Featured post


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...

Friday, 19 November 2010


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.


The movie version of the swearing-in meeting on the 6th of November is now in pre-production.

It is to be called Saturday Afternoon in Dodgy City.


Thursday, 11 November 2010


So now we have our first Supersilly Board.

And what a fun show it was! The in-crowd was sworn in to much swearing from the memorable crowd that crowded in to the Memorial Hall. And crowded round the much-applauded. And crowded out the doors to the much-less-applauded.

So now, as that old cartoon show used to say at the end of each programme: 'Listen next week for the next exciting episode of Felix the Cat.' On the island famous for being full of cats who refuse to be herded. Because they want to be heard.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


In letters to Waiheke Marketplace (whose editor has unfortunately decided to be strongly partisan towards her former boss) Faye Storer, Jo Holmes, Don McKenzie and Jim Hannan attempted to justify appointing Faye as chair of the Waiheke Local Board rather than Denise Roche, whose 2239 votes were far ahead of Faye's 1849. Their spin ignores the facts and the law, and therefore abdicates their duty to the community.

In Faye's letter she claimed that the 4:1 vote to install her as chair was 'democracy.' Bunkum! 'Democracy' comes from 'demos', which means 'people'. A 4:1 vote is not the voice of the people, it is just a majority amongst five individuals.

The democratic point is heavily underlined in law by section 14 of the Local
Government Act 2002 (LGA2002), which lays down the principles by which local government must be conducted. Section 14 opens with: '(1) In performing its
role, a local authority must act in accordance with the following principles: (a) a local authority should--(i) conduct its business in an open, transparent, and democratically accountable manner;' and '(b) a local authority should make itself aware of, and should have regard to, the views
of all of its communities.'

'Open, transparent and democratically accountable' means accountable to the
community--and nothing else. It does not mean 'accountable' to the mutual back-slapping of a cabal. It means true democracy, the democracy of the electorate--not just getting the numbers amongst those elected then sticking on a 'democracy' label to make it look kosher.

Board members are not there to express their opinions, especially partisan ones. They are there to represent the community, to re-present its will within the context of democratic statute. If they fail to uphold 'democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, the community'--underline 'the community' in red--they can be haled into court under the LGA2002 and fined up to $5000.

Decisions on the Board should be made according to the community and democratic statute, not dogmatic, self-serving opinion driven by a lust for power. 'Robust' party dogma does not establish democratic facts. The will of the people does.

Jim's claim to have the support of the centre-right for the 4:1 vote by The Four, and his obvious notion that the island wants a centre-right board, is so much self-serving assertive garbage. If he researched and analysed the election result instead of thinking that he can create facts with 'robust' assertions he would see that the centre-left vote comfortably exceeds the centre-right total. By about 8%.

On top of that if you add Denise's vote to Faye's, then reckon Denise's margin of that total, it comes out at just under 10%. That is about 25% more than the margin of left over right across the whole community, which shows that the extra strength of Denise's support is personal not political.

The vote at the election was split and dispersed by a large field of candidates, which was overwhelmingly dominated by the centre-left. The centre-right cannily concentrated on a few candidates, mostly under one banner. Clever, but they cannot claim a mandate. Waiheke is a predominantly a people-place not a power-place.

The specious arguments by The Four are also contradictory. They said they voted for Faye because of her experience as a councillor and Board member, although Denise also has both. Then they voted for Jo as Deputy, who has no experience at all. Convenient arguments to try to justify the unjustifiable.

But even if Jim were right about a shift to centre-right on Waiheke it is a great pity that the left-right tribal argument has sullied the island's local government. The only party that counts is the community. Candidates, successful and unsuccessful, should be not be right-wing, left-wing, tail-feathers or beak. Just Waihekeans. Anything else is dishonest and grossly anti-community. If you love wings stay off the Board. Go to MacDonalds.

Being impartial is not only good morally, and best for the community. It is also the law, because it is the oath of office in all local-government elected positions.

The 4:1-elect do not get it. You are not elected to positions of power. You are elected to positions of representation, bounded by statute. You are there to re-present the will of the local community in accordance with the will of the national community expressed in the heart of democratic statute. That is your job. Get it! And do it.

Two candidates put themselves forward for the position of chair. One has the
confidence of 2239 people in the Waiheke community, the other has the confidence of 1845. It is glaringly obvious, under the democratic principle, who should be the chair and the deputy.

To the Gang of Four: ignore the community at your peril!

Sunday, 31 October 2010


On the 6th of November the newly-elected members of the Waiheke Local Board will be sworn in. Before the whole of the Waiheke Community they will make a promise, a morally- and legally-binding promise. Each will promise 'faithfully and impartially, and according to the best of my skill and judgement, to execute and perform, in the best interests of Waiheke, the powers, authorities, and duties vested in, or imposed upon, me member of the Waiheke Local Board by virtue of the Local Government Act 2002, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987, or any other Act.'

First up is 'faithfully and impartially'--two words bound together by 'and', which means they operate together, so the faithfulness of Members must be impartial and their impartiality must be faithful. 'Impartial' means, amongst other things, that they must never operate in any way that has any allegiance and owes any obedience' to any party. In that job there is only one party: the Waiheke Community. One party, the community; one friend, the community. And count no one as an enemy. Impartial.

The Local Government Act 2002 (LGA2002) is a huge Act, with hundreds of sections, but it is perfectly summed up in the forty words of section 10: 'The purpose of local government is--(a) to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and (b) to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future.'

*Community* democracy and the four well-beings. That is every Board Member's
job-description, that is what they must, above all, be faithful and impartial to.

If they are faithful to their oath of office, faithful to section 10 of the LGA2002, and faithful to the truth, they cannot fail to be faithful to the Waiheke Community. If they fail in any of those they will fail it.

