“…..so we can ensure that people visiting Waiheke are there for the right reasons". Waiheke Local Board Chair Paul Walden made this statement at the end of his video promoting the recent Board junket.
It sounds innocuous, on the face of it, but becomes rather frightening, when you join the dots between this and the Board's attempt to downsize tourism to Waiheke.
If you have invested money in the island, a shop, a restaurant, a winery or the like, this is the moment to wipe the sleepy dust from your eyes and understand that this man and his cronies do not want you to make money. They do not want tourists coming to Waiheke and behaving normally, they want them to come only if they do exactly as the Board dictates.
The Greens of the modern era are known as watermelons - green on the outside, red on the inside. This attempt to control consumer behaviour and prevent private business from being economically sustainable is pure communism. Stalin himself would be proud of it. It's terrifying in the abstract - but actually happening under our noses? It doesn't bear thinking about.
This is the same Paul Walden, let's not forget, who is a member of the Walden Family. The Walden Family Trust has an application lodged on the Auckland City Council website suggesting their privately owned land above the golf course (51 hectares) be subdivided and developed into a large number of luxury plots - waiving rules on section size, ridgeline regulations, and of course requiring green belt to be rezoned as bush residential. Find that shocking? Almost unbelievable? Read about it here: or here.
It doesn't really marry up with the clean, green, low impact tourism footprint, does it? Rezoning green belt? I have asked Paul many times to state his position on this application, in a public forum. No statement has been forthcoming. Draw your own conclusions.
So forgive me if I find this sudden urge to purge tourism, and deprive those who have invested their time, effort and hard earned money into Waiheke tourism of a decent return on their investment, a bit hard to swallow.
Did you say sour grapes? You might be right. Was that hypocrisy you mentioned? You might say that, I couldn't comment. But one thing is for sure, without the intervention of Jo Holmes and her blog, this Board would be well on their way to marginalising the interests of the biggest drivers behind the island economy - providers of many of the jobs available on the island. She may no longer be on the Board, but she sure as hell continues looking after the best interests of Waiheke.
And meantime, some people want to dictate how we live our lives. This is Communism at its most insidious. So remember Walden’s words well, "…so we can ensure that people visiting Waiheke are there for the right reasons" And if your livelihood depends on tourism, don't be afraid, be very, very afraid.
Several commentators have asked me to publish their blogs on my site. The blogs on this page are not my own nor do they necessarily reflect my views. However, I do believe there is a need for a place where differing voices to those allowed in the local media can be expressed.