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Friday, 19 November 2010

BIG BUSINESS NOT THE COMMUNITY

Jim Hannan said that the majority on the Waiheke Local Board installed Jo Holmes as Deputy Chair because she is a businesswoman.

And when she was sworn in, she swore, as everyone elected to a local-government position must, to act in the best interests of the Waiheke Community. But the heavy-duty item in her business record belies her promise.

Several years ago she founded a newspaper on the island, Waiheke Marketplace, which did well, deservedly, and went from being just a wrapper round a lot of real-estate advertising to being a community newspaper worthy of the name.

But then, for private gain, she sold it to big business, to a multinational, to the Fairfax empire, an outfit alien to a village-rural community and alien to Waiheke. The paper is now just another of Fairfax's vast empire of suburban newspapers.

That was certainly not a deal that was in the best interests of the Waiheke Community.

It is just as well that we also have a real community newspaper: Gulf News. It is owned and run by an islander for islanders, its roots are deep in the island's bedrock, and it is deep in the hearts of all Waihekeans worthy of the name.

'Marketplace' turns out to have been the right name, and harbinger of its ultimate fate; for its fundamental concern was the eye-for-the-main-chance market not the caring community.