They should start being faithful and impartial by voting in Denise Roche as Chair of the Board. The strong whisper is that because most the Board are National supporters they will be voting along party lines, and therefore that she will not get the nod. She should. She has been a hard-working, vigilant Councillor. She has proved herself. She has the experience. And she won far more votes from the community that anyone else--her 2239 is well ahead of the others on their 1845, 1646, 1378 and 1361. For the rest of the Board to vote anyone else into that position will be an abject failure of impartiality and an abject failure of democracy. They will have listened to the will of a political party over the will of the people in the Waiheke

Thus, only minutes after promising to be faithful and impartial, and to operate according to the LGA2002, which means section 10, they will have failed to keep their promise.

Like everyone in local government they should always remember that failure to comply with the LGA2002 is defined by it as an offence, and that if they commit that offence anyone can hale them into the District Court. If found guilty they will be fined up to $5000.


Nobilangelo Ceramalus,
Member of the Waiheke Community Board.


Postscripts (not part of the letter).

I am told, although I have not checked it, that the new super-shiny WLB will not have a budget. Unlike the departing WCB, which had, over the three years, about half the million within its decision-making powers, the new thingy will have nothing, not even a SLIPs budget. Worth doing some meaty investigative journalism on... I'd like to see Len Brown's and Doug McKay's comments on that. If the WLB has no money under its decision-making powers, what power will it have?

They should have had that joint WCB-WLB meeting open to the community. It was a very good meeting, which the community would have benefitted by seeing. Too much of what we do is invisible. Then when it comes to an election people vote without having much idea of what we do, and vote in people who are not suitable. Even handicapped to the point where they cannot do the job.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


Please! A Board of only three!

One of the two men elected to the Waiheke Community's Local Board, Jim Hannan, Fullers' man, is dogmatically adamant that he can work fulltime for Fullers and also be a Member of the Board. Rubbish! Being a Board Member is a fulltime job. If he actually tries to do both jobs, conscientiously, he will kill himself. Otherwise he will be cheating the community.'No man can serve two masters.' His poor judgement is evidenced by his being so adamant that he can--regardless of fact and reason.

Just wading through the email from council officers can take all day. His poor judgement is also evidenced by his electioneering promise of jobs. He will be a Member of the Local Board, an enitity that in law is not allowed to employ people, and does not have the power to create employment. His promise is all sizzle and no steak.

The other man elected, Don McKenzie, is a very nice man, and very able to the extent that his blindness allows, but it is impossible to do that job without eyes, whatever he and his friends might claim.

Site-visits, for example, are impossible without sight. Just in the recent weeks I have done on three on behalf of the community. One was to see whether the community had got value for money in the restoration of the Pioneer Cemetery. Was it a job well done, or not? That was the last of three visits to it to oversee and discuss the project. A blind man could have done none of them. Nor could he judged and voted from the photos shown to other Board Members.

Another site-visit meant going to evaluate 8 hectares of forest and bush that the Council was considering buying. Getting there meant going along tracks, some too narrow for a man and a guide-dog, and crossing a small swamp on narrow, loose boards. Seeing it and judging it, seeing the magnificent 270-degree view, and arriving at a decision would all be impossible without eyes. The effect on me would have been no different to walking down my front path.

The job needs eyes in many necessary aspects of the job--studying charts, graphs, diagrams, drawings, slides and videos, reading and comparing many thousands of pages of written material on paper and on the Net, including hand-written material, and closely following what is on screen during Board meetings. Anyone who cannot see any of that has to rely on the skill and judgement of others, which means it is impossible for him to be true to the oath of office he must make on the 6th of November--his statutory promise to do the job to the best of his own skill and judgement. For him, in all the places where eyes are needed, he will have rely completely on the skill and judgement of the others, which makes them de facto Board
Members, unelected.

A guide-dog is useless in the labyrinth of local-government decision-making. A dog cannot read.

And software that can turn computer text into speech is useless in the face of handwritten material and any words that are not in text format. If the format is a scan or a photo that software is helpless.

Congratulations to the three. But you will have to work even harder than you should have to, to compensate for two handicapped men, one handicapped by a chronic lack of time and demonstrably poor judgement, the other by a very restrictive disability.

The 1300-odd people who voted for the two men obviously do not know, or do not care, what that job is.

Party-voting for local-government positions is very stupid. It is also way out of kilter with the law, because successful candidates must at their swearing-in promise to be impartial. Party-politics do not belong in local government. 'Vision Waiheke', the ticket the two men stood on, was just a National Party front; their claim to be independent was flim-flam. The Waiheke Community must now live for the three years with the consequences.


Footnote: Waiheke Marketplace claimed in a front-page story by the editor, George Gardner, that the new Board is centre-right, a swing from the far left of the existing Board. Where did George get that nonsense? Three members are right-wing: Tony Sears, Herb Romaniuk and Ray Ericson. Denise Roche is on the left. Eileen Evans would be centre-left. I, as I said in my election leaflet in 2007 am not left-wing, right-wing, tail-feathers or beak. I make decisions on the facts, not on some party-ideology. Only fools do that. So on balance, if you want to put a stupid wing-label on the present Board, it would be centre-right. Certainly not far left. Not left at all. And a much better Board than the new one.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Rodney Hide, the man who cannot organise his own party but thinks he can organise Auckland.

Rodney Hide, the man who cannot organise five people, including himself, but thinks he can organise 1.5 million people.

Rodney Hide, the man who cannot organise a tin-pot party of right-wing extremists but thinks he can get right the biggest local-government re-organisation ever attempted in Australasia, a re-organisation of a type that AUT says has never been
attempted anywhere, ever.

Rodney Hide, the man who admits that he did not think through to the human consequences of soliciting into his party a man who had as a 'prank' stolen the identity of a dead baby, but who thinks he can organise the lives of a third of New

Rodney Hide, the man who ALWAYS tells the truth to the nation...

Rodney Hide, the Mincer of Local Government.

