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WATCH, LEARN, AND ABOVE ALL REMEMBER.

Wharetana bay, 7.AM Monday 1st of October 2012.

So the Spring tide came and went, leaving two more bits of unwanted debris washed up on our shores. The builders and house movers looked bemused, the police and Rent-a Cops looked embarrassed and the protesters looked furious. It was cold and very wet, especially for those hardy souls who braved the sea up to their waists and kept this unpopular development delayed, (Though sadly not enough).

Now I haven’t been on a protest in many years. My original approach as I got down the slippery path to the beach in the dark was to observe and report. Do my best to look as if I was sporting one of those classic hats with a PRESS tag in the band. “A protester? Not me Officer! I’m just here to get the story!”

It didn’t work. There were simply too many people I like and respect already there blocking the barge’s access for me to sit on the sidelines. In seconds I was sitting on the damp sand, arms linked with those around me and showing willing in the matter of slowing down one of the most contentious developments this island of ours has seen in years. Banners were held up, chants chanted and views made very plain.

It had fallen to the hapless Gary Wilton to be the Council’s man on the spot and he did his best to read out the notice detailing the closure of the reserve for the day. I heard the first few words before the cat calling drowned him out. You have to hand it to Gary. In a community that views Council staff with contempt and loathing, he manages to be the one staff member we can’t bring ourselves to dislike. They ought to put him in charge of teaching the rest how to appear human in public. Had any other council employee attempted to do what he did the abuse would have been vicious and uncompromising and quite right too.

Still, there was the local version of The Riot Act read out and it fell to the rather embarrassed looking constabulary to enforce it. No surprises to see Martini Gotje targeted and hauled away past the barriers first. That lad has Veteran Protester written all over him and the police know to eject them first.

One by one we were all escorted or dragged (According to personal preference) from the beach. That left four or five hardy types right in the sea in front of the barge. They did magnificently. One by one they were removed by cops who had to wade into the water to get them. One of the last to go was local board member Paul Walden, making his point very firmly and establishing himself as the one Board member who actually bloody LISTENS to the disquiet of the community on this issue. Long may he do so.

Well, the barge was going to get in. We all knew that. But the point was very firmly made by both sides. They can do as they please, we won’t go along with it. Because what we saw this morning was PRIVILIGE. That’s ‘Private Law’ in its original form. Yes, there are rules and regulations by the pound. Vast books full of niggling laws and requirements that we must all comply with if we so much as want to build a garden shed. Did I say ALL? Silly me. If you can afford it, then the law will look the other way while you do whatever the hell you like. Spend enough and they’ll even provide policemen to keep the little people away while you break it. Then, elected officials who should know better slide away from the whole mess describing it as ‘A sad and sorry saga’.

Right. But can we add the word ‘Corrupt’ to that description I wonder? Because there was more than a whiff of it around this morning. The council of course absolutely HATE that word. They go mad with vexation if anyone mentions it. But, can I offer them a suggestion? If you folks don’t want us thinking that you are all as crooked as corkscrews with your grubby fingers in every brown envelope full of hard cash then stop BEHAVING as if you are!

Likewise, if you were, just as an example, the Chair of a local community board representing a small community that sees you increasingly as a half witted, soulless robot who doesn’t give a damn about what their community wants or needs then stop behaving like one. Especially if you harbour any ambitions of still being in office this time next year.

Because for me at least, that is the main thing that keeps me involved in watching all of this. Wharetana Bay isn’t the first place on Waiheke where some spoiled rich idiot wanted to do something ugly and it won’t be the last. But if we have all learned one important lesson today it is this; The Auckland Council treat us with contempt. They couldn’t give a damn about us as long as we keep paying their extortionate rates demands and do as we are told. And if that wasn’t bad enough we have a local board who don’t care what we think either.

Still, only a year to go until Faye Storer and her cronies have to get out and about in an effort to keep themselves in office. Last time round they all said that they would LISTEN.

They LIED.

I won’t forget that and neither should you.Wharetana bay, 7.AM Monday 1st of October 2012.

