I feel very sorry for those who have lost fares and deposits to the most recently failed travel agencies (NZ Herald, January 21).
I worked in the travel industry from the 60s to the 90s and I can assure you there were plenty of travel company failures, with associated customer financial losses in that time.
Most of these failures were travel companies operating outside the Travel Agents Assn of NZ (TAANZ). TAANZ has professional training, security requirements and bonding which covers customers against losses due to a travel companies' failure.
Companies operating outside TAANZ were frequently trading on ethnicity, religion or other such specialty to attract their customers. The trust in such unqualified, un-bonded agents is frequently misplaced.
Due diligence by the customer to establish the bona fide of their travel agency is critical. TAANZ membership is a very good starting point.
Bill Boyle, Orewa.
• Holiday warning as travel agencies go bust, leaving hundreds without tickets
• Kiwi couple sent to wrong country by travel agent
Prosecute and forfeit
The directors and shareholders, present and past of the travel agent alleged to have printed fraudulent travel tickets should have all their assets, including their home, seized by the Crown. The Ministry of Justice should prosecute them for printing fraudulent travel documents, as well as finding out what printing company/persons were responsible for the printing and prosecute them as well. The directors should have to repay all clients they have stolen money from, by selling their assets, such as liquid cash, cars and property after sorting out exactly how much was taken and not used for the intended travel use.
The Ministry of Justice and other ministries do not seem to want justice for the people, by taking cases like these and prosecuting them, but only if it hurts them or does not pay the appropriates taxes to them.
The penalties for these criminals should be harsh and the maximum to set example to other would-be rogue travel agents that are not TAANZ bonded.
Why not make it compulsory for all travel agents to be TAANZ-bonded members?
Warren Prouse, Papakura.
The article on the rates of gout in Pacific populations by Jamie Morton (NZ Herald, January 16) was an excellent summary of current research on the prevalence of gout in the Pacific.
The article did not mention, however, that gout is a form of arthritis and is the second most prevalent form of arthritis in New Zealand. More than 180,000 suffer from gout arthritis with a strong prevalence in Pacific and Māori men.
It is surprising the number of politicians and health professionals who do not link gout and arthritis and because of this Arthritis NZ now uses the term gout arthritis to make it clear.
Gout arthritis is a manageable condition compared with other forms of arthritis but a number of myths are prevalent. The most common is that gout arthritis is caused by food and drink. It is, in fact, caused mainly by genetics.
With proper diagnosis and low cost treatment this condition can be well managed with those people returning to live a normal life.
Arthritis NZ is working closely with MOH and other key health professionals to develop a
plan to increase those on a medicated programme by 25 per cent which will result in significant savings to the health system.
Philip Kearney, CEO Arthritis NZ.
If we increase our Defence Force funding for supporting the needy and re-prioritise some funds from military to "wellbeing", our society would become more stable.
We could address our problems of inequality of educational attainment, wealth, and disadvantages of low income. We could still have a trained military, but why not prepare our soldiers to help our own disadvantaged people in our own society?
Sure, we could let our fear of global instability due to the same issues listed above that we in our New Zealand also acknowledge. War and military solutions are old fashioned. War is an outmoded form of aggression which destroys resources, people and entire cities.
The world conflicts are already moving away from war as a solution. Political alternatives to destruction of a country by war are becoming more popular through the use of economic sanctions, embargoes and trade wars. Also, countries that refuse to sell the weapons of war now have created another tool to reduce world conflict. Balancing the budget by selling military arms is disappointing.
I am glad at last some military spending in New Zealand may be redirected to present a positive example for the world.
Caroline Mabry, Glen Eden.
I could not help wondering why the World Economic Forum was convening in the highly air-conditioned luxury of Davos in the middle of winter - to discuss amongst other things - their prime topic of climate change?
All other meetings on the topic have resulted in almost total inactivity, probably because they took place in similarly opulent locations as Davos and Paris.
Is it probable that more positive action would result from those meetings were they taking place in, say, flooded Bangladesh, the desertificated Mauritania or the burned out ruins of eastern New South Wales - where they would be subjected to the sheer horror of climate change in all its glory ?
Robert Burrow, Taupō.
Commuters before cruises
It is time for harbour management to require cruise ships to berth early in the morning or in another place (NZ Herald, January 22).
I am shocked that thousands of Auckland commuters, who rely on ferry transport, are being regularly robbed of this option.
It is a disgrace that cruise ships are allowed to bully ferries out of their schedule, resulting in people being late for jobs, training, hospital appointments, childcare arrangements and other responsibilities.
