In the last couple of weeks, it's been interesting to read the claims that wearing of helmets on push bikes should be made voluntary.

I was involved in supporting Rebecca Oaten and the "Protect the Brain's" Trust programme to encourage school committees throughout New Zealand to sell budget-priced NZ standard certified helmets to parents for their children to wear.

I suppose we should expect this sort of reaction from people who do not know the history of brain injuries and deaths. It's time some facts were presented.

The NZ standard for cycle helmets was first released in 1986, and we, as a manufacturer, began selling these helmets.


But, as was the case when wearing a helmet on a motorcycle became compulsory in 1973, there was reluctance from retailers to sell helmets as it implied riding a bike was unsafe. So selling to school committees who then made wearing a helmet when riding to school compulsory got around that problem - plus made the helmets affordable.

In the 10 years from 1980 to 1989 inclusive, the number of cyclists who died from road injuries was 223, or more than 22 per year on average. The worst year was 1984 (31 deaths). These statistics were the reason new standards were promulgated at that time in both Australia and NZ.

From 1990-1999, the number of deaths (still bad enough) dropped to 172. Wearing a helmet had become compulsory early in 1994 so this, together with the schools making it compulsory, started to have effect.

From 2000-2009, 107 deaths and in the years 2010-2017, 74 deaths or now less than one per month. Seven of the last 10 years have had single digit deaths and 2016 saw "only" five cyclists dying. Of course, if deaths are reducing, so probably are head injuries which are not reported in Land Transport stats.

Some proponents of no helmets will correctly argue fewer children are riding bikes to school. On the other hand, I am sure that there are many more adult sports and competitive riders now than there were 30 years ago.

We live in a society where we are provided with great health services and accident care, but it is also our individual responsibility to minimise risks and make prudent prevention particularly for the likes of head injuries which often may be unrecoverable.

I would think that ACC and we taxpayers who fund ACC would be strongly opposed to revocation of the law. And it's time the police took more interest in warning the numerous riders that I see ignoring the law.

Our company rates involvement in the NZ and Australian cycle helmet success story as one of our greatest contributions to road safety.

DAVID BENNETT, Chief Executive, Pacific Helmets, Whanganui
Learning respect

I was recently at our newest pizzeria with my 8-year-old grandson.

He made friends with one of the ladies who works there and they talked like old friends for about five minutes.

I asked him: "How do you do that? How do you make friends with strangers so easily?" His immediate reply was: "Respect."

That's an awesome ethos to instill in a child's mind, so big kudos to St John's Hill School and his mum, Hayley May.

You guys are certainly doing good things when that is part of an 8-year-old's thinking.

Housing clusters

Your article "New state houses to be built" is of interest but the illustration published is at odds with what Housing New Zealand supplied to residents in Poynter Place and at 30 Alma Rd.

We are extremely concerned about HNZ's plans to build a cluster of state houses in a congested area in the centre of privately-owned homes.

We have corresponded with Whanganui MP Harete Hipango and have a meeting scheduled with mayor Hamish McDouall.

We remain hopeful that Housing New Zealand will reverse their decision and come up with more suitable plans, scattering state houses on single sites rather than building clusters.

The experience of private homeowners living adjacent to HNZ clusters in Christchurch suburbs Phillipstown and Halswell provides ample evidence that the proposed cluster at 12 Poynter Place should not proceed.

Matter of choice

It is all about choice.

Lecretia Seales had inoperable brain cancer and faced death bravely.

She did not choose to become blind; she did not choose to become deaf; she did not choose to become unable to speak.

All she asked for was an opportunity to go peacefully to sleep at a time of her choice.

That choice was denied by the legal profession.

That choice was not available from the medical profession - shame on the lot of you.

Melinda Bolton raises the case of the mentally ill.

The wishes of the person are always paramount - that is together, in this case, with the combined wishes of the family and the medical profession.

Depressives and anorexics can be treated.

We all have to die one day.

A peaceful death at a time of one's own choice, hopefully at home, should be a human right.

Palliative care is a choice.

It is all about choice.

F G ROSE (aka Father Fred), Whanganui
Whale visits

On March 4, fishing off Patea, a whale came up beside our boat.

I'm not sure what type but they are certainly big in the flesh.

We have video of it.

I also have video of Maui dolphins off Kai Iwi, and have also seen a pod of three off Patea.

They are quite a bit smaller than the grey and white ones we normally see.

I have also seen a couple of different types of seals as far as 20km off the coast.

The reef is great fishing - long may it continue.