Red Alert

Archive for the ‘recreation’ Category

That Guy

Posted by on August 8th, 2013

The Minister of Primary Industries, Hon Nathan Guy, is floundering.

He has had a shocker of a time on why his ministry didn’t pick up earlier on Fonterra’s whey protein botulism scare.  Now Stephen Joyce has been flown in to clean up the mess.

But I reckon his worst errors of judgement have been in Fisheries, and there is a striking pattern emerging.

He botched the Otago/Southland commercial paua take extension: poor consultation, backing commercial at the expense of everyday Kiwis, polarising the community; then kicked for touch.

It was the same story with the North Island East Coast crayfish quota, where commercial interests were again protected and public interests overridden.

Now he wants to slash the recreational snapper bag limit from nine a day to three, while once again giving gold plated protection to big commercial interests.  In doing so he has made a series of blunders:

  • MPI research shows the snapper stock is growing and Guy himself crowed about that here.
  • He said he would consult on options to reduce the commercial take as well as recreational limits, but failed to do so;
  • MPI’s consultation has been flawed: an impenetrable consultation document and no ministry-organised public meetings –so Legasea (the advocacy arm of one of the main sport fishing groups) has taken a lead in doing that for them;
  • Seeking to lock in “proportionality” so that commercial interests get most of the upside on future catch increases – more on this later.
  • Ignoring the opportunities to reduce wasteful by-catch and improve the sustainability of fishing methods (despite allocating $26 million to “precision harvesting” for a consortium of big fishing companies)

All in all this has caused outrage among the wider Kiwi fishing community.  What is proposed is nothing but privatisation of public fishing rights to suit commercial quota holders.

Labour is campaigning hard to bring some fairness to this issue.  You can see statements by our leader here and here and from me here. We are out around the country over the next weeks and stand squarely for defending the public’s right to catch snapper to feed their families.

Preserve New Chum – Wainuiototo Beach for everyone

Posted by on January 4th, 2011

New ChumThis is the catch cry of the community campaign to save New Chum beach from development.

Imagine walking through the bush, a stand of nikau and then coming down into a beach of golden sands with pohutakawa trees right down to the sand.  A large bay with rocky headlands and rolling waves.  A beach that is completely pristine with absolutely no development at all.  No roads, no paths, no rubbish bins, toilets, ice cream sellers or anything other than the absolute natural beauty.  A beach on the Coromandel Peninsula that can only be accessed by a 30 minute walk or by water.   This beach is New Chum – Wainuiototo.

I first saw New Chum 10 years ago and I have to say it took my breath away.  I have visited many beautiful beaches but the absolute unspoiled nature of New Chum was something special.  Since that first visit I have been back many times to sit, to picnic, to walk, to swim and every time it takes my breath away.  On one occasion my partner and I ended up being the only people there at the end of the day – it was a magic feeling.  If you haven’t visited and you have the chance I would highly recommend it.  The beach lies north of Whangapoua beach on the eastern side of the Coromandel peninsula.  It is an easy 30 minute walk.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of joining over a thousand others who are fighting to stop development of New Chum.   There are so few beaches of this size and quality that remain undeveloped, especially so close to the large population centres of Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.  We want to save this beach in its untouched state for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.

A wonderful community campaign -New Chum for everyone – has worked tirelessly over the last few months to oppose the development of New Chum.   They have submitted, they have lobbied, they have built community support and got the support of Labour leader Phil Goff and Green MP Catherine Delahunty.   Yesterdat a message was sent to the Prime Minister to put pressure on him to do what is a no brainer and that is to buy New Chum from the developer to ensure it protected now and into the future. 

It seems the developer is willing to do a deal that means this could cost as little as $10 million.  This is a small price to pay for something which has enormous economic, social and environmental value.  This beach has been described as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by Lonely Planet and National Geographic.

Yesterday at Matarangi, led by Phil Keoghan (Host of the Amazing Race) and supported by many others including Linda at The Informer newsletter, we sent a visual message made up of over a thousand people;  it said “John Key Save Me! New Chum”.  Phil Goff, Steve Chadwick, Catherine Delahunty and I (but not Sandra Goudie the local MP) all participated.   The Mayor of Thames Coromandel District Council, Glenn Leach and a number of TCDC Councillors were also actively involved.  One person I was really pleased to see was Robyn Malcolm who was recently vilified for taking a very principled stance in the whole Hobbit debacle.

The Government can make a difference by buying this wonderful asset for the people of New Zealand.  As Phil Goff says ‘National can invest $1.7 billion in protecting South Canterbury Finance Investors and pay Warner Brothers up to $95 million in handouts for filming The Hobbit in New Zealand, $10 million is such a small price for protecting such an invaluable asset as New Chum beach”. 

This is something worth supporting.  We can save New Chum. Please go to for more information.   As the community campaign states “Whatungarongaro te tangata Toitu te whenua – people come and go but the land remains”

Cooperation on cycling

Posted by on April 5th, 2010

A few weeks ago I attended a cross-party meeting on cycling. MPs from Labour, National and the Greens were all in attendance and Bike NZ gave us an excellent presentation on practical steps they thought we could take to make our roads safer for cyclists. We had quite a lot of discussion about our ‘car is king’ culture. I have to admit that despite being a frequent cyclist myself I’m probably not the most cycle-aware driver when behind the wheel of car.

