Posts Tagged ‘NZ Herald’

Heritage lost

August 14, 2008

A NZ Herald article on Aucklander’s concern over vanishing heritage structures has jolted me to mention my concern over one specific heritage aspect in Auckland province (i.e. entire urban Auckland area).

As part of the ‘upgrade’ of Auckland’s urban passenger rail services, Auckland Regional Transport Authority (ARTA) – a wholly owned subsidiary of Auckland Regional Council – has been steadily rebuilding rail stations and pedestrian overbridges in the region.

Sadly, in doing so, the blinkered town planners & architects have been either removing the existing heritage buildings & bridges, or been destroying them. Recent examples include the removal of the 2-storey wooden signal box and bungalow style station building from Newmarket so a new, (supposedly) improved station layout could be built. Similarly, a (genuinely) better* pedestrian overbridge at Middlemore station in north Papatoetoe saw ARTA remove the old and still-strong and safe wooden overbridge.

Historic Middlemore rail station overbridge (removed, 2008)

Heritage structures – the anchor that links our waka to the land – are being treated with contempt because it is faster & cheaper to destroy the diverse buildings than to restore them. What an embarrassing lack of intelligence from ARTA, ARC and the half-wit contractors…

Far too many Kiwis ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at overseas heritage buildings and landscapes, without putting 2 and 2 together, and realising to get historic visitor attractions you have to actually preserve them from the knuckle-draggers with chainsaws and diggers.

P.S. I heard Wellington rail network also had a footbridge removed a week ago. The march of the mindless concrete contractors continues.

* Though better because it includes a disabled lift, the new Middlemore footbridge is uglier (subjectively), but also illustrates the idiocy of the ‘planners’ involved. Despite the obvious possibility of linking Middlemore hospital to one of their new multi-storey carparks across the tracks and over a small adjacent sideroad, the planners did not see fit to talk the Counties District Health Board into extending the overhead bridge so people could walk directly from carpark to station to hospital. A small 20m extension either side. Talk about short-sighted!

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Granny gets her gun, rides shotgun for National

February 25, 2008

Granny Herald has rather debunked her nickname lately. Tagged ‘Granny’ Herald for the socially conservative views expressed in the Auckland-based newspaper, the Herald writers have nonetheless pushed strong social liberal positions in recent times.

The latest is a Herald editorial that demands Kiwis ‘get over it’ on the topic of Green MP Sue Bradford’s anti-smacking Act (text of altered S59).

Lobby group Family First seem to have reached the 300,000 required signatures to force a Citizen’s Initiated Referendum at this year’s General Election. This appears to have sparked concern in the Herald editors that National’s electoral victory may be smothered by a resurgent anti-smacking debate drawing out socially liberal Kiwis to back Labour.

Hence, the apparent contradiction in an erstwhile ‘right-wing’ newspaper and lobby group on opposite ends of the tug-of-war. It should be noted of course, that many National MP’s are socially liberal, and voted for Bradford’s bill to become law (irrespective of the redundant nonsense John Key put in as clause 4 – Police have always had discretion on all laws as to whether they prosecute).

What is shocking, is that the editor makes wild assumptions; “many signatures on the petition were, in fact, gathered before the compromise clause was inserted” and “the anti-smacking law is no longer a matter of substance to the public”. Granted, they cite a survey showing the S59 position of just 4.2% of people would “likely influence their election vote”, but this simply reflects the impossibility in voting on 1 issue in an election. People want to choose a government that aligns with their views on a range of topics, not just a single issue – even if viewed as the most important.

Worse by far, the Herald’s editor notes CIR are non-binding, so claims “there is little reason to think this one [if passed – SD] would lead to the anti-smacking legislation being thrown out”. What a cynical expression of our democracy! Regardless of how MP’s voted for the Act, surely a democratic position would be for them to change their position to represent the views of the people that put them in the Beehive to … represent their constituents? That the Herald does not think MP’s would (or should) change their stance – irrespective of the voting outcome) is horrendously totalitarian in outlook. NZ is not supposed to be a 3-year elected dictatorship!

Recall the late 1990’s saw a CIR on firefighting resources get around 90% support, which saw a partial government backdown. To suggest as the Herald does, that a majority of voters in a CIR should be ignored because “attempts to raise a hue and cry over the law during the election campaign would be misguided” reflects the deeper desire of the Herald to avoid a bunfight on anything other than tax cuts and PPP’s for transport, it seems. Granny has got her gun, and is warding off anything that may distract from the core message of a National government.