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Letters to the Editor.

Public service?

Our District Council consists of two groups of people:

1. Our elected representatives; from the mayor right down to the newest councillor, elected by us, the ratepayers, for 3-year terms.

2. Council staff, hired by the ratepayers through the council, from the CEO right down to the newest worker.

Collectively they are referred to as ‘public servants’ because that’s what they are supposed to do…serve us, the public.

As a group they all know what the ratepayers want because we can make our wishes known by talking to our elected representatives and also by attending council meetings where we all have an opportunity to speak. In addition, public consultation can be undertaken to determine the wishes of the ratepayers before important changes or decisions are take.

Sarah Armstrong’s great article in the Informer (March 28) explained the significant implications of new rubbish collection proposal very well. One wonders why we hadn’t heard much of this before from council. It’s a very major change with financial and practical implications affecting all ratepayers throughout the district. One would have thought that there would have been proper consultation by TCDC before this was introduced and presumably contracts already signed.

The consultation we were offered and had a chance to submit on was actually not consultation…it was a failure of consultation. We were only offered the chance to tweak things after the main decision had been made. One presumes that this process has been mainly driven by staff at council, not the elected representatives who in most cases have only been in the job a few months.

Surely the staff’s job is to run the council and get things done largely based on the elected representatives telling them what the ratepayers want. However, it seems to me that in recent times the tail has been wagging the dog, i.e. the staff are telling our elected representatives what to do and how to do it, not the other way around. This needs to change and our elected representatives (both new and old) need to take control. Otherwise just what is the point of having elections?

Alastair Brickell


Spat farm - have we learned nothing?

Imagine you are the first human to step onto the shores of Aotearoa New Zealand, say in 1275. The indigenous forest is luxuriant and the bird life abundant with a deafening morning chorus.

Here began the ruination of our land - initially with the introduction of kiore and kuri and burning and foraging: later with Europeans’ destructive so-called development. They are also responsible for the introduction of further mammals such as rats, possums, goats and deer, all destroyers of our natural environment.

Not only did we destroy forests but introduced plant species that took off and thrived in these idyllic growing conditions e.g., gorse. Today, only 10-15% of the country is covered by native flora. Do you realise some of the best examples of coastal forest are located on the northern shores of Mercury Bay?

Now I watch incredulously as we humans plan to devastate our ocean by allowing a 30-hectare fish factory (mussel spat farm) to be established in Mercury Bay - an iconic stretch of water admired and appreciated by many. Can you not see the effects humankind has had on New Zealand, once free of vermin and weeds?

Undaria, a native of the Mediterranean, is known as gorse of the sea. It is highly invasive and smothers natural life on the seabed. Japanese fan worm is another easily translocatable invasive species, to name but two. These are rampant in the Firth of Thames, the result of mussel farming. Unlike unwanted species on land, they cannot be eradicated once established in the ocean.

Please wake up to the insidious creep of the pollution driven by supposed development of an industry – just as we have witnessed on the land. Peter Bull cleverly involved Joe Davis and Ngati Hei to ensure a stronger case before the various courts to establish his spat farm. There is little in it for local Iwi – a few jobs at best.

We have recently witnessed the indignant rage of moana wai wai with the relocated tohora being exhumed by waves several times and scattered along our foreshore. Gabrielle would have had a ball with the hundreds of kilometres of rope ensuring our clean waters become clogged with plastic detritus.

Have we learned nothi8ng in the last 74 decades? I thought intelligent people were supposed to learn by their mistakes. Is greed more powerful than intelligence?

Annie Stewart


What you are facing is not new.

Closure of many roads on this peninsula from slips during the cyclone is not new.

The country rock (Rhyolite) weathers on exposure and old slips can recur. To make this less likely is to spend more mitigation money by terracing steep roadside banks (ask digger drivers) and then planting these areas in long life native trees like Rimu, Totara, Kahikatea, Matai etc.

Extreme weather events are becoming more common, as our fossil fuel use does not diminish, and the authorities may have accepted slips as an inevitable result. Trouble free access is what so called engineers and road workers should be achieving. Any cost cutting will “come back to bite us”. Pines are not a replacement for native timber tree plantings.


Peter H Wood


It has been interesting to monitor the editorial content in our local newspaper since you, the new publishers, took control.

It started with the “soft sell” evangelical Christian message, which remains. In modern New Zealand this seems so out of step with reality since the vast majority are neither religious nor practicing Christians. Are your priorities still accurate newsgathering and commercial viability or religious proselytising?

Of more concern are the ultra-right-wing opinion/news pieces that are clearly focussed on undermining the public’s confidence in the public utilities that form part of New Zealand’s civil society as we know it today. A good example is the front page “joke” news item in your 28 March issue. Couple that with your “forever” guest editor (the same person) linking Alamein Kopu as a useless MP with Jacinda Ardern in your 11 April issue. Any thinking reader would see these for what they are...more a problem with the writer’s misogyny and, like other people who do not respect knowledge, or expertise, believe they can run things better. Does Donald Trump come to mind?

The Mercury Bay Informer is a member of The Community Newspapers Association. As such it is required to adhere to a code of conduct set by The Media Council. Their key concerns include editorial balance (or lack of), fairness and accuracy.

The Informer was a great little local rag. Local readers, and advertisers, will be keen to see if it can regain its past status - or will they exit? You, the new publishers have that decision to make.

Richard Todd


Bryan Hefer’s logic is spot-on.

The mathematician Lord Kelvin was no slouch. He said, “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it.” Your correspondent Brian Hefer (Informer 4 April 2023) gives an excellent and frankly terrifying example of the correctness of the above quote. Mr Hefer reaches a conclusion based on what facts are available, that at current projected work rates and costs, the Kopu – Hikuai would have taken 112 years to build and cost $6 billion. I am dammed if I can see the error in his logic.

