Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Enough is Enough

The following letter was published in the New Zealand Herald Wednesday 29 December 2010 in response to a letter from Councillor  Mike Lee in the New Zealand Herald Monday 27 December 2010

No one doubts the commitment of the former Auckland  Regional Council, especially Mike Lee and Sandra Coney, to the heritage buildings that are crucial to the Wynyard Quarter.
 However Aucklanders are concerned that despite a change in council,  the people we elected have not been able to stop the destruction of important buildings.
Mike Lee in his letter sums up best that the Art Deco society will have its day in court supported by Sandra Coney and himself.  There is no guarantee that the buildings listed by the Auckland Regional Council will be protected.
All sympathize with councillors Lee and Coney’s’ frustration. However what resources would The Historic Places Trust and  a small group like the Art deco society have? Courts are expensive places to go.
People voted by significant margins for a change of council  because they were exasperated by the time and costs involved in going to court and because they wanted a  council to stand up.  
 Now  is a time for leadership. Regardless of previous councils back room deals, we need the council to draw a line in the sand and send a message to all those who wish to destroy our city’s heritage, that their time is over .
Enough is enough.

Friday, December 24, 2010

We voted for a change

The decisions of Mayor Brown and his council to allow the demolition of important buildings at Wynyard  Quarter are distressing . Tens of thousands of Aucklanders voted for Mayor Brown and his team because we wanted change.  It now apparent that it is business as usual as the former council officers continue as if nothing has changed. Wanting to keep heritage buildings is not just sentiment .They are important to us for many  reasons;  economically they can help local business to prosper as visitors look for something different.  This is not rocket science .    Mayor Brown  must listen to the people and not be lead by his council officers. He needs to show leadership  or suffer the indignity of being a one term mayor. Five hundred people in St Heliers did not give up a Sunday afternoon for the hell of it .  We all want to live in Auckland and  want the city to reflect our values and for it to develop in such  a way that enhances what we have. Future generations also  have the  right to the  physical beauty of our buildings and the  streetscapes we enjoy .
Published  in the New Zealand Herald   Friday    24 December 2010

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Letter of the week New Zealand Herald 4 December 2010

The return of the Kestrel to Waitamata harbour is a wonderful Christmas
present for the Auckland maritime and heritage community. All great maritime
cities have a fleet of working heritage vessels. The Kestrel was one of the
jewels of the Auckland maritime scene and of the national maritime scene.
The sooner the Kestrel can be recommissioned and put back into use the
better for Auckland and our Tourism industry. It is not just the beauty of
the boat, but its social history that goes back 105 years that is important
to us all.

Many of us shed more than a few tears when the Stagecoach Company bought out
our local ferry company Fullers. One of Stagecoach's first actions was to
sell the Kestrel. At that time the Kestrel was not only well loved and
patronised by many people of Auckland (citizens and visitors alike) it was
also maintained to the highest condition at the insistence of George Hudson,
the managing director of Fullers at that time.

Let us hope that our maritime history continues to be valued for future
generations of Aucklanders.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Alan Matson Heritage campaigner

The Weekend Herald of Saturday 6 November published a wonderful feature on Alan Matson and the success he has had in saving many of our buildings . Alan is not a one trick pony but is also a skilled negotiator and is passionate about Auckland .
Auckland city's population will be growing at a fast rate and we will have 200, 000 more residents with in 25 years .
How we accommodate them while maintaining our status as one of the worlds most livable cities and also protecting our important heritage will be a challenge . We will also need more recreational options including swimming p0ols, libraries, playing fields and skateboarding areas .
Alan has the skills to assist Auckland in many areas and should be contracted or employed directly by our city .
The letter below was published in today's New Zealand Herald in an abridged form.

On the strength of the support from former Auckland City counclilors and other who praise his work in protecting Auckland heritage he should receive a civic honour .
Auckland needs people like him working in our council not only on heritage but also on urban design. We need to get this right, there must be a role for him in our new city .

The immense amount of work that the spacial plan for Auckland requires is well beyond the resources of our new local boards. The five month time frame to produce this report is so tight that mistakes may be made which could well lead to litigation and delays.

Mr. Matson and some others have the skills to help minimise and also recognise issues before they develop. We will be accommodating 200,000 more people in Auckland within twenty five years. This growth will impact on all areas of our city and needs to be managed well. If we get it wrong and reduce our quality of life we this will impact in numerous ways including economically.

