What is it about modernity that we must instantly leap to "pointing fingers", desperately ascribing blame?
People getting on boats and into helicopters, journeying out to an active volcano – what did anyone think was going to eventually happen?
Everyone knew what they were getting into, and onto, and that was part of the allure of the trip.
Regretfully, this "blame game" seems to have become part of our culture. Facebook juries, who are much less wise than the tour operators and volcanologists, magically now seem to have insights they didn't have yesterday. They opine about the tragedy - someone must be guilty of something. They seek "justice" where there may be no crime and, in a knee-jerk reaction, the police make rash announcements, responding to the chattering minority. Even a short while ago, the police would have been more prudent.
Such juries should have the decency to wait until the bodies have been recovered and investigations are complete before they hammer their keyboards in #VolcanoToo moments.
Mike Schmidt, Pakuranga.
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When New Zealand experiences a tragedy the entire country grieves collectively, with the Prime Minister setting the tone nationally and displaying aroha and empathy to victims and their families. We see endless displays of courage, compassion and a commendable willingness to not just light candles or lay flowers, but to reflect on what definitive steps need to be taken to prevent future calamities, whether manmade or natural.
Contrast that with the land of the free and home of the brave, where two more mass shootings barely elicit a comment, and whose leader is excessively skilled in the art of covering his posterior, because power is the only valuable commodity in the US. Inexplicably, I still love my birth country, but it doesn't taken a genius to figure out where I'd rather be.
Mary Hearn, Glendowie.
This was nothing more than a natural event, coupled with tragic timing from a tourism perspective. Surely it is a completely different thing from what occurred at Pike River and what is not needed is to employ a raft of greedy lawyers, tasked with apportioning blame. That is the American model, not ours.
A sensible approach, though, could be to investigate as to whether anyone should be on such places when warning levels are high. Common sense, I would suggest, would say no but that we should learn from it. But in this case, it was purely bad timing, tragic as the outcome was. Don't go down the blame pathway but rather, learn from it and try to ensure such results don't happen again.
Risk is always present no matter what.
Paul Beck, West Harbour.
Sorrow and gratitude
I am very sorry for the suffering of those people who are in hospital with severe burns and other injuries from the Whakaari eruption.
For those who have died - may they rest in peace.
To the hospital staff who are caring for the victims of the volcano eruption - thank you.
To those who rescued the injured and frightened tourists from the island - thank you.
Genevieve Forde, Whangaparaoa.
Emma Mackintosh (NZ Herald, December 11) penned a stimulating and thought-provoking letter that fully deserves the prominence you have given it.
The issues today are somewhat different to the horrors of 1914 and 1939 but for our planets future even more alarming. Climate change and a predicted world population of 10 billion people by 2050 are the insidious factors she writes of.
We have good and competent people across the political spectrum. Party politics, our adversarial system and a three-year election cycle are just too slow and inefficient to deal with modern-day challenges.
Is there a will for change? Could we consider a Grand Coalition?
Our young people, our future, let's think about it.
Pieter van Dongen, Ohaupo.
My property backs onto Māngere mountain, which recently had the trees decimated by the Tūpuna Maunga Authority.
This authority gets provided $29,000,000 tax/ratepayers money to look after the 14 cones within Auckland, this is a staggering $39,835 per cone per week from a city council that is now in debt to the tune of $14 billion.
They cut down trees and trimmed branches using jet helicopters which cost more than $400,000. We also had a small herd of cattle that kept the grass in check provided beauty and food for the community.
Tūpuna Maunga authority now use remote-controlled lawn mowers.
This is a financial and environmental disaster.
The madness must stop.
Dave Rennie, Māngere Bridge.
Canadian associate professor Michael J Armstrong shed some interesting light on what has happened in Canada since recreational cannabis was legalised there last year (NZ Herald, December 11) .
Some New Zealand conservative commentators have been busy painting a picture of dismay and despair ahead of next year's public referendum on legalising personal cannabis use. They should take heed of what has happened in Canada in the past 15 months.
Canadian adults admitting using cannabis has risen from just 14.9 per cent to 16.3 per cent. Legalisation has also created 9000 jobs in production and thousands more in retail, and already it's making a big dent in their illicit black market. Like our proposed legalisation model, Canada's recreational regime is heavily regulated and is delivering high safety standards for consumers.
Now that our Government has released the draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, the public can make a more informed decision at next year's General Election, and I am hopeful a clear mechanism by which we can all give feedback will be announced soon.
