Saturday, December 22, 2012

Petrol Tax Increase

This letter was published in The New Zealand Herald on Friday, 21 December,  2012.

The increase in petrol tax and cancelling the reduction in Accident Compensation levies is an attack on small business and rural tourism.
Sir Owen Woodhouse, the father of the ACC scheme, is on record as saying that self employed and small businesses are paying 30% more in ACC levies than they need to. As employers and self employed we have seen our rates rise significantly over recent years and we were looking forward to some relief. The impact of high dollar is real.  In the Tourism and manufacturing sectors people feel this reduction is long overdue. To cancel it is short sighted.  
The increase in petrol tax will impact further. Even Audi drivers think twice about a visit to the Matakana wine country. We hear regularly anecdotal stories of people reducing activities and about the flow-on effect that this is having on the economy.Things can only get worse with the fuel tax increase.  


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Solution to Heritage in Auckland

This week in Auckland a presentation from a Brisbane Architect  Peter Marquis - Kyle.

Regrettably the New Zealand  Herald in an editorial today chose  not support his proposals .

These proposals have been policy in Brisbane since 1992  and have served Brisbane well . I am confident if they were adopted in Auckland they would    also serve  Auckland well .

 Your editorial proposing that the Auckland Council not accept the Character Coalition’s well researched plan is surprising especially as Devonport has something similar. Brisbane’s conservation architect Peter Marquis–Kyle’s evidence is compelling.
In 1992 Brisbane doomsayers also claimed that such a policy would restrict growth and harm the Brisbane economy. The opposite happened by protecting housing stock it enhanced the community.
Hospitals, railway stations and other amenities are complemented by these neighbourhoods. They help provide a liveable city.
Marquis-Kyle’s presentation showed that this proposal had not stopped development. Indeed Brisbane is growing faster than Auckland.
By protecting housing stock and the heritage neighbourhoods it has made Brisbane a better place. Business thrives.
Heritage is not anti development. It is about the place we live. It is more than the story of an individual dwelling and that is not to say an individual house cannot be important, it is the neighbourhoods, the streets themselves which make a district or a city. The Brisbane Plan has achieved that. A similar plan can only make Auckland a better place

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Auckland Energy Consumer Trust Dividend Payments

Doug Armstrong and David Shand have a right to be concerned and cynical over the timing of the 320 dividend payment being paid out so close to the local ballot taking place. Trust Chairman William Cairns answer that he was confused over the timing issue is inadequate; in fact in reality if it is not scandalous it is certainly unethical. 

Given the lows of the banks donations from Kim Dotcom and the amnesia that Mr Banks had on this issue, one would have expected that all candidates and sitting trustees would of been scrupulous in their campaigns and absolutely careful of using any trust dividends in such a way as to compromise integrity. Returning officer Dale Ofsoske saying ‘that it does come uncomfortably close’ says it all. If the returning officer was unable to use the mana of his office then perhaps we need to look at a law change to prevent such unethical payment ever happening again. The New Zealand body politic deserves far more respect than the Community and the Residents ticket has done by paying out the dividends so close to an election.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our Civel Rights Should Not Be At Risk

This was published as a letter in the New Zealand Herald Wednesday 26 September ,2012 titled Civil Liberties At Stake

The bungling or whatever it is   by the Government Foreign Agency is
not acceptable in our democracy. ‘Mr Dotcom’s business which was a
legal entity under New Zealand law is now unable to operate.  He has
lost substantial sums of money. The police actions in storming his
home and also his civil rights have been rights interfered with to a
degree that is frightening.
In 1974 our then Prime minster Norman Kirk stood up to the security
intelligence Service (The SIS }  and stopped  them bugging people
homes . He warned about the about the coming computer age and wanted
safeguards introduced to protect New Zealanders from possible
intrusion by the state or security agencies into our lives.  Kirk was
Twenty seven thousand citizens marched in the streets of Wellington in
1977 against proposals that would put our rights  at risk.  We need at
this time an unequivocal statement from our government that our
citizens (Dotcom is one too) be they rich or poor, Maori or Pakeha
will be protected from the excess that have been dealt to Dotcom and
his family

. Mr Key says that the since he has been Primeminster the GCSB has
actually thoroughly professionally and within the law. The grounds for
this inquiry must be wider than the security agencies would  want to
ensure that the public as much as the Primeminster can have confidence
that our rights’ are secure.     Dotcom and his family are entitled to
such an enquiry and also an apology.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

In The National Interest

Investors, share brokers and writers have all raised concerns about
the Haier bid for Fisher and Paykel. One prominent writer /economist
has even suggested a joint venture with a majority share holding
remaining here.

