In response to David Fisher's article on the desolation of Kaikohe (NZ Herald December 21).

In my time in Kaikohe we had a daily flight service to Auckland. We had a daily rail car service to Whangarei and back. We had a government Forest Service with nurseries and plantation management.

We had our own town milk supply farm and delivery service. We had a Maori Affairs farm management department that guided small Maori farms and tribal stations. We had a timber processor and a treatment plant. We had an export port at Opua. We had government encouraging farm settlement, banks visiting discussion groups to borrow more money — borrow more, produce more.

Along came Rogernomics. Exchange rate mishandled to disadvantage exporters and proven fertiliser subsidies cancelled. Newly developed land reverted. Interest rates up to 22 per cent. The newly settled farmers wiped out. The only way out was to give to forestry.

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Local rural communities' numbers dwindled. A lot of land that went into trees should have stayed in traditional farming. Amalgamation of small dairy companies took out a lot of small suppliers, including Kaikohe's town milk supply. Farm machinery outlets disappeared.

Then Prebble took out the rail from Otiria to Okaihau, putting more heavy traffic on our Northland roads. John Carter, 24 years as our MP for the northern region; it has all happened on his watch. Now mayor of six amalgamated local bodies, claiming something should have been done 20 years ago, and Northland's MP Matt King echoes Carter's call for change. As I see it Jones and Peters have started the change.

The government of the day put the prison at Ngawha. The Kaikohe community did not want it here, and the prison was built on a geothermal plain which is unstable. Continuing costs of upgrading the facility should be exposed.

Every prison has its inmates' followers. Their access to alcohol and drugs feeds the underbelly that leads to crime, and it's in every community, Crime statistics should be compared with Kerikeri and Kaitaia, not Kaikohe on its own.

Kaikohe is a good service town for farmers, horticulturists, forestry contractors, machinery servicing. That's jobs.

When a business wants to start up it should be helped by the council bureaucracy, not hindered by staff members, and should offer help with no extra loaded costs that stop the initiative.

The Auckland port company bought 49 per cent of the Northland port company. The present government is wanting to extend the rail link to Marsden Point. Jones and Peters have the insight to see where the country's short-changed productive bases are — Gisborne and Northland.

Auckland shows greed by opposing the new rail link. Their port is over-developed and a choked roading system adds extra costs for those at the receiving end.

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I could speak about the government dams at Wairoa Rd and Sandys Rd, which helped Waipapa and Kerikeri land use development. Lake Omapere is another issue not resolved.
We could have had a slaughterhouse, an animal and bird processing facility, but the big boys stopped the initiative.

The Kaikohe water supply is a concern, especially in a dry summer, as the water and sewerage are connected to the prison and outlying natural spring users are at risk.

Kaikohe is a friendly place — smile, shake hands or rub noses. We are a happy community, The social problems are no different to other rural towns, in my view. I am happy to be living in Kaikohe.

JOHN COLEMAN
RD1 Kaikohe