Canada has shown strong leadership and pragmatic public policy on recreational cannabis can deliver many improved outcomes for society. This, no less, is from a progressive country that New Zealand often seeks inspiration from.
Abe Gray, Christchurch.
Anticipating Auckland's 1,080,000 annual container requirements would be shared equally between Tauranga and Northport (540,000 each) and with the ambitious target of 70 per cent (378,000) being transported by rail from Northport being met, that leaves the balance of 162,000 containers per annum or 444 per day to be transported by road. At the rate of two containers per truck and trailer unit, that requires a total of 222 return trips per day 24/7 or 9.25 trips per hour each way on what would be about a three-hour journey. In other words, in addition to normal traffic, a further truck and trailer unit would be passing any given point along the way about every six minutes every hour of the day and night. At that rate, even a four-lane highway from Northport to Auckland would be a busy one!
My transhipping by coastal vessels suggestion using "Feedermax" (plus) sized container ships looks to be a more and more attractive alternative to road and rail. Perhaps KiwiRail might consider expanding its interisland fleet to include two or three such vessels in lieu of many more container wagons to service the Northport to Auckland route.
Lloyd McIntosh, West Harbour.
Thank your correspondent John Roughan (Weekend Herald, December 7) for stating that I was a good choice to lead the Upper North Island Freight review team that ultimately recommended shifting the freight from Auckland port to Northport and shifting freight from trucks to rail to relieve congestion in Auckland. John thinks this is outrageous. Other apparently outrageous projects I have led include bringing Transpower's 400kva line up through the Waikato to keep Auckland's lights on, building the $500m Auckland City Hospital on time and budget, restoring Vector to reliability and profit following the big CBD blackout and driving Freeview to the nation's TV screens. Millions of Aucklanders and Kiwis enjoy and rely upon these outrageous projects every day, just like they will when the Auckland port freight moves north and the trucks leave the CBD. The really outrageous thing is that it wasn't done years ago.
Wayne Brown, Mangonui.
Editor's note: Wayne Brown also wishes to make it clear that neither he or anyone on the working group committee leaked the final port report to the media
Yesterday, at about six o'clock, we took our dog for a walk on North Head from where we were delighted to see two groups of terns fishing a workup. However, we were perturbed to note that not one of the vessels that sailed close to the birds slowed down or took action to avoid them, including the Fullers Ferries.
I do know that off the French coast in Hyeres the ferries to Port Cros have strict speed limits. I think that the five-knot rule should be followed here when birds are feeding at a workup, as this also may be an indication of sea mammal presence. Both birds and mammals are precious.
Now that we are heading out for the summer, skippers please do your best to avoid birds and mammals. And please slow down.
Wendy Pettersen, Devonport.
Letters: Education, Kiwibank, White Island, port, Israel Folau and human rights
Letters: Climate, ambulances, port, electric cars, unitary plans and Pastor Woodley
Letters: NCEA, pollution, exotic trees, germs, Erebus and Virginia Guiffre
I read (NZ Herald, December 11) that the police's National Intelligence Application "system" holds details on nearly two million people with an alert against their name.
That's about half the population, aged over 14.
What does "alert" mean here? Are we a country of criminals or has big brother gone mad? Will I be added to the list for writing this? Help!
Maurice Robertson, Torbay.
Short & sweet
It is incomprehensible that the tourism industry can play Russian Roulette with the lives of their clients. Michael J Gamble, Belmont, Vic. Aus.
Israel Folau did not practise hate speech. In his mind, he is trying to save people. I don't agree with his beliefs, but I appreciate his sentiments. J Nistelrooy, Kohimarama.
I am not surprised Israel Folau was given a generous payout. In the ancient Book, which he follows, God says, "Them that honour Me, I will honour." Colin Ross, Mt Roskill.
If our politicians were paid on the basis of performance as indeed employees in all successful companies are, half of our problems, as half of our politicians, would disappear overnight. Gary Hollis, Mellons Bay.
The Earth is heating up and very ancient history tells us that it will continue to do so. Maybe we should be contemplating a future where it is normal to live underground? Pamela Russell, Orakei.
A few months ago we were informed that the Government had a $4.5 billion surplus. So why do they need to borrow more money for various projects? Clark James, New Lynn.
Ian Foster took the Chiefs to last place in Super Rugby. Dave Rennie took over and won two titles within three years. Guess who's going to have the Bledisloe Cup by the time Foster gets his re-appointment? Kent Millar, Blockhouse Bay.