Sentiment and emotion have no economic reason usually but in the case
of F& P they do.

This company is an icon that we are all proud of.  Fisher and Paykel
is a first choice or option for most kiwis.

The increasingly wide kiwi diaspora is keen not only to talk this
company up but to show their dish draw dishwasher to their neighbours
in Brooklyn or Paddington. What better symbol of both our industrial
heritage and modern know how is there?

The brand, the innovation and the underlying financial value and F&P
shows the world of what we can do and achieve. Also that New Zealand
is not only dairy farms, film sets and beautiful scenery.

Government should and many others do act in the national interest.
It is in the national interest for F&P to remain in majority kiwi
ownership. To ensure this happens the government could instruct the
ACC board to take a strategic shareholding in F&P.  This would be
publicly popular and also caste the ACC board in favourable light.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Three Lamps Ponsonby

The return of these lamps to Ponsonby is fantastic news.

It has been long awaited and would not of happened with out the generosity of the Cossar family as reported but also the efforts  of former Western Bays Community Board member  Bruce Kilminster who tirelessly pursed all options to get the Three Lamps back into their rightful place.Tricia Reade continued his fine efforts and she was able to bring the final negotiations to an ultimately successful conclusion. 

 Our ever increasing diaspora are  returning to the cities and towns  of their birth  often with mokapuna seeking to find where their forbears came from.  Film productions  are also seeking locations will find the return  Three Lamps most  satisfying  .They are a  wonderful  addiction to the historic neighbourhods of Freemens Bay and Ponsonby where people can connect with their soul.

Heritage buildings, street scape, including furnishings and  lighting are also  important .With the reinstatement  of the Three Lamps , the poll and foundations one would expect  be of the same style and standard .

To complete the picture the streetlights  around There Lamps should  complement and the undergrounding  of cables and telegraph wires should happen simultaneously .When this has been completed the Waitamata Board can congratulate themselves on a another  job well done. This will also help local retail and other commercial business. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Angels Share at the Auckland International Film Festival

 Today at the Civic Theatre  we were treated to another  Ken  Loach human masterpiece .

 Robbie and a few losers who a met on a PD program thru Harry their warden   discover a taste for and enjoyment of malt whiskey  .

Through whiskey  they turn their life around .

The film is both  emotional draining and humorous .I am sipping a Glenlivet as I write this post

Enough said , get tickets , and  enjoy  The Angels Share     

Blast Pat Hanly -The Painter and his Protests

At the Voyager National Maritime Museum Auckland
Add caption

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Symonds Street Cemetry Should be Auckland's Pioneer Park

This letter was published in the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday 18 July 2012.

Brian Rudman's suggestion about cemetery the  is meritorious and should be given full consideration by Auckland Council and even central government .Hobson and others buried  there are nationally important and their graves and contribution to New Zealand are surely worthy of a national contribution .

New Zealanders make  trips to the birth places of our forbears .The kiwi diaspora is large and growing.  Many of them  come back to New Zealand often with mokapuna who want to know where their parents and grandparents were born or grew up .This is a natural human wish and we should do all to make this a wonderful, educational discovery and connection for them .

The population of the Waitemata will continue to increase and demand for green space is endemic .Three schools already use the Domain . Myers ,Albert ,Western , Tole and   Grey Lynn parks are working at over capacity.
 The cemetery can help alleviate this pressure and also has some of the best ozone in the city .We should also provide  scented gardens for those whose eyesight  is impaired.
The unsafe area where security guards are scared to venture needs to be addressed .
Most  of these people have mental health  issues which are hidden in the fumes of various addictions. They are worthy of compassion, we should not  drive them to the edge of town but work with the social agencies to get the best possible outcome for them too.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Auckland Thespians come out for Gay Rights

At Maidment theatre last night some of Auckland  liberal community turned out in force.