So the Spring tide came and went, leaving two more bits of unwanted debris washed up on our shores. The builders and house movers looked bemused, the police and Rent-a Cops looked embarrassed and the protesters looked furious. It was cold and very wet, especially for those hardy souls who braved the sea up to their waists and kept this unpopular development delayed, (Though sadly not enough).
Now I haven’t been on a protest in many years. My original approach as I got down the slippery path to the beach in the dark was to observe and report. Do my best to look as if I was sporting one of those classic hats with a PRESS tag in the band. “A protester? Not me Officer! I’m just here to get the story!”
It didn’t work. There were simply too many people I like and respect already there blocking the barge’s access for me to sit on the sidelines. In seconds I was sitting on the damp sand, arms linked with those around me and showing willing in the matter of slowing down one of the most contentious developments this island of ours has seen in years. Banners were held up, chants chanted and views made very plain.
It had fallen to the hapless Gary Wilton to be the Council’s man on the spot and he did his best to read out the notice detailing the closure of the reserve for the day. I heard the first few words before the cat calling drowned him out. You have to hand it to Gary. In a community that views Council staff with contempt and loathing, he manages to be the one staff member we can’t bring ourselves to dislike. They ought to put him in charge of teaching the rest how to appear human in public. Had any other council employee attempted to do what he did the abuse would have been vicious and uncompromising and quite right too.
Still, there was the local version of The Riot Act read out and it fell to the rather embarrassed looking constabulary to enforce it. No surprises to see Martini Gotje targeted and hauled away past the barriers first. That lad has Veteran Protester written all over him and the police know to eject them first.
One by one we were all escorted or dragged (According to personal preference) from the beach. That left four or five hardy types right in the sea in front of the barge. They did magnificently. One by one they were removed by cops who had to wade into the water to get them. One of the last to go was local board member Paul Walden, making his point very firmly and establishing himself as the one Board member who actually bloody LISTENS to the disquiet of the community on this issue. Long may he do so.
Well, the barge was going to get in. We all knew that. But the point was very firmly made by both sides. They can do as they please, we won’t go along with it. Because what we saw this morning was PRIVILIGE. That’s ‘Private Law’ in its original form. Yes, there are rules and regulations by the pound. Vast books full of niggling laws and requirements that we must all comply with if we so much as want to build a garden shed. Did I say ALL? Silly me. If you can afford it, then the law will look the other way while you do whatever the hell you like. Spend enough and they’ll even provide policemen to keep the little people away while you break it. Then, elected officials who should know better slide away from the whole mess describing it as ‘A sad and sorry saga’.
Right. But can we add the word ‘Corrupt’ to that description I wonder? Because there was more than a whiff of it around this morning. The council of course absolutely HATE that word. They go mad with vexation if anyone mentions it. But, can I offer them a suggestion? If you folks don’t want us thinking that you are all as crooked as corkscrews with your grubby fingers in every brown envelope full of hard cash then stop BEHAVING as if you are!
Likewise, if you were, just as an example, the Chair of a local community board representing a small community that sees you increasingly as a half witted, soulless robot who doesn’t give a damn about what their community wants or needs then stop behaving like one. Especially if you harbour any ambitions of still being in office this time next year.
Because for me at least, that is the main thing that keeps me involved in watching all of this. Wharetana Bay isn’t the first place on Waiheke where some spoiled rich idiot wanted to do something ugly and it won’t be the last. But if we have all learned one important lesson today it is this; The Auckland Council treat us with contempt. They couldn’t give a damn about us as long as we keep paying their extortionate rates demands and do as we are told. And if that wasn’t bad enough we have a local board who don’t care what we think either.
Still, only a year to go until Faye Storer and her cronies have to get out and about in an effort to keep themselves in office. Last time round they all said that they would LISTEN.
They LIED.
I won’t forget that and neither should you.
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13 Responses

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  1. kay bason says

    Well said Alan the board should be dismissed right now, oh to have the money to take this to the Criminal Court where it belongs.

  2. sandi Bezzant says

    Awesome writing Alan knight

  3. DJ says

    Nice article Alan.
    Increasingly Waiheke seems to be somewhere that the wealthy use their money to do whatever they wish, ie Onetangi beachfront development and recent events at Wharetana Bay etc. It would appear that Council turn a blind eye as long as you have cash.
    Could “Joe Average” obtain consent to do things such as build the eyesore that is the shoebox of a house overlooking Matiatia or excavate a cliff face on Onetangi to build a house on the beach? I think not.
    Waiheke, it seems, is becoming the playground of the wealthy few. With Fullers and Sealink continuing to increase fares at a rate out of step with the “real world”, it is becoming increasingly difficult for many to live here. Combine that with the ability of some sectors of society to run roughshod over local council, I fear that, in time, we will lose our slice of paradise.
    We all know that Council is corrupt, this kind of thing just backs it up.

  4. Jeannette Volykhina says

    A sad day indeed!

  5. And Spence says

    Thank you Alan. I am sorry I was not able to be there and congratulations those that were and especially to Paul for having the guts to be a real servant of the public. Public servants those othere call themselves ha ha ha ha ha

  6. Janet Moore says

    Well done,Alan,I think you’ve more than captured the spirit of the protest.Faye Storer and her band of stooges has to go.She has clearly demonstrated that she is not made of the sort of stuff we expect from our elected representatives.In short,she is no use to us !

  7. Frankie says

    love the anonymous quote from the nameless board member!

  8. Jacquelyne Taylor says

    Alan, from sick my sick bed Auckland side today unfortunately or I may well have had a Piscean splash in the bay too..
    I will gladly share this so many this side will see again how Waihekians not only flashmob wonderfully, but still protest when the authority of the $ supercedes that of the collective good.Especially against those who’s motives are far from & when a corrupt push comes with an unjust shove it as well. Kudos to all of you hardy souls & those like Martini & Sue who have actually inspired me since the first day I stepped off a ferry for the first time 24years and grinned and slowed down..
    Auckland City Council really should know better both sides of the water than to continue their one law for some & ‘circumvention’ for others ..
    Heritage month my arse, and where did they second some of those additional rough-house non community spirited Keystone cops from?

  9. Dayne tomczyk says

    Great writing Alan, I dont always agree with your opinions but you hit the nail on the head with this one. Good stuff.

  10. Mark James says

    Thanks Alan for the report, the likes of which we are unlikely to see in the other media. (I feel like an idiot for piking off to work.)

  11. Damian says

    Good write up and good on you for joining in. Thanks also for going easy on Gary, he would have hated having to read that notice.

  12. Susi Newborn says

    Alan, as one of those ones waist-high in water in front of the barge, I have to say it was really good to see you there, mate, and to see that you were joining in. Brilliant article Alan – send it to everyone everywhere peeps!

  13. Rien Achterberg says

    Goood stuff Alan! Goood stuff U lot! We may’ve lost this one scrap, but it ain’t over yet….



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