Keeping Christ in Christmas
May I please say a heartfelt thank you to Rob and the staff of the Mangawhai Focus for the timely and thoughtful Christmas editorial.
We now live in an age where ever-diminishing regard is given to the time of Christ and the true meaning of Christmas; in an age where it is, sadly, almost politically incorrect to mention the subject, even in our schools; in an age where bauble has replaced meaning and crass commercialism, sensibility.
I don't belong to any religious group or church, yet have, in the past 20 or so years, studied the times of The Christ and his followers. I am an avid reader. A retired-ish old coot now, my work often employed the theories of the laws of physics. Hand on heart though, the Bible is the most wonderful book that I have ever read. Such wisdom, such history.
Some months ago when about to jump (hobble stiffly!) into bed, perchance I drew back the curtain and scanned the night sky. Wow! What a marvel I said to myself. Then “Eh oh. Hold on, that's all dead Terrence; you are more marvellous, you have life.”
How did life come about then? A while ago it was through a meteorite slamming into a muddy pool, then ‘wham!’ some bloke caused amino acids to form by electrical zap. ‘Yep! That's it,’ they all squeaked, ‘that's the answer all right.’
A little while ago though, a white coated one said ‘Eureka! Got it you dudes. See, it's all down to sea vent activity and molecules.’
‘Yeah, that's it,’ they again head-noddingly, hypothesised.
Yep! When one really thinks about things, weighs things up, then I guess that it takes more faith to believe in evolution than in Christmas. Thanks again Rob and crew.
A foot in both camps?
In his recent letters Christian Simon (till now an open advocate of onsite septic systems) has put forward some very strong arguments for not only completing the existing Mangawhai Community Waste Water Scheme (MCWWS), but more than doubling its geographic coverage.
He raised concerns about antibiotics and hormones entering groundwater from human waste. In materials supplied by Christian to me, he has shown that onsite systems at best have an unknown ability and at worst have no ability at all to treat these pollutants. Putting into the mix independent NZ research that identified 77 percent of onsite systems don’t deliver acceptable outputs through inappropriate design or maintenance, the choice is either a well monitored, managed and maintained centralised system, or a very high risk disposal into the ground water of the same pollutants via several thousand onsite septic systems. Certainly appears to be a strong pro-MCWWS argument that Christian has put forward.
Then in conjunction with various MRRA members Christian has called for the residents of Tern Point to be connected to the MCWWS. To put this in context the
reticulation network currently extends 3.5km from the treatment plant to the vicinity of the primary school. To get coverage to the residents of Tern Point would necessitate in excess of a 5km extension – not quite ‘at the gate’ as Christian labels it.
So firstly Christian provides evidence that the MCWWS is better for the environment than onsite systems, then he puts forward a proposal for the more than doubling of the geographic coverage of the MCWWS. Could it be that the most outspoken advocate for onsite systems is actually a double agent who really favours centralised systems? Certainly he is putting forward pro-MCWWS arguments.
As for the issue of bovine pollution, I would also like to see this addressed. I don’t see this as a decision of removing either human or bovine pollution from the estuary, but rather that we want to remove both. Every farm drain fenced, riparian tree planted and polluting septic tank removed should be reason for celebration.
On a different note, it is with interest that I read the Court of Appeal requiring of the MRRA to meet the KDC’s legal costs. I am left to ponder if those members who raised their hands in support of the MRRA proceeding with the many court battles, and who put out their hands in the expectation of a share of the windfall should they have won (as the MRRA Executive advised them would happen), will now have the decency to get out their wallets and pay their share of KDC costs?
Finally, for the second time in recent years Kaipara ratepayers will have an organisation that has divided the community, has incurred significant debts, and a leader who is moving on (Bruce noted his intention to resign as Chairman in his recent letter) before those debts become due. Could it be that Bruce and Jack McKerchar are two peas from the same pod?
Dr Ian Greenwood
Town water supply needed?
I recently filled in the Kaipara District Councils's online Mangawhai Town Plan survey and saw the item “Mangawhai needs a town water supply because tank supply is not working well” with options of filling in from “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree”.
Firstly, this is a loaded question as it states that tank supply is not working well. I, and most of my acquaintances with water tanks, do not think there is any problem.
The only “problem” that I am aware of is the requirement by KDC for new houses to have an additional tank for firefighting purposes, though I understand that by paying some funds to KDC this requirement can be waived.
