And the homework for tonight is…


    A fortnight ago, I had my yacht hauled out at Half Moon Bay, pattering down to Kennedy Point every day for a mini cruise across to the boatyard for the hard physical graft known and loved by traditional boaties – the refit.

    Which is a good deal harder if, in the face of a pandemic for example, this annual ritual has been put back a year and two and La Nina summers have wreaked havoc with paintwork, electronics and cordage.

    Apart from the occasional late model Jaguar parked by its owner’s matching superyacht and literally acres of virgin concrete, it felt like the usual hardworking and generous-minded space of boaties going about their shipwrighting ways.

    Only a sudden hush, bosses disappearing for urgent consultations and mid-afternoon closed doors around the yard hinted at what may be our future for quite some time. A Covid-positive worker was refusing to go home and the situation was discretely triaged in a rigorous health and safety environment.

    By week’s end, business owners were still moonwalking but the nightmare of tight schedules, demanding customers and fragile teams was largely out of sight. It had assumed something of a war mentality.

    Unsurprisingly. The utterly unthinkable had happened in Ukraine. The Wellington encampment had erupted in flames and mindless anger. America may have a new civil war. The international defence community seemed strangely handless and in New Zealand, Covid infections were rising exponentially amid dire predictions from overseas observers. And a round of colds had us fearful for our young ones.

    All these existential threats on top of a rapid rise in climate crisis awareness that we have to curb our consumerism, like, yesterday. And that we aren’t looking likely to do so anyway.

    This was our last fortnight. We have reason to be shell-shocked.

    In the circumstances, I’ve found something inhuman about the predictable, if reprehensible, annual cascade of council stuff that’s lurked behind closed doors in council planning workshops and officer agendas.

    They have continued through the entire pandemic lockdown years and, even more than usually, infected all of the post-Christmas season with arbitrary deadlines for critical submissions on issues that should be properly debated and tested. Not put out in some trivialised context of “have your say”.

    It’s taken council officials four years to write this stuff. To even read it is half a week’s work; the sense that most of it is anodyne PR babble that will evaporate or be cherry-picked by the council in practice is inescapable.

    Enjoying my personal working mini-break and the glittering water of the Tāmaki Strait every morning, I missed the 4 March deadline to make a submission on the Regional Parks Management Plan, which includes our own Whakanewha Regional Park.

    I regret it, but however long these things sit around in council offices, the cut off for Jane Citizen is inexorable, even with Covid running rife through the country’s families.

    This is what I might have said: The parks were bought for their special values and their integrity was to be protected in perpetuity for the benefit of all Aucklanders. The document threatens to downgrade the classification of large parts of the most important conservation parks in order to enable greater development and commercialisation for visitors. The draft’s new Classification 1b would result in overdevelopment of these areas and should be rejected.

    Veteran local government journalist Bernard Orsman and both current and former councillors have also sounded alarm bells on the Hauraki Gulf Forum’s request to Government for legislation to change its current constitution (12 elected representatives of local councils, three government representatives and six mana whenua) to a new co-governance body with an equal number of mana whenua and council/ government representatives. Understandably, some forum members spoke out at the lack of elected members for “accountability and democracy’s sake”.

    So with that still bubbling, we move on to the Friday 23 March deadline for public submissions on the draft Waiheke Local Parks Management Plan which captures the rest of Waiheke’s literally hundreds of recreation, coastal and bush remnant parks.

    A limited number of handpicked “stakeholders” and lessees were initially consulted and asked by the Waiheke Local Board to put forward their proposed futures for the draft, so it’s useful to ask to speak to your submission. Last time we looked there were two versions loaded on the Auckland Council website for submissions, one from 2020 and the current draft in 2022, so check you’ve got the right version.

    And is the boat finished? Are they ever? But she’s back on the mooring.• Liz Waters

    Please note the deadline date for the local parks consultation is 23 March, not the end of the month which we incorrectly said in an earlier story in our 10 February issue.

    Subscribe and read Gulf News and Waiheke Weekender Online