As we mark our day of nationhood, may we reflect on the preciousness of our system of democracy, the freedom of speech and self expression, the abundant opportunities we have to grow and thrive, and
the riches of our land. These are things to cherish and never take for granted, as we enter a decade beset with environmental threats to the survival of our species.
The China coronavirus has exposed the ugly underbelly of dictatorship, with systematic state attempts to stifle citizen reporting of the true situation. Criticism of the government is being quashed, whistle blowers are being arrested, official statistics on numbers infected and deaths potentially highly inaccurate and unreliable.
Citizens are being encouraged to inform on each other, all dissent is being stifled, and countries such as New Zealand are being singled out for criticism in light of their temporary bans on flights to and from China.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where the liberating forces were confronted by the horrors wrought by attempts to ethnically cleanse, to eliminate those deemed undesirable according to state ideology.
In all things, we must as New Zealanders retain our robust democracy, strengthen, enhance it. We must remain a resolute and strong voice internationally for human rights.
Sam Clements, Hauraki.
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Support for Chinese Kiwis
Recent public outbursts against Chinese in NZ because of coronavirus are extremely disconcerting. An Auckland doctor was subjected to a tirade on a bus (NZ Herald, February 3) which can either be explained as ignorance, racism or both. To single out this doctor is a disgrace.
The Chinese community is a cornerstone of our society, culturally and economically. Indeed, Chinese students and academics overachieve and Chinese contribute significantly to our workforce.
We must actively support anybody who is subject to such behaviour in the public domain. At the end of the day, we are supposed to be one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, we need to show it.
Brent Innes, Hillcrest.
One would hope that all of the facts and or dangers of this epidemic are being truthfully released.
Seems though that it is very serious given that China has, incredibly, built a large hospital in only a few short weeks with more to follow and the number of medical evacuations of foreign nationals that is occurring.
Let's hope this is not the tip of an iceberg.
Paul Beck, West Harbour.
Regarding the reasons for rising road toll (NZ Herald, February 5), try our paltry mobile phone fine compared to all of Australia.
New Zealand has a lower population than Queensland but we have over 50 per cent more road deaths. Why?
For over two years, the Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter has flatly refused, in letters to me, to increase the paltry $80 fine + points at all for using a non hands-free mobile while driving.
In her first letter, she said "no need to increase it. It is enough with points". In her delayed second reply in March last year she said she is not sure that the $500 + points in Victoria lowered their road toll even though I told her Victoria had 20 per cent less road deaths last year than in the previous year but she is still waiting for advice as to whether to increase the $80 fine at all.
This year, like all Australian States and unlike NZ, Queensland increased the fine to save lives. Their new $1000 fine is now well up from previously of only $400, whereas our paltry $80 fine + points has not changed in 11 years of a high road-death rates.
Make it $1000 + points and that will immediately lower our rising road toll.
Murray Hunter, Titirangi.
As your correspondent Phil O'Reilly comments (NZ Herald, February 4), a museum can become a shrine to the past. We already have a great museum which also functions as a shrine.
We do not need a museum to anticipate the future, that is not what they are for and attempting to do and is why Te Papa is so dysfunctional and inappropriate. It is not a museum, it is a theme park.
Just because they do silly things in Wellington is no reason to replicate this.
After the wharves have gone, we need to take a breath before some ninny comes up with a "great" idea.
Neville Cameron, Coromandel.
I suggest that any person with an open mind will be backing John Minto (NZ Herald, February 4) with his support of international law and UN resolutions over Rob Berg's support of Bantustans and concentration camps along the Egyptian border.
The discussion is important for New Zealand as a small country. Either we back international law and the UN as we have done for over 70 years. Or we roll over to allow global hegemony to take the place of human rights and international law.
Neil Scott, Kohimarama.
John Minto wants to boycott the only Jewish State in the world (NZ Herald, February 4). He claims they stole Palestinian land. He is confusing the geographical area known as Palestine with an independent sovereign nation - that has never existed in history.
The Mandate for Palestine clearly shows that it was to be a Jewish State after WWI. This legally binding document clearly states" "Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home." Before that it was Ottoman territory, which they lost in WWI, and 2000 years or so before that it was a Jewish state.
Israel currently exists on a tiny piece of land roughly the size of Canterbury in the South Island. Compare that to the total amount of land that Arab countries exists on and Israel, by comparison, is less than half of a per cent of their mass.
There are currently 22 Arab states. John Minto wants the first ever Palestinian Arab State (which would make it the 23rd Arab state) to be carved out of the only (small) Jewish State. I guess in his socialist world that makes perfect sense.
