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.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Aucklands Crown Jewels

This blog was published as a letter  in the New Zealand Herald  Today Tuesday, 24   September , 2013.

 The Auckland waterfront and Hauraki Gulf are our regions crown jewels. Whether we win the Americas Cup, and I hope we do, the development of Westhaven is imminent. Every day fishermen, joggers, ramblers,   dogs and their owners, sailors, children and kayakers play in their hundreds there.
If we lose the dog friendly beach or price out the ability of most folk   from fishing or having a recreational life at Westhaven, we will damage the soul of our city.  

 From the fishermen who fish on the western side of the harbour bridge, the  venerable sailing clubs, the marina of fine yachts and floating gin palaces, cruise companies, the new apartments, Wynyard Quarter, the bustling viaduct harbour to the working port is the soul of Auckland.   It is organic.  This is not Disneyland.

 What we have is real.  It is about people.  It is Auckland.  The restored Shed 10 is wonderful.  It is gritty and reeks of maritime history. This is the key.

 The challenge is to have a recreational and commercial port that will serve future generations of Aucklanders.

The strength of our city is that all can enjoy these jewels of our city. Damage the soul and we damage Auckland.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ponsonby News Article - Local Board Elections

John Elliott, a well-known political commentator and voice of democracy in Ponsonby, also wrote the comments below in the September issue of the Ponsonby News.

America cup capsize;
The near capsize on San Francisco Bay this morning quickly brought a nations heartbeat  to a dead stop. Armchair sailors spilt rum or tea  and the drinks stopped for a moment in waterfront watering holes in ports everywhere .

Relief was on the faces or all and their silence  spoke more leagues than most have sailed on the waves. New Zealand’s aspirations and dreams were within seconds of being shattered before the sea gods looked after our boat today.

Via Team Emirates NZ Facebook page

 Our skipper and crew are among the finest sailors on the on planet. They seek higher things than fame and personal fortune. They sail with our nation's will and know if they can retrieve the cup, Auckland and New Zealand inc will be advanced more than political spin and sound bites of recent years .  Everything about this crew and their campaign is 100 % Pure New Zealand. That is why we love them .

This is what we would like to see 


Monday, August 19, 2013

My Submisson On SKY City Convention Bill

To the select committee,

I wish to make a submission on the New Zealand International Convention
Centre Bill.

The purpose of this bill is to expand the gambling license for Skycity, a
private Australian company operating in New Zealand. It seems that aside from
these extraordinary provisions, the bill does not have a reason to exist.
With this submission I join with a wide selection of groups urging the
committee to reject the provisions of the bill, which sells our  current
gambling laws for the project management of the International Convention

Some reasons I oppose this bill:

* 200 more problem-gamblers - Bad for people

If this bill is enacted, it is estimated that 10 000 people will need to deal
with the adverse effects of problem-gambling. Regardless of any attempts
Skycity may make to mitigate this, gambling addictions lead to family and
relationship breakdowns, theft, domestic incidents and crime. Each of these
“adverse effects” can be life destroying.  The passing of this Bill has
the potential to be devastating to thousands of people.

* Minimal community returns - Bad for communities

There is a perception that gambling profits will return to benefit community
organisations, but the proportion given by Skycity in this way is alarmingly
small. Skycity returned only 2% of its gambling take, compared with more than
37% from other gambling operators like pubs. Research by BDO Kendalls shows
that more than half of all money stolen from non-profit community
organisations has been to stolen by gambling addicts - $180,000 per person
per theft on average. These figures in tandem cast the whole deal in a
greedy, immoral and ungenerous light. This bill does not benefit community

* Contrary to existing gambling laws - Bad for rule of law

The main reason this bill exists is to reduce Skycity's responsibility under
the 2003 Gambling Act. The Gambling Act's first stated purpose is to control
the growth of gambling - but the New Zealand International Convention Centre
Bill exists to expand Skycity's gambling license. It sets a bad legal
precedent to allow the largest private gambling operator in NZ to buy
gambling laws. This bill contradicts the purpose of our gambling law.