This is especially unfair for Waiheke residents, who have no alternative transport option. Surely a fairer result can be found for all concerned.
Judy Keall, Stanmore Bay.
I planned to fly to Palmerston North from Tauranga on February 6. The cost - $545 return. I was shocked, followed quickly by an overdose of horror.
I listened to a radio report this week which stated that the new CEO of Air New Zealand has been asked to look at reducing regional fares. Any chance by February 6?
Needless to say, I'll be driving.
Lyndsay Morgan, Tauranga.
I endorse Frank Olsson's comments (NZ Herald, January 21).
When a family member qualified as a secondary school teacher eight years ago there were very few positions available in his field. At that time, teachers were holding onto their jobs and there was no hope of near-future vacancies.
He took a chance and was allowed to relief-teach in Australia, then was granted a full registration. He has not returned because suitable positions are still rarely available – most likely for the same reason as stated above.
Prior to taking up teaching this person completed a doctorate as well as the necessary degrees at Auckland University. His student loan being then approximately $50,000.
If he could find work in NZ, he would not be charged interest.
Because he is working overseas his interest rate is 4 per cent (higher than an average housing mortgage lending rate).
He pays the requested amount each year, but because of the interest charged, cannot make any significant headway to reducing the loan.
Not all student loan people working overseas earn massive salaries. It is more about being in a country where you can be fully employed.
The Inland Revenue need to look at these circumstances and re-balance the scales.
If he were not being charged interest, there would be more likely an opportunity to return to NZ and contribute to the workforce here.
Doreen Smith, Milford.
In response to Frank Olsson claiming it is unfair New Zealand students are penalised with penalty interest on their loans while having an OE (NZ Herald, January 21), isn't it a little naive to think you can just ignore your debt and responsibility for as long as you like? Students agree to the terms when taking out the loan; those here repay once working.
Try ignoring your mortgage or GST repayments because you're overseas "gaining experience" but "not earning a lot". Good luck with that.
Fiona McAllister, Mount Maunganui.
I can't really understand the reasoning behind the arguments proffered by Shane Ellison, CEO of Auckland Transport (NZ Herald, January 21).
An editorial in the New Zealand Herald recently summed up succinctly all the reasons against the proliferation of e-scooters in Auckland pavements. They are not a serious means of transport. They are a scourge and a hazard to pedestrians.
Auckland Transport has wasted more than $4 million of the taxpayers' money because of injuries and the ACC compensation is still climbing. Auckland Councillors, please listen to the public. Don't act as if you were a junta of dictators.
Manh Bui-Van, Manukau.
Letters: Teacher shortage, e-scooters, tsunami alert, fossil fuels and Cape Kidnappers
Letters: E-scooters, tsunami alerts, Taiwan, student loans, the Leys Institute and Hayden Marshall Inman
Hop on scooters
I have an AT Hop card for use on the trains, buses and ferries.
I thought it would be a good idea if the IT specialists could also make the Hop card as the default and only payment system for all the new e-scooters, Onzo bikes and casual car hires proliferating.
This would then truly give us an integrated transport options.
Channelling the payments through the Auckland Council system to the private operators would allow the council to collect a fair licensing and handling fee. Payments as now are paid into foreign bank accounts overseas and many of us are concerned that fair and proper NZ taxes are paid as well as ACC levies, and this would allay our concerns.
Paul Taylor, Burswood.
Short & sweet
The genocide exemplified by the horrors of Auschwitz and other death camps, resulted from appalling anti-Semitism in Europe. Let us not forget the Palestinians, the victims of the victims of this ghastly ideology. Janfrie Wakim, Epsom.
With the near death of a toddler in the Hawke's Bay last week, it is time to get in behind Simon Bridges. Des Trigg, Rothesay Bay.
Please join the dots. Recent headlines include "housing shortage" and "water shortage". Both of these can be replaced with "people surplus". John McConnell, Silverdale.
We now have a new religion of bigotry: Those who call others climate deniers and boomers. Dan Sradwick, Mt Eden.
Could we be informed what e-scooter licensing fees will flow into the country's local body coffers when they are populating our pavements as against the costs which ACC anticipate on an annualised basis? P D Patten, Albany.
So true J E Preston. If the world had more people in it like Hayden Marshall-Inman's dad, we would all be so much better off. Maureen Coombes Pukekohe.
Hand in hand, always when out in public, Harry and Meghan, symbolising "us against the world". One can only wonder who has the upper hand. Rosemary Cobb, Takapuna.