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Tuesday, 23 September 2008

AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH

Some islanders say that Thames is too far away--i.e., they trot out the inconvenience objection to being administered by the Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC).

But Great Barrier is much further from Auckland, which no one makes a fuss about. And how often does anyone want to go to a council meeting anyway? Most of our council matters are dealt with over the phone, over the Internet, over the counter at our Service Centre in Ostend, or in the public forum at Waiheke Community Board meetings.

That 'inconvenience' is also exaggerated., partly because the timing of Thames-Coromandel's council meetings is a lot friendlier to islanders than Auckland's. In Thames the meetings start at 9:00am and go through the day, which is a much better fit to our ferry schedules than Auckland's meetings. Theirs start at 6:00pm, and although under their standing orders they are not meant to finish later than 10:30 they sometimes do.

So if you were coming from Great Barrier you would have to stay in the Auckland overnight because Great Barrier's airport cannot function at night. If you were coming from Waiheke and using only public transport you would have to catch the 4:00pm bus, and the 4:45pm boat, which arrives in the city at about 5:20. If the meeting went till 10:30pm you would catch the 11:45pm boat back, you would arrive back on the island at 12:30am and get home about 1:15am. The journey would consume up to nine hours at night.

If you were travelling to Thames, you would catch the 6:00am bus, the 6:40am boat, then the Intercity bus that arrives in Thames at 9:15. A bus leaves Thames for Auckland at 3:00pm, so you would arrive in time to catch the 5:30pm boat and link to the 6:05 bus on Waiheke, which would get you home at about 6:40pm. That journey would consume up to twelve and a half hours during the day.

If you were driving yourself to Thames the journey would be shorter, because the Auckland to Thames trip is only 1 hour 20 minutes, so if your item was early on the agenda you would be home in the early afternoon. You would consume about eight hours during the day.

But with Auckland you would be going to a council that doesn't like us, doesn't care about us, doesn't understand us, doesn't listen to us, treats us like a city suburb and is therefore wrecking our village-rural communities.

With Thames you would be talking with people of like mind--they live on a peninsula of village-rural communities; people who believe in real consultation; and people who are passionate about grounding their decisions on democratic local decision-making and the four well-beings in the Local Government Act 2002--'the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities.'

Against all that, making a fuss about an occasional extra few hours of inconvenience misses the point--getting much better local government. The important thing is the quality of our day-to-day administration not the convenience of occasional transportation.

And we would not always have to go to the council. It would, as it sometimes does for communities on the peninsula, come to us--the whole council--to listen, to consult, to make a decision that will promote our four well-beings. As the mayor, Philippa Barriball says: 'We like to go out and tap people on the shoulder.'

So with Thames you might spend an extra three and half hours oif you ever wanted to a council meeting, but when you got there you would get a much better standard of local government, and be treated as one of them, with friendly courtesy and understanding. You would not be treated as another nuisance from those pestiferous islands. A little inconvenience occasionally for a few people is a trivial price to pay for good local government--a very small coin for an immeasurable reward.

Going east to Thames is well worth some inconvenience. Going west to Auckland is not.

SPEED-LIMIT EMAIL TO JUDITH TIZARD

Copy of an email sent to Judith Tizard on the 23rd of September 2008, as she had requested on the 21st at a public meeting on Waiheke:

LOWERING THE SPEED-LIMIT ON THE ONETANGI STRAIGHT & ELSEWHERE TO 50KPH

Below, between the dotted lines, are the resolutions passed by the Waiheke Community Board on the 25th of June 2008 and the 27th of August 2008.

I made personal representations to what is now the Transport Agency, but the man who administers that area, John Jansen, is to Sir Humphrey what a nuclear waste-dump is to a wheelie-bin. All he can talk about is The Rule. The well-being of the Waiheke Community, safety, human life are nothing to him. The Rule must be applied; The Rule must be applied in the same way everywhere in New Zealand, so that when people come to the island they will find the same conditions applying here as everywhere else.

.........

WEDNESDAY 25 JUNE 2008 - MINUTES WAIHEKE COMMUNITY BOARD

4.3. ROAD SAFETY ISSUES ­ DR REBECCA POTTS Dr Rebecca Potts was in attendance to address the Board regarding road safety issues on the island and the posted speed limit on Onetangi straight.

A. That Dr Rebecca Potts be thanked for her presentation to the Waiheke Community Board regarding road safety issues on the island and the posted speed limit on Onetangi straight.