T Vincent, Whangarei.
John Minto's article (NZ Herald, February 4) makes it clear why NZ needs to respond and reminds us of NZ's obligations, as an international player on the world stage, if we are to be seen to be promoting world justice and peace as we have in the past.
Minto's article is backed up by the Kairos statement from the World Council of Churches in their response to Trump's plan: "Through this declaration, the US has proclaimed itself clearly as a party to the conflict rather than a peace broker, this deal, that has no reference to the international law or the UN resolutions, as the final offer to the Palestinians holding them fully responsible, should they reject it."
Barbara Cameron, Morrinsville.
A great piece of writing from John Minto (NZ Herald, February 4). Could anyone have put it better? A balanced, compassionate view of the Israel/Palestine situation which is far too logical and intellectual for Trump and his supporters.
Pip Duncalf, Auckland Central.
If Phil Goff wants to know what Aucklanders think about light rail (NZ Herald, February 3), he could start by reading the letters to the NZ Herald on the subject.
From my reading, the majority of Aucklanders do not want light rail to the airport. The majority of Aucklanders, by far, want a heavy rail extension to the airport.
That would provide an "integrated" system.
To me, one rail system makes sense. Two rail systems do not.
Euan Macduff, Titirangi.
With the election season upon us again, we, the Great Unwashed Sheeple, need to keep in mind a couple of quotations from Lenin:
Truth is the most precious thing. That is why we must ration it.
There are no morals in politics, only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel.
G N Kendall, Rothesay Bay.
Over the past decade Auckland has lost a lot of trees, much of which have been unnecessary. Must every new building site be a wall-to-wall development, taking out all vegetation with no consideration for bird life amongst other concerns and shade?
Perimeter vegetation should be protected. Our green lungs are disappearing and the unitary plan unrelentingly gathers apace. New developments are three stories high, which adversely affect neighbouring properties and the density of units will make traffic a nightmare not to mention the strain on resources such as water.
The need to sacrifice native forest to enlarge water supply in Waitākere shows that Auckland's growth is environmentally unsustainable.
The Panmure Basin development for new bus lanes has removed much green space. Will the usage justify this?
New developments should strike a better balance with the environment and the building footprint should be limited to 70 per cent to limit water runoff. Every effort should be made to save our trees with climate change overwhelming us.
Steve Lincoln, Botany Downs.
I drive between Tauranga and Auckland on a regular basis and continue to be astonished at how frequently the guard rails and fencing on the roadside are being demolished by errant vehicles.
Are Kiwi drivers that bad they cannot keep their vehicles on the road? Are they texting, intoxicated, stoned, falling asleep, or speeding enough to lose control?
Whatever the reason it scares the living daylights out of me to think there are so many incompetent or stupid people in charge of motor vehicles out there on the highways.
It seems to me that anyone that fails to keep their vehicle on the road and causes this mayhem should, before they end up killing someone, pay for repair of the damage they cause, lose their driving license and have to reapply subsequent to satisfactorily completing a safe driving class.
Ericson List, Papamoa Beach.
When I see a picture of Harvey Weinstein nowadays (NZ Herald, February 5), I am repulsed to see this pervert ogle innocent or desperate women for short-lived testosterone-driven satisfaction. The many guys like him contribute to give all of us "normal blokes" a bad reputation.
Now that he is pretending to be vulnerable himself, makes him an even bigger scumbag. Thanks for putting his image at the back near the TV guide and no longer on the front cover.
René Blezer, Taupō.
Short & sweet
Chairman Mao had his Little Red Book. Labour, the Greens, National and ACT have their respective little red, green, blue, and yellow books. These books stifle creative thinking. Hugh Webb, Hamilton.
If the current Government doesn't outlaw gang patches, the next government will. All the government has to do is copy the New South Wales law. Assets of criminal gangs should also be confiscated. John Caldwell, Howick.
We need to deal to this awful stuff and inevitable future ones and "embrace" our face-masked Chinese friends - they are families, scared like us all. Justine Adams, Ohope Beach.
The so called "Peace Plan" is nothing short of a real estate deal on behalf of Israel. Apartheid was wrong in South Africa and its is wrong in Palestine. Sandra Budak, Invercargill.
The Black Caps are like the business community - they've talked themselves into a funk. Ron Taylor, Mangawhai.
On NZ First
The NZ First Foundation would be at home in the "swamp" of Washington. Graham Steenson, Whakatāne.
Did I get that right? Women are looking in a mirror and marrying themselves. The world has truly gone nuts. Leonie Wilkinson, Tuakau.