A month ago I confessed to a growing preference for beer over wine as my tipple of choice when I reviewed a beer and wine tasting evening at the Pig and Whistle in Rotorua. Even before I returned to Waiheke the toms toms had reached me about an exciting new restaurant serving craft beers in the heart of Oneroa, Cove Bites and Brews by Deep Creek Brewery.
No sooner had my feet touched down again on home soil than the excited drummer dragged me there to sample the offerings. “You’ve gotta have the spare ribs. They’re the best I’ve ever eaten, and I say that coming from the home of spare ribs, Texas. Just a word of warning the servings are HUGE so I recommend you try the small bites.” She wasn't wrong. They leave the Pig and Whistle’s spare ribs for dead. There are copious amounts of meat on these ribs. It falls away from the bones easily because they’re cooked to perfection, succulent and tasty in their coat of Jack Daniels flavoured BBQ sauce. A steal at $12.50. The small bites range from $12.50 to $16
and would make a meal for most and include fish and vegetarian options.
The Cove has a winning combination of great tasting food at reasonable prices coupled with beers that require many return visits to sample. I say many visits because this is craft beer and therefore of a much higher alcohol (and flavour) content than your average tap offering from the big breweries. For me, but maybe not you, this means I can only drink one pint at a sitting without feeling the effects.
I’m working my way through the Deep Creek inventory which includes such exotic sounding brews as Pontoon is a Monsoon (IPA), The Leprachauns Belle (Irish red ale), Dusty Gringo (brown ale) and Dominatrix, reserved for a time when I’ve got a designated driver. For those interested in finding out more about the beers follow this link to the boutique Browns Bay brewery. Similarly you can find out more about the menu which is common to all the Deep Creek outlets throughout Auckland.
On one occasion I met one of the owners, Julia (pronounced Hoolia), who’s come to Waiheke via birthplace in El Salvador and New York. I asked her how many restaurants she’d run and was gobsmacked when she said this was her first. I found this difficult to believe given the winning formula so evident here. In addition to good beer and food is the unpretentious nautical ambience, fabulous view over Oneroa Bay and, perhaps best of all, fantastic staff and service. Good staff is usually a sign of good management.
I’ve been sampling the food and beer on a regular basis ever since, as I’m sure have many of you, but if you haven’t found your way there yet you should get along as soon as possible because it really is very good.
It’s the small things that can make the biggest difference to your day. Take the humble ‘thank you’. When someone acknowledges a kindness it makes your day that bit more pleasant. In many ways it’s courtesy that oils a good relationship at work, in the home or on the road.
It’s on the road that it becomes more a necessity than a pleasantry. Without consideration for others roads become far more dangerous. Therefore it’s always disappointing when a humble thank you isn’t forthcoming. However, there is a compensation. This sin of omission can be a good guide of people to avoid.
There are two places where I see this lack of courtesy on a regular basis. One is the road leading to my home, the other is one of the busiest places on Waiheke, the zebra crossing in the middle of Oneroa.
There’s only room for one car to pass en route to my house so someone has to give way. A raised hand to say thanks would be welcome, but sadly such an acknowledgment is only forthcoming maybe 50% of the time. Funnily enough, it’s no hardship to avoid half the people who live there.
About the same percentage goes for the zebra crossing in Oneroa. I know it’s a requirement for the motorist to stop when someone wants to cross but that shouldn’t stop the pedestrian from giving a nod or wave in the direction of the road user to say thank you.
I reckon you can tell everything you need to know about people from their behaviour at that crossing. In fact, if you’re thinking of entering into a relationship but are unsure if the person is right for you, there is no better litmus test of their personality than observing them as they cross there.
Here are some examples of the behaviour of those who fail to say thank you and why you should avoid having a relationship with them.
Of course, you might consider such behaviour is exactly what you’re looking for in a partner. Good luck with that. See you in the divorce court in a couple of years time.
The Supercity was supposed to be more efficient, more accountable, save the ratepayer money and bring Auckland into the twenty first century. It appears to be failing in every respect.
