Some readers will not be aware that four years ago I first raised concerns over the state of The Causeway public reserve and the accumulation of boats adjacent to it. Many were in disrepair and the area more a dumping ground than a marine village. Squatters moved in and safety became an issue.
Of course over those 4 years of proposing clean-ups there were some who took the 'so far behind, we’re ahead' view that this rubbish dump of nautical failures was what we as a community should aspire to. The odd few have even had the nerve to call some of the boats 'icons'. Others stated that we should protect squatters, who were reinvented as 'liveaboards'. Had they listened, there were many warnings of shabby living standards, animosity and social inadequacies on this reserve - all deflected with arrogance by their misguided apologists.
In reality, this loss of life yesterday, in a third boat fire, has brought into focus the obvious failures to manage this area, at all levels of Council administration. My letters and emails went to community and local board members, our councillor, other councillors, the Mayor, Council officers, the then Regional Council, Auckland Transport and The Coastguard. The result of all this effort? Some small steps were made by some board members and individuals but in the end it was all fobbed off by the administration. It can all be summed up in a conversation I had with a new local board member a few hours before the incident when he said, 'Ken, by all means keep going but you are wasting your time.'
I hope that there will be an independent enquiry into this incident. It should focus on the roles played by various administrators. It might also answer the three questions I have posed many times without receiving satisfactory answers:
1. What by-laws were applicable on this public reserve and adjacent waterway and were they being correctly applied?
2. Were there people at this location receiving privileged treatment in use of the reserve and in the administration of the regulations?
3. What plan does Council and Local Board propose to clean up this reserve and adjacent waterway?
The myth that this is the 'old Waiheke' needs to be exposed.