Alan Matson has a contribution to make and our new council should embrace him.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Leadership Standards

On Monday morning TV 0ne Breakfast Show, the host Paul Henry in an interview with our Prime Minster insulted our governor General saying 'Is he really a New Zealander?'

For the record Sir Anand Satyanand is New Zealand born of Fijian Indian extraction .
He attended Richmond Rd school in then working class Grey Lynn, Auckland.

As governor general he has proved to be most competent and in touch with our people. I have heard him speak at a number of functions in this role. He is a warm,generous man. Sadly our Prime Minster John Key and his employer TV one both took 24 hours before they defended the governor. This is not what we expect from our leaders. They have all fallen below our national standard.
Below is a letter published today Thursday 6 October in the New Zealand in an abbreviated form.
I am first and foremost a Republican and a Democrat and my comments are not to taken as an endorsement of the British Monarchy.

The suspension of broadcaster Paul Henry is a first step. State and private broadcasters have responsibilities to our nation.

Henry is not the first broadcaster to make inflammatory statements that have the potential to simultaneously damage race relations in New Zealand and our international reputation as a country that works hard to improve on what are generally very good relations between the peoples who make up our nation.

When broadcasters like Henry, Paul Holmes [remember the Cheeky Darkies?], MP Hone Harawira make such statements, it says much about our nation. These gentlemen are not ignorant. They are intelligent , informed , educated and streetwise so are fully aware of what they say.

Their bosses are correct in reining them in, but more needs to happen. The code of practice of the networks needs to be tougher. They should have public polices of their commitment to race relations and respect for our citizens regardless of race , creed or sexual orientation . Media has a role to assist in taking our nation forward.

Henry has been allowed to let us down . His employer is also culpable.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Stucco In the Middle

The Auckander weekly paper published an article in its edition of 23 September , 2010 on the loss of more Heritage housing in St Heliers.
This demolition is by the selfish and the ignorant .Yes the usual culprits who have wrecked so much damage in both culturally and economically to our city. I salute the organisations and media who strive to protect our heritage and the writers who also lift awareness of the importance our heritage.

Below is my letter to the Aucklander.

Your story about the loss of the Art Deco houses in St Heliers is timely .

Lynne Scott is right. Her concerns are shared experiences of Aucklanders right across our city.

The desecration, destruction or removal of heritage buildings is a tangible loss to many. It also can affect the economic viabilty of our whole region.

Developers and their apologists such as Wendy Casperson choose to take a very narrow view.

Citzens are often concerned by the atitudes of developers and the local business association managers rarely live in the neighborhood affected. Many of the developers also declear making little money and pay no tax. It is dificult to discern if they have any community concern.

The St Heliers Village Association is the local business association in drag . It is not an independent residents association .Do Wendy and her association actually know what they are doing? Will it make doing business better? Will it provide more income for businesses?

In Ponsonby the proponents of the SOHO developmemt and their local business allies spoke in the same language and advanced the same auguments as Wendy.

Ponsonby has a hole in the ground. It is certainluy not an asset to Ponsonby.
If the St Heliers Village Asociation did some reseaerch they would they would find that their ecomomic viabilty would be secured by the protection and maintenance of these buildings.

The interactive tourist who visits Auckland and spends the most money, values heritage . They spend in Ponsonby and Parnell not in Takapuna or Newmarket.. Newmarket has fought back with the Osbourne Street development which has been made a heriatge zone and is pumping and by looking after their few remainng heritage buildings.
It is not too late to stop this develpment .I hope Lynne and Keith and St Heliers residenst are able to find the funding to appeal.

However they have to change the rules around non notified consents so that communities can have some say . Sadly, the spatial plan for the new city does not proivde any protection for neighbourhoods. One of the first jobs of the new council will be to address this issue .

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Green MP Sue Kedgley Retirement

Sue Kedgley's decision not to return to parliament at the end of the current parliamentary term is a major loss for the Greens.

The Greens may not realise this however they could on polling day next year .
In 1999 in our first MMP parliament the Greens were the most colourful of all the political parties . Although Labour M.P Georgina Beyer also shared this distinction. The Greens were not short of talent either .

