Letters to the Editor
Foot bridge urgency
I was reading the Mangawhai focus today about the tsunami drill for the Mangawhai Beach School and thinking I should contact KDC (Kaipara District Council) and request a foot bridge be established alongside the existing road bridge for the children's safety. Then I read the school was thinking along the same lines.
This is, in my view, an urgent and necessary request for the safety of this community’s children and for the many pedestrians and fishers who currently have to cross this narrow bridge. I fully endorse the comments of principal Kemp and ask that council budget for and include this request in their plans.
Artificial reef solution?
Noel Paget's suggestion that I 'discreetly glossed over man's contribution towards the mangrove invasion’ is far from the truth. Any primary school child can work out cause and effect, i.e. farm run off and top dressing fertilisers and deforestation over the years have all contributed to the problem
The solution lies in dealing with the cause of any problem, not tinkering around with the effects in the hope that the problem will disappear. Simply put, a fence at the top of a cliff is more effective than and ambulance at the bottom.’
The removal of the mangrove island has destroyed a huge food generator for birds and fish alike as well as a protective canopy for fish and other bottom dwelling marine life.
I have not seen any professional opinion that a southern groyne at the harbour entrance would improve things – quite the reverse. Many years ago, Dr. Shaw Mead of the Artificial Substantial Reef company suggested an offshore artificial reef lying almost parallel with the coastline to the east of the existing bar may be a solution.
His concept, if it worked, would cost far less than a rock built breakwater and could be removed if it did not work out.
Sea levels are rising faster than predicted so the United Nations has stated no mangroves should be removed because of their ability to protect the shoreline. I think a lot more research has gone into the UN's findings than Noel's theories on the subject.
Betty Atkin-Cooke’s letter relating to the front page article (MF, May 9) on Valerie Kerr’s four criminal convictions for forgery related charges is unfortunately misguided. To refer to Mrs Kerr’s offending as a “misdemeanour” clearly shows that Betty was not in court to listen to Judge Hinton during the sentencing. Three of the forgery charges carry a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and the charge of presenting a forged document carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Hardly misdemeanour offending.
Betty has asked “Was it really necessary to present a damning report on a Mangawhai citizen (Valerie Kerr) for a misdemeanour that was hardly of national importance.” Betty has a point but I would suggest that it is important local news particularly as the offending falls into the dishonesty category of offending and Mrs Kerr was at the time actively involved with another prominent local organisation. Surely they had a right to know the full extent of her offending when she entered guilty pleas to the offences on 23 July 2015. Alas this did not happen because Mrs Kerr and her associates embarked on a campaign of justifying her actions by promoting her offending as not serious and an accounting mistake.
The article in the Mangawhai Focus alerted many in the local organisation to the seriousness of the offending and from this viewpoint it has served a useful purpose but sadly it has not stopped the excuses, and Mrs Kerr continues to play the victim in this saga. The claim that she was entitled to the money that was fraudulently taken was not accepted by Judge Hinton who ordered her to complete 50 hours of community service and repay the money to the Anchorage Association.
It is difficult to understand how the factual reporting of serious criminal offending by a local person is somehow biased. The facts contained in the Mangawhai Focus article and the sentencing comments by Judge Hinton leave no doubt about the seriousness of Mrs Kerr’s offending.
Her claims of entitlement were also considered by the Judge when Mrs Kerr’s lawyer applied to the court for a discharge without conviction under the Sentencing Act 2002. During sentencing the Judge stated that the essential ingredients necessary for the granting of a discharge are an early guilty plea and remorse. These were sadly missing and the Judge subsequently denied the application and entered convictions against Mrs Kerr.
Betty’s suggestion that the article “smacks of victimisation” is somewhat surprising. Mrs Kerr is once again being portrayed as the victim but the reality is very different. The victim in this saga is not Mrs Kerr as she and she alone chose to forge the bank withdrawal forms and present them to the bank as authentic. The Judge noted that she was not, and has never been, a committee member of the Anchorage Association and had no right to access the association accounts. He also said that the offending was “serious” and involved a “breach of trust” and a “degree of planning” on her part.
The real victims are the past serving Anchorage committee members who were deceived by her offending and this was demonstrated when the Judge referred to their victim impact statements during sentencing. Unfortunately Mrs Kerr has failed to
acknowledge her mistakes and continues to regurgitate the excuses in an attempt to salvage her reputation. It would have been far better if she had fronted from the beginning with an apology for her actions.
Wastewater policy flawed
Kaipara District Council’s “Statement of Proposal” demonstrates a deplorable lack of knowledge about wastewater and its treatment requirements. The Council stated: “Wastewater means the discharge from any sanitary fixtures or sanitary appliances.”
This is not an appropriate definition of wastewater. It is a gross over-simplification that will prevent consideration of the safest and most cost-effective modern solutions.
Wastewater is a mixture of ‘grey water’ (bath, laundry etc.), ‘yellow water’ (urine) and ‘black water’ (faeces, or rather the water that is used to flush faecal matter away).
Only by looking at each of these three component parts separately will we find cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable treatment options. It is not longer enough to think in terms of reducing waste. It is time to think to close the loops of natural circles.
The current Council and its advisers have never grasped the fact the only wastewater that should be cycled back into the aquatic environment is the grey water. A Wastewater Policy and Bylaw that ignores the realities of the entire wastewater system is like trying to catch marlin in a spa pool.
An underlying and fundamentally flawed assumption in the proposal is that all is well when a household is connected to a public treatment plant. But all that does in reality is to shift the waste problem from the household, down the road to the treatment plant.
The Mangawhai Scheme, which has been commissioned for less than ten years, already needs another $700,000 upgrade this year.
On page 3 of the proposal is written: “There is well documented evidence and acceptance that privately owned onsite wastewater systems at Mangawhai have contributed to the degradation of the water quality in the Mangawhai Harbour with associated public health, safety and environmental issues.”
But when we ask where to find this documentation the Council provides statements but not one shred of documented evidence.
The assertion that only public centralised wastewater treatment plants can resolve this problem is simply not correct. There are affordable and better alternatives, and they must be considered.
We need a district-wide policy and bylaw for both reticulated public wastewater systems and onsite wastewater systems but based on modern state-of-the-art knowledge. We need a Suitably Qualified Person (SQP) for something like a water WOF inspection system, but this must not be under the control of a council that has no idea
what it is doing. Approvals and inspections must be done by an independent institution that has no involvement in property development or fees and rates revenue.
We need to pause and completely to rethink the proposal for a Wastewater Drainage Policy. A water WOF has to be done properly. It doesn’t need to be done in a hurry.