Sick of Wellington interfering
Aucklanders are totally fed up with Wellington interference in the running of our city. The National Policy Statement on Urban Development seems to be the final straw.
First there was the Royal Commission into amalgamation of the various councils; and even though the submissions of Aucklanders overwhelmingly indicated that most of us did not want this, and even though we were not given a follow on vote about it — unlike the rest of the country, in each case — we then accepted that it was to occur. Rodney Hide, Minister of Local Government at the time, effectively discounted the report by the Royal Commission and brought in the Super City regardless of any concerns about the wishes of Aucklanders.
Wellington then promised us greater efficiency and lower costs; we waited in hope. We then accepted and paid for first the tortuous and labour intensive process of amalgamating the local council computer systems and district plans over many years, along with everything else; and then also the permanently increased costs and reduced levels of service, caring and efficiency that resulted.
During the amalgamation of the district plans, those Aucklanders who cared about the history, character and heritage of Auckland also had to work hard, yet again, just to retain some of the protections for these in each district plan, before these were lost in translation. This was only partially successful but at least there was a semblance of democracy in the way the Unitary Plan itself was brought in. The latest announcement from Wellington does not bother with such niceties and does not limit itself to interfering in Auckland. But in the case of Auckland, only six years after completing the complex Unitary Plan process, our city is being told to reinvent itself, and to spend years on planning reforms.
If Wellington politicians have any interest in increasing the productivity of Aotearoa, to enable our country to address the many urgent issues that we face, they could start by not continually disrupting the efficient management of our country's largest city.
Claire Chambers, Parnell.
It is good to see Auckland Council finally noticing that there is a bit of a housing crisis and belatedly taking long overdue steps to allow denser housing along public transport routes. There is no shortage of leafy streets with single villas occupying generous sections, and so clearing some areas near to train and bus stations could provide desperately needed, semi-affordable housing. The large areas between the sparse tendrils of the public transport networks can retain all that beautiful character for the fortunate few to enjoy for generations. Our housing crisis will not be solved without some significant changes to the actual structure of our city and this is finally a small start in the right direction.
Alex Davidson, Forrest Hill.
Suburbs lose character
Recently, I returned from one of my visits to friends in Parnell, a suburb lake several more, riddled with 100-year-old cottages, two-storey kauri villas and studied with countless trees, parks and gardens.
The areas involved are not huge, but they are full of character and worth preserving.
Mission Bay has sunk into a miasma of crammed up and mostly quite ugly infill housing and I note other suburbs have been so blighted.
Forget the crazy traffic and madcap scooters. The trees that give character to buildings. The trees that are home to our birds — all disappearing fast under a paving of concrete, tiled roofs, tarmac and soon to be announced — light rail tracks. Literally millions have been wiped from property valuations by six-storey blocks cutting out views and light but I doubt accompanied by council rerating.
Now take a look at Sydney, Adelaide and particularly Melbourne where whole suburbs of 1900s buildings make for such interesting and peaceful surroundings.
No wonder our mental health records are tumbling and Aucklanders are departing for Taupō in their droves.
Robert Burrow, Taupō.
Don't fence us in
We have just received an undated letter from Auckland Council asking us to chose between two options for establishing a fenced in dog park in Macleans Park. We live opposite the park and at no time have we canvassed for our opinion on such an issue. I have checked out the site for making the choice and there is no third option — "no dog park". We do not agree with the proposal. It is a public space. One option includes the site of the flying fox. The dogs have every right to gambol, chase frisbees, or balls, socialise with other dogs and their carers at large. We enjoy seeing animals, four-legged (but not the rabbits which also live there) and two-legged wandering across the land. The fences will interfere with those like me who use the grassy undulations for running training.
The two options are tiny in area so not really suitable for plenty of exercise and confining animals in small areas leads to conflict and bullying thus creating animals which are anti-social and could become dangerous to other animals including humans.
In a nutshell, this is privatising public land for private use even if the dog owners don't want it.
Vicky Williamson, Bucklands Beach.
There has been a great effort to reduce the smoking tobacco which is a major cause of death through lung cancer and heart disease. Various methods have been introduced to assist users to give up, including the increase in price, using nicotine patches and also, with the support of some health professionals, the introduction of vaping.
However, it appears that vaping has been introduced, not as an interim measure for tobacco users to help them quit, but rather with the object of replacing tobacco.
In a very short time after vaping's introduction specialised vaping outlets mushroomed throughout the country. To date there are around 500 registered outlets and more are being opened every month.
It is now big business and the sellers are here for the longhaul, rather than just a stop-gap measure as was the supposed original intention.
There are consortiums owning many outlets, the largest registering 85, while at least one group is a subsidiary of an overseas holding company.
Laws have been introduced to reduce sales to those over 18, but young people can easily procure their supplies by ordering products online and simply ticking the box "I am 18+".
Despite claims by the spokesperson for the vaping industry, evidence suggest that large numbers of non-smokers, including schoolchildren, are taking up vaping, in part because it is cheaper and also easy to get. School principals have expressed their increasing concern over their pupils vaping.
Vaping products containing nicotine are addictive, just like cigarettes, with health risks, so should be controlled accordingly.
Brian Alderson, Glen Eden.
So we blame the banks for not continuing with the last century practices of using cheques and closing rarely used branches. We blame the health system for not adequately repairing the damage we do to ourselves with the poor life choices of junk food, drinking and smoking. We blame the "unfair" justice system for putting us in jail for committing offences. We blame everyone else for high house prices but don't want to pay tax on the profit when we sell.
Have we become such a nation of whingers that nothing is our fault or personal responsibility?
James Archibald, Birkenhead.
Under the Waitākere City Council, we had a dual recycling system, where paper and cardboard was kept separate from plastics, glass and metal cans. Now that it's all combined under Auckland City Council, we are continually told to wash all of our containers first, otherwise everything in the load will be discarded.
The reality is that many people do not wash out containers because of the cost of water. Telling people to wash them out when they are doing their dishes will only work for a small fraction of those.
My understanding is that if we reverted to a dual recycling system where paper and cardboard was kept separate, it wouldn't be as important to get every scrap of peanut butter out of the jar.
Why not, Auckland Council?
Jacqui Ross, Massey.