Locally on Waiheke it appears to have been a magic holiday season for local businesses and visitors. The weather, extra ferry services and lure of the island seems to have brought visitors to our shores in droves. Oneroa Bay was full of boats boosting the takings of some Oneroa shops to record highs. Restaurants have been run off their feet, vineyards haven’t yet run out of wine and most households haven’t yet run out of water. All is right with the world.
Headland Sculpture on the Gulf will be starting soon further boosting visitor numbers. I suspect all the ferry services, taxis, and local businesses will benefit from this biennial event that brought 40000 visitors to Waiheke in 2013, many of them international tourists. Long may the sun shine on Waiheke, Island of Art. The only sad note is the Local Board has not made provision to purchase a legacy artwork from the event to add to the sculptures in Alison Park. This is a slap in the face for successive community and local boards who have had a long-term vision for Alison Park as part of an Arts complex at the gateway to Waiheke rather than the Green Party headquarters it is soon to become.
Auckland, too, is still enjoying the blissful summer while the sun shines. Cruise ships continue bringing in extra tourist dollars and, at least for a few more weeks there are no traffic worries. As all Aucklanders know these are occasioned by the presence of so many educational institutions located in the city centre. While they holiday Auckland is a breeze to get around by car. This makes me think the answer to all our supposed traffic problems could be found by encouraging campuses to move to the suburbs. This would be a much better long term solution and cheaper than the CRL.
Isn’t it great that new car sales have hit a high as petrol continues to get cheaper thus demolishing yet one more Great Green Lie, the absurd ‘peak oil’ which continues to recede into an ever more distant future. More fuel efficient and environmentally friendly cars will keep the world moving ahead as the wheels of commerce and improvement keep turning for many more years to come. For the moment everyone can get around the city by car without having to rely on unreliable public transport.
Themes to emerge for the coming year at the national and international level will be
- National identity – what does it mean?
- The incompatibility between international and national power structures
- The backlash against multi- and bi-culturalism
- The growth of the political right
- The continued exposure of pseudo science as modern day, dangerous myth
At the local and Auckland level my blog will focus on whether or not Council is providing value for money for our rates. Local government nationwide faces accusations of being a waste of ratepayers’ money, so much so that it is time to ask the fundamental question ‘are rates a fair and equitable way to fund Councils?’ More fundamentally still, do we actually need Councils at all in a small nation of only 4.5 million?
This week I have guest blogs that take a satirical look at the year ahead for the Waiheke Local Board, and the tenuous future of public rail transport in Auckland. I will be taking up some of the broader themes outlined above as well as my own views on what’s in store from an increasingly fractious local board.