Commenting on children striking over climate change, Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft said: "without idealism, we are condemned to serve visionless priorities that lack urgency. And without vision and change, society serves only the current narrow status quo".

As soon as I read it I thought of local government here in Tauranga which seems to see the solution to our transport woes as building more and wider roads and for housing, with more outlying subdivisions bringing more traffic.

As many letters have already said the answers are higher density close to town, passenger rail, bus transport and as recently promoted the excellent idea of e-bike highways.

So local government how about some new vision and direction to solve the issues facing us as we grow as a city.

Russell Wenn
Oropi

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Hate speech

In regard to hate speech laws (Letters, March 25), speaking hatefully is defined by the Human Rights Act 1993 as speaking in a threatening, abusive or insulting manner.

How can speaking in this way contribute to a healthy debate? Such language has been determined to be unacceptable by way of the act for a reason. It dehumanises, hurts, incites fear and gives licence to people wishing to go further than words, as we've witnessed to the extreme on March 15, 2019.

My plea is that we have a healthy debate where we speak respectfully and non-judgmentally. This sounds easy but requires a degree of restraint and self-control which is vital if we are ever to move beyond defensive positions that are only further entrenched when using angry, hateful speech. (Abridged)

Liz Davies
General manager, SociaLink

Simple solution

There is a simple solution to the problem at the Welcome Bay Rd slip road.

Stop cyclists using the underpass and make them go up the Welcome Bay slip road, through the traffic light controlled roundabout and down the cycle lane on Hairini St.

It saves cyclists having to cross traffic twice at each end of the underpass.

Paul Higgins
Tauranga

Muslims in New Zealand

This year marks the 250th anniversary of the first European landing on New Zealand's shores.
We will undoubtedly celebrate the arrival of James Cook as this anniversary rapidly approaches in October 2019.

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Unbeknownst to most, it also marks the advent of the very first Muslim presence in New Zealand. Contrary to popular belief, Muslims (and other tauiwi) did not first arrive in New Zealand in the early 1820s, or with the advent of the Otago gold rush, or in the aftermath of immigration reform in 1987.

The first Muslim presence in New Zealand occurred in December 1769 when 53 Indian lascars (sailors) set sail from Pondicherry, India for Aotearoa along with 179 Frenchmen aboard the Saint Jean-Baptiste under the command of Jean-François-Marie de Surville.

While the majority of the crew died of scurvy along the way, 5-6 Indian lascars survived to make a landing in Doubtless Bay between December 18-30, 1769. Two of the surviving crew to come ashore are named in Surville's log as "Mahmud Qāsim" of Pondicherry, and "Nasreen," a young Bengali.

This incident, and others recounting the earliest Indian, Chinese and African arrivals on Aotearoa's shores in the late 1700s and early 1800s, are well-documented in my 2015, 2018 and 2019 publications. Non-Māori non-Pākehā "others" were here at the dawn of Māori-European encounter and involved in nation building from the point of first contact.

Yet they remain invisible in the teaching of New Zealand history. Let's also commemorate their phenomenal sacrifices during initial contact, as many of the earliest European vessels of exploration and exploitation to New Aealand shores had Indian, Chinese and African crews aboard who helped gather timber and seal skins before the period of European settlement.

Today's minority communities are a part of our shared national identity and have just as much a right to live, work, and stay safe in New Zealand as do Māori and Pakeha.

Todd Nachowitz, PhD
Waikato Interfaith Council
Hamilton

The Elms

Regarding Peter Dey's response to my earlier letter on The Elms (Letters, March 16), I repeat it is not the ratepayer's job to fund alleged grievances, That is the responsibility of the Government, not the ratepayer.

And to allude that Maori have not been treated with ongoing "goodwill" is simply wrong, in my view, in face of the settlements to date, with even further claims mounting in the pipeline.

Thank you, Peter, for re-igniting interest in this issue, which garnered much discussion at the March meeting of the council. (Abridged)

D.J. Bennett
Bethlehem
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