Letters to the Editor
Our real wealth
May I first congratulate Chris Sellars on his article ‘The End of Empires’ (Mangawhai Focus, September 7).
Being in the older age group I well remember my late Dad saying you’ll never see another depression as your generation are better educated and informed by the media.
I am afraid my Dad was wrong.
There were four children in our family and we rented a house. My Dad applied for relief work planting marram grass and pine trees but was refused because he had £200 in the bank and was told he could get relief work when he had spent his savings.
He became an ardent supporter of MJ Savage and the Labour Party who at that time had many monetary reform supporters who convinced housing minister JA Lee to create £5,000,000 at 1 percent, and in four years they built 6,459 state houses and let contracts for a further 3,584 houses.
In the 80’s Roger Douglas put an end to the Labour Party and changed NZ society from a caring sharing one to a profit-before-care-and-welfare-of-the-people one, and John Key has carried on ignoring the needs and wishes of the majority.
As Chris has pointed out, our real wealth is in the production of goods and services, the combined effort of all people in association aided by the heritage of knowledge handed down to us, plus continual improvement being effected through science and technology.
It is these combined efforts of all people that represent our real wealth.
In 1969 the then leader of Social Credit, Vern Cracknell warned voters of the failure of the present outdated debt system. He stated Labour and National know of two dimensions – taxing and borrowing.
The capitalist debt system will self destruct! There will be a day of reckoning. Neither Labour or National have a solution to the financial problems facing our country. Every three years they make promises they have no intention of keeping and retaining power and control are their main objectives.
Leo D Glamuzina
Don’t confine big cats
The Hamilton Zoo has assured people that Oz, the Sumatran tiger who fatally mauled a zookeeper, will not be killed because his actions were "in line with his natural instincts."
Zoo officials clearly realise that captive tigers are still bound to follow their instincts. Attacks by captive big cats – which occur with staggering regularity – show that these animals experience profound levels of stress, anxiety and agitation.
Captivity is a living hell for them and denies them the opportunity to engage in any of the activities that give their lives meaning. No animal can thrive in such an artificial and a taxing environment.
Oz remains alive because the zoo considers him to be vital to its “ongoing breeding programme," but zoos don’t actually help to conserve endangered wildlife, because the animals they breed will never be released to the wild. They will be confined to cages and other man-made enclosures for their entire lives.
Even if a species becomes extinct in the wild, zoos cannot help save the wild population because animals born in zoos have not learned all of the skills needed to survive in the wild.
PETA sends our condolences to the keeper's family and hopes this incident will make Hamilton Zoo, as well as zoos around the world, reconsider their continued confinement of big cats.
Campaigns Coordinator PETA, Australia
I am writing this as a concerned citizen of Mangawhai. Bullying in the workplace is rife in NZ but here in our little community we have a huge example of this.
As some of the community is aware, we have gone from a community with a fully functional volunteer fire service to a dysfunctional and seriously undermanned station. This is due to extreme victimisation and the continual bullying of members by one individual.
Due to this abhorrent treatment most of our fully trained volunteers have been forced to resign or have stood down due to serious health and safety issues.
When you are a fire fighter, you need to be 100 percent sure that your crew has your back. This is not going to happen in the present circumstances.
We held a public meeting with Alan Hulse from Culturesafe NZ in attendance such was the concern. He is underway with helping this cause.
The citizens of Mangawhai need to know that there are not enough fire fighters to cover our area between 7am and 7pm. How does that make you feel?
This also affects medical call-out coverage and back up for St Johns. Do you think your insurance companies would approve? Will it take a real tragedy for those in power to sit up and notice?
We know that if the fire service had honoured the mediation outcome from complaints or actually taken complaints seriously and followed procedures correctly instead of sweeping them under the carpet, all of our volunteers would be back doing what they love with full community support.
We as a community fully support and value these men and women – both current and past. We want them to be able to return with all their training, passion and experience.
Those that are waiting to join could, with the knowledge and trust that their mates will have their backs. Trust could be reinstalled. These people have been through enough stress and cover-ups within the NZ Fire Service trying to get their grievances heard along with trumped up charges against them – criminal bullying at its worst.
Some of these stories are on the ‘Bring Back Our Brigade’ Facebook page.
There is just one problem that needs to be gone and we can get back to business! Please pack your bags and leave.
(Name & address supplied)
Damages claim explained
The Focus deserves congratulations for its measured assessment of the recent Appeal Court proceedings in the matter of KDC vs MRRA.
Mr (John) Robertson, government commissioner at Kaipara District Council, mentioned in a recent column in your paper that the Mangawhai Ratepayers & Residents Association was seeking damages from the council in the amount of $991,000.
The Council has been seeking a great deal more than that in penalties on illegal rates by pretending that the rates in question are lawful and enforceable. Whether they are remains to be seen. But your readers deserve an explanation of the damages claim.
The civil rights of the entire community (not just the MRRA) were violated by actions of the council and of Parliament. The High Court said that, but stopped short of making a formal declaration to that effect. The judge in the case simply ducked the issue. Recently the same judge has made a formal declaration that parliament breached some people’s civil rights. One wonders if his conscience has been getting at him.
The later case is far less clear-cut than ours, because the ‘victims’ are all people serving prison terms, and there is a spectrum of opinion about whether such people even have civil rights. It is very encouraging to see the judiciary telling it like it is. The judgment was beautifully argued on this occasion with impeccable logic. We are left wondering what happened in our own case. The courts have been extremely reluctant to make such declarations in the past (this was the first one in New Zealand).
