The quote is taken from the appendix to the latest Waiheke Local Board (WLB) agenda which is a ‘Request for a meeting with The Mayor, the CEO of Auckland Transport, The Waiheke Local Board and the Waiheke Community'. Presumably the latter means all of us. That is nearly 9000 residents. There is no suggestion about a suitable venue or how this mega meeting is to be funded. Even the airheads doing the requesting, infamous local agitators Stephanie Honeychurch and Susi Newborn, must realise the cost would run into hundreds of thousands.
But of course they don’t really mean the ‘Waiheke Community’. They mean the core group of Waiheke agitators who can be relied on by the real puppet masters to whip up any useful storm in a teacup. The clue to who is really behind this latest display of outrage is in the same ‘request’. Two organisations are mentioned, ‘Our Waiheke’ and a new organisation called ‘Rub it in Waiheke’. Both are mouthpieces for local board member John Meeuwsen to push his, and local board Chair Paul Walden’s, agenda of separating Waiheke from Auckland so they can get more power for themselves to do exactly what they want.
The island’s fake news outlets, always ultra supportive of the island’s agitprop, have filled their pages for weeks with separatist propaganda on behalf of Meeuwsen. Diana Worthy, the Green Party publicist at the Waiheke Marketplace, went the extra mile in this week’s issue by inflating the petition signatory figure by over 500. The ‘request’ states it is on behalf of ‘an estimated 1500 signatories’, which means the actual figure will be considerably less, but Worthy says ‘more than 2000’. Worthy amply demonstrates why she is regarded as worthless.
It’s a favourite trick of the Left to conflate two issues together in order to get maximum publicity and signatures for a petition. Each issue on its own would not garner enough outrage to be worthwhile, but together they can always get someone to agree to enough to make them sign.
So let’s look at the two issues: the double-deckers first.
The number of tourists coming to Waiheke grows inexorably each year. This puts huge stress on the ferry and bus services. Fullers has been pro-active in devising ways of coping by increasing the ferry service to half hourly and increasing the bus service so that every ferry is serviced, both of great benefit to locals and visitors alike. Even so, by last year long queues had developed at local bus stops, especially Oneroa, Onetangi and outside the vineyards. This meant that locals were often squeezed out. On top of that there was an expected additional influx of 50000 for this year’s Sculpture on the Gulf.
To cope with this increased demand Fullers has introduced the double-decker Waiheke Explorer Hop-on Hop-off Tour bus. This provides a positive Waiheke experience for visitors. It takes them to the most popular visitor destinations; it has on-board tour guides; it provides on-board toilets: it provides local employment; it’s great for businesses thus enhancing the local economy.
In many ways Fullers has done what the Waiheke Local Board has failed to do over the last three and a half years. While the Board continues to bury its head in the sand and actively discourages more local infrastructure to cope with the demands of an increasing local and visitor population, Fullers has noted the problem, taken appropriate action and solved the problem. What’s not to like?
As for Auckland Council’s ‘failure to inadequate consult with and accept advice from our locally elected representatives’, Council does nothing but consult with the Board. Council might not accept the Board’s advice, after all why would it when the Board’s mission is to stick its head in the ground and take no responsibility for Waiheke’s future. In other words WLB fails to meet its statutory responsibilities under the Local Government Act.
The Board hasn’t even seen fit to roast ATEED (Council’s tourism arm) for removing the Visitor Information Office in November. It has sat idly by while allowing ATEED to escape its responsibilities.
Far from giving more power to a useless Waiheke Local Board maybe its time to consider if there is any point in a having a Waiheke Local Board at all. What is certainly not needed is a Waiheke Regional Council comprising the same failed politicians.