Letter of the week John Strevens, Remuera

One of the key attractions of New Zealand to tourists is our general welcoming attitude. Therefore, it is of concern to see that the proportion of New Zealanders who believe we have too many tourists has now risen to 26 per cent. The gung-ho attitude of a travel industry in search of big yearly increases puts that welcoming attitude at risk. We are now advised that there is the need for 40,000 more workers to achieve industry targets. While there is good scope for personal advancement in the travel industry, most of these jobs will be at a level not much above the minimum wage. As a nation we should look for investment in a growth area giving better prospects of a good life for the workers.

Moreover, although the industry can build the hotels, their growth targets greatly exceed the capacity of the needed support infrastructure in areas such as transport and housing.

The Government and the industry have an solution, namely, an agreed yearly increase in the visitor entry fee, calculated to limit tourist increases to a figure that does not do damage to either the attractions we are enjoying and now selling, or our median wage rates.

Bob Hawke

Bob Hawke has gone to God. A consummate politician and a great leader of the Australian people - occasionally a bit of a showman - but who's perfect?
I remember the day he cried when speaking about the Tiananmen Square massacre, which happened on June 4, 1989 - mention of the 20th anniversary will no doubt be studiously avoided by all political leaders in two weeks' time (trade) - and announced that all the Chinese students who wanted to could stay in Australia.

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He sure wasn't a racist - unlike the racism which has infected Australian mainstream politics since the advent of Pauline Hanson. Her pernicious influence has degraded both main parties - yes, even, shamefully, the supposedly social justice ethos of the Labor Party, as evidenced by the continued complicity in the psychological torture and illegal and immoral imprisonment of hundreds of refugees on Nauru and Manus Island for more than five years now.

I remember too, Bob Hawke the larrikin, and the day after the Australian team won the America's Cup in 1983 for the first time, saying in Rhode Island at the scene of the sporting triumph that any boss who penalised a worker for taking the day off to celebrate was a "bum" - immortal words - and laughing his head off!

Bottoms up, Bob. Enjoy the next life as you undoubtedly enjoyed this one to the full.

I remember fondly your first wife, Hazel. A very gracious lady, who passed away in 2013.

My respect and condolences to Bob's second wife and biographer. Blanche d'Alpuget, and to his children and grandchildren.

Genevieve Forde, Manly

Church houses

Well I am sorry that Julie Hill from Parnell Heritage is upset about the demolition of the two houses on Holy Trinity Cathedral's land (Weekend Herald, May 11), but I certainly am not. Those two houses have been an absolute eyesore for many decades. Their destruction will please me enormously. The cathedral needs a financial legacy to maintain the fabric of the building in perpetuity; whatever is built on the land made vacant by the removal of these eyesores will do just that.

The Anglican Church does not consist of mindless vandals; within 100m of these houses are four wonderful buildings that have been preserved magnificently. They are: St Marys in Holy Trinity, the Selwyn Library, Bishop's Court and The Deanery. All sit on very valuable acreage that the church has maintained for the good of the community and the preservation of history. Extraordinary, Hill's correspondent Jenny Leatham states that the cathedral should have added these old houses to the shortfall of housing in our city.

Whilst claiming so, she seems to have missed the purpose of the demolition, which is to build more houses on that site and thus generate a rental income for the cathedral. The maths of the whole project alone should show the wisdom of the demolition. To restore St Stephens House on the avenue would cost at least $1 million; as rental accommodation it would possibly make $2000 per week. Eight townhouses on the same site would return $8000 or $9000 a week. Neither house has any aesthetic appeal whatsoever.

C Barradale, Parnell

SUV Special

Driven's brilliant 32-page SUV Special (Weekend Herald, May 11) praising up the road monsters, most highly that 447 kw (599 horsepower) Italian leviathan on "ginormous 23in rims", reminds us of the frogs falling asleep in the heating pot of water. Wake up, humans! Hello! If you can't walk, cycle, or train to work you need to move house.

As a last resort buy a tiny pure-electric vehicle, but be aware, eventually the power grid won't be able to charge them all. I'm glad I won't be here in 2100. Good luck, great-great-grandchildren.

Jim Carlyle, Te Atatu Peninsula

City projects

Am I the only ratepayer concerned about the continuing blowouts of Auckland City projects? It passed almost without comment that the wharf extension dolphin project had increased by more than 75 per cent as reported but the Herald earlier this week and this is without even factoring in the $1.7 million in professional fees whatever they may be (include this and the figure is nearly 96 per cent!). In addition we are seeing the council being pursued for damages by the Stamford Hotel for failing to complete on schedule the City Rail Link development in its area. It is further very concerning to this ratepayer that the cost of this latter project has already blown out by some $500 million and undoubtedly there will be more to come.

