His surprise is probably the most animation seen from Walden in nearly five years of non-performance as a representative of the community. It is also disingenuous. He has said over and over again that his only objective is to turn the clock back thirty years. To this end he doesn’t want any more visitors to come to island and he doesn’t want anything that smacks of progress. He knows that by leaving tracks unmaintained, verges overgrown, public toilets in a disgusting condition, tourist facilities closed (Little Oneroa bridge is still closed nearly a year after his group at the Waste of, sorry Waiheke, Resources Trust declared it unsafe) the result will be to give visitors a bad experience. The impact of this policy is being felt throughout the island as visitor numbers drop, and businesses see takings well down on last year.
All Walden’s energy, such as it is, goes into stopping things happening. His family of vexatious litigants is once again involved in stopping a marina, this time at Kennedy Point. The Walden family name is imprinted on most of the numerous Environment Court cases that have cost Waiheke millions over the last thirty years.
There are always Luddites like the Waldens in any community. They are the do nothing, achieve nothing, lacklustre remnants of yesteryear. If people want to effect change they have to go over the heads of their local politicians and take matters into their own hands. As the Luddites die off things get done. A good example of this is the sealing of Makora Avenue. This has been essential for many years but prevented by a single Luddite homeowner on the road. His departure gave the opportunity for determined residents to go directly to Auckland Transport and get the job done.
Despite the Waldens and their rent-a-mob ilk, the island has continued to grow because inventive entrepreneurs develop vineyards and olive groves, provide restaurants and tour companies, and, above all, provide jobs. In a nutshell, they have vision and offer hope.
Politicians can either facilitate change or put blockages in the way. For many years Waiheke had community boards and a local board that endeavoured to meet the challenges of the future while retaining the island’s unique environment. An example of a local representative who gave his all to achieve this balance was Ray Ericson who died last week. Among the great number of mourners at his funeral yesterday only one member of the current Board was there to acknowledge his pivotal role in the new library, the Artworks development and the retention of land at Matiatia to meet the future needs of the whole community.
It is only when another generation of ‘can do’ residents who care about the future come to the fore to take up civic responsibilities that the island will develop its public facilities to match the private initiatives of its residents. Until then the island will fail to live up to its promise for locals and visitors alike.
The lack of interest in the Board’s plan nevertheless sends a clear message to the Board. We don’t like your plan, we don’t care about your plan, we don’t want your plan. Hopeless representatives lead to hopeless outcomes