Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Franklin Road Lights Ponsonby / Freemans Bay Auckland 2013

Every December 1 Ponsonby lights up  when Franklin Road kicks the Christmas festival off. This event each year exceeds the previous.
It is most generous offering from the residents who live in this already more than busy road .Their insistence despite offers of serious money that it be noncommercial, is inspirational.

This year it was opened by America’s cup captain Dean Barker and a crew of kids playing in the artificial snow. 
Between now and Christmas Day thousands of kids, some in the pyjamas, will come to view and enjoy this offering and dad's wallet and mum's purse will get a rest.It is Christmas in Ponsonby and everything  in good taste goes.
Photos by Everall Dean

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Our Inter-Island Treasure

This letter was published in an abridged form in the Sunday Star Times today November 24 , 2013.

With  the announcement that Clifford Bay,  Marlborough will not become the Ferry Port was universally acclaimed. For fifteen years the  proposal to shift the  port from Picton  had  hindered future  planning and much needed  investment.

  Colin Espiner in the Sunday Star-Times of Sunday 17 applauded this decision and called the line to be funded.
My thoughts are expressed in this letter to the Sunday Star-Times.

    The thirty year commitment to Picton as the South island terminal port provides certainty and real opportunity. Colin Espiner’s feature brings back pleasant memories of public service, constant challenges and aspirations about what the Interisland line should be.

Public transport advocates, tourism bodies, railwaymen, seafarers and unions have long advocated for a high quality ferry service across Cook Strait. Espiner’s call for this service to be funded accordingly is music to their ears.
Last year was the fiftieth anniversary of Cook Strait rail ferry services.

Profits have been taken by state and private owners, the mentality being it was a freight service and passengers were an afterthought is like a curate’s egg. One thing that is constant is the professionalism of the crews.

The stewards who served me and attended to my comforts when I recently travelled on the Kaitaki may not have  been burly Englishmen as Espiner remembers, but I was confident in an emergency they would excel as the Wahine did.

The Interisland Line must be profitable. To be so, it must be funded not bled by owners or undercapitalised .These two diseases have plagued the line. Colin Espiner’s feature is timely and correct.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Jury Is Out

Bunning's proposed and now resource-consented building on Arch Hill is as popular as rotting fish. Residents are organising meetings and the media are responding to the Arch Hill residents' concern. The scribes are busy, too, and letters and articles are being published. This letter of mine was published today Saturday 23, November, 2013 in The New Zealand Herald entitled Lost Treasure

Is the super city really working for local communities?
We are being done-over like a dog’s dinner. Many are concerned about the pace that things are moving and that we are losing control over the things that we treasure. Who can or will stand up our communities and who will take the fight?
We are losing precious gems. The infamous Aurora hotel decision saw the owners being given a green light to super profits and a bonus knocking shop on Karangahape Road.
If this council and our local board are at all serious about our built heritage, they should have imposed ten year moratorium on the Chow brothers’ development. This would have sent a clear message to the opportunists and cowboys who care little about are how we live in this city.
Ponsonby residents have lost in resource consent hearings to the development at 221 Ponsonby Road, and also are fighting for the proposed public park at 254 Ponsonby Road.

Now we have Bunning’s development forced on to the Arch Hill community. This is a travesty and makes a mockery of our mayor's dream of Auckland being the most liveable city. Will the mayor stand up this time?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ponsonby News Election Coverage

The comments below  was published in the November issue of the Ponsonby News . I have received a number of phone calls and emails  from folk  including a number who are political party members of all shades  who share my concern that the election  tactics that were used aginst me were unwarranted  and in the words of one down right nasty .

Many commented  that we are lucky  to have the Ponsonby News as it provided for residents of the Waitemata ward the best election coverage . Again thanks to the Ponsonby News for this public service.

 I would like to thank the Ponsonby News for excellent local election content. Without their stories and analysis the voters would know little about the candidates for the local ward.

 All who run for public office are entitled to respect for offering themselves and as a community we should encourage people to run and we all should vote.  Of note are the independents.   They do not have the resources, the brand of the political machines. I know now how challenging it is to run as one.

  This was compounded by the faceless and spineless folk who rang claiming to be local media, and complained to council and the returning offices about minor mistakes on flyers and holdings. Unfortunately this distracted from meaningful debate over local issues.

These tactics are of political apparatchiks’ from the cold war and have no place in local government campaigns.

Putting all  into context the 2340 people  who voted me I really appreciate and thank them their support 

I congratulate all the successful candidates and may they put local into local and community into community.

 Gerry Hill

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

There has been much comment and emotion about a monument to a paramilitary force known  as Massey Cossacks being put on the Auckland waterfront .
 I wrote to the New Zealand  Herald. in response to this  controversy  and also as an  attempt to explain  why such  a monument is contentious and should not be on the Auckland waterfront.
  This letter was published Friday,  I November , 2013 and was entitled Waterfront Memorial .

