Friday, March 7, 2008

The Kerikeri Blackhole Theory.

The rain has been falling for most of the day, and I feel very good about that. I was beginning to think the climate had changed so much that we had lost forever these long soft rains, that have been such a part of my life in the Hokianga.
Actually I seem to remember such days in Auckland also, long wet Sundays when the humidity seemed to double the bulk of newspapers. Maybe it is just being a native of an island in the middle of an enormous body of water that makes me feel so at home with quiet, steady rain.
Not that everybody is feeling as laid back as me. I have been hearing people for weeks now getting excited about council plans to move 30 jobs from Kaikohe, and as usual there seems to be more excitement about the personalities involved and town versus town rivalries, than the simple facts of managing a public service.
The facts as I understand them are that Mayor Wayne Brown campaigned openly on the issue that staff working on development applications would be located in offices close to the developments. Very little was said about this during the election by any other candidates, except by a dyed-in-the-wool Kaikohe council candidate who got thrashed in his candidacy for council and community board, whereas Brown raced home in the mayoral race, winning by the length of the straight.
Now the council was due last week to hear the issue, and no doubt witness a loud and emotional outcry from various objectors to the plan.
The concerns seemed to be either that Kerikeri is a “blackhole” that will finally suck into its gravity field every council activity and finally destroy all commercial activity in the west of the district, or that the whole plan is a dastardly plot by Brown and other developers to ensure that a certain high rise building will be fully occupied.
I see myself as pretty neutral on this issue, as I live almost exactly an hour’s traveling time from the district’s three centres, Kaitaia, Kaikohe and Kerikeri. I have never known the council to employ anybody from this area for a full time office job, and wonder why Kaikohe should be seen as having a special preference over all other residents in the district.
Certainly in these global warming times, it seems quite proper to be locating staff close to potential customers, to reduce travel time for all concerned. I am also aware that the Kaikohe office was already crowded and further construction would be needed (the rumour before the election was for Auckland contractors to build a half million dollar extension).
It would seem to me the ratepayers of the district would be best served by staff being located where they are needed, and no subsidy should be paid to special communities at the cost of others, unless a larger good for the whole district is being served.
By the way, I see my concern about the conduct of a meeting in the Hokianga was challenged in a letter a couple of weeks ago. The letter writer mentioned the number of prominent people in the community who were present, and named one person in particular. I totally agree it would have been a good thing if this person and other representatives of our local services had been given an opportunity to speak. My complaint was that the unruly behaviour of others prevented this from happening

No comments: