Red Alert

Archive for the ‘tourism’ Category

And they want to put a tunnel here??

Posted by on April 1st, 2013

I was in Queenstown over Easter and had arranged to meet with people in Glenorchy who are opposed to the proposal to put a tunnel through from the Dart River to Milford, while I was there. So on Easter Saturday afternoon, I turned up to meet the committee organising the opposition and then there was a public meeting after that.

I hardly expected anyone to turn up, but they started to pour in the door just before 3pm. Some people’s apologies were given because they had gone away or had haymaking to finish (where do you go for a weekend when you live in paradise?). Even Rob Munro (ex-Nat MP for Invercargill) turned up, but he left early – once he had determined how the meeting was going perhaps?

After the meeting, at which  just EVERYONE there was vehemently opposed to the proposed tunnel, I was taken up to the start of the Routeburn track, where the mouth of the tunnel would be located.

Now, I love Central Otago and am familiar with large parts of it, but I had never driven up to Glenorchy from Queenstown. It is jaw-droppingly beautiful. It is pristine wilderness, protected as a World Heritage Park recognised by UNESCO. There was more LOTR scenery than you could shake a stick at. I am now absolutely committed to walking the Routeburn next season. Have a look at the Bear Grylls safety video AirNZ is using now in its Boeings and see if you think the environment would be enhanced by a tunnel.

This government’s proposals for the environment are truly scary – just have a look at the proposals for the second round of RMA ‘reforms’ and the water proposals. Nick Smith is going to make the decision about the Dart tunnel himself, which he can do. Do you think he will remember to do what his remit is as Minister of Conservation – to protect the environment? Does it make any sense at all to put a tunnel here??



Moving on to the next challenge

Posted by on February 25th, 2013

I have enjoyed the Health portfolio. It is huge and arguably, it takes longer than one year to get around and establish networks. I have been doing that in the past year and I am grateful to all those who were prepared to engage intelligently and repeatedly with me. I have been pleased to stick up for diabetics in the disastrous changeover to the Care Sens blood glucose meters. It was a mistake and should be rescinded. It affects the way people manage their diabetes and directly impacts their well being, especially for Type 1 diabetics.

I have also made a running on the increase in prescription charges, changes to pharmacists’ contracts with the DHBs, and the burden of implementation of changes falling on local pharmacies. This sector is in chaos and Tony Ryall continues to pretend that there is nothing to see here. Shelves full of uncollected prescriptions would say otherwise. If people can’t afford medicines, and some clearly can’t, we are only going to see additional hospitalisations further town the track.  This isn’t rocket science – just medical science.

But now I take up a new challenge with the Environment portfolio.  And there are challenges aplenty.  We would all love our myth of being 100% pure to become fact again but we need aggressive leadership in this area if that is ever to happen. From our waterways to our air quality, and much more besides, there is much to do to restore our natural environment and to protect it for future generations.  I look forward to that challenge.

Thanks again to all you good health folk for working with me over the last year.  Keep up the good work!

Let’s bring MORE Aussies here

Posted by on May 10th, 2012

Here’s an idea: let’s bring more Aussies to Aotearoa. Hear me out…

They’re our closest neighbours and best mates and through their sheer weight of numbers can help keep NZ tourism in the Black.

But while our Aussie mates might be taking advantage of a strong currency that hasn’t transferred to a similar pick-up in spending– that’s down 6% to $1500 a head.

Getting them to dig a bit deeper requires some strategic thinking.

For instance, we could let them win more Bledisloe tests in Auckland. What with Auckland’s dismal season, how hard could it be to engineer a loss at Eden Park for the good of our economy? Then they’d have to stay another (hotel) night because of a hua of a hangover.

Anything that will help our aussie mate spend a bit more ‘on the card’ is worth a try.

John Key might be Tourism Minister, but he’s promoting Australia as the golden country and Aussies as our wealthy trans-Tasman cuzzies. That doesn’t translate to more good Aussie coin for our hard-working tourism operators.

Labour is committed to marketing campaigns in key overseas and emerging markets but there should be a stronger focus on Australia.

1.17 million Aussies visited New Zealand last year. And there’s roughly 100,000 ‘Mozzies’ living over there, a big percentage of whom  return home for annual holidays.

Let’s get more of those people over here. Then we can send them home with empty pockets and a heart full of aroha.

Filed under: tourism

Kelvin – why are Maori good for waiting staff and singing but not Real New Zealand showcase?

Posted by on May 10th, 2011

For those without broadband, the Hansard is below: (more…)

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”