I am even further disturbed the council is just now going through the process of compulsory land acquisition for this project. This is a process I would have expected to have been completed before a single sod was turned. I would also have expected a complete and detailed project plan to have been completed before a pen was put to any contract as surely we as ratepayers have a right to know what any expenditure by our council is going to cost before it is started?

Is there some special dispensation which allows councils and indeed governments to operate without going through the normal processes any commercial operation follows? If not, then it is time the councillors and the council employers and consultants were brought into line, and perhaps introduced to normal business practices and if this is not possible either, it is time the entire council was dismissed and a commissioner appointed.

Rod Lyons, Muriwai

Council's backyard

On receiving the latest rates instalment notice, it was with disbelief and not just a little irritation, that I read the "Get your backyard thriving now" piece in the Ratepayers' Update.

Auckland Council would do well to look at its own "backyard". This once-beautiful Super City has become a Super Slum.

Walking recently around One Tree Hill, I was impressed with the maintenance of both the grass areas and the trees and gardens. However, driving home not far away, I was back to being greeted by the knee-high weeds and grass on verges, perfect for rats nests; street gutters full of leaves; street weeds, such as deadly nightshade; blocked drains; and uneven, dangerous footpaths.

Many Auckland residential streets look disgusting, made even worse by the yellow "stripes" from toxic spraying bordering the "paddocks" of grass. Instead of sending people out to spray edges, why not send out people with lawnmowers? On the street I have lived in for 18 years, there has been no gutter cleaning for around two years. It's the same story regarding street trees. You practically have to beg to have them pruned which happens currently on an approximate five-year cycle.

I and my neighbours living in a terraced housing complex, are certainly looking after our "backyard". We've had the council-owned grass verge mown on a two-weekly basis since 2001; rat bait stations are always on site; pest plants are removed - just as the council "update" recommends. Anyone vowing to clean it up and turn our lovely city back into a Super City has my vote, and I'm sure, many thousands more.

Shelley Ross, Ellerslie

A quick word

Your correspondent David Tolmie's dismissive letter (WH, May 11) opening with the phrase "Here we go again religion causing..." could appropriately be concluded with a different set of words. For example "...the donation of countless billions of aid dollars to impoverished strangers on the far side of the globe".

David Duignan, Campbells Bay

If Lime can limit the speed of its scooters in certain areas like the CBD, their speed limit on the Auckland Harbour Bridge should be 0km/h.

J Victor, Auckland Central

Hats off to the Prime Minister for getting the "Christchurch Call" off the ground. That America didn't join the group has not so much to do with its Constitution as the President not wanting to upset those "good people" in the white supremacy movement in his country. Now we await the petty and smallminded to try to diminish Jacinda Ardern's initiative.

John Capener, Kawerau

If the mayor wishes to be re-elected, he needs to do more than slap AT on the hand. He should reject its "light rail " folly. I survived the trams and remember the satisfaction at their departure. The desperate suggestions that have followed any criticism show how impractical and expensive the proposal is.

J Binsley, Parnell

It's good to see Bunnings doing something to dent NZ's building materials duopoly with their flat-pack homes. You'd expect the Commerce Commission to be concerned that our building materials are 30 per cent more expensive than Australia, but nah. Combine that with astronomical council building fees and you start to see why even the Minister of Housing can't get affordable homes built, despite his political career riding on it.

Richard Irwin, Te Atatu South

Re: The Albanian pizza franchise - when will they open an outlet in Albany?

Howard Edwards, Coatesville

I haven't eaten pork for over 35 years and my body hasn't missed it one bit. Let's hope after China kills a third of its pigs, more people find it okay to take it off their menu too.

Glenn Forsyth, Taupo

Being a regular listener to talk back radio I was not surprised when the PM's achievements at the Christchurch summit were downplayed. I'm sure if John Key had achieved a similar outcome it would have been the outstanding diplomatic success of the year.

Owen Cunliffe, New Lynn

Eugenie Sage seems to have a different agenda to the Government concerning financial support to the regions. Will Shane's slush fund be the answer for Waihi?

A J Petersen, Kawerau

Countries respond in different ways to unwanted online information. Time has reported that China has just blocked Wikipedia in all languages. Would that option be open here with Facebook if its response to PM Ardern's crusade was ineffective?

Nick Nicholas, Greenlane

A working bell is a safety requirement, so why don't Lime and the powers that be ignore this? Action please!

Reynout de Court, Onehunga