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Letters to the Editor

A sad sight
On October 28 I observed the Spirit of Mangawhai dredging from the estuary beside the pontoon. It was low tide, calm and an orange slick formed around the sandy edge for as far as I could see. A NZ fairy tern was flying overhead trying to feed from this orange mess, trying to see small fish, as they do in ankle deep water. It fluttered here and there for ages, flying low over the pumping dredge several times.

What a sad sight! The Fairy Tern, more endangered than the kiwi or the kakapo, unable to feed because of the decisions made by just a few individuals in our community. I believe this has happened on many occasions recently, when the dredge has been operating.

Fairy Tern are breeding on the sandspit right now, nests with eggs and more to follow. They feed frantically at this time of the year as one parent is finding food both for himself and his mate back on the nest.

As a ratepayer, I must contribute (in my rates) to the running of this dredge. But, I do NOT support selfish actions such as this. Any dredging that takes place could so easily be done outside of the breeding season, avoiding a clash with our most precious bird. Thankfully, dredging now seems to have stopped.

Christine Silvester

Flags: Dynamic or dull?

Having just returned from the Windy City I enjoyed the somewhat rare opportunity of seeing the five proposed new flags in operation side by side. Naturally it's a matter of individual choice as to preference or indeed to keep the current design, however seeing them in action on firstly a sunny and breezy day and secondly on a dull, cold, wet and miserable day, I offer my observations.

Firstly on the dull day both the koru and silver fern designs (the two that are exclusively black and white) became just about invisible. Even on the sunny day they appeared extremely bland.

As for the Red Peak, it was very hard to differentiate between the black and blue sections, and with the black part nearest the flagpole, what you actually notice is only the white and red parts.

That leaves the two silver fern designs. As with the Red Peak, the black on one of the designs merges into the flagpole and therefore only the white fern and blue parts stand out, giving the appearance of the flag being smaller. Only the ‘red’ silver fern flag demonstrated the overall qualities of being dynamic, well balanced, visible and effective in the conditions that Wellington is famous for.

What a pity we are being asked to vote when so few voters will have had the opportunity of comparing them in real live situations.

Steve Green

Rogans Law

I am responding to Bruce Rogan’s letter (Mangawhi Focus, Nov 9.)

I assume he writes his numerous letters to the editor in order to convey his opinion, maintain his position and seek some PR value. What a pity it is that he frequently engages in personal attacks and targeted abuse of people that he sees as not sharing his views.

In terms of his communications with the press, and its PR value, he is adept at destroying, in an instant, what may be a very valid position by these less than subtle attacks and his collective cynicism towards “you lot.” Clearly, unless you are aligned with this man you are in his words “an idiot.”

What an absurdity it is for Mr Rogan to gaze into the future and label anyone that might take office or leadership (in whatever body he is referring to) as “self-righteous prigs.” That sounds very much like a self-appraisal to me.

Mr Rogan would very likely have a huge following and significant support from this community if only he could get some control over his toxic pen.

Dave Barlow

The bullied fight back 

After I had translated the epiphany and enlightenment by Ms Greenwood in the last issue of the Focus (Letters to the Editor) I suddenly realised the magnitude of life experiences that had passed me by, even as a child. Fortunately, even though my IQ tests have just come back zero, I found that I had managed to retain at least some of these past life experiences which assisted me in deciphering some of her many hidden meanings and subtle references to conflict, forgiving, forgetting, begrudging, re-connecting, relationships, satisfaction, happiness, engagement, (gasp) self-esteem, identity, ethics, and health and well-being.

She asks if communities are driven by contribution and collaboration or competition and power struggle. The answer, at least to this particular question, is that there will always be bullies in every facet of life. Every workplace, school and organisation will always have its inevitable in-house bully (or bullies.) I have not yet, even at my stage of life, had the pleasure of working within any organisation that does not, and even at this very moment in time I am within ‘short distance’ (while using ‘short’ as a euphemism) of a very fine example of a loud-mouth and a bully.

Wars and conflict throughout history and the ages have all been the result of bullies and the selfish abuse of power. The oft-shown image of a naïve Neville Chamberlain daintily waving a signed piece of paper to a deluded population, assuring the world that peace was guaranteed, right before the Nazis began their relentless march across Europe is one extreme example. The same prevails today at global level right down to the social core of our society and what is important is how the people deal with the bullies and tormentors. That is an unfortunate fact of life.

Ms Greenwood quotes a phrase from a children's book which I eventually grasped, which frustrated my wife to a large extent: “We can't go over it, we cant go under it, oh no we've got to go through it." The term "going through it" can be interpreted in different ways. I can only assume that her later comments about “moving on and re-connecting, working and playing with others" referred to how three-year-olds are much better at it than ourselves. This is probably quite an accurate statement when you are three years old, but I wonder if the same sanitised view will apply when the child is 50-years-old, and has had enough experience with bullies that he has eventually become a person who will simply not tolerate it any longer.

