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A Waiheke Island Myth Part 1 On Waiheke Island, New Zealand, a myth has grown up among a handful of people in the Rocky Bay Village th...

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Monday, 17 September 2007


One of the subjects I took at university was logic. In logic you very soon learn a new word: iff, which means 'if, if and only if.' And you get dinned into you, with broad Lancashire accent if you had my logic lecturer the basis of all logic: 'If, if and only if your premise is true and your reasoning is true will your conclusion be true. In other words, iff the start is true and the middle is true the end will be true.

If that simple formula were used in all public decision-making, money would never be wasted. But all too often the premise is false, or the reasoning is false, or both, which means the conclusion cannot possibly be true. Thus money is flung down the toilet.

There is a small, but very visible, example outside Video Ezy. Small as in many thousands of dollars wasted, rather than millions. But many a little makes a lot and there are only a thousand thousands in a million.

The bus shelter there used to be as close to perfection as you could hope to get on this earth. It was one of those glass-walled ones, it gave 360-degree views of the village, the beach, the approaching buses--everything. It protected waiting passengers from the weather. It was a very pleasant place to sit. We had a German exchange-student on the island for a year who used to sit there by the hour, enjoying the island and its people.

But someone on the Community Board had the irrelevant idea that the buses should go past the front entrance to Artworks in Ocean View Road rather than the back in Korora Road, so that visitors would not have to walk as far to the Information Centre. And she tried to add justification to her premise by saying that buses stopping outside Video Ezy were blocking Waikare Road. She saw two minutes once an hour of minor inconvenience, sometimes (when cars were using the bus-stop) as a major problem. So she fought to have the bus routes changed.

That would also mean that instead of coming round through Waikare Road, and giving everyone that breathtaking view along our northern coast as they rounded the Korora Road-Waikare Road corner, they would come along Ocean View Road and have no view.

Her premise was false, firstly because visitors were not greatly inconvenienced by coming into Artworks from Korora Road. They had to walk an extra 70 metres, but they were also exposed to the front entrance of the Art Gallery and Whittakers rather than missing them altogether, so the imaginary negative was a double positive. Secondly, buses always hold up traffic in narrow roads. Doing it in a side street is better than in a main thoroughfare.

Then her premise became even more false, because only one bus-route was changed. Only the Onetangi buses were directed along Ocean View Road past the front door of the Information Centre. The other one stayed on the Korora Road-Waikare Road segment.

But that meant two bus stops were needed at the top of Oneroa. So a new one was built at the cost of thousands of dollars in front of the Lazy Lounge for the Onetangi bus (Route 1). Then, because of the nonsense about blocking the road outside Video Ezy, the wonderful bus shelter that had been there for years was taken away. More wasteful expenditure. That bus stop was moved up the road to be above the fish-and-chip shop. But there was no room there for a shelter, so the bus stop was only a post and a dotted yellow line.

But no one used the post. They wanted a shelter. So they walked down to the one opposite the Red Cross.

Tourists were bamboozled by the double bus-stop nonsense. Before all that happened they had gathered outside Video Ezy and when the two buses came along they would ask the drivers which was the best place to go--Onetangi or Rocky Bay. But with two bus stops, one a barely noticeable post, they were at a loss to know where to go.

So the post was removed and at great expense a new bus shelter was built outside Video Ezy: an expensive wrought-iron and hardwood balustrade, a hardwood platform, and a wooden-walled shelter. A very strange shelter with two sides. One side faced the beach, which made you invisible to the bus-drivers, the other faced the buses--and looked straight into the teeth of the prevailing winds, so it was no shelter at all.

A false premise, false reasoning from it, and we ended up half way back to where we started but the half solution was nowhere near as good as what we had started with.

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The saga of wasted money did not stop there. A member of the Board was told that visitors were bamboozled by the two bus-stop stupidity, so she had signs made for them so that visitors would know where they were going. She had signs put on other bus-stops as well (with arrows pointing in the direction of the traffic--as if no one can see that!). More money down the toilet. She failed to see that tourists would get from her signs only half the information they want, because signs cannot tell them what the drivers used to--i.e., which was the best place for them to go on the island.

Poor research, poor analysis. Result bad premises. Bad premises and bad reasoning. Result: many thousands of dollars of ratepayers' money wasted.