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ROCKY BAY NEVER WAS OMIHA

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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Thursday, 29 January 2009

CITY OR ISLAND?

What is Waiheke? Is it an island, or is it part of Auckland City? Is it to stay island or become city? Is island life to become city life? Is it to keep the unique character defined by islanders in Essentially Waiheke, or is it to lose that for ever?

If our future is to be city, we must stay with Auckland City and accept its rule, its terms and conditions, its decisions, and its way of life as our way of life.

If our future is to be island, we must escape from the city. The ideal would be to escape to people like us. Fortunately, in Thames-Coromandel we have that ideal about the same distance from our eastern coast as Queen Street's glass and steel canyon is from our western.

The word peninsula means almost an island; Thames-Coromandel's mayor, Philippa Barriball describes the peninsula as 'one huge big Waiheke Island'; and Coromandel-Colville Councillor John Morrissey describes islanders as 'the closest kin we've got.'

They are our kind of people; like us they fiercely defend their unique, non-city way of life; like us they have a village-rural character and charm. We belong with them, not with the city. Especially a Supercilious City.

NOT ORCLAND

This is Waiheke Island. It is an island in the Hauraki Gulf. It is a Hauraki Gulf Island. It is not an Auckland Island, it is not an Auckland City Island, it is not an Auckland City Suburb Island. It is in name, in geography, and in ecology a place apart, a place that rightfully belongs with the other places of the same kind.

Waiheke is immersed in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, which is dominated by three elements: the broad waters of the Gulf, the Coromandel Peninsula and the Gulf Islands. The peninsula and the islands are the only elements immersed in the park; together they have the bulk of the land area and the coastline.

Waiheke is not inextricably linked to Auckland. There are transport links, as there are with everywhere else in New Zealand; there are economic links, as there are with all the rest of New Zealand, for which Auckland is the economic engine; there are personal links, as there are with all the rest of New Zealand. But none of those define our true existence. We are islanders not Aucklanders.

If Auckland city, even the entire Auckland region, were to vanish off the face of the earth, Waiheke would remain. It would go through a time of hardship as it adjusted, but it would survive. But if the Hauraki Gulf were to vanish it would vanish. It is the Hauraki Gulf that we are inextricably linked to in the true sense of that term. We cannot escape from the Gulf; we can escape from Auckland.

If you live next door to the Smiths that does not mean you must think of yourself as part of the Smith family and change your name to Smith. Even if you stayed on your side of the fence you would still not have to let the Smiths run your life. Living next door does not mean that you belong neck and crop to your neighbour.

Especially if your neighbour is the neighbour from hell. Then you owe it to yourself to look elsewhere for good friendship, and if you can find it to nurture it and let it nurture you.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

HAPPY OLD YEAR

Deputy Mayor David Hay has been quoted by Cr Denise Roche as saying that dealing with Waiheke's rubbish costs $710 per head. But figures prised out of Auckland City Council using the Local Government Official Information & Meetings Act (LGOIMA--pronounced ligoymuh) show him to be very slightly out.

The cost of dealing with our rubbish in the 2007/2008 financial year was $1,961,710 and dealing with our recycling cost $537,077, a total of $2,498,787. The revenue for rubbish (bags, transfer station fees, etc) was $465,053. So the net total was $2,033,744. That comes to $264.50 per head--$5 a week (or $316.54 per property if you prefer--$6 a week).

Nowhere near $710. Perhaps he was using our population figure for 1976, back when it was 2846.

The cost of rubbish/recycling the previous year was $2,104,351, so this year it cost a hefty 18.7% more. Why?

LGOIMA also shows that Auckland made a profit of $254,497 on Waiheke's wharves in 2007/2008 (an income of $1,711,165 less expenditure of $1,456,668).

LGOIMA also shows that Auckland missed out on over $3 million of government roading subsidies for Waiheke in 2007/2008. It achieved only $3,114,329 of the $6,601,822 that it should have got.