Back to the importance of how one deals with it. Looking back as far as 480BC (and forward) in history, you will always find that when society has been bullied, unfairly treated, consistently provoked, they will eventually turn against you – and with so much commitment that the malefactors are overwhelmed. "Going through it" in this sense, means confronting it head-on, which of course the previous extreme example alludes to, but with more extreme world-changing repercussions. Simply giving this type of society a big hug and a nice conciliatory word – as is obviously Ms Greenwoods preferred option – simply doesn't (and didn't) work.

An uprising or revolt will always eventuate when people are pushed into a corner and marginalised by those who are motivated by political aspirations and visions of self-grandeur. And I must say I personally hope it will continue forever for the betterment of everyone.

Anthony Roberts

More character attacks

I write in response to the letters from Christian Simon, Dave McGillivray, Bruce Rogan and Barbara Pengelly, which I consider to be a combination of slanderous, defamatory and otherwise factually inaccurate comments in that they raised questions about my integrity, or made factual errors. I thought I best respond to clear things up.

The letter I wrote was not about the right to be reimbursed costs (a relatively common court order) but about the desire to seek pecuniary payments in order to teach Kaipara District Council (KDC) a lesson, which is effectively punishing all KDC ratepayers in order to benefit the Mangawhai Ratepayers & Residents Association (MRRA) members beyond what their costs are. I was disappointed but not surprised that this issue wasn’t addressed in any of the four responses.

Firstly to the comments from Christian. I was a member of the Mangawhai Community Waste Water Scheme (MCWWS) panel, not the “leading member” as Christian states. The panel had a chairperson and panellists, and I was the latter. For those that have read the MCWWS panel report you will observe that we were

directed by Christian and a supplier of on-site systems to a technical report that was used to gain approval for such systems in Auckland city. The panel contacted the experts behind the report only to be told that under no circumstances would they recommend such systems for Mangawhai, and that compulsory connection to a communal scheme is the only appropriate solution. Christian spoke, we listened, we contacted their nominated experts, and reported clearly their responses. Now Christian is promoting new experts.

I think Christian also needs to recognise the difference between the concept of who is connected to the system and who the beneficiaries are. In simple terms: as poo flows downhill, while the person at the top of the hill may pay to connect, the person at the bottom may be the benefactor from a cleaner environment.

Christian wrote: “I find it hypocritical when someone demands mandatory connections to the treatment plant to save the estuary but the reticulation should stop on the gate of their own property located directly at the estuary. What would you call it when the same people live in a closed community that includes farm land where bovine waste flows directly into the estuary?”

A similar sentiment was expressed by Barbara questioning: “Is it possible that he shares the exclusive environment of Tern Point… doesn’t have to pay EcoCare charges?” For the record, my house is in the central Mangawhai Heads community, fully connected to the system since day one of the MCWWS as far as I am aware. I can reassure the readers that no bovine waste flows from my property. There is a very good chance though that I did pick up hay on the property that is now Tern Point some 20-30 years ago.

Dave McGillvary maintains that “If Dr Greenwood had done something about the illegal activities by the council we would not be in this mess.” While I have been visiting Mangawhai since I was born (my gran had a bach above the camp ground) it is only in recent years (post the installation of the MCWWS) that I have become a ratepayer. Prior to this time my involvement in the Mangawhai community has been as a regular visitor and holidaymaker for over four decades, a nipper lifeguard at the surf club, a hammer-hand during university holidays, and being raised on a nearby farm. My own children are now the fourth generation in my family to enjoy what Mangawhai has to offer. While I may be able to claim some form of customary rights, voting rights for KDC certainly wasn’t in my gambit when all the decisions of MCCWS were being made.

I will concur though with Dave’s view that the decision-making around the MCWWS was a mess. That is why when I was approached to volunteer my expertise to try and help sort through the issues that I accepted, knowing the community needed to look beyond the people and personalities involved and look at the issues and the future for both the scheme and Mangawhai.

Which brings me nicely to Bruce’s and Barbara’s questioning of my qualifications and integrity. To put this in context, Bruce has previously apologised to me for his attempts to “denigrate or insult” me, so the personal attack was not unexpected. In other communications to me Bruce has agreed that a person in authority ought to set a standard of behaviour that others could be expected to match. Quite clearly Bruce has set a very low standard of behaviour and unfortunately his MRRA cohorts have sought to match his example. Bruce once wrote that I had prostituted myself for simply being involved in the MCWWS panel process. To my knowledge, neither as a professional engineer nor as a panel member, have I ever received money from KDC – a cornerstone of prostitution I understand.

