Vaping on the rise
The article on vaping, quoting school principals (NZ Herald, November 27), makes very disturbing reading.
It would seem that legislation on this harmful practice is needed as quickly as possible. I recently noticed a "vaping/hookah" shop newly opened in the middle of a large town centre.
While many articles have been published that the dangers from this substance is low, the risk - especially to youngsters - is concerning. Pharmacies should be the only suppliers with strict control over sales.
The longer it takes for urgent regulation signals a very real danger ahead.
Rosemary Howell, Meadowbank.
• Jacinda Ardern says vaping laws must protect young people
• At least a third of kids are vaping - principals
• Vaping companies band together to fight Government restrictions
• Lung illness tied to vaping has killed 5 people as new case reports surge
Your story reported that a group of school principals and health organisations wrote an open letter Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa calling for legislation to regulate vaping. The Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) supports that call. In fact, we've been calling for regulation for more than five years.
Like the writers of the open letter, independent Kiwi vape businesses are also concerned that Big Tobacco is irresponsibly targeting youth. We are totally against youth marketing, all for R18 sales, and support the arrival of product safety standards.
Interestingly, the letter does not mention banning vape flavours, but the minister seems determined to head down that populist path. In reality, almost every adult transitioning from cigarettes to vaping relies on flavours to successfully quit tobacco. What's more there is no evidence here or overseas that flavours lead to youth vaping.
On behalf of all the Kiwis wanting to quit or stay off tobacco, VTANZ will fight any flavour restrictions proposed by the Government. Vape flavours have played a major role in New Zealand's falling smoking rates. Let's not now throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Jonathan Devery, director of Vapo and Alt NZ.
Those who have criticised the presentation of evidence germane to the Grace Millane trial clearly want defences to argue their cases with one arm tied behind their backs.
Everyone is entitled to a fair trial regardless of how gross or confronting their behaviour has been - which is why the impartiality of the justice system is so important.
What would they prefer? The presumption of guilt, no trial, straight to jail?
For someone whose life is in the balance, that attitude is not just unfair but obscene.
L Barker, Blenheim.
The majority of us believe a vehicle on a new car sales showroom floor bearing a sticker of the current year is brand new. Maybe, maybe not. A change in the law in 2007 enabled dealers to display the year of registration on a motor vehicle, not necessarily the year of manufacture.
Recently I entered into an agreement to purchase what I understood was a 2019 model SUV. The vehicle was actually built in November 2017 so in effect was two years old and not brand new.
Following this discovery I learned a friend had purchased a second hand import, supposedly a 2017 model. It was in fact manufactured in 2013.
The expression "caveat emptor/buyer beware" is now ringing in my ears.
Paul Hickford, Massey East.
Your correspondent Dr Ramsay's tongue-in-cheek observation that exotic (i.e. foreign) literature will soon be taken off our library shelves, is closer to the mark then he might think.
The last action of the recently resigned CEO of our national art museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, was to disestablish the position of curator of historical international art. So perhaps visitors should not expect to see any pre-1900, non-New Zealand art on display there in future?
Could this include - along with thousands of other paintings, drawings and prints belonging to the nation - the superb John Webber portrait of the latest victim of this country's historical revisionism, Captain James Cook, and any of his on-board artists' first images of Aotearoa?
C Johnstone, Grey Lynn.
Jonathan Shamrock asks (NZ Herald, November 27) about the value of changing the pattern of exam questions.
I am an electronics engineer and I have tutored maths and physics to intermediate and high school students for nearly two decades, with several students returning to me the following year. I've seen this far too many times before.
The point in completely changing the format/style of questions is to evaluate the ability of students to think. STEM-based careers require thinkers, not regurgitators.
The only people who refer to these exams as "undo-able" are supporters of the dumbing-down of society through rote "learning". Teachers who support this evil practice should be charged with child abuse.
STEM-based careers require analytical thinking because real-world problems are never in last year's exam format.
Those "few students" who were able to answer the exam questions are exactly what STEM-based career employers need. For students who failed, it's time for them to stop memorising the "this question format therefore that answer format" and to start actually understanding the concepts.
Brian Cox, Pakuranga.
Simon Bridges is certainly spreading a lot of Christmas and New Year cheer with the announcement of his policies regarding gangs if National wins the election.
Getting tough on gangs will bring the return of unannounced raids on family homes, cutting off of benefits to families, a rise in the prison population and court cases resulting in more wastage of taxpayer money. Is this what NZers want to control gangs?
Bridges is obviously not into forming wellbeing, kinder government policies.
Tough talk and policies are all very well but there is a vital element missing - the highly vulnerable youngest members of society. Trauma of police raids, greater abject poverty with cuts in benefit, the breadwinner of the family locked up in jail leaving many households without an male adult, will increase the numbers already living in poverty and penalise thousands of New Zealand children.
