Bridge upkeep concern
I'm prompted to write concerning the status of planned maintenance on the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
As a regular walker around Stokes Point and a retired bridge engineer it's very obvious from a ground-level visual inspection that surface corrosion is widely apparent on both the original bridge and the clip-ons. Surface corrosion is often an indicator of more severe material failure.
Recent adverse storm-driven events have shown just how vulnerable the bridge structure is and how travel disruption impacts the economy and wellbeing of Auckland residents in particular, and the country at large.
The bridge not only provides vital transport infrastructure for people and freight but it also supports important lifeline services such as water supply and gas reticulation.
While I'm a keen cyclist, I reckon that Government should demonstrate firm leadership through NZTA and insist that funding of planned maintenance of the existing bridge structure be prioritised ahead of funding of the high-profile SkyPath design and construction activities.
Maintenance of the existing bridge using environmentally sustainable practices should have the highest priority in order to provide Aucklanders with a well-maintained, resilient main arterial road and lifeline-support bridge structure.
Dr Tony Lanigan, Northcote Pt.
NZTA responds: There can be visible minor surface corrosion but this does not affect the structural integrity or capacity of the bridge.
The goal of our coatings maintenance programme is to minimise whole-of-life cost while protecting the structural integrity of the bridge and meeting environmental requirements. More specifically, this involves leaving areas with good access until there is a full preparation and repaint on scaffolding. On areas that are more difficult to access, we use rope access to spot-paint areas until a full repaint is carried out.
Funding for bridge maintenance and operations is separate from the Northern Pathway walking and cycling project, which is funded through the government's NZ Upgrade Programme.
Andrea Williamson, Waka Kotahi NZTA, Auckland system manager.
Strut your stuff
Congratulations to all involved in repairing the bridge so speedily.
It is a fine achievement to have manufactured and successfully installed a major load-bearing strut so soon.
At first, we were told it was likely to take several weeks to return the bridge to normal service. This prediction was obviously made by those who had forgotten the ability of Kiwis to "get stuck in" when really needed. Good on you, all those who ignored the pessimists and simply got the job done.
John Hampson, Meadowbank.
In Judith Collins' maiden speech in 2002, she stated, "I believe in God and I believe every human being is created with free will to do either good or evil". This is surely her most overt statement of faith.
She's neither a Bible basher, nor lacking in strong principles.
It's just a pity she didn't lock the church door to the cameras. That really would have made the headlines.
Mary Tallon, Takapuna.
Shane Kennedy (NZ Herald, October 5) rightly states, "New Zealand education in the past 20 years has continued a downhill slide on OECD rankings and other international studies". Confirming his claim, statistics reveal 40 per cent of students leaving school with NCEA level 2 are functionally illiterate. This, the major challenge of our time, yet charter schools achieving success in confronting the problem have been discontinued.
A high-wage, high-productivity economy now appears a mere pipe dream. Is there a political will to raise literacy and numeracy achievement and to resurrect debate surrounding the concept and success of charter schools if state education is found wanting?
P. J. Edmondson, Tauranga.
In Taiwan, where face coverings/masks are also "mandatory" on public transport, I believe local police conduct random checks on buses and trains. The similar rate to New Zealand for non-compliance, of an instant fine of approximately $300, is rarely ever issued, as the public there observe the "mandate".
In Auckland, on the buses over the past month, I have never seen an AT Transport officer, let alone a police presence. Every day people board the buses without a face-covering/mask. I have only seen one bus driver refuse to let unmasked/non-face covered potential passengers board.
However, on the trains, police issued masks on the first and second day of the new mandate. AT train managers, AT transport officers, and security officers regularly remind passengers to cover up their faces. Why is there a lack of enforcement and support for the driver and the safety of other passengers on the buses, but up to three levels of support for train drivers?
C. Cusack, Manurewa.
What a wishy washy comment (NZ Herald, October 6) from the Prime Minister: "Wear masks if they make you feel safer." There is now overwhelming evidence that masks make a difference.
Surely a better message from the Prime Minister would have been "wear a mask because it will help keep other people safe as well as yourself". Or even "wear a mask because it is safer to do so".