* Poor business case - Bad for the economy

The potential economic benefits of the Skycity Convention Centre have not
been subjected to a proper challenge. The draft design of the convention
centre suggests that it will not benefit local businesses. The 10-day average
length of stay estimate by the Government is not supported by convincing
evidence available to the public. The employment estimates bear no relation
to the employee figures in comparable convention centres overseas. The Sydney
Convention Centre (which also has a capacity of 3500 people) employs only 200
full-time equivalent staff compared with the Government's figure of 800
expected jobs in Auckland's centre. The economics don't stack up.

I request that all provisions that allow expansion of this private company's
gambling operations to be removed before this bill proceeds.

As an Auckland ratepayers we do have options . I believe that a convention
centre  will be  of real benefit   However we could continue to. use the
Aotea centre and develop the St James theatre

.Under the Sky City proposal these council owned venues will ultimately lose
business to Sky City  and as rate payers we will have to pick up the cost.
This would be in the community and civic interest .The Sky City proposal is

Thank you for hearing my submission.

Gerard Hill
Click here to Reply or Forward

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Martha's Corner Should Be Saved

 This blog was published as a letter in the New Zealand Herald today Thursday 15 August, 2013 

The buildings that surround Martha’s Corner should be saved.

Nothing less is unacceptable. We have lost too much of our built heritage and we are much poorer as a result. The ability to tell the important history and the stories of our city will be further diminished if these buildings are demolished . This will have a cultural and economic impact far beyond many folks’ thoughts as well as deprive future generations of their whakapapa and sense of place.
  Since the Christchurch and Wellington earthquakes the approach that many are taking that buildings have to be knocked down, has not been thought through thoroughly. Regrettably this view has been given a currency that in most cases is far from the public interest.

Recent decisions at government level have been helpful on the time frames in getting heritage buildings up to scratch and do serve the national interest.   This sentiment in the case of Martha’s Corner has not travelled over the Bombay Hills.
Another compelling factor was this council placed no penalties on the Chow Brothers for the Aurora Hotel demolition. Many developers may have taken this as a green light.

Failure to protect these buildings will be a developer’s charter.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Public Housing

If public health and safety is at risk Housing New Zealand is right to relocate tenants from the heritage art deco flats in Symonds Street. Warning bells are ringing with heritage advocates. Their concerns are real. If refurbishment costs are high then debate will occur over the merits of the building. 

A more important issue is the loss of income related rents for working people. The Herald reports that the building was built in 1948 for low income single people and couples without children
City industries and business are impacted on by  the shortage of affordable housing .

The fact that flats were built in the city sixty years ago indicate this is not a new issue.
It is now a question that we have to talk about and hopefully find some solutions. 

With the closure of institutions and the loss of boarding houses people with acute needs are now the folk who get preference for the declining resouse. They are fortunate to have advocates.
Their social needs should be to be met to. 

However we need to house low income workers who our city needs to keep the wheels of industry turning.
The local election campaign is time to discuss this.

ACC Has lost the Plot

  This blog is a letter published in the New Zealand Herald Tuesday 6  August 2013 

          The Herald is correct. ACC ought to accept full liability for gravest injuries.

ACC has lost the plot. It was originally designed by the Woodhouse Commission to be a universal no-fault scheme for all.

In return New Zealanders gave up their common law right to sue.
Mathew Purchase has been short-changed by their system. The decision by ACC to reduce his benefit to $ 95.37 is ungenerous, lacks compassion and goes against the spirit and intent of the original legislation.

Visitors and New Zealanders have found ACC to be mean-spirited. There have been high-profile public cases where the corporation has been found to be falling well short of its charter.  In one case the collateral damage was a ministerial resignation.

In my experience both as an employer and a consumer I have found that their focus has shifted from one of providing cover and rehabilitation, as the original act intended, to behaving like a private insurer intent on reducing exposure and managing costs.

