Letter of the week: Catherine Henderson, Matakana
My relatives celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary last week. They decided that rather than a restaurant, they would raid their pantry and freezer, and enjoy a delicious meal at home. They then donated the savings to a Cyclone Gabrielle recovery fund. What if a million New Zealanders voluntarily donated a one off amount of $1000 into a dedicated recovery fund? And what if the wealthy donated much more, while those on lower incomes denied themselves a few items and donated the savings to future recovery? And what of Lotto? Instead of obscenely huge jackpots, could we set the limit at, say $5 million, re-directing the multi-million balance to infrastructure recovery? If my maths is correct, this would amount to a rather large sum. The catastrophe is too massive to rely solely on government resources. We as individuals can surely help shoulder responsibility for the future of our country. This isn’t charity in the normal sense, this is New Zealanders getting things done. This is what we pride ourselves on.
Here and now
The warnings we get about global warming always talk about the future – “by 2030 there will be….” or “in 5 years’ time sea level will….” But humans are not good at preparing for the future. We are a here-and-now kind of species. For example, most of us find it impossible to say no to a delicious slice of pizza or piece of cake, even when we well know “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips”. Oh, what the hell, we say, and in it goes. We’re also a species that is brilliant at rationalising. If we want something we can always find at least a dozen convincing reasons why we should have it. But the time has come when we’re going to have to stop indulging ourselves in whatever we happen to want at any moment in time, and think of the future, unnatural though this may be. Perhaps the dose of the future that has impacted upon us this month will help us make the essential changes as the future becomes the here and now more and more often.
Susan Grimsdell, Auckland Central.
Simon Wilson continues his search for cities around the world that have taken climate change seriously over the decades and developed liveable cities from scratch (Canvas, February 18). Curitiba, southern Brazil is his best, I think, very much in line with what could happen for Auckland. It resembles living alongside nature: streams, trees, gardens and grasslands, with storm water runoffs. How did they get the plan off the ground? The architect who designed this new city put himself forward for mayor. They voted him in. Cyclone Gabrielle should be our wake-up call for architects around the country to come forward with new designs of how our cities could survive future impacts. Our respective councils should display these designs for feedback, (ignoring car enthusiasts as their time is over) and, along with government input, build cities for the future. There is no better time than right now.
Emma Mackintosh, Birkenhead.
John Roughan thinks “climate change is here and we know now we are going to be all right”. Many thousands of people are not all right now. They have lost power, water, communications, their homes, businesses, farms, and in some cases loved ones. It is going to cost the country a fortune just to restore some semblance of normality but there is much more to come. Hard decisions have to be made, not just about where we can build but about which areas are defensible. Yes, people are resilient and coming together in wonderful ways to help each other but that won’t be enough to avert further disasters... and nor will pumping out a few drains. Politicians local and national have been too slow to take all the actions necessary to try to slow global warming because they are afraid voters will punish them. Hopefully, now people will start supporting them in their endeavours instead of undermining them.
Bob van Ruyssevelt, Glendene.
I disagree with Gavin Kay (Weekend Herald, February 18) that “charter schools don’t achieve anything that can’t be achieved under the state school system”. During my 30-plus years teaching in a variety of state secondary schools (mainly decile one), there were many students who were failing and the school was unable to provide for them. Students who were fortunate to be dispatched to a charter school more often than not flourished. There are many alternative ways of teaching that can’t be achieved in the confines of our state system.
Wendy Tighe-Umbers, Parnell.
Kevin Menzies’ response (Weekend Herald, February 18) to Steven Joyce smacks of “Trumpism”. Falling standards have nothing to do with so-called mass immigration. From my experience, such a drop in standards has been a slow “creep”. For many years, teachers have been subjected to the whims and fancies of the “boffins” in the Ministry of Education. Every new theory or idea from overseas or from some academic has been foisted on the teaching profession. If teachers, using their experience and intuition, were permitted to teach and foster skills in the basics and to give children the time to develop their talents and creativity, high standards would gradually return. Leave teachers to get on with the job instead of having to deal with the chopping and changing which the ministry seems to delight in. The overcrowded curriculum doesn’t help either, where teachers have to take on more of what used to be parents’ responsibilities. After 26 years as a school principal, this has been my experience.
Neil Shroff, Glendowie.
Your correspondent, Rob Elliott, (Weekend Herald, February 18) writes that it’s a shame that it takes a disaster to bring out kindness in people. I think that kindness becomes more visible in a disaster when people’s needs are more urgent and easily identifiable. That does not mean that people are more likely to be kind only when there is a calamity. Many studies have concluded that kindness is a quality inherent in human beings and essential for our survival. Selflessness is instinctive. When people are pressed to make quick decisions, they typically choose to be generous instead of selfish. There are many people in the community who give their time and money to charitable groups or help others in many other ways without expecting thanks or acknowledgment. Wordsworth had it right when he said: “…that best portion of a good man’s life; His little, nameless, unremembered acts; Of kindness and of love.”
Annette Perjanik, Mt Roskill.
A quick word
How logical would it be for the two parties to work together to deal with the disastrous results of the cyclone, and rule for climate change? On a war footing? Confrontation is totally inappropriate in our future. Lesley Clark, Manurewa.
Failure to dredge the rivers and an inability to solve the forestry slash problem, has led to millions of dollars in damage and the potential ruin of industries. There are people responsible for this disaster. Geoff Lewis, Hamilton.
The Forestry Companies say they are happy to join an inquiry into the problem. We don’t need an inquiry. We already know what the problem is and who is causing it. Russ Collins, Takapuna.
A vote goes to any political party that tells forest owners what they can do with their slash. Nick Hamilton, Remuera.
Set up basic mills/factories in Gisborne, Wairau, and Hastings to process all the slash into compostable packaging. Opportunities out of disaster. Fiona Downes, Hobsonville.
I bought my first home in 1988 and the mortgage rate was 20 per cent as opposed to the present single digit. Did I get ripped off? Tiong Ang, Mt Roskill.
The release of the mega-blockbuster political disaster thriller “The Invisible Mayor in Times of Rain” has been indefinitely deferred. A forensic, frame-by-frame, examination of both the film and the soundtrack has failed to reveal any appearance of the lead actor. R. Gardiner, Western Springs.
John Roughan (WH, Feb. 18) calls for a return to proactive rather than reactive maintenance of stormwater drainage systems. Who can disagree? David Hopkins, Remuera.
Downpours on Auckland Anniversary weekend, Waitangi weekend, and then Cyclone Gabrielle. For northern New Zealand, 2023 has been nothin’ but a hound dawg. Chris Kiwi, Mt Albert.
It is said “It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind” and Maureen Pugh has shown just how quickly that can happen. Amazing. Lorraine Kidd, Warkworth.
Good to hear that Christopher Luxon has given Maureen Pugh some reading on climate change. Now I hope he will get his own list together on the drivers of crime, especially opportunistic youth crime, and the responses that don’t work like boot camps and heavier sentences. Barbara Grace, Grey Lynn.
What is worse than having an unpopular All Blacks coach? Having a dejected, unpopular, All Blacks coach. Eek. Glenn Forsyth, Taupō.
Mark Robinson and the NZ Rugby board need to have a cup of tea, pull their collective heads in and allow Ian Foster and a potentially very talented AB team to get on with the job. Bruce Eliott, St Heliers.
“Oompa-Loompa, doompety-doo, I have a censored classic for you...” Mike Wagg, Freemans Bay.