The word hyprocrite comes from an Ancient Greek word, which means actor. Traditional image to represent theatre is a pair of masks, behind which the actor hides himself as he assumed an acted persona. The ACT Party is led by a man called Hide. I do like God's sense of humour.


Did Waiheke jump joyously into the Super Silly or were we pushed by the thick Mr Hide?

Rodney Hide, the man whose accolytes seriously think that Waiheke, a small village-rural community, belongs with the huge maelstrom of the CBD of New Zealand's biggest city, and manage by plastering over the rule of law with egregious lies to make that outrageous shotgun marriage look as if it fits the rule of democratic law.

It was nothing but the age-old lust for territory, dressed up. A wolf in sheep's clothing.

Section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002 says, 'The purpose of local government is (a) to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of communities; and (b) to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities, in the present and for the future.'

'When men cannot change things, they change words.' -- Roman proverb.

Friday, 30 July 2010


So King Telecom is telling Waiheke that it is too much of a skinflint to upgrade our 372 exchange so that the entire community can have from it all the modern telecommunication goodies that other communities have.

It is saying that if you want all the wunnerful stuff you have to be moved to a 371 exchange. Thus with the stroke of an arrogant executive pen Telecom Scrooge has removed two of the things that identify us, things we have in common--the iconic fact that for all our telecommunications we all have the unique prefix that means Waiheke, and our friendly habit of quoting to each other only the four digits personal to us.

There was no need for another prefix. The 372 prefix provides 10,000 numbers, and there are oodles left.

Telecom has thus made 372 Waihekeans second-class telecommunications citizens. For first class service you have to be something else. All because it is too bean-counting mean to make 372 a first-class exchange.

Good ole Telecom Rex!


Many years ago in Amsterdam a little boy poked out his tongue one winter's day and touched the iron railing of a bridge. It froze to it and stuck. The fireman had to come and carefully thaw out the joint to get him loose. The newspapers reported the incident, and next day there were dozens of little boys all over Amsterdam with their tongues stuck to bridges.

My case has shown two teenagers on Waiheke Island that they can lie to the police and the court and get away with it, and by that means get an adult into very serious hot water. They can make a false allegation and make it stick, and that the police prosecutor has skilfully shown them how to present themselves in court to achieve that. They have received a malignant education.

Therefore adults on Waiheke are now vulnerable to any teenager with grudge. All he or she needs to do is arrange things so that the target adult is alone with two or more of them, then agree on a story of a criminal act, and the adult is on his or her way to a guilty verdict and possibly a jail sentence.

The teenage grapevine never sleeps, so that How To is bound to get round those who have little interest in telling the truth, care nothing for the harm they do to the lives of others, and have a score to settle.

The recent case where a New Zealand teenager was found guilty of burning the mother of her former boyfriend to death by setting fire to her house because she wanted to get back at him is an extreme example of the same thing.

For adults, particularly on Waiheke, the moral of my story is before you allow yourself to be alone with a couple of teenagers study their shoulders. If there is a chip on them aimed at you, beware! And if you find yourself alone with them, avoid creating even the smallest chip. The court has given them the whip hand.

The Law of Unintended Consequences can be a harsh and terrifying law.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


My entire life is concerned with only one thing, perfectly expressed in the words used courts of law: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. That is the mainspring of my life, it is my paramount, fundamental and over-riding passion.

So it is a terrible shock to have had declared in a New Zealand court of law what I know to be false: that I am a criminal. It is almost unendurable to have watched and listened as two teenagers sat in the witness box and lied their faces off, calmly denied the truth, and were believed by the judge. He believed the liars, he rejected the truth and he convicted an innocent man. Now he will punish me for a crime that I did not commit.

I was accused of hitting on the head a teenager, who with his teenage friend had trespassed on my property on the 25th of May 2010, of hitting him on the head with a branch three feet long and two inches in diameter. Before God's throne I did not. There was no branch, there was no blow upon his head; I did not touch a single hair of his head, directly or indirectly, with anything. That is the truth before the Court of Heaven. But the Court of New Zealand says the opposite.

I did not plead not guilty because I wanted to try to get off the charge by some clever means. I pleaded not guilty because I was not guilty. If I had been guilty I would have pleaded guilty.

My trial has exposed three fundamental flaws in the justice system, which not even the cleverest lawyer on the planet can overcome.

1) The justice system assumes that when people place their right hand on the Bible and asked 'Do you swear before Almighty God that the evidence you are about to give shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God,' that they when they say 'Yes' that they will then utter nothing but truth. There will be not a word that is false.

But the days are long gone when most people believed in God, believed the Bible, and
believed that to make that promise before God and break it would bring down on their heads his terrible wrath. Few people nowadays are God-fearing, so that oath is only meaningless words and the book on which they place their hands is an irrelevant object. Many have concern at all about lying. They lie as easily as they breathe.

2) New Zealand law says that in the witness box no one can say 'I am not going to answer that.' Anyone eligible to give evidence can be compelled to give it. But that rests on the oath to tell the truth. Witnesses can be compelled to answer, but they cannot be compelled to tell the truth. So they can say 'I don't know' or 'I can't remember' even though they do know, and therefore they have fulfilled compellability, and cannot be forced to say anything more. They can also lie more directly and say something false, and not be compelled to correct themselves.

3) The court assumes that people will obey a court order. So when in my trial the judge, very rightly, took precautions to ensure that witnesses' statements would not be 'tainted' by what others said, and ordered that while each gave evidence the others would be excluded from the court, he assumed that he had made that order safe by also ordering them not talk to each other during the tea- and lunch-breaks about what had been said in court. He said 'You can talk about anything else. You can talk about the rugby, but must not talk about what has been said in court.' He assumed that they would obey him. But the two teenagers and the mother of the one who said he was hit and the prosecuting policeman went off together at the lunchbreak, and it was obvious when the second teenager gave his evidence afterwards that they had not restricted their conversation to the rugby.

