This part of Waiheke has been steadily degraded over the eighteen years I have been a resident. I have no truck with the boatyard although I'm sure improvement is possible. The major problem lies in the public reserve area outside the chained-off boatyard and in the mangroves and near foreshore.
Now I have seen occasional comment in the local media that speaks of a quaint and colourful nautical village. These comments don't stand up to a 5 minute inspection. It shows rusting hulks, associated rubbish and a collection of unseaworthy vessels on the reserve and amongst mangroves. In many cases these are clearly dumped by disillusioned owners who have given up on armchair dreams of being a seafarer.
There have also been pleas by a few to 'protect our liveaboards'. I recall John Stansfield making a song and dance on protection of, and compassion for, these innocent poor unfortunates.
The truth is the bulk of these liveaboards have made minimal or no effort to keep this area clean, their vessel painted and tidy and show a responsible attitude to their environment which after all is at no cost.
In a recent burn-out of a boat, the grapevine hinted of dope and booze being involved. There is a good case for believing booze, tobacco and a bit of pot may be floating around in several of these boats. If that is where the Benefit payments are going then the recipients hardly qualify as poor unfortunates.
The other factor that is mysterious is the administration of this parks and reserves area. By all appearances this has been pathetic. How in God's name could anyone allow this reserve, foreshore area and bay to degenerate into the garbage tip it is?
Curiously, last month's local board agenda had a couple of consultant reports on improvements to two other Ostend environmental problem areas. Apart from the cost of the reports (around 100 pages), the proposed expenditure was about $650,000. These are 'off the main route', nether regions of Ostend, so how come they are up the pecking order over the shambles on the waterfront?
I have had meetings over the years with various 'Officials' with responsibilities linked to this site. Eileen's main interest seemed to be not Ostend but her next photo shoot. Mike Lee did his usual. Ernest agreement that something needs to be done but it never is. Gary Wilton, Council employee and Parks Advisor, acknowledges you could join the fleet and give up rates and expensive maintenance at home, 'but you wouldn't would you?'
And so it goes on. A glimmer of hope exists with John Meeuwsen. He at least has looked closely at the state of the reserve and sees a need for substantial improvement. Don't drop the ball John. If the current state of this reserve is a benchmark for our environment and part of any 'jewel in the crown', God help us.
My rant would be incomplete without mention of 'pathfinders'. Leadership out front is what this city and this island needs. Rod Drury is an example of one who was interviewed on TV several days ago. He is a major shareholder in Trade Me and Accounting firm Xero. His comments showed intelligence, vision and enthusiasm for the future.
Len Brown, as Mayor, is not in this ballpark let alone swinging the bat. There's a few here in the same boat. I'm quite amazed how some people, who end up in these jobs, have very little in the way of essential management skills.
And there are plenty on the island who don't subscribe to any change. I find this difficult to fathom. Are they being selfish, or don't have money and are jealous? The fact is Waiheke needs change in several areas.
Take the simple local board aspiration to create more jobs, particularly for youth. Words alone will achieve nothing. At the high school evening classes for improving computer skills we have had, at most, 6 attendees, sometimes only 4. But I bet all these kids are pretty good at playing unproductive games on their phone or on TV.
As Tony Abbott said in Australia a week ago, on the unemployment issue, 'get off the couch and go looking'. Can't argue with that. And for those sitting on their tubs at Ostend with a beer and a fag, 'get off your butt. Start cleaning and painting'.