B. That the Waiheke Community Board advocates directly with Land Transport New Zealand to reduce the speed limit from 80km/hr to 60km/hr on Onetangi straight.

Board member Evans moved the following amendment by way of replacement:

B. That the Waiheke Community Board advocates directly with Land Transport New Zealand to reduce the speed limit from 80km/hr to 50km/hr on Onetangi straight.

A division was called for, voting on which was as follows:

For the Amendment: Mr Nobilangelo Ceramalus Mr Ray Ericson Ms Eileen Evans Mr Herb Romaniuk Cr Denise Roche Against the Amendment: Mr Tony Sears

The amendment was declared CARRIED by 5 votes to 1. The amendment became the substantive motion. The Chairman moved the following substantive motion:

A. That Dr Rebecca Potts be thanked for her presentation to the Waiheke Community Board regarding road safety issues on the island and the posted speed limit on Onetangi straight.

B. That the Waiheke Community Board advocates directly with Land Transport New Zealand to reduce the speed limit from 80km/hr to 50km/hr on Onetangi straight. CARRIED

WEDNESDAY 27 AUGUST 2008 - 9 MINUTES WAIHEKE COMMUNITY BOARD

11. NOTICE OF MOTION ­ TRAFFIC SURVEY FOR REDUCING SPEED LIMITS Moved: Ceramalus/Roche That the relevant council officer be asked to complete traffic surveys for the New Zealand Transport Agency for the Onetangi Straight and the lower part of O'Brien Road, and to make his estimates so generous and forward-thinking that the number of points then generated by the speed limit rules will force the limits to be changed down to 50kph, and that the survey be completed and in the hands of the Agency by 19 September 2008.

Councillor Roche moved the following amendments by way of replacement: Moved: Roche/Romaniuk

A. That the Waiheke Community Board requests the Transport Committee to actively seek a 50kph speed limit for the western part of Waiheke Island from Piemelon Bay west to Matiatia, due to widespread community support and the ambience of the island.

B. That the Waiheke Community Board requests that the Transport Committee note that the Board is willing to fund the necessary officers report from its SLIPs budget, and will prepare evidence from the community to support our request for a lowered speed limit on the island.

C. That these resolutions be forwarded to the appropriate central government minister in view of the legal intransigence of the New Zealand Transport Agency in recognising community concerns. CARRIED

.............

There was of course no guarantee that doing generous estimates in order to promote community
well-being in the present and for the future would be enough to satisfy The Rule, and Auckland City Council has not shown itself over-anxious to serve our community in this. It is not an entity that can be described as Waiheke-friendly.

We are therefore left with the highly unsatisfactory state of affairs (as no doubt are many
communities in New Zealand) where we cannot apply common sense, local knowledge and concern for public well-being to the situation and lower the limit on that or any stretch of road.

Communities should be allowed to set speed-limits first and foremost according to section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002--'democratic local decision-making and action, by and on behalf of communities, and to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future'--not forced into an arbitrary number by a cookie-cutter Rule.

How silly it is is underlined by the fact that on the stretch of road between Ostend and Onetangi there is a change from 50kph to 80kph just below Shepherd's point at the Ostend end, followed about 10 metres later by a 45kph advisory because of a dangerous bend ahead, followed by a short downhill straight, then another 45kph advisory, another bend, with an intersection off it, then another 45kph advisory and a third bend. Then comes the 'Straight' proper, which ends in a tight left-hander coming into the outskirts of the Onetangi village.

It is a busy stretch of road by island standards, being the main route from the western end of the island to Onetangi and points east. It is narrow, the sign halfway along says it is slippery when wet, its condition is not good (Auckland City Council's mis-management has lost the islands $8.5 million of NZTA subsidy over the last five years: the average subsidy has been 17.8%, nowhere near the 43% available). It includes a pony club, a golf-course, numerous vineyards that attract many visitors, a museum, a plant-nursery, a cemetery, and a hotel about to be constructed, etc., as well as residences with single or group driveways. It is also a bus-route. It is obvious that the limit should be lower.

But just because the density of driveways does not satisfy an overly rigid Rule we must put up with a dangerous mix of speeding cars, children and adults on horses, visitors unfamiliar with the island looking for destinations, buses stopping at various points, people coming out of partly-concealed driveways, etc. There have been accidents and near misses; we want to do our best to ensure that the cemetery does not receive more occupants than it should. There was an accident not so long ago in which a car with a drunken driver had an 'argument' with a horse and rider. The result was that the car, the horse and the rider went off in three directions; the horse is now skittish and useless on roads.