Thus the openings for lies are wide, easily accessible, and cannot be blocked off by the smartest of lawyers. In a case like mine, when it is the word of two teenagers against one man, if the judge believes the liars there is nothing at all with which to counter it. There are many situations in life, for everyone, in which it would be impossible to prove the truth in a court of law. And no one can live preparing every moment for a possible court case. That would make life unendurable. So we are all vulnerable, especially if we have a public position, to being attacked by liars and having so little defence that we are vulnerable to a false conviction.

It was established in the trial that neither teenager saw the alleged blow, because they said they both had their backs to me. And one said he had his back to me when the alleged branch was allegedly picked up. Neither could describe the branch, except to say that it was two or three feet long and two inches in diameter (in spite of the fact that they are taught only in metrics, because New Zealand changed to metrics nearly twenty years before they were born, they both gave the measurements in imperial units, which showed that they had been coached by adults). They claimed not to know what the alleged branch looked like, whether it was rough or smooth, had cut or jagged ends, bark or no bark, projections or twigs or smaller branches. They claimed to know nothing at all about it, except its length and
thickness--in imperial units. Of that they were quite sure. They claimed that they were on my property because they had been taking a shortcut through an adjoining forest reserve, heading to a track southwest of their property, although my property is northeast from it--in exactly the opposite direction.

They claimed that they went my way because one of their dogs heard a noise and rushed off to investigate, and they had followed it,and did not catch up with until they got to my place--which is at least 100 metres away through what they admitted was thick, difficult forest. One of them described the noise as loud and startling. The other said he heard nothing; that only the dog heard it. The alleged victim also said that he had fallen against a tree, but denied that he had hit his head, only his shoulder. First he said he had fallen straight backwards, then when it was pointed out that he had also said that I was behind him he altered the direction he had fallen. So it went, point after point after point.

The complainants went to the police station two days after the alleged assault and to a chiropractor four days later. The only medical evidence presented was by the chiropractor who said that he could not be sure how the injuries that he was shown had occurred--a sore neck and some bruising on his head. He alleged that I had put it there with the non-existent branch. He lied.

The position of the bruise was pointed out by the alleged victim, the policeman and the chiropractor. The three positions did not coincide. The policeman pointed to the crown of the head, but admitted that he had not actually seen the bruise, the alleged victim pointed to a place forward of that, the chiropractor indicated tenderness from the crown across to where a baby has the fontanelle, and the judge did not think it was significant that it would be impossible to deliver a blow from behind and below that would get to the front of the head, which slopes away from anyone behind, especially below. The chiropractor said he could not sure when the injuries had occurred--that they could have occurred at any time during the previous week--i.e., at any time between the 23rd of May and the 29th inclusive. He was seen on the 29th, the police were seen on the 27th and the alleged assault was said to have occurred on the 25th. The chiropractor also said that the injuries could have sustained in many ways, such as by slipping and falling in the bush and hitting against something, and that he had no way of telling, from his examination, how they had been sustained--except for what the teenager had told him, and the chiropractor said that the mother was doing a lot of prompting. She would say something and the boy would agree.

The police admitted that they had not searched for a branch with my DNA on one end and the teenager's DNA on the other. They admitted that they had not called a doctor to examine the bruise on the 27th to establish whether it had been sustained on the 25th. They presented no physical or medical evidence of any kind to the provenance of what they 'saw' on the 27th, and they admitted that their entire case rested on the word of only one teenage trespasser.

The other one saw nothing even of the alleged assault, and even the alleged victim said he had had his back to me.

But the judge said he thought the teenagers were telling the truth. He ignored all the places where their testimonies differed, saying that those only proved that they had not been coached. He did not see the places where, to quote Hamlet, 'There is a kind of confession in your looks, which your modesties have not craft enough to cover.'

He has convicted an innocent man. He will sentence an innocent man. The lies have prevailed over the truth in what is meant to be a temple of truth before God.

And two teenagers have found that it is possible to lie to the police, and lie under oath in a court of law, and get away with it. That cannot do them any good, and it puts them on a slippery downward slope to ever-worse falsifications.

Friday, 2 July 2010


Sound the trumpet! Tirrah! Tirrah! Scream 'Major event!' from Trig Hill. Break out the bubbly! ;-) Dance about wildly! Because you will no doubt be ecstatic to know that after more than two and a half years the two computers in the Community Board office are now fully functional. Which includes the one in the room that is also the Civil Defence office. So the Community Board and Civil Defence at last have a fully-functional office.

The first problem was that the computers had been programmed by The Empire to refuse us access to useless stuff. Like Google. And www.legislation.govt.nz. We were told that we might use it to look at porn. Please! But we were allowed to look at Auckland City Council's website. What was that about porn again?

They finally did remove that obstacle, after pretending for a while that it was too hard, but then the printer on our main computer, which had been manufactured shortly before Adam saw Eve, was found to have died even earlier.

So a new printer was installed in the room (actually a printer/copier/scanner). Unfortunately the cable connecting it to the computer was not installed. Even more unfortunately that was found to be a problem. It seems that the software needed for
telepathic connection had a bug. Probably made by the same people who made Auckland's consultation process, and who wrote in its Governance Statement that the principle of 'subsidiarity' applies--that 'decisions should be made at the lowest possible level.'

Then there was the enormous problem of finding $1000 to pay the bloke/blokess to install the cable. A cost that looks trivial beside the fact that that machine is also meant to be the front-line printer for the island's Civil Defence. A properly-equipped Civil Defence, surely, can justify $1000.

But I bet you were thinking that a non-functional printer on the island for the Waiheke Community Board was no real problem. That all Board bods could just go over to the city and use the office provided for all Auckland's Community Board Members high in the Tower of the Empire. Unfortunately the printer attached to that computer had also been manufactured shortly before Adam saw Eve, and had died ditto...