The ACC board should undertake a comprehensive review of ACC. Their current model in the Purchase case damages our international reputation and falls well short of public entitlement to cover and the intent of our world class compensation system.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Warren Freer Memorial Service

This afternoon a couple of hundred people turned up for a wonderful celebration of the life of Warren Freer. Speakers included his sister-in-law Linsday Freer, Bob Tizard, Mt Albert MP David Shearer, Former Prime Minister Helen Clark and Niu Qingbao, Consul-General of the People's Republic of China.
Right Honourable Helen Clark.

The son of a Waihi miner, Warren Freer was a courageous man and knew from birth how hard the life of the working people is. He was first elected to parliament in 1947 and he was to make, in the dying days of his first Labour administration, some impact. In 1949, Prime Minister Peter Fraser called a referendum on peacetime conscription. Freer stood with the Watersiders and other people opposed to peacetime conscription, which was a courageous thing for an MP of 27. In 1955, as Niu Qingbao said, he became the first parliamentary representative to visit China. Qingbao in his speech acknowledged Michael Joseph Savage as the first leader of New Zealand to be friendly to the Chinese. Savage and the Labour Government abolished the Poll tax which Chinese had to pay to bring their relatives out. Many a married man was never to see their wives again and some of their lives ended up in the tragedy of opium addiction.
Lindsay Freer

Warren Freer continued in the line of the first Labour government and was internationalist and a visionary. He was responsible for forging export markets into China for New Zealand product. The Consul-General Qingbao then praised Norman Kirk for recognising the People's Republic of China, being the first western country to do so. He then praised Helen Clark for leading the way with Phil Goff for a comprehensive free-trade agreement with China which the Chinese believe is a model for people who have different government systems and different cultures to be able to trade together for the common good of their citizens.

David Shand, Dame Catherine Tizard and Bob Tizard.
His highest praise, however, was Helen Clark's formal apology for the discrimination, hardships and deprivations that they had suffered in New Zealand. He said that no other country had made this apology, and it is another reason why the New Zealand flag flies high in China. Recognition was given in a little film by George Andrews about Warren's Maximum Retail Price Scheme of the third Labour Government, which set the maximum price that goods could be sold for. This scheme, although scrapped by the National Muldoon Government, actually brought the first real competition and discounting into New Zealand. Bob Tizard, who was in parliament and also a cabinet minister wihin the third Labout government (The Kird-Rowling government), celebrated their friendship of more than 60 years.

Sadly, little was said of Warren's other achievements, including a contract with the major oil companies for the development of the Maui fields in the Taranaki basin. This was a time of the first oil shots, petroleum prices were going through the roof and despite these factors making a negotiation difficult, Warren successfully concluded an agreement that has worked in New Zealand's national interest for 40 years. He was also a very successful Minister of Trade and Industry, in the Kirk-Rowling government. He was a great New Zealander and a man of immense vision. Tribute was paid by Linsday Freer and Bob to his wives (he married twice) and the support they gave him throughout his life.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Local Hero Sleeps Rough

Hot off the press from the latest Ponsonby News. I knew they were doing a small story, and I am humbled by the size of the story and the photo, and I am so glad that Ponsonby News is promoting the Lifewise Big Sleep Out.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Waitemata Local Board Auckand

Today I accepted nomination for a seat on the Waitemata Ward. I will put community back into community, local back into local.

The Waitemata Ward needs a strong, positive and collaborative voice at the table to push for a vibrant, prosperous Auckland. I want to be part of making a ward that empowers and works and that promotes democracy as a foundation for our growth and prosperity. I want a ward that makes sure it gets the basics right.

I am enjoying meeting and talking to residents in the Waitemata Ward as I discuss my key policy aims. These aims include solid infrastructure, affordable rates, resilience against the risks we may face, and having the features we expect of a leading city. A city that can be, and I believe is, the first city of the Pacific. Please check out my blog Gerry O’ Ponsonby and my website for more information. I walk my talk.

I understand the economic importance of Tourism, Heritage, Arts and Culture and the opportunities they bring to local communities. They also help sustain small businesses and provide jobs in our communities. Perhaps more importantly, their influence cannot be underestimated in providing a sense of time and place, which will anchor future generations and speak for ours.