What about forestry roads?

Consider then the hundreds of kilometres of forestry roads in our area, built to take the heaviest of loads, i.e., fully laden logging trucks. I am reliably informed they suffered minimal damage during the recent storm events, and these are built in more rugged country than SH25A. Is it possible then, that this approach, by reliable and experienced contractors, using big equipment and a supervising engineer who is over 70 years old, ex Ministry of Works perhaps, being an engineer not now paralysed by management process, could have a satisfactory passable sealed road open in a matter of months?

That some numb nuts is even considering a bridge is beyond belief. Just the design, and peer review of the design would take a year. That in itself, would be very lucrative for the consulting engineers and a build-time of say two- four years at least, when there are major shortcomings in the supply chains involved, no truck/equipment drivers to be had, labourers in short supply, can’t get building materials etc. A build-time of five years would not be out of the question.

What must be realised is, we, meaning progressive Labour and National governments, that we elected, have willingly handed over the control of our infrastructure to large multinational companies with no interest in New Zealand, outside their own profit. This is not their fault. It is the natural order of things. These companies exist to represent the interests of their shareholders, not the interests of the people of New Zealand. And we have no ability to control them, we are totally in their power. Some of the larger examples will have a turnover greater than New Zealand’s GDP and Whaka-Kotahi has absolutely no expertise to deal with them on an equal basis. Scott Simpson (Informer 11 April 2023) correctly recognises and describes all the soothing words immediately after the event and the subsequent malaise that develops with the implementation of the mushroom principle, much loved by consultants, “Keep them in the dark and feed them manure”. The sale and removal of the Ministry of Works is a scandal of such proportion so-as-to warrant a full-scale enquiry. How and why did such a dumb decision get made?

I could go on for hours, but I am tired and incensed at how as a nation, we betrayed our heritage and handed the keys to the national vault over to consultants, middle management and foreign nationals. However, short of revolution, I have absolutely no idea what we can do but write impotent rants to local papers and watch as the whole Coromandel is driven into a state of depression and despair. I hope I am wrong, and it has happened before, but if that road is fixed inside say, four years, I’m a Dutchman named Hans.

Alastair Sims


Advanced Education Trades Training needed.

When my wife and I and our family came for the first time to live and work in Whitianga by purchasing a supermarket, we came to realise how isolated the Coromandel Peninsula was. At that time (1981), the Kopu-Hikuai road had just opened but many deliveries were still made via the Thames/Coromandel coastline and the 309 council road.

To aggravate the situation somewhat, Whitianga, we discovered, was built mainly on a flood plain with most of the ground only 1.5 metres above sea level. The saving grace for us was without doubt, the people of Mercury Bay and their desire to make their region a special place. The early settlers to the area were innovative and hard working and welcomed new people with real compassion.

One of the compelling memories for me was the high standard of education. Our three children thrived at the Mercury Bay Area School. In the early 80’s, a new Principal came to the Coroglen primary school and this man, John Clark, became a significant figure in our community. As well as being Principal of a school, John held an economic role with government to encourage growth strategies for a developing region.

John identified three initiatives worthy of government support; - namely:

1. Language school in Robinson Road.

2. Lost Spring Hot Water complex - Cook Drive.

3. Whitianga Marina.

All three (privately initiated), thrived and John Clark then began what I believe was the “Coup – De – Gras” for the area, when he negotiated with Bay of Plenty Polytechnic to have a regional outpost in Whitianga situated on Racecourse Road.

Unfortunately, the outpost was closed some years later and it was truly a sad day for our community with the current government’s decision to centralise Polytechnics with regional outposts disappearing off the agenda.

We need to bring back skill-based training and learning into our region for extended education and future growth. Act now to keep our young people in the district.

Noel Hewlett


Do you need a light?

Whoops – sorry, I thought you meant that pile of rubbish. You didn’t have a cigarette. OH! You meant a light for up there? I may not have a light light, that socket doesn’t look too strong. You need a bright light, to light the area where you light the fire? Oh, I get it!

What does ‘light’ mean anyway? Did it exist prior to the advent of electricity? What did it mean then?

Isn’t it interesting how fast language changes, and how fast we hold on to what we believe is our truth? Whoops, must be something wrong with that sentence – English language words can’t have more than one meaning can they? Can a plant be planted in a planter at a power plant? If it can, what does ‘pIant’ mean? Is it possible to hear the speaker on the speaker? What does ‘speaker’ mean?

There are those who choose to ‘translate’ then deride, belittle or criticise another language, when their understanding of it is limited. The next time they do, I suggest they take some time to think about their own language first. Think about how it has grown, developed and changed with time and circumstance. Think about how ‘context’ is necessary to ‘understanding’.

One example for those who believe reo Māori belongs in the past and that it has no current valid use: Yes, ‘waka’ means ‘canoe’ in the correct context. Heoi, somewhere back in the early years of colonisation - if you care to read our reo Māori archives – ‘waka hou’ or ‘waka rerekē’ appeared. ‘New’ or ‘different’ forms of transportation. Māori language is a living, growing, developing language, just like every other language. For those who don’t like it, use your English or other preferred language. No one has taken it away. DO NOT deride, belittle, criticise or otherwise try to invalidate the use of reo Māori when others choose to use it.

Ko te tao rākau e taea te karo, ko te tao kupu e kore e taea te karo.

Carol Buchanan


No Pedestrian Crossing.

Oops, it would appear they’ve done it again. We all remember the debacle over the Campbell and Albert intersection, now our genius road designers have decided the new Medical Centre is not worth a pedestrian crossing.

Goodluck to all the elderly with their walkers and mobility scooters. Heaven help us if the same road designers are fixing SH25A.

Roy Owens


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