Massey’s Cossacks are recorded  in our history .What is forgotten is  they were the forerunners of the Black and Tans the paramilitary force unleashed by Britain on the Irish populace six years later.  That is why their memory is so offensive to many New Zealanders. Would the Irish tolerate a memorial to The Black and Tans in the republic?
 They are the true comparison. I agree with your letter writer John Walsh that we should not sanitise our history but we must know it first.
Before the Cossacks were organised things were reasonably calm.   There had been a peaceful march from Ponsonby through Freemans Bay led by Michael Joseph Savage with the banner If Blood be the Price of Your cursed Wealth. We have bought it Fair.
 Massey replaced Police Commissioner Mitchell with his friend and fellow Orangemen Cullen then mayhem happened. The Cossacks raged and violence followed .
These were not good old boys riding in to Wellington and Auckland to give the wharfies a biff.  They were armed by the state, organised and in Auckland barracked in the Domain.   One of their billy clubs sits above the bar of the Northern Club in Auckland. That is their memorial.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bring On The Americas Cup Challenge

It is fantastic news that state support for Team New Zealand has been announced. The America's Cup is  far more than a rich man's yacht race for New Zealand.

Owning The Great Ponsonby ArtHotel and hosting  America's Cup fans, boat buyers and investors we are well qualified to comment on the real value of the America's Cup.

It is far, far more important. The original America's Cup defence was a transformation for the New Zealand marine industry and continues to be so today.  It also was a positive step in our nation's character development . Our confidence surged and again this serves us well today.

The Fonterra debacle which is heading to European courts and has the potential to damage New Zealand Inc. would have thrown us once and our media would be full of doom and gloom.

With the confidence we developed with the America's Cup victory and successful defence we as  people are better able to cope with these challenges.

Rod Oram's column below celebrates this  It is also the part of the narrative of our industrialism and our innovation.

Rod Oram’s Sunday Star column of September 22, 2013  The Year of the Cat has made a 21st century clarion call for nation building.  He writes “an even bigger challenge for Emirates Team New Zealand is to make New Zealand the global epicentre for its powerful technologies and skills”.

“The science and commercial benefits for New Zealand would flow far beyond sailing. The technologies have wide applications across the economy in hi-tech manufacturing energy infrastructure, construction and many other fields.”

In 1936 Michael Joseph Savage said, “Our objective is to turn New Zealand into a nations of buyers as well as consumers and to make science, machinery and money the servants rather than the masters of the people.”

Oram’s column is a 21 century  statement of our potential as championed by Savage. W.B Sutch and Norman Kirk were people of great vision who have shaped New Zealand. All would no doubt agree with Oram.

Oram in this most thoughtful and analytical of his columns wrote, “Auckland must play the same global role in high tech yacht racing not just for the sake of the America's Cup but to drive science business and wealth generation in our economy”.

Oram is correct. The challenge for New Zealand Inc is to come to an understanding, a consensus, and to commit. Government cannot be hands off, but must champion these industries and have a vision and take Kiwis with them as Norman Kirk did.  The government’s challenge is to maximise the benefits that these technologies can deliver and the industry that can be built. 

In 1939 Michael Joseph Savage said “We cannot leave our economic and social standards to the fluctuations of overseas trade conditions. New Zealand must establish our own standards and with these thoughts in our minds we set out to establish a nation in these southern seas”.
These are the foundations that  built our nation.  If our leaders champion what Oram has written we can lift our standards and  once again have the potential to provide have a security that once we all felt.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Pity The Poor Who are Forced To Rent

The announcement of the Weymouth  affordable  housing plan  is a overdue but a major  step in improving the housing  needs in south Auckland and should be applauded .

 The sale of State housing in depopulating areas is confusing and may be a lost opportunity . We do have an increasing number of people in need of housing.  Many are highly skilled . These people could well have made a real contribution  to these communities may of them have lost much social capital  and by enticing these skilled folk wound  have been  of addressing this issue.

A long term durable bi partisan policy is what is lacking and the options for increasing number of our citizens are far from attractive and no one i know wold like this insecurity.

The life for rental tenants is variable. I have been a landlord. Our tenancy laws provide minimal security and our tax regimes provide an investment option based not on growth but on tax deductions.
The withdrawal of the state from providing income related rents and pensioner housing is impacting on all tenants.
There have always been people whose incomes are so low that home ownership is not  a realistic option, and whose housing needs were provided for. New Zealand is in a minority of western countries where the state is devolving responsibility for these people. Where do we think our nurses, bus drivers, fire fighters, pensioners and essential service folk are going to live?
 The shortage of affordable pensioner housing is critical. Many of the folk who are volunteers and provide the human infrastructure at our museums  and events are living on fixed incomes with rent consuming most of their pension.
 This situation has been exacerbated with the closing of public health facilities which means these people are first in the queue for public housing and compete with the working poor and pensioners. Address these needs by increasing the public housing stock and the housing problem will largely disappear.