Letter of the week: Larry Mitchell, Rothesay Bay.
The (Weekend Herald, January 16) reports the plan to raise "$106m rates rise ... to clean up beaches".
Additional rates such as are proposed, would have been totally unnecessary if Auckland Council had followed its own rules and policies relating to the proper application-expenditure of its wastewater funding reserves.
Included in our rates bills going back almost 20 years, ratepayers have already been billed and have paid in advance the huge sums set aside for wastewater renewals. These funds had been paid, collected and reserved for the works that now need to be completed ... to keep sewerage off our city beaches.
Only problem is, the money has already been spent. And it has been spent on many other projects unrelated to wastewater. Council debt levels are currently so high that further borrowing to fund the urgent wastewater beach cleanups is out of the question.
Over time, the diversion of wastewater rates funding to other uses represents a huge betrayal by our council of sound financial management principles. As always, the ratepayer will have to pay for these works, works that they have already been billed for. Serious questions need to be asked.
Simon Wilson's essay "Why I am afraid" (Weekend Herald, January 16) raises some important insights about threats to democracy. If inequality, racism and climate change are not addressed, the seeds are sown for deep discord.
It is unfortunate that he pops in a throwaway line, that the [New Zealand] Government's
commitment to progressive change "has been obstructed by officials throughout the public service". He gives no examples, no evidence for this.
This is at a time when public service officials have delivered as never before; "throughout" the public service: nurses, community workers, teachers, administrative and policy professionals in Wellington, chief executives, and many more.
There have been errors, missteps, poor practice – no one is saying the public service is perfect. But the implication that the motivation of officials is to obstruct government, is wrong. Surely we have learnt about the dangers of unsubstantiated claims?
A statement such as this fuels distrust. We should all be doing everything to build trust, not make statements which increase distrust.
Liz MacPherson, president, Institute of Public Administration, Wellington.
You know Auckland is an Asia-Pacific backwater when the county's largest city with its largest public venue warrants the headline "Six a year - Eden Park concerts gets the go-ahead" (Weekend Herald, January 16). Imagine a similar proclamation in, say, Sydney or Singapore.
It's reminiscent of the old regulated days of no weekend trading and the Good Night Kiwi. Is this the best we can muster? How tragic, how stunted can we get in our aspiration for a city we like to believe is up there with the best? But has sentenced itself to a part-time stadium in the suburbs, without even a roof for Auckland's notorious weather. Now is precisely the right time to plan putting one in where it's best suited - on the waterfront. Not to brag about some hopeless compromise.
Phil O'Reilly, Auckland Central.
All meet, no veg
Simon Wilson advocates (Weekend Herald, January 16) for grassroots planning, led by community boards. I was an Auckland community newspaper editor for 30 years and, in that time, attended meetings in Howick, Beachlands and Clevedon that did exactly what Simon calls for.
At these meetings, residents, businesses, and community groups got together with local politicians and came up with plans that were visionary, bold, innovative and do-able.
So what happened next? Nothing.
Why? Because there was no money. There's never any money. And there will never be any money until such time as there is a fundamental change in the way local communities are funded.
Duncan Pardon, Beachlands.
How on earth does Auckland Council decide that concerts in a stadium surrounded by houses is a good idea (Weekend Herald, January 16) when we have other stadiums that aren't?
Eden Park"s location is less than optimum when compared with Mount Smart, which has no houses nearby, plenty of parking, and has been deemed perfectly adequate by some of the world's biggest acts.
Auckland won't get any extra concerts by creating one more venue, and the council-owned venues will suffer a drop in revenue.
This on top of a $63 million bailout of the non-council owned venues in 2019. We need a stadium strategy that does not include the near-bankrupt white elephant that is Eden Park.
Tony Waring, Grey Lynn.
Saturday's Canvas feature (Weekend Herald, January 16) on Auckland Art Gallery makes no mention of Auckland's multi-ethnic population.
In the 2018 census, 28 per cent of Aucklanders had Asian heritage, 15 per cent Pacific, and 11 per cent Maori.
If a quarter of Auckland's rates are sourced from Asians, all Auckland cultural organisations funded by Council ought to be cognizant of this.
Leaders of flagship cultural institutions are often overseas hires. They can mitigate local insularity and parochialism, which is endemic in isolated island nations such as this one. Auckland Art Gallery has to balance international art with narratives of national art. The current parochial dogma is that New Zealand is a bicultural White-Maori society. In reality, Auckland is a majority-minority Westernised Asia-Pacific city.
Contemporary narratives of NZ art ought to reflect this Asian reality.
Ramesh Nair, Remuera.
A quick word
Donald Trump: "Ask not what you have done to your country, ask what you should have done for your country." Patrick Robertson, Hobsonville.
Since he has stated how much he loves his MAGA criminals, let him pay the probable $100 million in Capitol damages, for police and FBI costs tracking down his supporters. Rob Buchanan, Kerikeri.
I knew that someone would back Trump's version of his inflammatory speech. And I was pretty sure that it would be Tony Molloy. Mike Crosby, Papakura.
Auckland Council uses our rates to feed their ivory tower and anything else will become a targeted rate. I need a swim to cool my outrage. Juergen Paterson, Pt Chevalier.
By not deserting as others have done, Chris Liddell is doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition. This is in the interest of the US and the rest of the world, including New Zealand. Rod Lyons, Muriwai.
I would suggest it best to list any West Wing employment of the past four years simply as civil servant, Washington, and leave it at that. John Ford, Taradale.
It's about time the "residents of Eden Park" got their heads out of the sand regarding night concerts, night cricket, night rugby, etc and remember Eden Park has been "in residence" a hell of a lot longer than any of them. Dennis Ross, Glendowie.
It is not the neighbours' fault that Eden Park is an uneconomical mess and they should certainly not have to suffer the cost of trying to bail it out. Geraldine Taylor, Remuera.
Noise, one of the worst natural environment polluters of our time, has just been given a huge tick with the granting of Eden Park's resource consent application to host up to six concerts per year. Alex Donald, Mt Eden.
What's the real cost of staying safe from Covid-19? Whatever it is, the glorified public servants will continue on in sinecured, taxpayer-funded comfort. Suffering is not for them. Andrew Mongomery, Remuera.
It's about time these so-called yacht races were allowed to go the full distance. Calling them off because of simple things like wind shifts do not justify these races being called "races". Ian Williamson, Bucklands Beach.
Dean Barker claimed Saturday's racing was a lottery after he suffered two losses. Sir Ben Ainsley came away with two wins in the same conditions. He is sailing royalty. Dave Miller, Tauranga
Thank you America's Cup organisers, Toyota and TVNZ. What a privilege it is to be able to watch such a spectacle on "free to air" TV. Barbara Graham, Tokoroa.
Customers in our local New World were losing their cotton-picking minds because all the promo Smeg knife blocks and knives had run out. What part of "while stocks last" do the spleen-venters not understand? Justine Adams, Ohope Beach.