They have been unlucky in being only the bridesmaid in our parliament never quite managing to get sufficient votes to be able to get to cabinet .
This was a loss, in cabinet Rod Donald, Jeanette Fitzsimmons,Sue Bradford and Sue Kedgley would have been capable ministers and all would have served New Zealand well .Particulary as the current National Act Maori party coalition has gone to sleep on sustainability. Sustainability is important for New Zealand for many reasons not the least economically. That the current leadership of the Green party,' Yes, more muscle with Russell' is one of their campaign slogans says much about their strength and capabilities. Who can imagine that happening and the governing coalition getting away with neglecting sustainable polices if Jeanette Fitzsimmons and Rod Donald had been leading the party?
Labour MP's David Parker and Charles Chauvel have been making the running on this issue in parliament .
This can be explained in part because the Green parliamentary party has suffered much with the death of Rod Donald ,the retirement of Jeanette and the subsequent bitter fight for the co leadership between Sue Bradford and Metiria Turei.Sue Bradford resignation was also a loss for the Greens. Bradford who was well respected in the union movement and among community activists did not have the charisma of Kedgley although was well respected, however her resignation does not have the same potential to damage the Green vote as Kedgley. Sue Kedgley decision will give the Greens a further renewal opportunity . Their choice of candidate may well be crucial for how well the Greens do in the next election .

Sue Kedgley was the Greens highest polling politician in electorate vote as their candidate in Wellington Central. Coincidentally Wellington central recorded the Greens highest polling in general votes. However this also translated to many votes for the Greens nationally . Sue's appeal is broadly the same as Helen Clarke and Hilary Clinton . Their appeal is to that generation of women who made real ground by their community activities, and campaigned for abortion rights ,who were the first generation to make careers and who felt that apartheid and the Vietnam war were morally wrong.
These women were largely white middle class.
Marsden educated Sue was of them , well articulate and shared their concerns and ambitions, Sue also was tough but possessed some charm too.
The Greens no longer have a candidate who this generation feel comfortable with. These votes are now up for grabs . Those who swing on a single issue (and their are many of them) may stay with the Greens particularity if food is an issue . Some of these food issue people are loopy but many have genuine concerns about what we eat and may stick with the Greens.
Others will return to their class base .A good example is the Gay vote. Wealthy Gays who are fiscally conservative shifted largely to Labour since homosexual law changes of the forth Labour government in the 1980's. This vote was Labours to the 2008 election then John Key danced with transvestites this vote shifted back to its class roots. After idealism has faded and since the victories have been largely achieved these vote will largely return to their class vote, this will also apply to the feminist vote too.
Will these go the Blue greens or to the Red greens ?
Party strategists in both Labour and National will be running the numbers on this.

I met Sue on many occasions over 30 years and we shared a mutual respect for and friendship with Sonja Davies a feminist who made real ground and broke frontiers for women. Sonja was a mentor, influence and inspiration to many women of Sues generation.
Sue Kedgley will leave parliament next year after serving twelve years in our parliament and having made a considerable impact. Sadly the National government caved into the flat earthers in the Act party and reneged on school tuck shops being mandated to sell healthy food . Sue's dissatisfaction with this decision is shared by 100,000s of people throughout New Zealand. Who knows, she may have the last laugh as if National is defeated in 2011 this may be one of the issues that have brought them down.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Urugray vist April 2010 Chapter one


I leave on the 0845 Bluebus ferry to Colonia. Allow an hour for departure including customs and immigration. The terminal is modern and efficient and spacious with high ceilings. These are fast boats similar to what we have had on Cook Strait. Bluebus had a crack at establishing a service in New Zealand 10 years ago. The boat is full of Argentinians going to Colonia for a romantic weekend. They have an exchange rate advantage over the Uragurians and with the advantage of duty free shopping. They buy chocolate and perfume and the shop is go, go, and go for the whole trip. The stewardesses resemble models. My seat mates are a professional couple. He is a lawyer and she is a bio-chemist. They dream of their peso being again on a par with US$. It does not register that the US$20 billion default of their money is because of this.

The Saturday edition of the BA Herald has stories about the economy and the hope that people can get foreign loans for less than 10%. The unofficial exchange rate is 20%. The cost of living is in fact all they talk about. Neighbouring countries Uruguay and Chile can get bonds for 5%.

I read in the B.A Herald that the personable and left wing President Kirchner has supported the Grandmothers of the Disappeared in their desire to have a court case. Also an Argentinean pilot on a Dutch passport has been charged with dumping bodies in the Atlantic Ocean during the rule of the Junta in the 70’s and 80’s. My seatmates are worried that the Generals may leave the barracks. Other news is that all the Argentine football teams’ games in the World Cup will be shown live in every school classroom – They know the important things in life!