 Sequined   drag queens, twenty three  actors including Robyn Malcolm and Peter Elliot,  fag hags, stars,  singers,politicians  including Labour MP Jacinda Adern  all celebrated this victory and in questions and answers  after the show reflected on the New Zealand situation .In common cause they drank fine  wine and mineral water.

A proposal known as   Proposition 8 galvanized the social liberals and gay community of America  to defeat this legislation   banning  gay marriage . This play is about the  successful court case led by lawyers Ted Owens and David Boise to the  the American Supreme Court ruled that proposition 8 was unconstitutional .

  Buckwheat  and Tess Tickle doing their bits for gay rights

In the United States prominent actors including  George Clooney ,Brad Pitt and Jamie Lee Curtis have acted in this play. The leading New Zealand actors who  also  taken up the call should be recognized..   All power to them

  It was a full house and the writer was unable to get tickets .

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A present from the Christchurch Earthquake

This was published in the New Zealand Herald  28 June ,2012entitled Earthquake Levy

We received our latest policy and the costs have gone up from around eight hundred dollars to in excess of three thousand two hundred dollars for the earthquake and war damage levy. This increase is due to the Christchurch earthquake and international reinsurance costs which have also affected other parts of our policy.This decision disadvantages Auckland, because the population is so great and the houses  worth more than many parts of the country, we seem to be recapitalizing  the earthquake and war damage fund.

 Substantial numbers of  residents in this city will also face substantial residential rates increases. There will be an impact on many, especially those on fixed incomes.

 These increases will also impact on churches and community halls, and the businesses on the high streets that contain the heritage and character buildings. These streets are  important for nation building and telling the stories of our cities. With these increased premiums their very existence may well be under threat .The increase will not be one off and may increase year on year.

Heritage neighborhoods are  important for the tourism industry which is our second largest industry for earning foreign exchange. Without interesting  heritage neighbourhoods the tourism income that helps sustain employment in our cities would be severely affected. Had AMI been bought by local interests when it had problems last year,we would have some leverage and negotiating ability with these foreign owned insurance companies, and our position may be better .

 This is a national issue and the government needs to provide assistance for residents and business.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Who do you think you are kidding Mr Walsh?

In todays New Zaland  Herald the spin doctor for the New Zaland Institute of   architects wrote a critical feature .This should not be left unanswered.

This is my reply.

 Mr Walsh mistakenly suggests supporters of heritage
protection have closed minds and are opposed to modern
homes. Every year, hundreds of people renovate and update
villas to meet the needs of twenty first century families.

Hakanoa Street evolved over decades not by demolition and
replacement, but by sensitive restoration and modernization.
Mr Walsh’s suggestion that villas are simply “boxes with
protuberances and sloping roofs attached” is rather
shallow. Having renovated three villas, I understand they
are part of our built and cultural heritage to pass onto
future generations.

Villas, bungalows and cottages in Ponsonby and Grey Lynn
have accommodated successive generations of various social
classes over time. Mr Walsh recalls when urban professionals
discovered them and argues the inhabitants of traditionally
working-class and often Polynesian parts of inner Auckland
didn’t demand newcomers adopt rugby league and taro. He
misses the point. It’s not social history supporters of
heritage protection seek to preserve, but their built

Mr Walsh is a communications manager promoting architects to
design homes that meet both clients’ needs and city
planning regulations. The issue isn’t about architectural competence.Its about heritage rules and all power to those who are prepared to stand up for them.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Auckland Plan Heritage Polices

Sally Hughes of the Save our St Heliers is right to hold the Mayor to task on heritage.He does talk heritage but fails to walk his talk. The Brisbane city heritage rules are workable in Auckland too. City planners must be held to account by the Mayor. He does have a moral authority and for the sake of our city he should use the full force of this to protect Residential One housing stock.
 Correspondents to the Herald, Dave Miller, Margret McRae and Gordon Nelson have every right to be disappointed and cynical about the planning process. The actions of cavalier planners place at risk our heritage and communities as well as income that our city derives from tourists who walk, spend and enjoy the beautiful and colourful suburbs.

