After being put up this week in an Auckland CBD accommodation unit, 14 floors up, looking out over similarly small units, with many even higher up, I can see why your editorial (NZ
Herald, April 9) makes perfect sense.
Indeed, we have a rather sparsely populated nation, where an absolutely unexpected newcomer, called Covid-19, has forced many of us to reinvent ourselves; work from home part-time; all the time or even have a fully remote-controlled business model.
What better time for our government to look at all the very recent changes and obvious signs in how people and businesses interact, that will undoubtedly change many existing business models forever.
Hopefully, our Government will give people enough incentives to reinvent themselves and help realise this shift away from our largest and most densely populated city. There are numerous reasons to help stagnate population growth in Auckland. Housing unaffordability, drinking water uncertainty, transport, vehicle parking and pollution spring to mind.
Maybe the future will tell us that Covid-19 has done us greater favours than we wish to believe right now, but holding on to this overrated; overpriced; dense and often sub-standard inner-city living ideology makes absolutely no sense any more.
René Blezer, Taupō.
People have a much greater stake in society if they own their own home.
Our overheated housing market has been created by a number of policy decisions over the last three decades. These policy decisions can be modified. Buying an investment property has been a win-win-win for those who already own a property.
One factor not being discussed much is the role of the banks in granting "interest-only" loans to buy a second and third property. The banks win by collecting interest. The property owner (landlord) wins by collecting rent to cover interest payments. Renters lose by paying high rents and struggle to save to buy a home. Taxpayers lose because we pay the housing supplement in many cases. This is in effect a reverse tax, because the taxpayer is paying the landlord. The landlord again wins when selling for a significant tax-free capital gain. Perhaps there would be fewer property investors if a policy change stopped "interest-only" loans. Another change could be to limit ownership for investors to a maximum of two properties.
Peter Jamieson, Titirangi.
Chris Bishop (NZ Herald, April 12) and others are moaning that our vaccination rollout is behind most other countries. I am glad that it is.
It is much more important for the rest of the world to be vaccinated than it is for us. Covid-19 can only come to New Zealand from overseas, so we should be encouraging the rest of the world to be vaccinated as quickly as possible. I will only feel really safe when Covid has disappeared overseas.
Greg Cave, Sunnyvale.
Why do we need anything other than the nearest-ready, clearest solution for rapid transit to the airport: a development of the excellent heavy-rail network we already have, a spur from Wiri to the airport? That would link into southern and eastern lines, giving connectivity for passengers, with luggage, from the central city and from homes all over the city and outlying districts. The stations are there, many already served by feeder buses, needing only more patronage to improve frequency.
This could link also into rail from the Waikato and Tauranga, and extend at the airport end to serve freight.
The planners do not have a licence to commit to a separate light rail route, as it seems they are arrogantly doing. The public has never been asked.
When the matter was last discussed a few years ago many people, including some of the best heads (e.g. Mike Lee) laid out the fundamental follies of the idea.
At its best, it would simply duplicate access from the limited start-point of the CBD.
Rae Storey, Remuera.
Dail Jones' recent letter (NZ Herald, April 8), supporting Richard Prebble's position reducing immigration, was fascinating.
The right-wing National Party, which they both support, allowed unprecedented numbers of immigrants into New Zealand for nine years and has led to our current housing, hospital, water and traffic crises (to name but four).
Until our infrastructure catches up we must reduce immigration accordingly.
R Howell, Onehunga.
Scarcely a day goes by without there being some criticism of our Port, whether it be relating to its inefficiencies, safety shortcomings, or inability to deal with the volumes of business (leading to losses of profitable work to Tauranga or Northport).
Someone has to carry the can for these problems. Auckland Council as the nominal owner has been shown to be toothless; the board has been ineffective; and management, notwithstanding massive investment in new equipment, cannot turn a decent profit.
Surely it is past time for a major shakeup and, if the incumbents continue to demonstrate their ineptitude, heads should roll.
Peter Clapshaw, Remuera.
