If ever there was a week in Auckland to remind us that all life is balanced between the good that humanity can do and the bad, this was it.
As airman Antoine de Saint-Exupéry laid out so clearly in The Little Prince, the bad is often no more than careless inaction and the good and true takes everlasting vigilence but here we were. By the time this paper reaches the streets, we will have had the annual, hushed, Dawn Parade with familiar veterans with eyebright memories, solemn children in their great-grandfather’s medals and soul-deep words from a pulpit under the last of the night’s stars.
This after a long, gloriously beautiful holiday weekend with children hunting Easter eggs on the beaches, music and entranced visitors across the island and, for Auckland visitors, a few days respite from the city’s punishing hell of ever-lengthening commutes and construction gridlock.
However, on the island, it’s now obvious that the thousands of tonnes of stockpiled sheet metal, garish fencing and a small village of construction huts on Kennedy Point wharf is there to stay.
An Auckland Transport press release (mostly about a shamefully long timeline for sorting the island’s bus service which it substantially broke last year) let slip that work on one of the island’s two commuter wharves – which generate hefty wharf tax revenues – will not be finished until late 2020.
Disingenuous comments and assurances that “your concerns are important to us” hardly help the growing number of Kennedy Point commuters heading – expensively – to the eastern suburbs and schools.
There is no drop-off zone unless you plead with the parking wardens to be let through, Desiree Keown told Gulf News this week, and the five chairs outside are the extent of the ‘facility’ for passengers. They are not acceptable in the cold and wet and dark.
“The lighting has always been bad up to the carpark but it’s never been a priority for anyone to resolve and the light in the carpark itself now doesn’t function.”
A number of commuters unfamiliar with the requirement to have a torch or cellphone have tripped over, she said.
“The only positive is the SeaLink ferry staff who go above and beyond trying to help despite their own obvious frustrations.
“Would the local council or AT like to own this issue and resolve it? From what we can see, the answer is ‘no’.”
Apparently the ‘terminal’ from which SeaLink operates will be put back at the end and what is being accomplished is not clear. However, according to the resource consent, the works have to do with future resilience and we can – two dark, cold winters on – rest easy that Kennedy Point will be earthquake proofed and ready to deal with ‘modern transport’, whatever that might be.
Also rising to the surface in the community is an increasing awareness that one of the island’s most precious assets, its trees and particularly its pohutukawa, are disappearing inexorably; that the council compliance processes – which can be used to sue a ratepayer for ‘earthworks in the dripline of native trees’ – can also issue a resource consent that allows for mature neighbourhood pōhutukawa to be felled if careless earthworks during construction damage them.
With all this ad hoc agenda, we will probably, come summer, also find portaloos and minatory parking restriction signs again cropping up in the middle of iconic views and no-swimming screens at Little Oneroa, even as near-empty double decker-buses loom higher than houses on broken roads in the hope of some future tourism bonanza that looks increasingly improbable.
Meanwhile, and at apparently inexhaustible cost, Auckland Council entities have been granted resource consent to build ‘dolphins’, actually an additional 90-metre walkway, from the end of poor Queen’s Wharf that’s already rendered aesthetically embarrassing by John Key’s leftover Cloud and the butt-ugly little ‘state house’ with its electronic fluoro graffiti.
Three of Auckland Council’s ‘independent commissioners’ granted consent for property CCO Panuku’s addition despite considerable public agitation over yet another intrusion into the harbour and a dubious need for cruise ships to inflict such a permanent alienation of the waters.
“We have found that although the proposal would have a range of adverse effects on the environment, both during construction and operation, those effects are able to be avoided, remedied or mitigated to an acceptable level by way of good construction management, engagement with Mana Whenua and consultation with other stakeholders,” the commissioners said.
On the present showing, good luck with that. • Liz Waters