Unkind, my friends


    Usually, whenever one forms a shiny new possibility in the world – of an ubiquitous kindness, as I did  last week in this column, for example – what shows up next is all the stuff that isn’t kindness and that isn’t compatible with bright visions of selflessness and generosity. 

    This is the point where you’re (to use the useful metaphor coined by the prophet Mohammed),  trusting in God and tying up your camel.  Certainly, a lot of uncomplicated kindness and hope turned up this week.

    However, there was also enough of its opposite to beg the questions of what has kept us so stuck – on a more macro level – and so disenfranchised from making the decisions we might, as a community, have expected to be making for ourselves this last 30 years.

    We are functioning members of a well-found community living and expecting to be stewards of one of the most gorgeous and privileged  bits of Planet Earth. Having every decision carried off and executed with minimum intelligence or kindness by a distant and faceless city monolith has been bad for our souls and our general equanimity.

    In another year’s ad hoc, hurry, hurry attempt to “do something about Matiatia” before the Christmas rush, Auckland Transport sent out a press release about changes to Matiatia this week.

    “This is designed to better manage the high demand for parking during the summer months,“ said the official, whose list started with the good news – another half dozen mobility parking spaces – that degenerated, via $6 charges for the island’s legacy car sealed parks (established by the County with wharf taxes last century) into parking meters and daily charges alongside Ocean View Road’s narrow and broken-up footpath to the ferry.

    On foot from the ghastly and 20-year-old ‘temporary’ Owhanake car park, we have enough trouble dodging the facing foot traffic (though it’s usually good for a smile) and navigating round slow persons. 

    Parking meter stanchions on a country road surrounded by bush is just too ‘Auckland City’ for words. 

    Justifying the  restriction of Owhanake car parking to a maximum of 48 hours, the official said “AT feels that having car park spaces, which are in high demand, being taken up by vehicles parked for extended periods of time is inappropriate.” 

    It’s a statement that may cause spontaneous apoplexy among commuters who have gnashed their teeth daily at Council’s sprawling rental car precinct in Matiatia for the best part of 25 years.

    Six million passenger trips a year and the tourist dollars we are expected to generate require better than tinkering with parking fees.  

    Auckland Transport’s backward looking inertia is legendary and if citizens no longer trust or respect those who apparently believe their salary entitles them to ride roughshod over any opposition or half-way decent idea, who is to blame them? 

    This is, after all, the Auckland Transport that pockets wharf taxes in excess of $3 million a year and whose bus passengers now sit – and sometimes stand in the rain – waiting for buses to leave for ten minutes on their homeward journey after a daily commute already 12 hours long.

    The CCO whose city-side terminal is clearly not fit for purpose, clearly won’t be able to manage this summer’s crowds without obscenely long queues and clearly has made not the least attempt to implement an equitable ticketing regime that doesn’t make every traveller, local or international, feel like they accidentally found themselves at a refugee border post or Los Angeles airport.

    That calmly failed to curb untrammelled pricing and specifically excluded Waiheke’s monopoly ferry services from price regulation or subsidies that might have provided some relief to a community battered to the point of social engineering by 100 percent rate rises, fuel taxes and endless other penalties. Agonising as the decision is, leaving for an affordable  home life in a community where they are at least people to those who would govern them has to be a plus.

    One of the rules of thumb in business dealings is that you trust a chap until and unless he has given you reason not to. And that you don’t trust again, until and unless he makes good the relationship damage in a meaningful way. If you are not receiving respect, you are unlikely (and almost certainly unwilling) to give back any more respect than you’re getting.

    One of the huge problems globally is the loss of trust in politicians and governance structures that, subverted by money and influence, have ceased to be distinguishable as democratic. 

    Autocratic bureaucracies have the same opportunity to be as kind or careless as any human institution. It’s a choice on the day. Every day.  • Liz Waters

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