But now--tirrah! tirrah! tirrah!--everything is up and running on Waiheke. Because The Empire abandoned the notion of putting a cable from the computer to the new
printer/copier/scanner, and instead installed a second printer beside the computer.

Which means that the Waiheke Community Board at last has a fully-functioning office, ditto Civil Defence (sort of, because the second printer is only a printer, not a printer/scanner).

Two and a half years! Wow! Thanks for hurrying, guys.

Thursday, 13 May 2010




We think of New Zealand as a democratic country, a country with a democratic system of government--representative democracy. But at local level, in many parts of the country, including ours, we do not. We have been robbed of it by three people who have been given high authority, but have failed to act responsibly and obey the law.

Before I became a member of the Waiheke Community Board I had never thought much about what happened after I put a tick next to a name on a ballot-paper, regardless of whether it was for a general election or a local-body election.

If anyone had asked me, I would probably have said that I expected those who won seats to be working full-time for their communities. I assumed that elected jobs in both levels of government were full-time occupations. And when I read the present version of the Local Government Act, which we have operated under since 2002, my assumption was confirmed. Even for elected Members of Community Boards (MCBs). Because the list set down for their role, particularly if put beside the rightful expectations and desires of their communities, makes it crystal clear that theirs is a full-time occupation and commitment.

Anyone who disputes that is not reading what it is written or listening to what is expected. MCBs clock on in October one year and clock off in October three years later.

But the assumption, the statutory expectations, and communities' expectations cannot possibly be fulfilled. Because human beings have some pesky addictions--to breathing, to eating, and to having the protection of cloth and the shield of a roof against dying of exposure (and getting the computer wet).

Unfortunately the Remuneration Authority, whose responsibility it is to set remuneration for various groups of people in public service, including MPs and those elected to local-body positions, has shown that it does not care much about local-body people, or local government or local democracy. Because it blatantly disobeys the statutory rules for setting local-government remuneration, instead using a weird rule of its own invention--the 'Pool Formula', invented in 2001 by a man called Hutton Peacock. With that it has set the remuneration so low for all MCBs, and for many Councillors round the country, that they cannot stay alive on the money. Some are paid as little as $206 a year; the average for MCBs is $4907.

They are therefore compelled to have some other form of income, so with the best will in the world they cannot work full-time at what they were elected to do. They are forced to be part-timers at local government. Otherwise they will quickly look like advanced cases of anorexia, after which they will graduate to being local bodies of the cemetery kind.

The effect on the democratic government of the country is equally severe. It is impossible for us to get a true democracy at local level, because the range of people who can stand for election is savagely restricted. Therefore our local democracy cannot be properly representative. And the standard of local government cannot be what it should be, and could be, because if you pay peanuts you get either monkeys or malnourished, crippled lions. You get people who are born incompetent, or competent people who cannot express all their competence because they have to treat local government as a side issue. You get deadwood or stumps of kauri.

A wage-earner cannot legally be paid less than $12.50 an hour, and fulltime employment is legally defined as at least 30 hours a week, so someone at the bottom of the heap will be earning at least $19,500 a year. At an average of $4907, MCBs are obviously far below the lowest of the low. No MCB earns anything like $19,500. Many councillors are in the same boat. In 28 of the 72 District Councils (39%) their remuneration is less than $19,500 (if you call that $20,000 it is 29 District Councils--40%). In one they are paid only $4000-odd. In 61 of our District Councils (85%) councillors are below the median income for New Zealand. In only 10 councils is remuneration above the average. There is obviously no way that local-government ballot-papers can compete on the open market for the best talent the country has to offer.

That is the country we live in, thanks to the Remuneration Authority's abysmal failure to comply with the excellent mandatory criteria that have set down in law--put there to ensure that both the community and those elected to serve it are treated fairly, that local-government remuneration is competitive, and that a representative range of skilled people are attracted to it.

Friday, 30 April 2010


Sssst! We have all been told that the wunnerful new Auckland Empire wants a new logo, a new symbol with which it can sell itself--it's 'world-class' self--to the world. But what we have not all been told (please stick your tongue in your cheek) is that the symbol has already been chosen.

Yes, they hired a team of two hundred Abyssinian consultants (there were none left in Australia or anywhere else who would work for them), allocated half a billion dollars of budget, gave each of them a yellow jacket, and locked them up in a secret hide-away for a whole year.

And after working like over-the-top Trojans every single nanosecond of that time (please stick your tongue even further into your cheek) they at last came up with the perfect symbol. It is brilliant, a masterpiece, an incredible stroke of collective genius. Ain't it amazing what you can get for half a billion nowadays!? It is so brilliant that it must be introduced with a triple blaze of trumpets! Tirrah! Tirrah! Tirrah! Thank you.

Wow! Behold! The new symbol for Auckland: a small spherical object, about the size of yer average marble, coloured orange on the outside and brown on the inside. It is rumoured that it will be popularised by being sold (only to suckers) in dark blue packets garnished with orange here and there.


The piece above was conceived long ago, shared with a number of people privately, and written and published elsewhere before the winning logo in the real(?) world was announced. My reaction when I saw it was a howl of delight:

O goody! Seven jaffas on sticks.


On second and third thoughts, in August 2011, perhaps they are not jaffas. Perhaps they are all-day-suckers, which is what we are in falling for Rodney Hide's blather (not that we had much choice). Or gob-stoppers, to shut us up, on the principle that, to quote Hide, 'putting local back into local government' actually means shutting up the locals and letting the mainland Sir Humphreys rule. Das Mainland Uber Alles...

Thursday, 22 April 2010


The Waiheke Transport Forum is a community body set up to advise the Waiheke Community Board on transport matters. At the April meeting, during yet another vigorous debate on The Esplanade (whether it should be closed to all but emergency traffic and reserved for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians), a council officer became so angry that he blurted out the blunt truth.

