The boat that docked
It is rare for me to agree with a trade unionist, but Craig Harrison is on the mark (NZ Herald, January 10).
Shipping companies like Maersk and others don't want to be trundling around our coast dropping off handfuls of containers at various ports. They want to make port, be unloaded quickly and return to pick up another cargo. Container ships are getting bigger and some ports will be dropped from schedules. This will probably include Auckland, which will then overload Tauranga. The report by Wayne Brown provides the answer in promoting Marsden Point as the main cargo port. This port has natural deep water, good access for shipping, loads of available land. It lacks rail access to the main trunk but any government should be building this already as well as double-tracking the line to Auckland and investing in coastal shipping as Harrison recommends.
I find it hard to believe that Whangārei District, Far North, Kaipara and Northland Regional councils, the 51 per cent owner of Northport, aren't in Wellington every week lobbying. A joint venture coastal shipper formed by port companies, KiwiRail, Mainfreight and others is logical and should be investigated. Why not just get on with it?
Richard Morgan, Whangārei.
Restore the name
The Moriori Claims Settlement Bill has passed its third reading in Parliament, The settlement package includes a Crown apology for breaches of Te Tiriti O Waitangi, including the Crown's failure to act to end the enslavement of Moriori, failure to protect Moriori from becoming virtually landless, and the Crown's contribution to the stigmatisation of Moriori.
The package also includes the transfer of culturally and spiritually significant "lands" to Moriori, as cultural redress. Also financial redress of $18 million and shared redress such as 50 per cent of Te Whanga Lagoon.
While I applaud both parties for reaching this historic settlement, it strikes me as small chips for a people who have endured the catastrophic loss of lands, economic base, their people, culture, language and dignity, all at the hands of Europeans, the Crown, and Māori.
The Government must not rest on its laurels. The very least it could do at this point is officially restore the name that Moriori have for what was their lands: "Rēkohu". They've been using this name for up to one thousand years.
Give them this dignity.
Paul Hames, Mairangi Bay.
The editorial (NZ Herald, January 10) throws some doubt on our ability to process the daily number of PCR tests expected when Omicron hits our community. While it is imperative that we have sufficient rapid antigen tests available it's like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. For a start, there are far too many Omicron cases coming through MIQ so steps need to be taken to reduce these numbers by banning countries where returnees consistently have the virus.
The second most important thing is wearing masks in the community.
We now all know that the virus spreads nearly 100 per cent through the air so mask-wearing should be mandatory in as many situations as possible. We might not be able to enforce vaccination but masks can restrict spread by these people. We all need to do our bit as the Government can only do so much.
Reg Dempster, Albany.
Information coming from Australia about the rapid spread of Omicron and how the various states are dealing with it is quite overwhelming. So the editorial, "Aust offers crash course in Omicron" (NZ Herald, January 10), was timely. It gave a lot of information clearly and to the point, and although, as stated, "there is good cause to believe our experience with Omicron will differ", it is clear much will be the same.
New Zealand has had time to prepare for Omicron's arrival so, hopefully, we won't be caught in a worse situation than other countries.
Lorraine Kidd, Warkworth.
I was a teenager when the Cavaliers rugby tour of South Africa (NZ Herald, January 10) went ahead and I was thrilled when they were beaten by the Boks. To me, then and now, what they did was so selfish. They wanted to play rugby, regardless of how that endorsed an apartheid regime. Their team name certainly seemed apt to me.
How I cheered on the Baby Blacks when they played a touring France without the banned Cavaliers players. The rugby players I admire are those who are people who try to do the right thing. Whether that's behaving on field in a sportsmanlike manner or off-field in choosing to not tour or play South Africa - whether sanctioned or unsanctioned.
I will always hold Graham Mourie in high regard, as a player and a person, for pulling out of the 1981 Springbok Tour of NZ. Greatness in sport isn't just about your ability to tackle or score a try.
Claire Teirney, Whangaparāoa.
On Saturday, January 8, at the peaceful RSA monument in the Manukau Memorial Gardens, our family held a beautiful farewell for our mum, then interred her ashes where our father (a returned soldier) lay nearby.
On Sunday I revisited for a quiet moment and to retrieve a mislaid item. On arrival, to my horror, a man was urinating against the memorial wall. I recovered my precious possession and tidied the flowers on the gravesite.
All the while, about 25 people were sitting beside the RSA monument in the shade, playing loud music (some songs littered with "F" words), so I decided to go for a walk. I could hear the music from way over the bridge and on my return, it was still playing. After a final farewell to my parents' gravesite, I made to leave. Just then another man decided to urinate against the RSA wall, exactly where our mother's ashes had been resting on a little table the day before. I was appalled and felt heartbroken.
Where is the respect?
M Gordon, Tokoroa.
Thousands of native trees mown down (NZ Herald, January 10) to protect future views for locals and also the planting did not comply with a 15-year-old management plan.
