Mum's visa ordeal hard to witness

I had to fly 10,000km to meet with my mother in Thailand during Chinese New Year. It was supposed to be a happy reunion, but I don't recall how many times I cried when I saw my mother's bruised hands. Six months ago my mother was in the process of renewing her visitor visa under the family category so she can spend a few months with her son each year.

What we initially thought to be routine process turn into a never ending nightmare. She was questioned regarding her chronic hepatitis B issue despite the specialist report confirming she doesn't require any treatment. Eventually she was denied a visitor visa.

In last few months I have exhausted all my resources writing letters to the Minster of Immigration's office, even the Prime Minister's office. But not one takes an interest or gets a medical assessor to review her files again.

In the last few months my mother has gone back and forth between hospitals so many times, each time she has to provide a blood sample for further testing, and the result is consistently the same. When I met her at the airport last week, she hid her bruised hands from me but when I saw her hands I couldn't help thinking I have failed my mother as her only son.


I am back to New Zealand, but each night is sleepless. I am hoping someone will take an interest in my story, and hopefully get these Government officials to pay attention to their fellow citizen.

Chen Wang, Mt Eden.

Auckland's plan

Justice was denied property owners when the Government did not tell the people they were not in agreement over the extent of land to be intensified under the Auckland Unitary Plan. Landowners trusted that what was notified was the blueprint for the future.

The Government made a general submission but without informing the people of their vastly expanded intentions at the time of notification at least, so affected persons were aware of the need to submit to have a voice over it later. The Government had a duty to inform the public in my opinion and I do not believe the left hand did not know what the right hand was doing. I consider the authorities have abused the public and the process and stolen the future face of Auckland by failing to inform the people in a timely manner.

In my opinion the authorities' lack of proper timely disclosure was contrary to natural justice and the plan extension must be reheard. This is not a minor matter, 400,000 additional homes will have a huge impact on the look and functioning of the city.

Victoria Lowe, Howick.

Death knell

The High Court's "green light" decision allowing Auckland's Unitary Plan to go ahead and re-zone residential properties into more intensive housing zones signals the death knell for thousands of Auckland's heritage villas and bungalows. This was not an appeal case against intensification, but against the loss of home-owners' rights to appeal.

The justification that this "green light" will provide 400,000 new houses to solve Auckland's housing crisis is a fiction. We are already seeing wealthy people buy up old houses and demolish them in order to build bigger houses that are not in character and that solve nothing of the housing crisis.

These are not affordable houses for first-time buyers, yet neither the Government, the Auckland Council or Auckland developers are prepared to admit that the only way to achieve genuinely affordable housing is by fully funded state housing.

Building truly affordable houses would require developers to cut their profit margins, the likelihood of which is nil. It's time the truth of this was acknowledged before more fairy stories about solving the housing crisis by philanthropic developers keep preventing the development of real solutions.

M. Carol Scott, Birkenhead.

A note of thanks

As Director General of Conservation, I am humbled by the huge volunteer response to the recent whale stranding at Farewell Spit. I was impressed by the large numbers of volunteers who came from all walks of life in DoC's time of need to help with the attempted whale rescue.

I want to say "thank you" to our whale rescue partners, Whale Rescue and Project Jonah. Daren Grover's team did an outstanding job of co-ordinating the help that enabled DoC to focus on dealing with rapidly changing scenarios as events unfolded. I want to acknowledge our Treaty partners, Manawhenua ki Mohua, who worked alongside us in making rational decisions and provide cultural comfort in the face of so much emotion.

There were several commercial enterprises who contributed to the success of the effort. Farewell Spit Tours, for their transport, Fulton Hogan for their traffic management. Golden Bay Air and Adventure Air helped and Air New Zealand offered assistance. Even Interislander offered free passage across Cook Strait to those coming from the North Island specifically for the stranding.

New Zealanders' love of nature was on show and my gratitude, on behalf of my staff, goes out to all who volunteered in DoC's time of need. Conservation is at the heart of people's values.

Lou Sanson, Director General of Conservation.

Gauche moment

A cringeworthy moment shown on TV news. US President Trump, hosting Japanese Prime Minister Abe, exits his Florida home with his wife, while Abe and Abe's wife walked behind. A brief photo shoot, Trump doesn't look at Abe, then turns his back on Abe and re-enters his home with his wife, leaving Abe and his wife to follow.

Then there was the prolonged handshake by Trump, failure to look him in the eyes as a sign of respect, and an extremely uncomfortable look on Abe's face at the end. Trump obviously has no knowledge of Asian etiquette. Embarrassing.

L. Crawford, Albany.

Controlling the climate

Rachel Stewart implies the world should reduce emissions immediately and this will minimise the variability in climate. This is patently nonsense with no scientific basis.

We agree that the dairy industry might do more towards preserving water quality but this has nothing to do with global warming or climate change. Further reducing emissions will have an imperceptibly small effect on temperature or climate, while costing trillions of dollars. The standard of living worldwide would be reduced significantly, with most of the effects felt by those already in poverty.

When will the general public understand the "control knob" for climate is not carbon dioxide, at only 0.04 per cent of the atmosphere. Water vapour at 1-3 per cent of the atmosphere is the main greenhouse gas, 25 to 70 times the concentration of CO2.

Dr Jock Allison, Dunedin.

Housing politics

Why don't we name what's happening with housing. It's not about houses, it's about votes. Wealthier people tend to vote National.

Almost half of all properties are bought as investments. Those investors do not want people to be able to afford to buy their own homes. They want renters. That is the driving force behind National's decisions on housing. They have no incentive to make houses affordable, nor any incentive to set up regulations to prevent rents from going sky high.

That's why virtually nothing has been done to reduce the profitability of owning a rental property or to make it easy for people to buy their first home. People who want that to happen tend not to be National voters.

This government gives nearly $1.5 billion dollars a year to landlords. It's called the Accommodation Supplement and it passes through the tenant's pocket straight into the pocket of the landlord. To compare, expenditure on the DPB in 2012/13 was $1.7b. This Government supports well off landlords to almost the same level as it does struggling sole parents.

There are about 40,000 empty houses in Auckland. It's not about supply. It's about going all out to please your voters.

Susan Grimsdell, Auckland Central.

Breasts please

What I want to get off my chest so to speak is comments made by Newstalk ZB morning host Rachel Smalley regarding the trend in America this year for women to surgically acquire smaller nipples, or breast enhancement as it's more properly called. It's not Rachel's comments per se that concern me, it's her use, and the use by many others, of the word "boob".

Breasts are not boobs. Boobs are embarrassing mistakes or blunders and breasts are neither mistakes nor blunders, rather their design is both thoughtful and practical. Nor are they boobies. Boobies are tropical marine birds related to the gannet.

Brian Turner, New Plymouth.