I’m interested in feedback on some of the suggestions Bike NZ put forward, such as:

  • Lower speed limits in urban/rural areas (eg. around schools, shops, where the road is narrow)
  • More comprehensive ‘Share the Road’ and ‘1.5 metre’ campaigns (should 1.5 metres be the legal passing space?)
  • More designated cycle lanes and cycle routes (and should school kids be allowed to ride on footpaths?)
  • A national bike skills in schools programme
  • Better integration with public transport (eg. allowing bikes on trains and buses)
  • Higher penalties for distracted driving

We also talked about the fact that a lot of government agencies (including local government) are doing bits here and there on cycling but there doesn’t appear to be an over-arching strategy. That’s certainly something I’d like to see the government address.

Kiwi enthusiasm for cycling is certainly increasing. It’s better for our health, reduces traffic congestion and carbon emissions, and it’s cheaper! We’ve still got a way to go if we’re going to properly address all the issues around cycling, so it’s great to see MPs from across the spectrum coming together to talk about it and work with each other.

Why did I buy a new mountain bike?

Posted by on February 28th, 2010

Because I thought we would have a cycleway. But according to the Herald not a metre has been built since John Key announced it a year ago.

And btw how much fibre has gone in as a result of Joyce’s work?

Learning to swim

Posted by on January 19th, 2010

In the past few weeks we’ve had a number of tragic stories in the news about drownings. It’s a terrbile thing to happen to any family and, like all Kiwis, I feel for them greatly. I’ve also been concerned that there seem to be a growing number of them, at least, there seemed to be  growing number until I looked further into it. In fact the average number of drownings in New Zealand each year has declined from 181 per year in the 1980s to 116 in the 2000s. There were 98 in 2009, the second lowest number since records began.

That said, every avoidable drowning is a tragedy and we should look at what we can do to prevent them. Swimming lessons are a good place to start. Like most other Kiwi kids, I learnt to swim at school. Our school had a pool and during the summer months (weeks) we swam most days. The pool was also open most lunchtimes. Parents could hire a key for the summer so that they could use it after school and at weekends/holidays. Quite a few took up the option and the odd impromptu BBQ by the pool was not uncommon when families all got together.

Like many schools, my old school has now demolished their pool. It was costly to maintain, it wasn’t heated, and vandals were getting to it on a regular basis. Now the kids that attend there get 8 lots of half hour swimming lessons twice a year (a total of 8 hours). For a coastal country like NZ where swimming is such a big part of our culture, I just don’t think that’s enough. But nor do I think the responsibility should fall exclusively onto schools, who have enough to deal with already. Parents need to ensure their kids learn to swim, as mine did, often at the local school swimming pool that no longer exists. I know why schools took them out, I’m just not sure it was the right thing to do.

Summertime 1

Posted by on January 4th, 2010

A couple of days ago I went out fishing  – something I love doing. I have fished since I was a young girl, off the wharf at Raglan and then with my Dad, Uncle and cousins in my Uncle’s boat.

As we headed out of Whangamata harbour I saw New Zealanders at play – swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, walking, fishing off rocks, water skiing and kayaking. Our love of the beach is a shared and integral part of our culture and I know I am not the only one who heads to the beach with a great sense of joy.

We are a long narrow island country and no-one is far from the coast (certainly compared to many parts of the world).   As a child I learnt to swim at a young age, a combination of my mother’s efforts and the local primary school. One of the things I have become increasingly aware of is that many New Zealanders no longer have that opportunity.  In the Maungakiekie electorate for example a number of schools struggle to maintain a pool and teach swimming.  Many new migrants come to New Zealand from countries that don’t have the same access to the beach as we do here and so don’t necessarily know how to swim or understand the need to respect the sea.  Living in Auckland City means using Council pools costs money, unlike Manukau City that provides access to swimming pools free of charge.

The combined effect of these factors means we have unacceptable levels of drownings.  After road accidents and falls, drownings are the highest accidental cause of death.  While our levels of drownings have reduced our rates are still twice those of Australia.   

Water Safety NZ General Manager Matt Claridge recently made the following comments:

“The 2008 toll supports recent analysis by WSNZ that indicates the drowning toll will rise back to the horrific levels of the 1980’s. Unless New Zealand children learn to swim whilst at school, generation after generation will continually be exposed to a higher risk of drowning. As we know, aquatic activity is diverse and evolving constantly. We also know that 25% of children are unable to get across 25m or manage to keep afloat and tread water. Not enough to suggest they have the skills to save themselves.”

Claridge concludes:

“Swim and survival skills are the first step to preventing drowning. Parents need to understand the importance of children learning to swim, but it shouldn’t be a cost based issue. All New Zealand children should learn to swim whilst at school. To achieve this, children must be able to access a pool, school teachers must be trained to teach swim and survival skills and the curriculum must recognise the ability to swim as an outcome.”

I too believe it is essential that all New Zealanders have the opportunity to learn to swim enabling them to enjoy our wonderful coastline more safely.

As I headed out of Whangamata and saw people enjoying the coast I also thought of the efforts of the Coastguard and Surf Life Savers who help us enjoy our coastline and provide amazing rescue services. And of course I would be remiss if I didn’t note the 24/7 no fault cover we all have from our world class ACC scheme  as we enjoy our beach related activities. 

Finally, who could not be moved by the tragedy and heroism of grandfather Jackie Wiki and father Felisiano Puleanga who saved the lives of their loved children at the cost of their own.