A handful of detail has been provided in the media, by a local group 'appointed' by the Waiheke Local Board to lead a planning process for the future of our Matiatia gateway. They have also been provided with a $50,000 start-up of our valuable ratepayer money with another $100,000 planned next year.
This group, 'Direction Matiatia', successfully opposed a marina development at the site and now appear to have morphed into a planning organisation capable of advising you and I, business operators on the island, commuter groups, tourist planners, recreation users, council and others just what is good for everyone at Matiatia.
Just what are their backgrounds for such a role? If the Direction Matiatia website is still accurate, their executives are listed as follows:
Chairman, Christine Gisby. She is a pleasant person running a tour mini-bus. To my knowledge she has no other relevant skills.
Deputy Chair, Kathryn Ngapo. Seems to have taught at primary level and has been a writer. Classes herself as self-employed. Active in environmental, Maori issues.
Secretary, Janet Moore. Janet is also a pleasant person but from my contact with her, she has no particular skills of relevance.
Treasurer, Brian Griffiths. Brian is best known for Forest and Bird and involvement with Kapow on Waiheke. The latter being a splinter interest group that has passed into oblivion. I can't even remember what it was about. Otherwise Brian is a retired teacher.
So that's the group given $50,000 of our money to produce a plan. If they have anything in common, two aspects seem to stand out. They have form for being activists and a strong bias towards green or environmental issues. As such, they have historically been given an over generous allocation of exposure by the island media.
As planners, they have no expertise.
But there's more. To assist them they have employed Business Lab. This outfit has two directors, one of whom lives on Waiheke and has a stated objective of working with 'dynamic and passionate interest groups'. This of course raises an issue as to whether or not we are to be involved as ratepayers or the whole caboodle is to allow a plan to be engineered and tailored to the wishes of the local board and the executive of Direction Matiatia Inc.
You know the principle. Design the plan first and fit the detail after. ' A sustainable plan' is the objective says WLB Chairman Paul and conveniently the Business Lab local director claims to sit on the board of an organisation called 'The International Society for Sustainability Professionals and the Natural Step'. You can also check out 'Green Business Lab' which provides 'expert environmental advice'.
So in summary all of this looks like more of the same. Christine may well say that Direction Matiatia will keep the community well informed as they progress through the planning process. My interpretation is that they all have no professional background or training to undertake this task and that the direction and comments to date point to a biased grouping supported by a biased local board and biased media with their own plan biased towards sustainability and not towards an efficient and functional gateway for the island. These objectives, regrettably, don't rate prime emphasis. Deja Vu.
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