For those that are interested, my degrees and area of specialisation are in the field of infrastructure asset management for which the MCWWS mess fits firmly within. I am sufficiently good at my work to have been made a Fellow of the Institute of Professional Engineers of NZ for my advancement of engineering practice in this area. I was presented with the inaugural award for outstanding technical excellence for infrastructure asset management at the 2009 international public works engineering conference for my work in Canada. When the UK had to deal with the impact of the global financial crisis in 2010-11 I was called in to help their government agencies, a similar role to that for which the State of Michigan in the USA engaged me. I have held similar roles in New Zealand, along with chairing various national committees, serving on a ministerial task force and working with Treasury to resolve various infrastructure challenges.

I have co-authored two of the world’s leading guidance manuals on infrastructure asset management, and was part of the international team that developed the new international standard on asset management. Many of the projects I am involved with include reviewing or drafting legislation. My integrity is such that when the New Zealand and Tongan governments were having diplomatic issues during 2014, I was appointed by the World Bank to help resolve the situation. This year alone I have been called upon to advise central government authorities across 17 different countries on how to manage infrastructure to improve the lives of their citizens.

Bruce states: “Most highly specialised people are keenly aware of this narrowness and keep their mouths firmly shut in areas they know nothing about. Not so Dr Greenwood… .” I would like to think that the above summary makes it clear that my views are anything but ill-informed, nor am I a “skivvy” or a “shoe shine boy” as Barbara would describe me. Barbara’s and Bruce’s ill-informed and factually inaccurate comments and assertions may well be defamatory. Perhaps the MRRA would like one more legal battle to fight? In a civil society the MRRA representatives would apologise in this same forum – however I won’t hold my breath.

My dealings with John Robertson (and the other commissioners) have been purely in the relation with the community panel. Outside of those meetings I haven’t had any personal involvement with John socially or professionally. I wouldn’t claim we are friends as Bruce states, though I would happily stop in the street and have a chat with John any day, as I would the other panel members and any number of community members I met through the process.

It was a pleasure to serve the community along with the other panellists. I did my part without the need to insult or defame, nor did I have any expectation of payment (costs or profit) – three things that the MRRA can’t claim in their dealing on this matter. We have many challenges as a community going forward (outside of the MCWWS) that will require level heads and open discussion with KDC and the wider community to resolve. Name calling, slander and defamatory statements are not going to help. The MRRA in theory should represent the views of the people, not seek to divide and denigrate anyone who voices a different opinion.

I raised an issue in my original letter to the editor about just who MRRA were trying to penalise through seeking a court ordered settlement higher than their costs. In response there was silence on the issue raised, with instead the response focusing on factually incorrect information on events, and plenty of character attacks. Perhaps this is best summarised by Eleanor Roosevelt who stated: “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”

Dr Ian Greenwood

In response

I always read the letters to the editor with huge interest. The Mangawhai Focus is providing a great forum for our community to exchange and discuss our opinions. In this way the Focus is practicing and contributing to democracy.

I deeply enjoy the philosophical excursions of Prof Worzel.

In your last issue of the Focus (Nov 9) you published my letter to the editor under the heading ‘Who's the hypocrite?’ I was not happy with this heading but I appreciate your work finding the right title. I guess I'm not the only one submitting letters without headings.

Which topic would I have chosen other than ‘Respond to Dr Ian Greenwood’ to highlight my message? Of course, facing the ongoing issues with EcoCare, $60m debt and no one taken to account, appointed advisory panel extension of the waste water scheme with mandatory connections injustice for nearly a decade, ratepayers have to shut their mouth and pay, John Robertson's meaningless messages of success and well-doing.

Of course everyone is thinking about who's the hypocrite since Dr. Ian Greenwood raised the question. Thank you, Ian, for doing so. I guess you are right demanding more ‘moral’ principles, especially in local politics. I guess the Focus was right in choosing the heading.

I must admit, from time to time, I myself get trapped in the blame game introduced by Mr John Robertson. And I must admit, it's fun, but of minor importance. How does it come that they react so embarrassed? Are they taking it personal and discuss persons to avoid talking facts? I guess yes.

The council and MCWWS advisory panel did not care to research environmentally friendly and cost effective solutions to keep our estuary clean from human and bovine pollution and neither did they inform our community about those options. Feeding banks and corporates they stick to the ‘one pipe fits all concept. So, again, we have to do the job ourselves. On Saturday, January 9 at 6pm, Mangawhai Library Hall, experts will inform us about modern waste water solutions.

Christian Simon

Smoke clearing

Welcome back, and a sincere thanks for coming back to all our experienced volunteer fire brigade members who have returned – and will soon be returning to the local Mangawhai brigade following the suspension of Mike McEnaney.

We can now rest a lot easier in the knowledge of having enough fire/rescue coverage during the week, let alone for over the busy summer season ahead.

Unfortunately suspension doesn’t in fact mean the person in question has permanently been removed.

Here’s hoping NZ Fire Service will be wise enough to finally support the genuine ongoing success of our local volunteer fire brigade in being able to adequately service Mangawhai’s community by deciding to permanently eradicate the presently suspended bully person.

Annie Kitchener

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