Turning seven organisations, each with different systems, into one was always going to be the new Auckland Council’s greatest challenge. There was a great willingness from politicians and the public to give the new organisation a chance given the difficult task it was facing. The question is, when does the public stop forgiving the chaos and start expecting Council to perform.
In the first three years what I experienced was an organisation struggling to invent itself. Old scores had been settled as the knives came out to cull the experienced staff in the old Auckland City Council. They were often replaced by bright young things with little or no knowledge of how to make the new Council work. Many simply didn’t know what public accountability meant. Institutional knowledge was lost. High staff turnover was the best indicator that the system was dysfunctional.
The Chief Executive Officer, who’s job it is to make the organisation work efficiently and effectively, was brought in with no Council background. He resigned once his three year contract was up. I’m not surprised. I’m sure he tried to fight the good fight but it must have been like waddling in glue compared to running a private enterprise business. He must have also been gravely disappointed in his leader, the Mayor, whose focus was on his own PR rather than creating a functional organisation.
Nearly four years on the public is entitled to ask if any progress has been made. The answer must be a resounding no when they read articles like this in today’s Herald.
Council's divisive survey slammed
Aucklanders shocked by questionnaire on attitudes to Asians
Given the PC nature of Council, and to quote Councillor George Wood, it is gobsmacking that a 'racist' survey could come out of Council. So how did it? Who was responsible? Was it Council’s own communications department who drew up the survey or did they contract out the work and not oversee it properly? The article fails to answer these questions.
How can the people of Auckland have faith in Council if this is how it operates. It took a complaint from the public to get the ridiculous survey withdrawn. But not all complaints from the public result in appropriate action being taken.
A Waiheke example of how Council has failed to respond appropriately to a complaint came to my attention recently. The incident that led to the complaint is irrelevant. Council’s response is not. When a complaint is made through Council’s Call Centre the public has a right to expect their names and addresses remain confidential, otherwise why would anyone bother. Someone at the Call Centre gave out the personal details of the complainant and somewhere along the line it resulted in a bully boy arriving at their home and right royally abusing and threatening them.
But here’s the thing. Despite subsequent numerous emails and phone calls from the complainant to Council asking them to look into the matter and find the person at the Call Centre responsible for not protecting their privacy no action has been taken. All is now silence. It’s the sound of Council closing ranks to protect its own and bugger the public.
As I’ve said before, a fish rots from the head. If the Mayor can get away with scandalous behaviour and treats the public with contempt by failing to resign, it’s no surprise the organisation does likewise. Is the Council a dysfunctional organisation? That was a rhetorical question.
If you’d told me two years ago I’d be listening to hip-hop and going to watch our amazing Kiwi crews in action I’d have said you were mad. After all I’m a classical music fan: opera and the Auckland Philharmonia are more my cup of tea.
Nevertheless, there I was last night at the New Zealand Hip-Hop Champs amongst a mass of screaming youngsters, hootin’ and hollerin’ with the rest of ‘em. I was with a group of keen Waiheke supporters there to cheer on our wonderful Hip-Operation Crew as they competed in the mega-crew section of the competition. In the past they’ve been invited to hip-hop competitions as a ‘guest’ act but this time they were there for the real deal competing against some of the best in the world.
It was the turn of the juniors (13 and under) and mega crews to strut their stuff on the third day of competition at the Victory Centre on Beaumont St. It’s the old Assembly of God building with an interior like a massive wooden boom box making it an ideal venue these champs.
They came from all over New Zealand to show just what dedication it takes to be one of the best in the country and therefore the world. Some of them have been dancing since they were two years old and devote all their ‘spare’ time to training. They obviously live for dance in just the same way as budding ballet stars. And who do they look up to as their heroes? None other than our very own Hip-Operation Crew who fulfill their mission of bridging the divide between young and old.
And didn’t they do well. Their new routine contains some pretty advanced moves like moon walking and ‘dead ants’. They’re also maturing into the genre with more aggressive street-savvy struts and facial expressions as well as spiked rainbow coloured hair. Their hard training almost paid off as they just failed to make the cut for tomorrow's final but were rewarded with the only standing ovation of the night from a hysterically appreciative crowd.