It is once again a case of Waiheke knowing more about Waiheke than some overseas' bureaucrat.

We would be very grateful if you would expedite this for us. Life is short and humans are fragile.

--

Regards,
Nobilangelo Ceramalus*.
Member of the Waiheke Community Board.

(*pronounced noble-arn-jillo kerra-marliss)

PS. Little-known factoid: Britain used to send its convicts to Australia. Now New Zealand sends its rebels to Waiheke.

Monday, 8 September 2008

WHOOPS--GOOFED!

I find to my dismay that I made a serious mistake in my formative years. Because my Dad and Mum spoke it, because everyone I knew spoke it, and because my teachers taught it, I assumed that the language I should learn was English. So I concentrated on learning it, and got good marks from early on. I even received the headmaster's stamp on my hand in Primer 4 for writing, which proves that by then I could at least hold a pencil.

But I was wrong. I should never have bothered with English. I should have learnt the language favoured by Auckland City Council: Obfuscation. It sounds something like English, superficially. It looks something like English, superficially. But it is impossible for ordinary schmucks like me to understand it, because it is not really a language at all. It is actually like the baseball bat in the hands of the thug who beats you about the head in order to persuade you to hand over your valuables. Like the blows rained on your scone by that bat it exists to persuade you not to argue with his opinion of his magnificent superiority. It is grievous bodily harm of the verbal kind.

But, sadly, because I no longer have the sponge-like brain of an infant, I cannot learn a new language. So I am condemned to being perpetually mystified by the labyrinthine deliberations of The Machine. Day in day out I must endure being thrombobulated, discrenellated and widgemumpfrillated by Obfuscation.

But I am an optimist. I shall persevere with English, in the faint hope that The Infernal Machine might learn to speak it some day before I pass on to glory, or before the Last Trump sounds, whichever comes first.

ETHICS AND SAFE SPEED-LIMITS

A certain publication on the island, which does not adhere to the principles set down by the New Zealand Press Council, and therefore cannot be called either ethical or even a newspaper*, has brayed again--this time against trying to make Onetangi Straight safer by lowering the speed-limit to 50kph.

The brayers opine that it is 'unethical' to make generous, forward-looking estimates of traffic volumes to satisfy a rigidly instransigent bureaucratic rule--and they dragged in ex-council bods of the conveniently unnamed kind (invented for the story?) to add their hee-haws. Council bods are of course thick on the ground with forward-blind nonsense that can never benefit the community, such as the unworkable wheelie-bins stupidity, or the millions showered on consultants to tell the bods what they don't know (such as to shift bus-stop signs to the wrong end of the stops), or to tell the bods what the bods told them to say so that the bods can get their boddish way--such as that confidential rubbish report from Queensland.

The well-being of the community is obviously nothing beside the brayers' insatiable lust for
personal attack using whatever false-hearted bodge they can fling together. They cunningly contrive to make human life and health look irrelevant beside a pettifogging rule or a malignant journalistic beat-up.

A generous, forward-looking estimate is called planning ahead. And prudence. And, ye bods and brayers, rules should be made for people. People are not made for rules.

Sadly, no rule can stop elderly drunks from turning themselves into potential killers on our roads.

[* Wicked & Weak, aka Slag Rag]

Monday, 1 September 2008

USEFUL ADDITIONS TO ENGLISH?

A series of new words has just beamed down to Planet Earth from some outlandish alien rock:

McQuillan [noun] A hyper-bureaucratic statement, characterised by a stream of words lacking substance, truth, logic and integrity, and which achieve by cunning evasion precisely nothing.

McQuillanism [noun] A short segment of a McQuillan, often given as a command [for example: 'Get innovative and creative with your wheelie-bins']

McQuillanning [verb] To utter a McQuillan, a McQuillanism, or a disconnected series of the latter.

McQuillanist [noun] An organism (usually not human) much given to McQuillans.

McQuillanish [adjective] Organisms or actions that never have any contact with any known form of reality.

McQuillanesque [adjective] A particularly grotesque or amusing McQuillan (allied to burlesque).

McQuillanned [noun pp] The zombie-like state into which a series of McQuillans plunges normal human-beings. Only curable by a good laugh and a holiday on Waiheke Island.