The air was filled with smoke all the way from Australia, turning the afternoon into twilight. The news is filled with accounts of catastrophic fire, evacuees, destruction. As fires still burn, our hearts break for our affected Australian neighbours.
On this side of the Tasman we reassure ourselves that it won't happen here: our climate is different, more rain, less drought, not much in the way of eucalyptus. But is there room for complacency? Auckland is home to several extensive forests including the Waitakeres. In these rainforests, it wouldn't take much to spark a fire in the thick dry undergrowth. A dominant species is manuka, towering high; even when green, the foliage is highly flammable.
Once alight, and by the time the local volunteer fire brigades arrived, a fire could be well involved, fanned by the prevailing winds.
Roads through the forests are few, narrow and winding. Access to many areas is difficult. Do we even have water bomb planes?
As summer began, fire restrictions were put in place; there had been less rainfall than average. But what does this mean exactly? The Fire and Emergency website gives general information. Auckland Council website is silent on the matter. There is little in the way of public education and communication. Local councils and Fire and Emergency services should identify those areas at higher risk to fire, and proactively advise residents on measures to prevent fires and protect properties. Fireworks, exploding on New Year's Eve in neighbourhoods surrounded by bush, should be banned from high risk areas. The time to prepare is before a fire, not after the event.
N. North, Oratia.
No to fossil fuels for fun
The New Zealand Herald of January 8 features articles on climate change driven by the Aussie bush fires. But it then features a photo on the back page of a jetski rider producing a donut-shaped ocean wake.
This is the exact type of activity — burning fossil fuel for fun — we must bring to an end not glorify. It is not enough for our media to cover climate-change issues. Our media must lead consciousness and behaviour change with their own conscious editorial change.
Rapid change will never happen otherwise.
Please, please think seriously about this.
Letters: Kiwibank, trees hypocrisy, meth economy and CO2 factor
Letters: Road safety, Mt Albert, Iran, NZ troops and 2020
Letters: Greta Thunberg, transport, Black Caps and Nuclear power
Wayne Parsonson, Kaitaia
Protect us from nukes
Many moons ago, before many of our citizens were even thought of, a small Pacific mouse made a statement that we would not permit nuclear weapons or nuclear-powered ships in her waters. This culminated in the Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control act of 1987.
An even more serious issue has arisen that threatens the entire world, one which has nothing to do with climate change. It is time for us to again speak up and tell the leaders of the US and the Middle East we do not want war and it's time they grew up.
It would be a good start if the US president would follow his country's own law and permit the Foreign Minister of Iran to address the United Nations. While talk continues, confrontation is eased.
We can also make it clear New Zealand citizens will not continue to be placed at ever-increasing risk, troops will be brought home as has been requested by the Government of Iraq and they will not return for any purpose without a specific invitation for clearly defined reasons.
All aid of any description will cease.
Rod Lyons, Muriwai.
Iran may wish to protect itself
I would ask Robert Burrow (Herald letters January 8) to examine his conscience carefully while supporting the US assassination of an Iranian military leader in Iraq. If his sources are informing him that Iran is "already capable of producing a dirty nuclear device", he clearly has more information than the IAEA and America's own intelligence service, both of which have stated categorically that Iran does not yet have such a capability.
They are surrounded by countries that have developed nuclear weapons, with US assistance and are backed by the US and they are constantly threatening to attack Iran.
It would be surprising if the Iranians did not wish to develop nuclear weapons in such a scenario, if only as a deterrent.
We would all do well to look at the history of outside interference in Iran. The Anglo Iranian Oil dispute in 1952; the MI6/CIA sponsored overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mosaddeq in 1953; the assisted installation of the brutal dictator Mohammed Reza Shah; US support for Saddam Hussein in Iraq's use of chemical weapons in the invasion of Iran.
Reneging on the nuclear deal with Iran and then imposing harsh sanctions , seem to me unjust actions and surely are not as effective as open discussion.. History will not judge the US kindly for this aggression in the Middle East.
John Bradley, Kaitaia.
Don't knock NZ cricketers
Having read too many letters from commentators and the public denigrating the recent performance of the Black Caps against Australia, I am left with one heartfelt wish: that the critics make a belated New Year's resolution to stop being such misery-guts.