Getting the basics right isn’t just a feel-good tagline. Rather, it is focusing on the core things that make a city liveable. I was staggered when Auckland Council steamed on with their Unitary Plan earlier this year, after 22,700 citizens made submissions on the plan. There is plenty of work to be done to cement our reputation as a most liveable city in the World.

I was disappointed with the Council Officers’ refusal to provide Councillor Coney with information in relation to the Unitary Plan. This was wrong and will not look after the interests of the public. Elected councillors act for those who know that the Unitary Plan will affect the long term interests of their families and community. Management should have neither right nor ability to withhold vital information required for council decision making. At a local board level I will support democracy at all levels of Council and community.

Intensification is happening in our ward, and the important thing is that we have guidelines and make provision for our new residents. I am therefore committed to the Nosh Site at 254 Ponsonby Road becoming a full park with public amenities. Intensification also provides wonderful opportunities for mainstreet businesses, public amenities and life. I support maximising these opportunities as long as it remains within the public interest.
We need to discuss effective transportation options and why there has been limited progress on cycle lanes and walking routes from suburbs into the CBD. To this end I support cycle lanes along the link bus route. Walking would become more popular if we a net work connecting the entire heritage walks from the central city to the suburbs and throughout the city. This will show case some of the best of Auckland and will increase civic pride.
   The Government commitment to the inner-city rail link, although welcome, was begrudging and has more holes it than an old cardigan. Bus routes and quality of services require more effort. A tram line from Wynyard to Britomart would be economic, for example.

Wellington has had, and is still having, a rough old time but most Wellingtonians are prepared. They had emergency kits and their emergency services and civil defence worked. Their earthquakes have led me to think that, thankfully, we have not had earthquakes in the Waitemata Ward, however, a recent tornado did cause loss of life and we do have slips and landslides. Part of our civil defence discussion must also be about what we are to do if Rangitoto erupts.

Thankfully, Wellington was able to stand up to events and their Council had a key role in mitigating the risks. I will work to help build resilient communities and a board that has the resolve to ensure we are well placed to deal with adversity. The Unitary Plan has scant mention of civil defence and emergency services. If you elect me to the Waitemata ward we will sort this failure.

Gerry Hill,
Your proudly independent candidate for the Waitemata Ward
Please contact by email or by phone or text at 021 659111


Friday, July 12, 2013

Auckland Public Hospital

On Friday evening fifth of July   I was rushed to Auckland Hospital with an acute problem and just was discharged on Tuesday  9 July .
 Auckland Hospital is a first world and first-class hospital, and their duty of care exceeded my expectations. Their point of difference was the professionalism and extreme warmth from the cleaners, nurses, doctors and surgeons. The nursing staff were of many different nationalities and were friendly and good-humoured to the multiracial patients, including speaking to other patients in their first language.
Many people are critical of our healthcare system, but I can only commend it, from my arrival at triage through to the operating theatre and ward I was staying in. I was also surprised by the quality of the food, which was far better than I had expected. If your doctor recommends going to Auckland Hospital, have no fear. Based on my experience you will get not only the best treatment but your expectations will be exceeded.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Begging: It is a tricky issue.

This was published  as a  letter in the New  Zealand Herald today Thursday, 4 July.

Begging, like child prostitution, is an awkward issue for people to discuss. It is emotive and brings out the best and worst in people’s thoughts.
Some see it as an industry and some folk see them as bludgers. To others they are victims, many of whom have mental health and other health issues. Few believe that these people are employable and many of us who get to know them a little understand that there are bigger issues involved. Some of these people were actually servicemen.
We have lost two of these people in Ponsonby and Krangahape Rd in the last two years. Both Margaret and Robbie had well attended funerals and all who attended were surprised at how normal their lives had once been.
Others, like Wellington’s Blanket Man, slowly died of malnutrition over many years. Some cried for him but many didn’t notice or care.
To address this issue it is best managed by agencies, the councils and the central government. Local communities live with street people every day and Central government and City Hall may have the solution in their hands.
Benefit changes last year tightened the access to some benefits which may well have been responsible for a lift in the numbers of people begging and involved in child prostitution. There is anecdotal evidence that many of these teenagers selling themselves and the people begging are no longer   eligible for benefits that they previously had.
With Councillor Casey and other prominent Auckland citizens on Thursday night I’m sleeping rough to highlight the big issue of homelessness and to raise funds for Lifewise ( who work to alleviate the problems of the homeless and find a sustainable solution.   Check out Gerry Hll fundraising on this site.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Demoracy or process and procedure: what's best for you?