I arrive at the ferry terminal at Colonia and pass through customs. This is again a high class terminal with a tile floor so clean you could eat a meal on it .Although signs for the bus could be better. I buy a ticket to Montevideo for US$10.00. The roads are good and we skirt past the historic city of Colonia on the road north. The land is very green and flat. We pass small hamlets built for the workers who maintained the railway line which is still visible with grass growing and a donkey or two grazing on it. The houses built of concrete are very simple in design. You see cows, but it’s not the Waikato and Taranaki operation.

Around midday we make our way into Montevideo. There are a few shanties on the outskirts, but nothing as large as in Asia. The bus depot is well organised and we dock quickly and safely. Martin is there to meet me. Taller than I remembered, but there is the warmth of an old friend. He takes me on a city tour, showing me the port area and the derelict old railway station. I will come back later to take photos and check out the old railway carriages that date back to 1950. I ask about taking a train trip and Martin is really opposed to it although he does not offer a reason his manner indicates please, no way.

Montevideo has one of the finest waterfront walks anywhere. The port and the city is surrounded for miles by the Rambla; a concrete foot path maybe 3 metres wide. It is accessible from all parts of the city – even from a crack addict’s apartment building that looks so desperate. Tower Hamlets in London are up market in comparison. Perhaps they need a Harry Brown to sort it.

Opposite the docks is an old area of housing that could be Freeman's Bay Auckland 30 years ago. Rundown, but there is evidence of renovation, it definitely happening area with bars and a life.

Martin and Carmina apartment is in the middle of an old warehouse district which is in slow transition. His neighbour is a crack dealer but the neighbourhood seems safe. We pick up some beers and go visit some of Martins friends – Danny and Renee. They live on the edge of a wealthy area and they have an ancient Doberman who I make friends with and an affectionate Persian cat. We share the beers which are from a small brewery and have the taste of well-crafted ale. Dani and Martin are book editors and designers. They have made some interesting art books and also a bilingual history of the restoration of the Montevideo Racing Club. This is a fine work and one that has a real value for racing people everywhere. It also a tribute to the once great British empire when Britannia ruled the waves. They are fine folk, generous and bohemian. We talk on the history and politics of Uruguay.

Everybody in Uruguay talks politics, football, and racing. We all go for a walk around the waterfront and at a good seafood restaurant share more beers and a platter of calamari, cockles, prawns, and local mussels. We then walk back to their house through a neighbourhood which reminds me of Kelburn in Wellington except the houses are more modern. All have dogs which continually bark from behind high wrought iron fences all down the street. There are security guards at all the street corners where you enter. Martin jokes that we come in the night.

We make our way to Martin’s mother’s apartment which is in Palermo, a middle class part of town. It is one of four apartments in a converted mansion. My room has a single bed with a window that looks down the entrance and gets a nice breeze. I listen to a local radio station and have a siesta. Transistor radios are very popular here. You can hear the races and football games blaring. Uruguay is football, racing, and beer.

Clara’s apartment is a thespian dream. She has a collection of books and music which would grace a home anywhere. The leather couches are comfortable and later I recline with a generous scotch and listen to Rada fan. I give Clara the Denis Welch biography of Helen Clark. She is very happy Surprise surprise, Helen is known here too

At 2200 we go to Dani and Renee’s for dinner. Renee has gone to some effort and has marinated fish. We have home-made bread and zucchini fritters. For a main course we have pan fried fish and potatoes. We enjoy some wine from small producers who drive around town selling their produce door-to-door. The wine – a Merlot – is fine. All Uruguay wine is 12% alcohol and they seem to drink it young.

Dani and Martin are Lambretta enthusiasts. Danny has two under reconstruction. They have a status where as Vespa’s, which though not popular, are not rated. We check out on their laptop the Flight of the Concords, the Top Twins, and the Wellington International Ukulele orchestra. They are all a great hit.

Uruguayans are proud of their culture, tango, film, music, and books. They are prolific readers, and with soccer and racing, are a proud talented people, proud of their independence and their fight for democracy. They have paid a high price perhaps that is why they opinions are strongly held.

Sunday is to be one of the most moving days of my life. Martin and his new girlfriend Carmina are having a family reunion of his father Carlos’ side. Carmina is a very intelligent and well read student. Her dark intelligent eyes scrutinize everyone‘s comments, even those of the grandfather’s. He had been to New Zealand with a son and daughter-in-law and was disappointed I was not a six foot tall Maori and I that I can’t sing to save myself. However, three of his sons had joined the Tupamaru guerrillas who were then imprisoned and one was exiled. Carlos has lived in France and Switzerland.