That Yes Minister television series, in which the bureaucrat Sir Humphrey rules, with democracy always a distant second (unlike public servants, who really do serve the people faithfully and well), is a penetrating portrayal of real life. But it is still a shock to be bluntly told the same thing out in the real world. The Sir Humphreys are not normally purveyors of the crystal-clear truth.

The issue of The Esplanade issue is controversial, so the Transport Forum at its previous meeting in March had spent a long time thrashing out the wording of a survey to be sent out to the community so that the Community Board would know what most Waihekeans want. Arriving at the final text took a long time because there are many different views, but in the end we saw the miracle of a unanimous vote of approval. On Waiheke!

At the next meeting of the Community Board that wording was endorsed.

Then Sir Humphrey struck. Council officers wanted changes and additions; they wanted what they consider to be a survey that obeys what they have decided is the Auckland City Council standard for surveys (which of course includes irrelevant stuff with which they can fine-tune the vote--i.e., our votes are weighed on their scales instead of just being counted; then they can interpret the vote to their liking). But they were bluntly told to accept our democratic will.

That is why The Esplanade Survey was back Transport Forum's agenda in April, and why the council officer, the traffic engineer, ultimately blew a fuse when he was told that that was the wording that had been democratically agreed to, so that is to be the wording that goes out to the community.

He bluntly told us that if that was to be the wording the survey would NOT be going out. He also bluntly told us that the decision about The Esplanade would not be made by us. It would be made by 'the officer with the delegation--Andrew Allen' (the senior traffic engineer over in the city, and his boss).

Section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002, which is very the heart of local-government law in New Zealand, says 'The purpose of local government is (a) to enable democratic local decision-making and action by, and on behalf of, communities; and (b) to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities in the present and for the future.'

All the Sir Humphreys should read that, learn that, get that nailed into their skulls and predicate every decision on that--on that and nothing else. (Copy it out and put it on the wall by your phone, and quote it every time you are getting the run-around from a Sir Humphrey--tell him plainly that his job exists first and foremost to fulfil that law.)

But what they actually do is to be Sir Humphreys. In that they are supported by a professional trade association called the Society of Local Government Managers (www.solgm.org.nz), a kind of Protect Sir Humphrey Society. Its view of how things should be run in local government is officer-centered, and is spelt out in black and white in the 2010 version of the diary it issued to bods in local government.

The preface, jointly written by SOLGM and the law-firm Simpson Grierson (which happens also to be Auckland City Council's external legal adviser), quotes section 12 of the Local Government Act 2002 virtually word for word--but then it tacks on an extra bit: ''For the purpose of carrying out its role a local authority has full capacity to carry on or undertake any activity or business, do any act, or enter into any transaction, and for these purposes has full rights, power and privileges (referred to as the power of general competence)'.

That bit in brackets is not part of the law, it is only an antiquated lawyers' paraphrase of it, but as you can see it means something very different in everyday speech. And if it is taken in isolation, any officers bent on getting their own way will arrive at a very different conclusion than if they were aiming 'to enable local democratic decision-making and action'.

It should be noted that 'local authority' in section 12 means the elected council, not the employed one, because the employed are legally defined as employed by the local authority--which is a fact usually denied by the CEO, who claims, contrary to law, that he employs them, and that he is the only employee of the council.

The phrase 'general competence' is deep in council officers' mythology; they are led to believe that it is in the Local Government Act 2002. It is not. Nowhere.

Using it as it is understood in everyday speech is a gross misinterpretation of section 12, which is just saying that councils have the legal power to make legal decisions, which is obviously needed, otherwise their decisions would neither be valid nor enforceable. But to paraphrase section 12 in a way which in effect says that council officers have the power to make decisions regardless of what the people want, and that they somehow have a superior level of competence, is somewhere between blatant arrogance and bureaucratic dictatorship.

Thus does Sir Humphrey, as always, run things by the mythical laws in his head instead of the ones printed in the lawbooks. The Esplanade, and everything else on Waiheke, have to take the consequences. OK?

Friday, 16 April 2010


Those who lust after millions of dollars from Auckland--far above the $16-million-plus that is collected on the island, are overlooking the simple arithmetic of a big, nasty problem.

A couple of years ago the Waiheke Community Board was briefed by a senior bean-counter in Auckland City Council who laid out the plain facts--every dollar spent on capital works here adds 14 cents to the operating expenditure every year, forever afterwards.

That means that for every $7 million pumped in by Auckland there has to be an extra $1 million added to the rates forever (plus inflation).

Obviously the only way that iniquitous situation can be sustained is by being increasingly dependent on Auckland's handouts. Thus we fall into the aid-dependency trap. And the loss-of-local-democracy trap, because he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Greed for someone else's money destroys self-determination. It cripples local decision-making and action. When we accept Auckland's money we also must accept its control of our community.

The problem with a Sugar-daddy is that sooner or later he wants his pound of sweetened flesh. He is like the wicked witch in Hansel and Gretel. He is not feeding us for our best nourishment, he is bent on making us tasty for his own dinner-table.

The argument by those who lust for Auckland's dollars--that we deserve Auckland's money because Aucklanders come here on holiday--is specious claptrap. First the ones with baches here are paying rates here--which is a third of ratepayers--so there is a solid contribution, but from insiders not outsiders, people who have a true commitment here. Second, it is nonsense to expect a portion of Auckland's rates to follow Aucklanders wherever they go on holiday. Tell that to Ruapehu, to Whangamata, to Bali, to Fiji, to Surfer's Paradise, to London, to Timbuktu. We no more deserve a portion of Auckland's rates than we do of Shanghai's, on the grounds that many Chinese come here.

A tourist destination that does that not stand on its own two feet, instead choosing to stand on someone else's, cannot complain when the other feet take it where it does not want to go.

