Monday, March 26, 2012

Tuataras on Motuhie Island Auckland

Sixty Tuatara being released on to Motuhie Island is a tribute to the volunteers who have slogged away for decades to clean  up the small gem of the the Hauraki  Gulf.

For seven years there have been feral animals and rats on this island, however the result of this clean up is an island haven full of birdsong; a fine natures choir. Once famous as the military prison in World War One where Count Felix Von Luckner was imprisoned and escaped from
Photo and story from The New Zealand Herald, 26th March 2012

is now known as a natural paradise. Sadly there are little remains of the human habitation except for the surgeons house, some fences and a few graves.

30 minutes from Auckland and without a shop in sight Motuhie Island is a great place to come swim, picnic or chill out for a while It is one on my favorite places.

Tough news for Camper, the kiwi entry in the Volvo race

We Aucklanders, over our breakfast this morning, were disappointed when we read in the New Zealand Herald that our boat was not doing what we had hoped, but was currently fourth this leg, and going backwards. We all feel for the hard working competent crew of Camper. Having the slowest boat in the Volvo race fleet is hard enough but when this  boat, that is supposed to be the best of them all in the Southern Ocean,falls over and is limping into a Chilean port, we are all indeed Unhappy Campers.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

East Timor Election March 2012

José Ramous Horta the East Timor  President, concession speech today is generous and bodes well for democracy in his country.
José’s commitment to his people through the long decades of Indonesian oppression and occupation of his land won a Nobel prise for him and fellow leader   Xanana Gusmao.  

José immensely appreciated the commitment from New Zealanders towards East Timor. His recognition of the three New Zealanders who have died over three decades; cameraman  Gary Cunningham of the Bilbo five, Karmal Bamadhaj in 1991 whose story is told in the documentary Punitive Damage and Private Tim Manning who died in active service in East Timor in 2000, was expressed on the occasions he was our guest and was extremely moving. We talked about them and it was evident they were acknowledged  in his prayers. We discussed José’s wish for an Operation Hope to be sent to East Timor in 1985, and further discussed the 1974 photos Canadian documentary maker Elaine Briere took months before independence of a arid poor land indicate the enormity of the task that East Timor faced as an emerging independent nation.

His appreciation towards the support given from a small number of New Zealanders through our military commitment are not only appreciated but he believes are necessary for the foreseeable future. Indonesia has not forgotten about East Timor and their continued occupation on East Papua, this makes East Timorians nervous and they wish for the Anzac forces to remain.   

As president, José has survived an assassination attempt and used his diplomatic skills in managing relations with Australia and Indonesia to build a sustainable future for his people.

The independence struggle that José led internationally over the twenty five years was fought in any forum he could get to and in the lonely corridors of United Nations where he would badger any diplomat. His story has been told in the documentary’ The  Diplomat’, where New Zealand has its own chapter. It  was in Auckland  1999 at APEC that José was able to get Bill Clinton to lean enough on Indonesian president Abbas to concede independence for East Timor. José has never forgotten the support and generosity of New Zealanders over this time, and with the transition to a new leadership I hope as people we reinforce our commitment to the democracy of East Timor .

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Volvo World Race Boats Depart Auckland Today

After a great week of festivity including thrilling in port races the Volvo  fleet will sail at 1400 from Auckland today .
Camper winning the in port races yesterday has has given all kiwi yachting supporters some much need confidence that our boat is up to it .
The weather forecast for the next few days sailing down Aotearoa East coast is for storms and heavy seas.the boats are not built for comforts and all crews will find this leg thru the roaring forties.around the horn and on to Brazil challenging . Whether Camper will come in and win this leg well wait to see . Confidence in the design is lacking and the real comfort we have is that we have the  most competent  crew . Good luck boys.
  Von Voyage

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Auckland Turns It on for the Volvo Race crews

