Politics is a battleground and not for the faint-hearted. Bullying and intimidation are rife, even on Waiheke, although obviously not in the same league as the Williams case.
The island is a not one community but a range of individuals each of whom has chosen to make the island home for differing reasons. When a polarising issue comes along, such as the Our Waiheke bid to de-amalgamate from Auckland, tensions run deep. Some find it difficult to keep their emotions in check.
At the public meeting I attended on Wednesday my partner was deliberately jostled. This was seen by one of the Commissioners. I pointed out to them that it is exactly this sort of behaviour from those supporting the Our Waiheke bid that causes those opposing the bid to stay away from public meetings.
Yesterday I had a report, from someone opposing the OW bid at the meeting on Thursday, that the architect of the bid, John Meeuwsen, became angry, abusive and had to be restrained. This followed a refusal to shake Meeuwsen’s hand. Meeuwsen’s outburst is unacceptable from someone in a position of power as a member of the current Waiheke Local Board. He should have lead by example and simply walked away if he was affronted by the refusal of a handshake. Instead he has only served to enhance his reputation as ‘Angry John’.
It is only by shining the light on such unacceptable behaviour that a culture of bullying can be stamped out. It was very brave of Williams to stand up to Craig. He has been vindicated. Those opposing the Our Waiheke bid who have gone along to the public meetings are also very brave to put their heads above the parapet. Let’s hope their bravery is rewarded by the Commissioners and the Our Waiheke bid rejected.