A far better policy would be to work with, not against gangs and those at the lower end of the economic strata, not rewarding the already well off with tax cuts that never trickle down.
Marie Kaire, Whangārei.
Criminal justice is in the news again. However, we seem to be lagging behind Russia in restorative matters.
Two technicians were checking a missile loaded on to a SU30, but failed to lock-out the motor. It fired, taking out the hanger door, a wall, some of the test equipment and another missile. Fortunately, the warhead was not armed, so didn't explode.
The military tribunal found them guilty of criminal negligence and ordered that they repay 31 million rubles (NZ$775,000).
Unless an appeal is successful, the court will order deductions from pay lasting several decades.
I wonder how this level of restoration would go down in NZ?
G N Kendall, Rothesay Bay.
Cast aside your hair shirt, Russell Armitage (NZ Herald, November 26).
"We had the very best of times" indeed, but the "huge bonus" of "enormous capital gains" on property came at a price. While post-war parents may have benefited from low interest rates, it was a different story for their children.
From aspiring boomer home-buyers, the banks exacted mortgage interest rates many times higher than the enticingly low deals on offer today. Forty years ago single-figure mortgages were unheard of – in fact, having a single mortgage was a rarity; second mortgages were commonplace, as were interest rates of 18-22 per cent.
Add this to the real cost of property purchase, let alone the struggle to service mortgage payments through wages taxed at much higher rates than currently, and the rosy view of the past looks a little less idyllic.
Rebecca Glover, Waiuku.
Paul Majurey from the Tūpuna Maunga Authority (TMA) claims that there are several tree species on Mt Albert classified as pests and claims have been bandied about that as many as 200 trees are "weeds or pests".
Of the 345 exotic trees listed on the TMA arboriculture operations plan, just seven individual trees of three species appear on the Auckland Regional Pest Management Strategy list. On the operation plan, the five monkey apple trees are correctly listed as a "pest", but tree privet and Norfolk Island hibiscus incorrectly appear as "not a pest plant". Furthermore, the TMA report erroneously lists olive trees as a "pest plant".
All exotics trees are to be chopped down, including 10 oak trees more than 100 years old and more than 100 mature winter-flowering cherry trees.
Peter Janssen, Mt Albert.
I agree entirely with David Mair's letter (NZ Herald, November 27) that the Auckland Port needs to remain in close proximity to Auckland City for economical and environmental reasons.
It is unquestionable that the majority of the cargo is destined for Auckland and it will take trucks five to six hours round trip for each load from Whangārei.
I note that London shifted it's port from the Docks down the Thames river to Tilbury and Shearness at the mouth, and Holland has a port at Vlissingen off the Antwerp river. Both Tilbury and Vlissingen have gone inland with canals to form wharves. I still wonder if it is feasible for Auckland turn the Tamaki River into a canal.
This would take cargo to Seaside Park an open area that could be developed into a port and Highbrook which is close to the Wiri Container depot and south of Auckland Central eliminating congestion from trucks in the city.
The optimum would be a canal through to the Manukau and locate the port just south of the airport, but cost is probably prohibitive. The Tamaki river idea may also not be viable, but I think it is worth investigating.
If it's feasible, it ticks all the boxes - freeing the city to develop the waterfront.
Graham Russell, Pukekohe.
Short & sweet
I always thought exams were based on the curriculum not on the previous few years' papers. You might as well use the same questions each year and just change the numbers. Brian Giles, Hauraki.
I must agree with Peter Carson's observations on the Auckland CBD (NZ Herald, November 27). Family and friends returning home to visit say the same thing - Auckland is a dump.
M J Thomson, Takapuna.
Professor Curson certainly had his blinkers on when he visited Auckland's CBD. Did he not see the international-brand stores that have sprung up in lower Queen St? And did he not realise High St now has two Unity bookstores? Ian Dally, Mt Albert.
New Zealand's monarchy stands revealed as unfit for purpose and, like Andrew, deserves forthwith ignominious sacking. Michael Coote, Te Atatu Peninsula.
I think the authorities should consider Musick Point at Buckland Beach as place for an Erebus monument. This place already has a link to NZ aviation history. Brian Rutherford, Leigh.
A series of errors, innocent or deliberate, lead to disasters and tragedies. Enough said. Eric Strickett, Henderson.
While we are talking about moving the port, perhaps serious consideration should be given to moving our main naval base as well? One missile could take out the base, the bridge and half of downtown Auckland. John Little, Milford.
Are trucks allowed to travel on the right lane? I have been noticing trucks keeping to right lane, and traveling at high speed. Chris Toh, Greenhithe.