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Ed Said - Changing face of the North


dadWhen I moved my family north to Dargaville in 1984 there were rumblings back then about traffic snarl-ups in Wellsford and how to fix them. Various options were discussed such as a by-pass in the area of Centennial Park and the saleyards or possibly an over-pass.

In fact nothing has been done in the ensuing 35 years except to advise motorists to take Highway 16 which still ends in a bottleneck at the entry to Wellsford. My point here is actually the time taken to do nothing. In this case 35 years and counting. Talk but no action. A wise man once told me: Nothing is ever achieved by talking, only doing. Too true.If you want something Google it or pick up the phone and call someone or seek a reference but do something.

The Hundertwasser Museum now under construction in Whangarei was first mooted in 1993 – 26 years ago. Now, six months into construction the origina l cost has more than doubled plus it is already $4million over budget. Who knows what the end product might cost. This week it has been announced a four-star hotel is to be built in Whangarei by Millenium & Copthorne Hotels. The idea of a tourist-quality hotel was first mooted by mayor Craig Brown who served from 1998. Now, over 20 years later land has been purchased for the purpose but it could well be another decade 
before it actually materialises.

Locals are waiting with bated breath for the Mangawhai Central township to materialise. A blueprint was tabled by Mark Rowbotham around 2006. It is much closer now though under different management, but is still going to be several years before it comes fully to fruition. It was stymied to a greater extent by the world financial crisis which began in 2007 which ran for about five years, and could conceivably falter again.

In the event of climate change endangering Dargaville township the Kaipara District Council has suggested the centre should be moved to higher ground. As a Dargaville resident back in 1984 I only recall flooding in the town once since then by heavy rain and an aggressive king tide, however with climate change being the bandwagon de jour it is something that perhaps should be given more than just a cursory glance. Though similarly, Councils should not be allowing the subdivision of or building on beachfront land for the very same reasons.

Then there’s the Auckland-Northland port discussion. This, to me , is the tail wagging the dog. At the merest possibility of such a major shift ever happening surely the first move should be upgrading the main highway to the previously planned four lanes which was scrapped by the current government. Realistically there should be a tunnel through the Bryderwyns and this is just in preparation for the port move. Then where will the 1000 or more workers, shift workers and part-timers come from?

There is insufficient infrastructure between Wellsford, Mangawhai or Whangarei to cover housing, schooling, or health facilities to cope with such an influx. Change is-a-coming methinks – the north needs it – but it will take time.

Rob Pooley, Editor 

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