When they were interviewed on stage after their performance they proudly announced they were from Waiheke Island and they’d been dancing for nearly two years. But the quote of the night had to go to our very own 95 year old hip-hopper Maynie Thompson. When asked if she thought two years ago that she’d be performing on stage with some of our youngest dancers she replied, “No, I thought I’d be dead.” It brought the house down.
Nobody likes a plagiarist – someone who steals someone else’s work and passes it off as their own. In the commercial world ‘passing off’ is an offence precisely because it is a form of theft.
Is it any wonder then that a local resident was upset when he stopped me in the street waiving a copy ‘Our Auckland’ and pointing to a photograph of the Waiheke Local Board in front of the almost finished library. “They’ve had nothing to do with any of it. Not the planning, construction, artwork, or anything. Yet here they are making out it was all their own work. It’s shameful.”
The library is the result of twenty years of effort by successive librarians, community boards and the former local board. All that has been happening in the last six months is the completion of construction. The Artworks courtyard million dollar upgrade, timed to be ready in conjunction with the opening of the completed library, is also nearing completion. This was money won for Waiheke from regional budgets by the former Board. All the detailed planning, drawing and start of construction was well advanced when this Board took office.
The only contribution of this Board to the total project was going to be the loss of funding for an upgrade to the old library space for community use as they sought to hand money back to Auckland Council as a ‘sweetener’ to advance a community pool.
If my friend was outraged by the photograph in ‘Our Auckland’ he would have been apoplectic if he was a follower of some of the local Facebook pages. There he might have seen the Board’s absentee member, Becs Ballard, available for once for a photo op, outside the upgrade work currently happening on Pier 2 in Auckland.
Council moves at snail’s pace. It takes years for projects to come to fruition. Firstly there was lobbying for this project from the former Board. Then Auckland Transport had to find the budgets. By this time last year I was starting to discuss the actual detail. Yet there stands Ballard posing as if it were all her own work.
On this site I have deliberately left a page, under the heading ‘Background’, as it was before the election last year (except for the preamble) as a reminder of what projects were already in the pipeline. There you will find the library, Artworks courtyard and upgrade to Pier 2.
The reason I left it there must now be blatantly obvious.
Auckland rates are set to get even higher with the new capital values being set by Council in the next two months. This is what really counts in the battle for households to afford to live in their own homes, not the Mayor’s ‘overall’ rates increases.
In the little over three years since amalgamation average rates on Waiheke have risen from just over $2000 p.a. to nearly $3000 p.a. This will go much higher after capital revaluation despite Waiheke house prices not having risen as fast or as far as many Auckland suburbs. And this is before the Mayor decides on whatever ‘average’ increase he plucks out of the air to pay for the his rising debt.
Under Auckland City Council, Waiheke and Great Barrier were regarded as a ‘special case’ because they couldn’t take advantage of the many assets available in the city that were paid from rates (public transport, motorways, arts centres, swimming pools, street lighting, reticulation, etc etc). Island rates reflected this.
Under amalgamation, this thinking has gone by the wayside for Waiheke, but not for Barrier. Large amounts, in the multi millions, have been pumped into Barrier from regional budgets for just a few hundred ratepayers. Mike Lee has done them proud, but has let Waiheke down badly.
Waiheke has experienced one of the steepest rates rises in Auckland since amalgamation despite the median household income being one of the lowest. The trend is set to continue as the population ages and more home owners live on fixed incomes. Eventually those on fixed incomes will be forced out of their homes as rates alone eat up 15-20% of their income.
Even renters will eventually have to pay more as owners costs rise.
What impact will this have on the island’s demographics? As older residents on fixed incomes move out who will replace them? Will it be absentee owners or wealthier retirees or more commuters? Or will it be a more transient population looking for cheaper rentals than available in the city?
There is, of course, a much bigger question. As home ownership continues to fall nationally and the population ages, is a property tax the fair and equitable mechanism to pay for Council services?