Ardern's natural predilection to comforting words such as "be nice" and now "make you feel safer" soften the unpalatable truth that Covid-19 is horrendous and should be treated with respect. No time for niceness. Wear a mask - it is safer.
James Gregory, Parnell.
All at sea
Hypocrisy. New Zealand does it so well. Three Germans have had their boat seized, been sent home for docking at Opua after being at sea, isolated for two months, 18 days and being denied entry.
We now find out a huge gin palace, and others probably, has been granted permission to dock at Auckland and its crew allowed to isolate in luxury. Only for repairs apparently. Wink wink, nudge nudge.
It seems strange, as that was one of the requests made by the Germans. Repairs and maintenance.
Two questions here.
Why were the Germans refused entry given they had stipulated the same reasons for being here as the superyacht, and is New Zealand really that pathetic and greedy that the pursuit of money is greater than the need for common sense and decency?
Graham Hansen, Howick.
I note with sadness the recent death notice for Margarita Mahon, wife of the late Hon Peter Mahon, QC. She was another whose life was blighted by the New Zealand government and Air New Zealand management following the country's worst non-military disaster.
Her children and families should know that most New Zealanders greatly admire the courage she showed following the early death of Peter, aged 62, in 1986.
Both Margarita and Peter, in their own distinctive ways, have left an indelible mark on the history of New Zealand.
The Mahon name is one to be proud of.
Ian Hambly, Massey.
I am very disappointed to discover that there is no arts, culture or heritage policy on the Labour Party's online policy page.
I realise that the Prime Minister has a few other things on her mind but surely the Associate Minister, Ms Sepuloni, should be able to find a few moments to knock something out and put it up?
The arts, and especially individual artists have suffered terribly during the pandemic and a recovery plan is urgently needed.
C Johnstone, Grey Lynn.
I hope that President Trump and first lady Melania make a full recovery. Yes, I really do.
I hope that Trump will now respect the science and encourage social distancing and mask-wearing, and perhaps even establish a national task force of all US governors to develop effective strategies to reduce the number of Covid cases.
I hope that he will denounce white supremacists and call for unity and respect for all people and their differences.
I hope he will stop denigrating the electoral process and the method by which we preserve our democracy through voting.
I also hope that I will miraculously be 21 again, gorgeous, and fresh out of uni with all the exciting possibilities in this world ahead of me.
Unfortunately, my unyielding optimism continues to dominate overwhelmingly any measurement of reality. I have to face my delusions.
I fervently hope that the President faces his.
Mary Hearn, Glendowie.
Harbour crossing alternatives are suggested by correspondent John Christiansen (NZ Herald, October 5). Devonport to Mechanics Bay, Meola Rd to Birkenhead.
As a regular walker with knowledge of all these areas, I have often thought of exactly these two routes.
Someone in authority, and anyone really interested, should get out and about and explore these areas and options.
Rosemary Cobb, Takapuna.
Short & sweet
In Mr Trump's America; there appears little need for science. Prayers are the go-to for almost every situation. P. Skipworth, St Johns.
If Judith Collins is an example of a true Christian I can only offer my mother's favourite expression, "thank God I'm an atheist". Jim Holland, Ōrewa.
Why would some marketing guru think that a bald, orange, square-eyed, fingerless automaton with an uncontrolled dog encourage us all to vote? Chris Hart, Whangateau.
Hoardings must be down by election day. Advance voting is under way and hoardings are still up, and party political broadcasts on the radio and TV. Just another example that MPs do not have all the answers. Dave Miller, Tauranga.
On level 1
Could the Prime Minister not have just said: "Good afternoon New Zealand. We are moving to level one on Wednesday. Thank you." Instead we had to listen to the same old clusters, team of five million, how the USA is doing, blah, blah. L Mallon, Te Atatū.
Why are we being told not to be "complacent this time"? It wasn't the general public who were complacent last time causing a second wave. They did their bit. Colin Nicholls, Mt Eden.
We do not need to remove GST from fresh fruit and vegetables. We need competition on prices at the retail level against the supermarket duopoly that we have had here since 2002. Glenn Forsyth, Taupō.