On top of all that is what should be obvious, that using the rates collected from one group of ratepayers to better the lot of other ratepayers, above or far above what the others could afford to do for themselves, or in natural justice justify, is also a breach of the Bill of Rights Act, especially when you do not have a mandate from the group that was robbed. But never let good law get in the way of yet another example of brain-damaged ideological 'policy'.

Thursday, 8 April 2010


An island is a place apart in body and mind. Islanders are people who choose to separate themselves from the madding crowd and live apart. And they want to be masters and mistresses of their own fate. Waihekeans do not want to be dictated to by It That Must Be Obeyed--The Empire Over The Water. We could live harmoniously with a community like ours, but Mr Yellowjacket has stomped mercilessly on that. We have been lumped in with the CBD. It has been the 1989 takeover all over again, this time with hobnailed, steel-toed boots, and Kalashnikovs at the ready. The city-siders, the bods who can never get into their heads and hearts what the island is all about, have cemented in their takeover.

But there is a candle at the end of Hide Tunnel. His legislation makes a division between regional and local decisions, and says that the only decisions that are not to be made locally are regional ones. And when John Carter etc., talk about regional it is plain that what they mean is Bombay to Wellsford. So for us there is nothing regional. EVERYTHING is local--the island, and its setting, which is the Hauraki Gulf, not Bombay to Wellsford. So ALL decision-making should be in our hands. Nothing should be decided by the Super-silly.

Therefore the Waiheke Local Board, which under the new regime replaces the Waiheke Community Board in October, should be where the democratic buck rests. Not on some bureaucratic city desk where democracy gets slaughtered and diced.

So we must fight tooth and nail to turn that candle into a bonfire. Which means that to get what we want--Waiheke deciding for Waiheke--we must do everything we can to make the Waiheke Local Board, in effect, the Waiheke Council. Anything less must be resisted to the hilt. Therefore anyone who stands for the Local Board who does not want that, and who will not say so explicitly, will really be saying that we should be under the Super-silly boot--and therefore should be ignored on the ballot-paper.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


I had a call from Nielsen Research last Sunday, calling on behalf of Auckland City Council. Why bug me on a Sunday? And why hire a research company at great expense? Is the Council not capable of using a telephone itself?

Nielsen wanted to know how the Council had responded to my complaint. 'Which complaint?' I asked. They did not know. Much later I realised that it was one I had made last year. So why did it take so long, at great expense, to get another organisation to ask that question?

The researcher read a blurb that said something along the lines of, 'The Council wants to make sure it is delivering the best service, so it is important to it to find out what you think of it.' I laughed. 'Everyone laughs when I read that bit,' she said.

If Auckland City was genuinely concerned to know how its staff handled your complaint, it would get them to ask you at the time, and would record your response for playing back to a senior manager. That would be instant feedback where it counts, at virtually no expense. Nielsen records its conversation with you many months later, but at great expense. The delay is so long that you will probably have probably forgotten the details, or even what it was all about, as I had, and the researcher will not know, so cannot jog your memory, because she has not been told. Bad management, at great expense.

So the result of the call was zilch. Zero. Nothing. Except for what went into Nielsen's pocket--out of the pockets of ratepayers.

Friday, 12 March 2010


Potholes are not historic places. There is no requirement to preserve them for future generations. So before roads are resealed all the lumps and bumps and hollows and pits should be removed. Otherwise all we get is more chips stuck over the same shonky surface.

And roads are thoroughfares for all forms of transport, not just motor vehicles. Next to them, pedestrians are the most numerous and Auckland's traffic engineers should never, ever forget that.

Therefore on the many roads on the island that are too narrow for formal footpaths (and at a minimum of $422 a metre should never be provided with them), the natural grass verges and the tracks worn into them by countless feet should be sacrosanct. Obliterating them with seal that gets wider at every resealing is thoughtless and
stupid. It puts every pedestrian in harm's way.

Auckland City Council, like all New Zealand councils, has a legal responsibility to promote the well-being of the community. That means caring about human beings. Putting them in front of motor vehicles could be regarded as less than careful.

Unless you want them flattened into all those potholes. Cheap filling!

Monday, 1 March 2010


The ATA's 54-page discussion paper on the Local Boards for the new-and-shiny 'super'-Auckland regime is a nice marketing exercise, full of smoke and mirrors. But what are we offered? Community Boards, depending on their Council, already have, or can have, the same or greater responsibilities and powers (look at North Shore's Community Boards, who decide on resource-consents, Thames-Coromandel's that decide the local rates, Southlands that are used to the hilt). What it will boil down to, as always, is the will of the Council and the bureacracy.

Much of the wording governing Local Boards is exactly the same as that governing Community Boards, except that Local Boards are part of the Auckland Council structure, not the community structure--which is not a good move from the point of view of democracy: their precious independence has gone. And the agreement between the Council and the Boards has a different label. But Local Boards, just like Community Boards, do not have control over local staff. They cannot hire and fire. All staff are controlled from the centre.

This statement on page 12 in the ATA's puffery is a killer: 'The purpose of the local boards is to enable democratic decision-making by, and on behalf of, communities within the local board area, and to promote the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of communities within the local board area. Local Board are part of the Auckland Council, so they do not need to have their own powers to acquire, hold, or dispose of property, or appoint, suspend, or remove employees. They are not community boards, a committee of the governing body or incorporated bodies.'

Note the weasel-words 'so they do not need...' A logical connection is pretended, but there is no such connection. For real local control they need those powers. That is obvious. But they are not being given them.

In contrast, Community Boards in Thames-Coromandel can second staff for projects of their own. Auckland's Local Boards will have to wait at the CEO's door, cap in hand. 'Please sir...'

If we get a Council that is not on our side, as Waiheke has now, it will be struggle and battle all the way. And ditto if that huge, powerful, centrally-controlled bureaucracy wants something different to what the Local Board wants.