Parliament can, and frequently does, trample over people’s civil rights. They should not, but they do. Until the population elects some people with respect for democracy that will continue to be the case. However, councils have no power to abuse civil rights. In promoting a Local Bill, with the assistance of Peter File, while legal proceedings were already underway, Kaipara Council cynically, knowingly, and maliciously violated the civil rights of every ratepayer in the District – not just the MRRA members.
That our civil rights were violated is not in question – that was admitted. What we asked was, “Given that our civil rights were wilfully violated, what can be done to prevent a recurrence of this behaviour by KDC and by every other similar organisation?” After all, speeding fines are imposed partly to discourage future speeding.
Using written guidance provided by justices of the Supreme Court we sought an award of public law damages against the council. The amount was set so as to have a deterrent effect (i.e. not be “derisory”), but not so much as to be excessively punitive. The amount sought is equal to $1,000 per financial member of the MRRA, and if the award was granted by the court it would be used first to reimburse those staunch and loyal members who have contributed hundreds of thousands of tax-paid dollars to the cost of legal proceedings so far.
The balance would be used to reinstate the Mangawhai Endowment Fund that has been stolen by the Commissioners. This time round the endowment fund would never be accessible by the council, because, as the High Court and the Court of Appeal have both declared, this council is incompetent beyond belief.
For those being encouraged to whine about the burden on the ratepayers if this award of costs is made, the following points should be noted:
1. The court has discretion as to whether to make an award at all, and even if it does it can set the amount as it sees fit.
2. All the evidence we have seen so far is that the courts never do anything that would upset the Local Government apple cart.
3. Before any such award was contemplated the Court would have to agree that a declaration that our civil rights were violated needed to be made.
4. The High Court already ducked that question once.
5. The Court of Appeal would have to see a reason for taking the matter up. It evinced no enthusiasm for doing so at the recent trial.
6. So Mr Robertson might just be screaming “Fire” when what he really sees is a bit of steam coming out of his ears.
Chair, Mangawhai Ratepayers & Residents Association
Enough is enough
I have been made sufficiently indignant to write in response to this reprehensible attitude.
If there was any clearer illustration of the ongoing arrogant disdain for ordinary people he considers "lesser beings", or are not one of his sycophant lapdogs, the underlying derogatory undercurrent of (KDC councilor John) Robertson's latest Mangawhai Focus epistle is as transparent as a broken window. The supercilious nerve of this unpleasant politically motivated character comes out in this particular publication for all to see, at least to those who are not fooled by his usual smarmy ingratiating attitude.
Thankfully we are not all stupid. He refers to ordinary people as "remnants". He uses language such as Chris Sellars’ "wonders" and other obvious deference of individuals in order to convey a public message. He advertises in his overarching wisdom that he knows exactly why the many unhappy people who have ultimately decided to "cough up" have had to do so.
There are people included in his glorified opinion that would beg to differ, and give him the real reasons. He incessantly repeats (five times) in the same article the italicised word "protest". And yet here we go again, even more tiresomely, repeats the same mantra referring to so-called rates being spent on, yes, roads, parks, reserves et al. But again never a mention of the huge separate debt being serviced by the very same people. That subject is always excluded at all costs.
I would consider myself as a relatively intelligent and observant individual, but reading this type of sanctimonious drivel constructed in such demeaning terminology quite frankly is nauseating. It has now become rather depressing and upsetting to read the Focus, a most unfortunate eventuality. But if I decide to do so for other more enjoyable and valid reasons, could someone please refrain from republishing the same eternal accompanying photograph so that I am able to quickly turn the page?
To the commissioners:
I was withholding my rates in protest against some undisclosed part of them being used to repay the $57 million in loans that were taken on our behalf – without our being consulted. You instructed my bank to debit $5,400 from my account so I am now counted as one who is happily paying my rates. That is not the case.
My rates were paid, but not by my willing consent. From an Official Information Act request I made in May 2015 I found that you had done this to 220 other striking ratepayers despite protection provided by section 60 of the Local Government (Rating) Act to individuals while engaged in the Judicial Review process. There is another large number who have been served with summons’ to appear before the District Court.
Whatever the number, the fact remains that the people of Mangawhai and Kaipara were not consulted and their consent was never sought, therefore we have no natural liability for the illegally taken loans. The Kaipara District commission has neglected its duty to us and to the opposition parties who supported the Kaipara Validation Bill to pursue the agencies of the Crown, Ministers for Local Government, for overseeing this whole rort, the Office of the Auditor General and the banks who refused to do due diligence and the consultants and their proxies who profited by our loss.
That we ratepayers have been cowered into submission only highlights the invidiousness of this whole fiasco and our democratic rights and the Rule of Law have been seriously eroded. We need a Royal Commission of Inquiry into this.
Alan William Preston.
Dear John Robertson, thanks for your response (Mangawhai Focus, September 21). Now we can be sure you know that the final report from the Waste Water Scheme Advisory Panel was done without good sense and that the more environmentally friendly ecological and cheaper options are ignored.
When you now also ignore alternatives to the “one pipe fits all” waste water system and don’t make a proper alternative investigation we will make you personally accountable for the second EcoCare disaster, because you have done it knowingly and failed to investigate properly by conscious decision. This time the so-called “bad management” will not be an excuse to avoid personal responsibility for other tens of millions of ratepayer money senselessly spent.
On January 9, 2016 at 6 pm in the Mangawhai Town Hall, international experts will provide information about modern eco-sanitation. In the interests of finding the best solution for the community we invite you and all your staff to join in.