Fifteen years ago, climate change was known about but not regarded as urgent. We now have a declared climate crisis. In such a crisis, a 15-year-old parks management plan may not and, in this case, does not provide for the needs of the country in terms of carbon sequestration.
Where plans are obviously out of date, they should not be used as a reason for this type of destruction.
The plan should have been challenged, especially considering all the voluntary effort and money that went into the tree planting.
Also, we have all been asked to give up some of the niceties of our lives in this climate crisis and surely a future view is the easiest of all to not have.
David Tyler, Beach Haven.
Simon Wilson's suggestion (NZ Herald, January 7) that urban planners should actively intervene to make driving less convenient, and that increased congestion may even be a good thing, is a backward approach to transport investment. Auckland Transport's job is to make our journeys easier, not more difficult.
Auckland Transport should measure itself against a key metric: the average commute time in Auckland, regardless of whether those commutes are taken by car, bike, or bus. Climate considerations are a red herring – motorists already pay ETS levies.
A focus on average commute times would reflect the fact that the vast majority of Aucklanders have no ideological attachment to either public transport or private vehicles. We just want to get from A to B.
If investing in, say, a bus lane reduces the average commute time, then let's go for it. But if littering our transport corridors with planter boxes and expensive road art slows our commutes (as seems blindingly obvious), those "innovative" projects should be scrapped.
Jordan Williams, Taxpayers' Union.
Your correspondent's (NZ Herald, January 10) plan to cut Kāinga Ora house rentals by 50 per cent, thereby encouraging private sector landlords to do the same, is doomed to failure.
Already landlords are complaining that sometime in the future they are going to lose their mortgage interest tax exemption and that they are having to reach into their pockets to provide the same safe, healthy heated houses that Kāinga Ora are obligated to provide. Market rentals prices are what the market will stand and the market is pretty much dominated by private sector landlords, hence why Kāinga Ora is attempting to increase its housing stock as quickly as possible.
Neil Anderson, Algies Bay.
As I'm getting rather ancient, perhaps I should record one of New Zealand's natural diving treasures. My wife and I were among the early New Zealand trained scuba divers.
Diving down the face of Cape Brett, you reach the bottom at about 40m. If you now turn left and swim roughly west, you find a large flat rock about the size of a house. But it is supported on several "legs" so that there is a large flat space underneath it. Swimming in there is very beautiful, like entering a cathedral, with light coming in from many directions.
A boat echo-sounder shows nothing; its top surface looks like a flat bottom.
This is one of New Zealand's natural treasures. Perhaps other divers might like to write to the Herald to confirm this?
Harold Coop, Remuera.
Short & sweet
The current dissension within the Green Party is exceptionally bad news for the Labour Government but great news for all other political parties. Roll on 2023. Mike Baker, Tauranga.
Always drastic action when the Covid starts to spread here, like going back to L4, but no action when numbers start building up at the border. Why is that? Rex Head, Papatoetoe.
Zero-alcohol beer ... what is the point? Might as well drink water, it is cheaper and has the same effect. C.C. McDowall, Rotorua.
Why hasn't the Govt been urging; I mean really urging people to get their appropriate vaccination post-haste? Omicron is not on holiday. Nick Nicholas, Greenlane.
Novak Djokovic being allowed to stay in Australia smells stronger than a fishing boat. Gary Andrews, Foxton Beach.
ScoMo is serving, down love-40 and facing certain defeat unless he changes the rules mid-match. Garry Wycherley, Awakino.
The Premium Debate
Instead of delaying school reopening, the child vaccinations should have been fast-tracked. As it is, parents will all be trying to get their 5 to 11-year-olds vaccinated on the same day. How's that going to work? As usual zero forward-thinking. And rampant scaremongering. Joanne W.
Every day another prediction of doom and gloom followed by resounding silence from the PM, Robertson, Little. What's that Adele song, "Hello .. can you hear me?" If the country can just trundle along on auto-pilot for a month, it begs the question: What do we need them for? Craig M.
Can anyone enlighten me as to why our 476,000 5 to 11-year-olds are having to wait until January 17? Is it because our world-leading Government was late ordering the vaccines again? And why did it take weeks for them to be approved by our Medsafe panel? Does the start date have anything to do with the Government finally getting back from their long holidays on that day so they can make sure they optimise their PR opportunities? And are we seriously supposed to be reassured by the response from duty minister Robertson; "We are constantly reviewing our Covid response, especially in light of Omicron"? Jonathan F.
The biggest problem isn't kids getting majorly sick; it's social isolation and academic/developmental delays which sadly fall disproportionately on the people that can least afford it. Focus on vaccinating kids with comorbidities and please stop this scaremongering which seems now largely political. Open the schools. Linda H.
Why not let the children go to school but close the borders until the vaccination rates are up? Chris R.
Cancelling children's education (again) because of what might happen to a few people just doesn't make sense. It's not that I'm unsympathetic to those who have difficulties but I am dismayed and actually angry about how our children's education is being lightly tossed aside. We will be paying for this over and over again in the future as those who need schools most will never catch up again.