Around midnight the Tricolor was waved proudly by dozens of French supporters at the Port of Auckland, there to welcome the French challenge Groupama over the liner to win this leg of the Volvo Ocean Race. Thousands of people including some of the guests and crew of The Great Ponsonby were  also there.
  On a damp Sunday afternoon we are among ten thousand people to welcome Telephonica, the third boat in. We missed the second boat, Puma but we were really there for Camper arriving after battling huge seas for twenty days. My skin prickled as a Maori welcome rang out across the viaduct harbour and every boat there sounded their horn. There was   no mistaking this to be anything but a warm kiwi welcome. Camper was only ninety seconds behind the third placed boat and overall leader, Telefonica.
 An enthusiastic Hannah Wallace from the Untied Kingdom revved us up but we had to hang around for a bit as the exhausted crew hugged their families and munched hamburgers and chips. At last the crew, their families and oodles of kids were on the stage, ticker tape poured on them, champagne corks popped, and red camper flags were waved madly throughout the crowd.
  New Zealanders like any nationality want to win.  We know that we have a slow boat and it is a hard slog but we know the skill of our sailors who fought on in this toughest of races. All the locals were there to salute the crews who remain in good spirits in spite of twenty days of being pounded These are race boats. They are not floating gin palaces but are constructed to withstand the toughest of oceans rather than provide a good nights sleep.
In a weeks time they take off again to South America and I wonder if any of their other layovers will bring out so many of the population to welcome them in? We are a boatie nation and we support our sailors.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Letter to Len Brown

Kia ora Len ,

We had the greatest respect for you as Mayor of Manukau . When you put your hat into the ring for  Auckland we were excited .

We donated funds to your campaign. Sally  and I delivered  and paid our staff to deliver your leaflets. We also worked the Ponsonby Business Community to vote for you and achieved some success.
 We have been concerned  about your lack of understanding of the importance of heritage buildings to our community, but have kept our  comments to a few trusted friends .

However, our disappointment on your view about the port workers and you refusal  to take a principled stand for these workers has reached new levels. Under previous boards which have been led by experienced ship mangers such a Peter  Dunlop, the port worked well, productivity improved  and industrial peace was maintained .

You expectation of a twelve percent return has always been fanciful and has contributed  to the current situation in the port. We would all like 12% returns, or 25% , or whatever number is pulled out of a hat, but it is just not possible.

The public do not accept that you have sit on the sideline in this dispute and nor do we .
We believe if you met with both parties and came  a realistic settlement then your re-election is more likely.  The mana that would be achieved by reaching a solution would become the stuff of legends .
If you don’t many of your supporters will regard you as a Claytons Labour mayor. The position you  have taken aligns  you not with your people but with John Key,  the man who  is also kicking your  aspirations for a transport solution for your city, for a six .
We  urge you to become the leader we all hoped you would be and come out of this dispute with honour.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Not Smart Thinking

This blog was published as the lead letter  in the New  Zealand Herald Friday  9 March

The decision by the port company to contract out its workforce is not smart thinking . It is a very expensive folly that will not bring productivity  increases or increased dividends to Auckland City . The proud health and safety  record of the port could well disappear. Tauranga has had three workforce deaths within the last two  years whereas Auckland has had none.
New Zealand needs  a national port strategy and in our region a three port strategy   of Whangarei, Auckland and Tauranga linked with a fast rail network serving the region .This merger  would also break the power of the global shipping lines which are playing  each port off against each other and who  are not paying a realistic rate for port services and labour. This would allow for greater returns on investment  for communities . Perhaps Mayor Brown’s 12 % return would then become realistic.    Albany could be connected to the rail network with a station and a freight distribution centre which would reduce the number of trucks that clog our roads and Auckland would become the aspirational and  liveable city that Mayor Brown was elected to deliver .
Because this takes a national vision to achieve it is always easier to demonize a waterfront workforce  than make  rational decisions. We will probably  slip behind the East Coast Australian ports in performance. The poor  rate payers will be paying for this foolish decision of the Port Company and the mayor.