The NZ test scores did not make for pretty reading, but there are reasons for this: the Black Caps were playing against Australia, by far the best team in the world on their home territory where they are notoriously difficult to beat; our small pool of players suffered significant injuries; and they had too little preparation time. A major factor too often overlooked is the relative populations of the world's leading cricket nations. For the record, they are: India 1.339 billion, Pakistan 197 million, England 66.4m, South Africa 56.72m, Australia 24.6m — and New Zealand 4.794 million.
I have been a lifelong cricket fan who arrived from the UK in 1966. Over more than 50 years, I have watched New Zealand grow from middling to excellent. They frequently perform with distinction against the world's best. A curiosity is that many critics have been the first to cheer when we do well.
But when the Black Caps go through a bad patch, they put the boot in. Their critics would do well to see the overall picture before writing so negatively. Go the Black Caps!
John Hall, Hauraki.
Consequences from war
Climate change hysteria will always be a concern to humanity. But it doesn't come close to the madness that world leaders have forced on people.
The American/Iranian threat is very real. If there is war between these two narcissist powers, there certainly will be global consequences. Be thankful you live in New Zealand.
Mark Lewis-Wilson, Mangonui.
Road works cause hassles
Auckland is a city of orange cones. All over Auckland, kerbs are being replaced, parts of footpaths torn up, humps being installed in suburban roads, all apart from the big items.
In a local area, part of a street in a shopping centre was closed for five weeks at night and, during the day, orange cones were on the street, restricting parking. In this road, the kerbs were replaced and we couldn't see what was wrong with the existing ones.
Auckland Transport must have a small army going into Auckland deciding on what needs to be done.
Who decides what happens and what is the process?
June Krebs, Sunnyhills.
Decade begins or not
Do those people who contend that the decade of the 20s won't begin until 2021 believe that a baby doesn't exist until it turns 1?
P. Belsham, Mt Albert .
Protecting 'a haven'
The "rhetoric" of "illegal occupiers" on Ōwairaka/Mt Albert referred to by Dianna Roberts LTE (January 8) is simply about protecting a beautiful inner city haven. There are countless kererū, tūī, ruru, kotare and other native birds living on the maunga.
Many of the "pest" trees such as cherry and banksia are favourites of tūī when the natives are not flowering, and recently we filmed a kākā feeding on willow wood. After quoting the 183 "pest" trees, the balance of the trees are stated as "mainly eucalypts".
This is misleading, failing to mention exotic trees that will come down in the "single phase" removal — a euphemism for clear felling — of all non-native trees including: London plane tree, scarlet oak, Holm oak, English oak, silky oak , ash, claret ash, Japanese cypress and two Monterey cypress/macrocarpa.
As for the success of seedling plantings — on Mt Wellington, Pigeon Mountain and Māngere Mountain — black plastic pots are strewn overgrown with weeds — bearing testament to an expensive failure. Although these planting areas seem to have been weed sprayed, the kikuyu is coming back.
Although Forest & Bird and the Tree Council have put their names behind this felling and "restoration", their support has been controversial and progress has been halted on Ōwairaka pending a judicial review.
John Clark, Glen Eden.
Short & sweet
Labour told us, prior to the election, that house prices were increasing far too fast, and they would do something about this yet it seems that so far they have achieved nothing and could be called as successful as their KiwiBuild programme!
Mike Baker, Tauranga.
There is an ominous similarity between Neville Chamberlain's words "peace in our time" and President Trump's words "all is well".
Peter Culpan, Te Atatu Peninsula.
Any half-drunk person reading your daily driving reports will be stone cold sober from the huge impacts described on our lives from poor driving. How much public impact must be brought to bear before all driving cellphone users lose them and their licences the same day?
Brian Longhurst, Pukekohe.
In response to Tony Elvey (Herald, January 8) the number of pest and weed trees for removal from Mt Albert was supplied to me last month and consisted of seven species, not seven trees.
The list of individual trees in those species totals 183. I'm surprised that eucalyptus don't come into that category given the devastation they've caused in Australia.
Dianna Roberts, Mt Albert.
President Trump uses Twitter. What he states is relayed directly to the American public and not distorted by the media.
John Cooper, Stanley Point.