A Mother’s Story
I penned the following after coming home from the ANZAC parade In Whitianga and feeling so humbled by the amount of people that attended to show their respect.
Seeing the few returned servicemen there was a stark reminder that those who fought for our country in WWI are no longer with us and nearly all of those who were active in WWII are now gone as well. It made me realize that the campaigns that have followed these, where our soldiers saw active service such as the Vietnam War, the conflicts in the Middle East and Timor Leste, these are now the soldiers that deserve our honour and respect.
I, like a lot of New Zealanders have always known about ANZAC day and what it stood for, but also like a lot of people never really had a true understanding of the emotional side of the story of ANZAC and what it meant to our soldiers and their families. That was until my eldest son joined the New Zealand Army. Things changed for me then, I really got to understand the pride, the fear, the commitment to country and family that those soldiers and the families before me had experienced. The weeks of not hearing from them while were undertaking training and then manoeuvres, maybe an occasional letter, rarely a phone call. One visit to the training camp was allowed during this time.
Then came graduation day and the intense pride sitting with my parents and watching my eldest son march out with the rest of his mates and seeing the tears shed by his grandfather as he sat and watched his grandson standing to attention. A few quick hours of being in his company and then he was off to Burnham Military Camp in the South Island for the next stage of his training. Again, very limited contact during this time. A 21st birthday that passed uncelebrated as no leave was granted. The anticipation of seeing him for two weeks at the end of this block of training. The shock of finding out that within a matter of hours of him being granted leave that this had been cancelled due to the then current uprising in Timor Leste, and the possibility of him being deployed there. The next few hours of waiting to find out if it was real, then the knowledge that within 6 hours my son would be deployed overseas to an area under conflict. The fear that went with this knowledge; the frustration of not being able to get from Whitianga to Christchurch to be there to see him off; followed by months of sending care packages. The heart-stopping phone call advising me that my son had been injured. This bought new meaning to the telegram that had been found in my grandmother’s belongings advising her that her son had been injured overseas during WWII.
The intense relief when he finally came home and was granted leave. The joy of seeing him walking towards me safe. This was followed by a belated celebration of his 21st birthday at the age of 22. It was also a time tinged with sadness, as I watched my son suffering from the memories of the sights and sounds of what he had seen and experienced while away.
Several years have passed since then, but my memories have not passed and neither have his. He has since left the Army and is now a father himself. His pride in his country has never dimmed and neither has mine in him.
Life and circumstances had contrived to keep us apart on ANZAC day up until now. We are living in the same town again and it was an honour for him to be asked, as a returned serviceman to be a flag bearer at our local parade. The day made all the more special as it was the first time we had been able to attend a parade together, and also the first one he has been able to march in, alongside his fellow ex-servicemen.
But this was not to be, as at the last minute a member of the public felt they had a greater right than him to bear the flag for New Zealand. As the man my son is; rather than cause a scene and dishonour his service, he humbly handed over his right to bear the flag.
All I ask, as a Mother, is please honour our Servicemen, those current, those returned, and those who have passed. Never forget what they have done for us.
Call for urgent action on land use.
Federated Farmers Forestry Spokesperson, Toby Williams is urging the Government to act quickly on the recommendations made in the Ministerial Inquiry into Land Use report. "The Government needs to take the recommendations in this report very seriously and move quickly to make changes that will protect our community," Mr Williams says.
"If they don’t, we are just going to see a repeat of the total devastation caused by Cyclone Gabrielle repeated every few years. That’s just not an outcome this community will be willing to accept." “The recommendations made for Tairawhiti (Gisborne) are clear, compelling, and provide a bespoke solution for our region,” Mr Williams says. "We have a very short window to make changes, so now isn’t the time to sit on our hands.
"The concerns that have been raised about the forestry sector are the same concerns that Federated Farmers have been highlighting for the last few years. "It’s been absolutely devastating to see farm after farm of productive land converted into a blanket landscape of forestry, knowing what that will mean for our community.” The Government now needs to show some courage and stand up to the forestry industry. We need to see change".
Toby Williams, Federated Farmers. National board member and Forestry Spokesperson
Submissions - What's the point?
Submissions, are they worth our time and effort - or even the paper they are written on?
To date - I would suggest NO. Time and time again we put a lot of time and effort into researching a proposal notified by either TCDC and/or WRC only to have our opinions cast aside, regardless of the numbers showing that the proposal has been opposed by the majority of people.
Example 1 - The Spat Farm - 195 opposing submissions were received, against just six in favour. A further 5,000 signed an online petition against this proposal - a remarkable number in a lightly populated region. But, WRC, in their wisdom, issued a Resource Consent. Surely “the people had spoken” with their submissions. Submissions that were ignored. Why? All environmental evidence showed that this was a proposal that was wrong at every level, and still is. We elect people from both WRC and TCDC to work for us to ensure the best of outcomes for the Coromandel Peninsula. However, somewhere along the way it would appear that our voice has been lost to money and greed.
Example 2 - “Restricted Notifications” - where Council decides who can be involved in submissions.
The Wharekaho Subdivision: - The developer decides he is going to substantially increase the number of homes he wants to build within the subdivision and has to file for a new Resource Consent. This decision dramatically affects the entire community of Simpsons Beach/Wharekaho at many levels – including flooding, storm water, sewage, and reticulated water. However, Council agree to “Restricted Notification” which means only a few residents in the area will be notified.
Fortunately, one of the ‘notified’ residents asked for my assistance in preparing their submission against the proposal and I immediately contacted our Wharekaho and Simpsons Beach Residents and Ratepayers Chair. We presented our submissions against this proposal but have since been advised that our submissions have been dismissed as we were deemed by Council to be “unaffected residents to this proposal”. Sixteen submissions were received - all in opposition. The hearing, which was to have been in May, has been postponed. Surely with 100% of residents in opposition this application should be rejected without question and any further costs. Also, the first person to be contacted should have been our Residents and Ratepayers Chair who fully understands the relevant issues in our community. Why did this not happen?
Both WRC and TCDC need a wake-up call to honesty and transparency with regard to listening to our residents and ratepayers and recognise the need to speak to the people they have elected to represent them. The cost of fighting them is what they rely on to discourage us from carrying our objections forward. Hearings and ‘independent commissioners’ should be dispensed with, and the people listened to without the huge court costs currently involved.
PS. I have had no response from Mayor Len or any member of Council staff with regard to the questions I put to them in my last letter. Surprised? No.