P. J. Edmondson (NZ Herald, April 12) suggests a link between welfare payments and the shortage of fruit pickers. If fruit pickers get the minimum wage of $20 per hour and work a 40-hour week, they will earn a gross $800 per week. The Jobseeker benefit for a 25-year-old single person is $258.50 per week. The argument seems to be that people are choosing $258.50 over $800, if they can avoid working. No doubt some are, but is it likely that this is a major factor in the problems facing the fruit industry? The work is arduous, seasonal, short term, and often far from major population centres - just the kind of work that suits backpackers or itinerant workers from poorer countries. Covid has shut that supply down.
Does our current situation suggest the welfare system is too generous, or does it suggest a problem with the business model?
Rowan Hill, Mt Eden.
Serious allegations concerning the treatment of women prisoners at the Auckland Regional Corrections Facility appear to have been brushed aside. The Minister of Corrections is said to be awaiting a report in order to decide whether an investigation is required. If his reaction to the Waikeria Prison riots is an indication of his likely response, then we might perhaps assume that he will not take matters much further. However, we are meant to be a civilised society and the Minister should provide us with the assurance that prisoners are being treated humanely. For some reason, the Royal Commission into Abuse in State Care did not include the welfare of prisoners in its terms of reference.
A Coverdale, Remuera.
The NZ Herald recently published stories covering opposition to the Kennedy Point marina on Waiheke and a proposed residential development at Bayswater marina.
Opposition to these developments continues in large part because Auckland Council has failed to implement a resolution calling for a region-wide marina strategy passed by Auckland Council Planning Committee (chaired by Bayswater councillor Chris Darby) in March 2019.
In addition, the July 2020 report of the Council Controlled Organisations review panel highlighted the lack of strategic direction as a systemic weakness within council itself. The report specifically mentioned the lack of a region-wide marina strategy.
Participation in water-based sports and clubs, the delivery of ferry operations, marine services and water safety education and fostering sharing of the marine recreational facilities and adjacent open space needs to be planned and protected.
Efforts to progress the strategy over the last two years have met with excuses such as a lack of budget and Covid-19 impacts.
Rather than develop a marina strategy to help mould and safeguard community outcomes, the council is still leaving community groups to fight for community interests and contest developers' ambitions.
Richard Steel, immediate past chairman, Auckland Marina Users Association Inc.
City of fails
Our main city's effectively sole harbour crossing can't take any more traffic and there is no replacement/alternative in sight for years. We're told that we have to conserve water as storage capacity hasn't been upgraded for some 15 years. We've just opened a new train service from north of Hamilton to the south of Auckland that takes longer than the road service with which it is designed to compete. The Auckland Council seems unable to award bus and train service contracts, waste management contracts or road construction and maintenance contracts to NZ companies, with two-thirds of the Council's top-20 contractors over the past 10 years being foreign-owned.
Are you serious? And I haven't even mentioned housing…
Warren Couillault, Chair, CEO, Hobson Wealth.
Short & sweet
Whatever you might think about the beliefs of the Vanuatu tribe who worshipped Prince Philip as a God, how many other religions can prove that their God actually existed?
Doug Hannan, Mt Maunganui.
I hope Phil Goff and transport minister Wood read Simon Wilson's column (NZ Herald, April 9). It is so sensible and forward-looking - he should be part of Auckland's transport development committee. Lodewijk Henneveld, Tutukaka.
Having recently visited several new housing developments I have come to the conclusion that Enid Blyton's Noddy books were included in the curriculum for designing houses in modern subdivisions. Norm Greenall, Ōrewa.
We should be far more concerned that our PM has frequently shown she cannot clearly, with solid facts and figures, answer Hosking's hard questions, than about Hosking having the "arrogance" to ask them. Philip Lenton, Somerville.
A scan through Auckland Council's top 20 biggest contractors shows that over half (12) are overseas-owned companies. Aucklanders' generosity is amazing. M. Tallon, Takapuna.
Our bowling club, with ANZ Bank, cannot cash cheques now. We are doing online dual signature banking. When asking about dual signature Eftpos cards to access cash for prizes, the bank has no suggestions. What do other clubs do? Clare Boyd, Waihī.
Of course, the first win this season for Manly comes at the expense of our Warriors. We do like to please. Glenn Forsyth, Taupō.