It is now more than a year since KDC asked for submissions on this; effectively no action since then and when discussing this recently with the Chairman I was led to believe that he had neither read the Code of Practice that had led to this requirement being inserted in the District Plan, nor did he seem to understand the link between the Code of Practice and the District Plan.
If KDC were to proceed with a town water supply what would be the source of reticulated water? What would be the effect of additional water use on the sewerage system? What would be the cost, and benefits? Would there be the need for water restrictions? What would happen to the local businesses that provide water carting services?
Remember that the “need for a reticulated water supply” was pushed by a former CEO more than once. Is KDC trying to lead the community down the path of an expensive infrastructure project on the basis of dubious technical arguments once again? Remember EcoCare.
Does history repeat, or do we learn from history?
Sell the dredge!
The best way out of the Mangawhai Harbour Restoration Society's financial woes is to sell the dredge and do what its neighbours at Warkworth and Whangarei do when dredging is necessary – they charter one!
It’s just not good economics to have your largest capital asset sitting around for half the year or more without work growing barnacles and rust.
As the chair of the dredging committee ten years or so ago we were faced with a budget problem and knew it would be necessary to attract more income to cover its operational costs.
The basic arithmetic as I recall was some thing like this: It cost about $240,000 for the new barge, and around $140,00 a year to man, fuel and maintain. Worst of all it was not suitable for dredging the harbour bar because it was not self-propelled and had no cargo hold for dredged sand.
It’s a pretty safe bet that most boaties today given a choice of making the harbour bar deeper and safer or removing upper harbour mangroves would go for the former as the bar continues to provide the major obstacle to safe boating in this harbour.
If the dredge were sold it may fetch sufficient money to dredge the bar and also remove mangroves with a suitable self-powered dredge.
It was shocking to hear at the latest public meeting of the Restoration Society that its own dredge had not been slipped for about ten years. It’s a costly and time consuming job to tow the dredge to Whangarei, pay for a slipway and then take stock of maintenance and general repairs.
While it is not self-propelled it still needs to have a Safe Ship Certificate and that requires a detailed inspection of the hull, machinery and general equipment and lifesaving gear.
No effort seems to have been made to charter out Mangawhai's dredge. Ten years ago we decided getting the dredge chartered out to other ports for short spells could overcome our major financial woes and fill the gap between running costs and income. There was, and is dredging business there but the task would place a lot more work on the shoulders of MHRS volunteers.
The Restoration Society needs to cut its cloth to what it can afford not what it wants.
The MHRS request for a hike in its level on rates comes at a very bad time. The majority of Mangawhai ratepayers are struggling to cope with a big hike in rates. It would harm no one to make the mangroves wait.
The meeting last Wednesday smacked more of 'the ambulance beneath the cliff’ approach towards mangrove removal than a fence at the top.
In fairness Richard Bull spoke about the problems dairy farmers with cow shed run-off etc but did not mention the frequently used airborne fertilisers around the sandpit and on the paddocks next to his bund wall. A high percentage of the fertiliser spread from trucks and aircraft will end up in the harbour providing excellent nourishment for mangroves. This was not mentioned when he discussed fertile pingao on the spit. It also makes the weeds grow and rabbits flourish as well.
Why should the MHRS assume the Northland Regional Council's and Department of Conservation's legal obligations to care for the harbour? I have a property at Marsden Point and pay Whangarei rates and of course the NRC rates as well, but there is no funny impost of anything like the Restorations level.
We are being short-changed by the Northern Regional Council. We have moved on since the Big Dig – that was last century – but we are still bankrolling the Restoration Society to perform the Regional Council's responsibilities to this harbour.
A fresh look at all harbour issues is long overdue, and reliance of 'the old pals' act' to get along is long past its time. Lets make the bar safe first and get the Regional Council to live up to its obligations, and also sell the dredge.
The people of Managawhai have a common complaint. We are so good at volunteering that the strain on our time and money becomes excessive and never seems to be properly reflected in saving to our rates.
Enough is enough, especially if more cost-effective options and policies are available. Sell the dredge for a start, and lobby the NRC for a regular cash input to Mangwhai's harbour management costs. They care so much they did not feel it necessary to attend the meeting! Why? Because it’s the same old, same old thing.