Whale survey

It is with heavy heart that I respond to the letter penned by Cameron Madgwick, CEO Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand, published in the Chronicle last month. I have just attended a talk by the Project Reef Life scientists, who are studying the reef recently discovered 11km off the coast of Patea.

This project gained national recognition at the Green Ribbon Awards last year from the Ministry of Environment, winning the Protection of our Coasts and Oceans category. The most common response to the discoveries made by the project's scientists is: "I never knew what was out there."

Mr Madgwick implied in his letter last month that there is no point in creating a sanctuary for whales in South Taranaki as there appear to be no whales out there. He would like the public to believe that we should keep providing sanctuary to the oil industry instead.


He seems to have missed the reports from his own Marine Mammal Observers, who are currently on board the Amazon Warrior, gathering data from the decks of the world's biggest seismic testing vessel. Observers have sighted 156 groups of whales and dolphins in the 10 weeks it took to get from New Caledonia to Taranaki, with an astounding 80 per cent of those sightings in Taranaki waters. That's a lot of whales.

A quick online search confirmed that over the past decade there have been dead blue whales wash up in Rahotu, Tapuae Beach (near Okurukuru) and Waitotara as well as all along the North Island's West Coast. And, although there is a strange lack of information to be found, I believe that a Cuviers beaked whale washed up dead on South Beach in Whanganui around the same time as Mr Madgwick's "What whales?" letter appeared.

While I appreciate that everyone is entitled to an opinion, I find it incredibly sad that those of us working to protect the environment struggle to secure the funding necessary to prove what is out there, while those with the resources to determine the truth seem so determined to keep that truth hidden.


Regional funding

Congratulations, Mayor Hamish, for recently suggesting that it is time the regional council really did take on a regional funding role, as it is legislatively entitled to do, in terms of assisting with truly regional assets, be they sporting, cultural or heritage in concept, instead of remaining a mystifying, ill-understood and — many would say — irrelevant piece of bureaucracy.

Horizons need only look east across the ranges to see what Hawke's Bay Regional Council achieves in this regard, greatly benefiting its community.

And shame on our two local representatives on Horizons , Patrick and Cotton, who I understand voted against this sensible change of approach. Who cares if it's a velodrome, a race track, or a genuine heritage item, as long as they represent true regional benefit?

Time to broaden our horizons, not narrow them, please.


Velodrome poll

I applaud our Whanganui District Council for their decision to survey ratepayers about rubbish collection and recycling.

I suggest that, at the same time, they survey ratepayers about roofing the velodrome. A simple yes/no answer question will suffice.


Assisted dying

FG Rose, you speak of choice, but are you not being incredibly selfish when you know full well that legalising assisted suicide/euthanasia will in fact take away many people's choices.

As seen in Belgium and The Netherlands, voluntary euthanasia very soon becomes involuntary euthanasia.

As for your word choice of what to call it, sadly, sugar coating does not change reality. It is what it is. A person wants to die, they get someone else to do the killing, hence it is assisted suicide. I wonder though, why — if people are so desperate to die, and in most cases are perfectly able to kill themselves — you people wish to bring another person into it?

I have worked with the elderly, sick and dying for the past decade and see how easily people will be coerced into "choosing" premature death. There is much bullying, abuse and negligence already for NZ's elderly, so this will be child's play for family and carers who have had enough of someone. And have you considered the implications of this bill for the mentally ill? For example depressives and anorexics etc?

I wish people, and our Government, would put more funding and time into palliative care and mental health care, as these would alleviate much more suffering were they improved. In palliative care we truly assist people to die with dignity.

Caring, not killing.