie I will be boycotting and I call on other decent New Zealanders to send a clear message that this is not all right.

Liz Edwards, Howick.

Fare rises

Before increasing fares Auckland Transport needs to make sure they are collecting fares from passengers. There has been no ticket inspector on my early morning Western Line train for 10 months. It is reasonable to assume that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being lost, which fare-paying passengers are expected to pick up the tab for.

The PR gurus advertise the increases as "Some fares are changing" instead of "Most fares are increasing". This sort of slipperiness doesn't endear Auckland Transport to the travelling public.

Howard Atkinson, Mount Albert.

Grammatical grizzles

I am irritated by some common mispronunciations and use of words and sayings, which while they may be technically correct, are instances of careless or lazy elision. For example "the proof of the pudding is in the eating" not "the proof is in the pudding". The word " mischievous" should not be pronounced as though there is a non-existent "i" after the "v". Why say "agreeance" when "agreement" is more mellifluous and understood by all. Why cannot I, born in New Zealand of parents also born here, not refer to myself as an "indigenous" New Zealander? I consider myself a native of New Zealand just as much as anyone else born here.

Peter Clapshaw, Parnell.

Pike River

The zero-infinity dilemma is very low risk, but it is not zero. And if it does go wrong then it is a disaster. In the case of entering an unstable mine environment, the people die. No expert will be willing to say there is no risk in re-entering Pike.

What if it goes wrong in there, zero-infinity kicks in, and they die? Who will pick up the responsibility? Even relieving the company of responsibility would not relieve the Government. I try to imagine the fuss over people sent to their death - for what exactly? I had school friends in the Strongman mine. It was best sealed and no further lives risked. It is their tomb.

Graham Little, Birkenhead.

Wealth creation

All credit to Graeme Hart and Richard Chandler for creating wealth, they have grown the pie. Would New Zealand be better off if they were bureaucrats or civil servants? I think not. They probably have created hundreds if not thousands of jobs raising up the standard of living of their employees.

Like the rest of us they eat three meals a day, use one bathroom at a time and drive one car at a time albeit probably not a Hyundai or Daihatsu. They undoubtedly put in more hours' work than most, take fewer days off, and throw no sickies. They are rewarded for their results, not for just turning up to work.

Iain Mitchell, Whakatane.

Bus terminal

Brian Rudman is right. Auckland Transport's proposal to shift the inter-city bus station from central Auckland 24km down the road to Manukau is a nonsense. Every international city I have visited has its inter-city transport services terminate in the central city.

If Auckland has any vision and innovation to build and brand Auckland as a great city to visit, the inter-city services must be located in the city centre, close to hotels, backpackers, retail, entertainment, tourism and connecting train and ferry services. The relocation decision has to be guided by meeting customer needs and our Auckland brand, surely.

Michael Barnett, Auckland Chamber of Commerce

Bus congestion

It was interesting to read Brian Rudman lamenting the loss of the underground bus station as part of the original Britomart Transport Centre proposal as short-sighted. I, as chairman of the committee, and former mayor Les Mills, were criticised in the media for being involved with the proposal. Christine Fletcher campaigned for the mayoralty to cancel the project, promising something better.

The Fletcher Bruce Hucker-led council spent millions of dollars to come up with a smaller proposal, deleting the bus terminal part of the proposal and depriving Auckland of a world-class transport interchange.

We have ended up with buses clogging streets, terminating all over the place and creating diesel fumes downtown.

Ken Graham, Greenlane.

Cornwall Park's farm

We would like to reassure your correspondent Annette Perjanikc that the opportunity for visitors to see cattle and sheep remains very much part of Cornwall Park's future.

Currently the park is home to some 140 cows and calves and 1200 sheep, as part of a farming operation run by our team.

We have no intention of reducing livestock numbers, and indeed our future vision for the park includes initiatives to enhance our livestock operation.

We also value our cows and sheep for helping to cost-effectively maintain grass areas and keep down the spread of noxious weeds.

Michael Ayrton, park director.

CIA advice

The CIA's suggestion to President Reagan that an invitation to Sir Robert Muldoon would show the New Zealand people "he is an international leader of some stature who is taken seriously in Washington" was not borne out by the hilarious White House press briefing that followed their talks in 1981.

The briefer - one of the President's top advisers - had the press corps rolling in the aisles as he mocked the way Muldoon told Ronald Reagan (who had a notoriously short attention span) about the patois used in Papua New Guinea - "pidgin - p.i.d.g.i.n. - for those of you who care".

I was the NZPA's staff correspondent in Washington at the time.

Earlier, when Muldoon visited President Jimmy Carter in 1977, the briefing was apparently no less hilarious. There was just one question from a White House correspondent - about whether they had discussed Muldoon's earlier reference to the President's brother Billy as a "beer-drinking petrol station attendant".

David Barber, Waikanae.