It used to be that Waiheke businesses struggled in the winter but gradually the summer season has extended to make Waiheke a year round destination. A job in tourism, on a vineyard, in a café or one of our top restaurants, is no longer seen as a dead end job in the service industry. Instead it can be a stepping stone that helps our young people gain experience they can take elsewhere, including overseas. These days they will be mingling with other staff from all around the world, especially Central and South America and Europe. Their customers will come from an even wider range of countries. In short, Waiheke is now a place of opportunity for the young to acquire skills that can take them anywhere.
This mixing and mingling with international workers and travellers has allowed them to outgrow their ‘stick in the mud’ parents. Too often those parents have come to Waiheke with a drop out, beneficiary or victim mentality that has kept them dependent, short-sighted and insular. They are the ‘me-me-me’ generation who have brought up their offspring to be as narcissistic as they are. For them Waiheke is No-Hope, No-Kope and, once you’re here, ‘pull up the draw-bridge’. This attitude is personified by the 40ish year old members of the Waiheke Local Board. Chairman Paul Walden was once heard to boast that he and his children never left Ostend.
In a nutshell the island has outgrown its kumbaya past and this backward looking, ‘let’s turn the clock back’ Board. Waiheke, its residents, businesses, entrepreneurs and newcomers, its youth and its commuters are all intrinsically connected to the city across the water that links them to the larger world beyond.
That leaves three choices for the future of Waiheke:
- This year, it elects credible people who can fulfil their obligations under the Local Government Act, and do the job of enhancing the infrastructure of the island to meet the present and future needs of the community that they are elected to do. This will provide job opportunities for all.
- Failing that, petition the Minister of Local Government to abolish the Waiheke Local Board.
- Team up with the Waitemata Local Board and so cement the island’s unique position at the centre of Auckland’s and therefore the nation’s future.
Waiheke has outgrown the abilities of this backward looking Local Board with its mishandling of other people’s (our!) money and propensity for cronyism, and urgently needs to consign it to where it belongs, in the dustbin of history.
For the sake of its young people, Waiheke must seize the moment and belong to the exciting future, not a dull and dismal past.