This blog was published in the New Zealand Herald entitled 'Local Board Candidates'.
Monday June 24

Your correspondent Anne–Marie Coury raises valid points that voters should consider in voting for local board candidates.
Much of the intent and the functions have been pushed down from council to local board level. For local boards to achieve what the Auckland Plan intended requires some skills. The task of local boards is challenging because they have little funding.

Funding issues are currently impacting with the Ponsonby Master Plan. There is a rush to have plan completed. Funding issues are one of the contributing reasons.

If boards were better funded more time would be available and citizens would not feel bulldozed as many do who are giving much time in contributing to this plan.

Arguably we may have produced a more considered plan that would work for future generations. 

I agree with Ms Corey that “citizens of vision including community building and passion for advocating for inclusiveness on principle” are required. The Ponsonby experience is that it is process driven and the philosophy that the ends will justify the means will produce a sustainable result.

This will not be so. Community support involves local knowledge and democracy, not process, as its driving force.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Gerry Sleeps Out

I am supporting the Big Sleep Out and sleeping rough overnight on American Independence Day. Homelessness can be eradicated and the best way to do it is to support this campaign of the Auckland City Mission.
Can spare a few bucks and donate to this cause via me? We can all do something constructive to fix this issue.

Best Wishes,

Click here to donate.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Auckland Readers and Writers Festival, May 2013

Petra and Matt.
13,500 people attended this year's festival - the largest ever. There was a buzz and intellectual stimulation for 5 days as we listened to New Zealand and international writers. There was a tribute on the last day to one of the Pacific's finest writers and intellectuals, Albert Wendt. In 50 years of writing, Wendt has championed many causes. 

New Zealand's writers of note were Jane Tolleton, Stephanie Johnson, and Witi Ihimaera, to name a few. The photos published are a cross-section of Auckland folk. One small criticism is that there was little of attraction for young people. In saying this, 3,000 students came and attended talks and workshops. A bit more could be done to attract writers of appeal to this demographic. There was also a lack of working class writing and this could also be addressed. These should be regarded as positive comments and should in no way detract from what was a most wonderful festival. It is truly New Zealand's leading literary festival and long may it live.

Margaret Crozier

Apprentice Photographer Original Sin

Tricia, Sally, David and Kirsten.

David, Frances and Cathy

Cathy and Sally

Masha Gessen and interviewer.

Sally making tough decisions about who to hear.

Sally well-satisfied after 5 days of stimulation.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Horomia: One Of A Vanishing Breed

This  post  was published in the New Zealand Herald, Saturday May 4, 2013 as their letter of the week.

It is unlikely that we shall see the likes of people like him in our parliament again.

Parekura Horomia had many influences that shaped him into the impressive man and minister who he became. Perhaps his greatest experience came through his life. He was not born of privilege or wealth and his major education came through the school of hard knocks.

Less than a generation ago our parliament had people like him in all parties. Their experience bought real benefits to our parliaments and also to legislation.

Parties then also made and campaigned for policies and no one had heard of focus groups. No locals electorate race would have been trivialized as to the battle of the babes.

It is difficult to see any of our current parties selecting candidates for winnable seats or top list positions who in anyway are like Parekura.

Today our parliament is in the main, full of people who lack his life experience. They have a very different experience often coming through working for minsters, or in party research and  media offices.

Our parliament which has always had people of real ability and thankfully this situation remains. The loss of members who have not come through the school of hard knocks is a loss of humanity and considerable talent.

Rest in peace Parekura, you will rest with giants