If we had a re-run of the rubbish contract saga under this new regime the outcome would be exactly the same.

The fact that councillors do not sit on the Local Boards as they do now means that there will be no direct contact between the Boards and the Council at that level.

The only bright spot in the ATA's document is in the discussion on page 25 on the role of Local Boards in such things as libraries, in which it says they should decide what new library buildings should be. So we can take them at their word and enlist their support to get the library we want--i.e., a library, not a libary/service-centre. The budget has been allocated, but the building is not what we want, so we can ask the ATA to approve funds only for what we want.

Words are easy. So are lies. Auckland City Council's governance statement trumpets 'subsidiarity'--i.e., decisions made at the lowest possible level. Do they do that? No. They treat Community Board with contempt. So the trumpeting is arrant lies.

Legislation is like the lock on your door. It only keeps honest people out. You cannot legislate honesty, integrity, adherence to human rights, local determination. The dishonest, the knaves, the liars, the fools, the incompetent will still be what they are. If they are in power all we will get is YMCA--yesterday's muck cooked again.

Does Waiheke need this monstrous edifice? No. And Great Barrier even less (it used to be run by three people; now it will have 6000). Both communities can run themselves far better than any unsympathetic mainland empire ever could.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


Local Government: An oxymoron practised by local bodies, which is a term made up from 'local' as in anaesthetic and 'body' as in dead.


The Remuneration Authority is treasonously corrupt. Treasonous because it has betrayed the country, corrupt because it has replaced with an illegal formula the superb mandatory criteria laid down Clause 7 of Schedule 7 in the Local Government Act 2002. It has thereby kneecapped local government for years, depriving New Zealand of local government democracy. Democracy is not democracy unless it is representative. You cannot have representative government if a true cross-section of the community is barred from standing for election because no one can live on a pittance.

The present remuneration for Community Boards is a part-time salary for a full-time job, a national average of $4000 to $5000. No one can live on that, so the only people who can stand are those who have another form of income, which also means they cannot give the local-body job their full attention. So ratepayers are short-changed two ways. They do not get a representative selection to choose from at elections, and afterwards they do not get the service they expected and have the right to.

When they voted they ticked a selection of persons. What they got is only fractions of persons.

Even at regional level. Auckland Regional Councillors are the lowest-paid regional councillors in the country, on $22,000 a year. $22,000 for a high-level management job!

But Rodney Hide refuses to do anything about the Remuneration Authority (that is the same guy who wants the Auckland region to be well-run). Therefore Local Boards will be in the same situation as Community Boards. But to make matters worse there will be a bureaucracy of 6000, and history proves that large bureaucracies are never good, efficient public-servants. To make matters even worse the proposal is that Local Boards will come under that bureaucracy. That is wrong. They are the elected, they should be associated with the mayor's department.

The notion that you get better local government by the massive centralisation of political and bureaucratic power is fundamentally flawed.

It is ironic that the leader of the ACT Party, the party that worships the idol of competition, by setting up this state within a state, the state of Auckland within the state of New Zealand running under different local-body legislation from the rest of the country, has eliminated competition from local government.

Everywhere else in New Zealand areas that pass the population threshold of 10,000 can apply to have their own council, or if they are on the edge of a district and their analysis shows that the council over the border would deliver better local government they can apply to be transferred. But Rodney Hide's triple-whammy legislation deprives 1.4 million people of both options, because it takes precedence over the legislation that makes it possible (the Local Government Act 2002).

The whole shambolic upheaval is nothing but an ego-trip by a yellow-jacketed fool who thinks you have to turn the world upside down to crack a peanut. The man is a power-freak on steroids. Everything necessary (truly necessary, that is) could be achieved under the Local Government Act 2002, with perhaps a tweak here and there.

Some Community Boards, which happen to be blessed with far better councils than Auckland City Council, already have the sort of powers that are wanted by the latent Local Boards--such as doing the budgets for their communities and determining the local rates for them. And they can second staff to work for them on projects to benefit their local communities.

The Local Boards need the fair remuneration laid down in law, they need ready access to staff of their own, and they need control over local money.

Waiheke does not need 6000 people to run an island of 8000. Great Barrier does not need 6000 to run an island of 800.

This is vast upheaval, an expensive upheaval, a new system that is to be dumped on 1.4 million people, untried and untested, under which huge areas will descend from having their own local council to having a single councillor and a kneecapped Local Board. LOCAL government? No.

Good local government is government that is local and government that is good. It has to be both or it is neither. The Super Silly is neither, and cannot be either. For our small community, out here on the fringes of it it things will be worse than they have been since 1989.

In 1989 Waiheke went from 100% of the vote, 100% of the say and 100% of the councillors to 2.3% of the vote, even less of the say and 1 beseiged councillor out of 20. Now we are to go to 0.6% of the vote, even less of the say, and only a share in a councillor with a city mindset. We have been ruled by a city mindset for the last twenty years. We have proved to the hilt that that does not work. We have been at the mercy of Auckland's integrity for twenty years. Sadly, there is not much integrity to be found there. Now that situation is being made even worse.

'Community of interest' includes people who have a real, deep interest in your community, because their hearts and minds are in the same place. They care because they understand. Auckland does not, never has, and never will. Especially its CBD.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. There is a consequence to every act. And, sadly, to every ACT Party.

The much-vaunted, much-heralded Third Bill turned out to be a mess that a dog's breakfast would not be seen dead with, a document beside which the proposed Hauraki Gulf District Plan that was inflicted upon us looks like a splendidly concise exercise in tidy logical thought.

Waiheke will be worse off than it has been in the last twenty years under Auckland City Council. All we can do, as usual, is make a very loud protest, but the hurricane of ego-tripping, power-freakish political change will drown our voices in its cacophony. We can scream into this destructive wind, and scream we must, but we know that little or no notice will be taken. The weasel-words from power-mad unreason will carry the day.