 To have lax rules and let planners play fast and loose with them will not sustain or increase the wealth of our  beautiful city. What they do is reduce the physical history  of our nation.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

58 Hakanoa Street Grey Lynn

Shale Chambers of the Waitemata Board is right. The integrity of the
Auckland Council’s resource consent system is in question. A week after the
Campbell Free Kindergarten open day, Mayor Brown celebrated the retention
of Heritage, our built heritage and our social heritage he said. Clearly
the emperor has no clothes.

 Mr Chambers comment in referring to the resource consent decision allowing
the removal of the house at 58 Hakanoa Street  indicates that “senior
council officer actively worked to subvert the very process that is now to
be encouraged” is concerning

The frustration for electors and for our elected representatives when it
comes to the rules about heritage and being actively undermined should not
be tolerated. When will these officers understand that they are the
servants of the community?

In researching the number of resource consent applications for residential
one housing it has been found  in excess of ninety five percent wish to
restore and renovate their villas.

Mr Birt and Ms Muxlow appear to be very creative but like us all, they
should obey the rules.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Roddy Doyle at Auckland Readers and Writers Festival

Friday night with Brian Edwards’s holding fort was a fine night. Edwards is hardly humble but Doyle was. Anyone who loves the Commitments would have been at ease with this conversation.
Originally the Commitments was called the Partitions and he referred to the partition of Ireland when the country was split in two in 1921 give or take a year or two. The ramifications of this Ireland still have to deal with today.
In 1994 when he won the Booker Prize, the barman at his local who had strong Republican sympathies said to him, ‘You went there ,You won their prize and you taken their fucken money ‘.
A sweet revenge for 1916
The highlight was Doyle reading his short story Animals from his collection of short stories Bullfighting. If you have a family, kids and pets we can all not only enjoy the story but relate to it too. Edwards could especially with the story of the guinea pig .
There were only two questions, one about The Women Who Walked into Doors and this is perhaps Doyle’s most serious told with a wonderful Irish humour. Doyle tells us after he had written this book ,he gave copies to the to the women’s refuge.
When he turned up to meet the women he felt an awkward silence until the woman who was running the centre asked for comment. A woman looked up and asked him, “ How did you get into my fucken head?”
Doyle’s reply was full of humanity and understanding of the human condition .Perhaps that’s why many of us enjoy his books.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Marko The Krangahape Rd Cleaner

The New  Zealand Herald Thursday May 3 featured a stoney and photo on Marko .

On Monday  7 May in  an abridged form they published this letter 

Inner city streets are a nightmares at various times of the day for residents let alone the people who do the often under appreciated, dirty jobs as Marko does. People like him keep our city liveable and help keep  us safe. He is one our ambassadors, with his guiding services to lost visors .He is also the eyes of the city for lost children or folk in difficulty. Small businesses would not be viable if Marko was not there too clean their stretch of footpath before they opened in the morning.
Fire fighters, nurses,police, bus drivers  and emergency service jobs are of course important and at times undervalued and unappreciated. However, we do know they are there with us.

The people like Marko  who provide  essential services, the dirtiest and unfashionable with minimal status  that keep our city moving, from underground workers who maintain sewage and drainage are seldom recognized.  We should value them  more. Without them out city would not be such an enjoyable place. .

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Loss of Stakeholder Value and Damaging The Brand

The port dispute is estimated to have cost thirty five million dollars to Auckland which is an indirect cost on rate payers. A far greater cost maybe for  Auckland brand, and if no settlement is reached between the port company and the wharfies we can expect to pay compound interest .
The lifting of the  lockout notice by the port company has reduced the impact on business and owning a small business. This is good news.
Liam Dann in the Weekend Herald poses the question,  ‘Whose Side Are You On?’  in reaction to the board’s internal divisions. This question also applies  to the board.
Most of the disruption is a direct result of their decision to contract their workforce out which they told us  was legal. However, the employment court does  not agree.  Whose side are they on, is a reasonable question? Are they working for Auckland? 
Given that this exercise to date, has achieved so much  loss in stakeholder value  and  has damaged our international brand, they may win
an award for their achievements .
Working and investing  in tourism, we understand how important the brand is and how perception  alone can quickly do so much damage.  In the interest of Auckland it behoves on all parties to achieve a durable settlement which will last into the future The next move  for Auckland and New Zealand is a regional port and transport strategy, that involves Marsden Point and Tauranga.