Letters: House design, Wayne Brown, flooding, and climate change
Aerial view of Stanley Point, Auckland, after a record downpour of rain caused major flooding across the region. Photo / Brett Phibbs
How smart are our homes?
One has to question whether we are really “smart” in the way we design homes in the 21st century. Auckland’s Victorian cottages and villas were built with elevation, with front and back steps. This kept the floorboards dry and provided an area for storage. For the widespread post-Harbour Bridge construction on the North Shore, you’d have to look long and hard to find a house on a country lot that doesn’t have at least a few steps up to the front door. State houses across the country were always off the ground. In the last few decades, it has become the trendy thing to have new buildings at ground level. For some it was practical in terms of accessibility, but for the most part it provided, in estate agents’ words, “inside-through-outside flow”. Unfortunately, that was all too clear for many in Auckland on Friday. A report by the Auckland Harbor Board’s Engineering Department in the early 1970s warned that cliff-top coastal property owners should not cut down cliff-bound trees.
Matt Elliott, Birkdale.
In a vacuum
Our neighborhood is unsafe with slides, flooding and debris all around. Some houses in the area teeter on a newly opened edge for each one as slopes have fallen away. The community tennis court was just wiped out from under us. The police and neighbors are doing an excellent job. The police are busy talking, sharing photos, calming down, finding solutions for those who cannot access their homes, closing roads if slips occur, arranging the removal of debris, supporting the Fire Department 100 percent . So impressed. Neighbors come with equipment to sort collective and individual situations. But the vacuum at the top feels huge. Where was/is the mayor? Pulling back to sort things out is not acceptable during such an unprecedented weather disaster and is an insult to the experts at all levels, and the people of Auckland as we manage our particular situations, including our anxiety, at all levels .
Christine Keller Smith, Northcote Point.
Long term problems
It seems that the mayor’s handling of the floods has drawn a lot of criticism. I would be interested to know how many of the people who are so scathing of him actually took the time to vote in the last local election. It’s clear that those people who didn’t vote didn’t think it mattered who was mayor and are only now beginning to see that it does. I voted for him because I thought he would work to fix the economic disaster the city is in. Let’s face it, the current flooding disaster is a short-term problem for the vast majority of Aucklanders, the economic problems will continue to impact us all for many years to come.
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Charles Fraser, Freemans Bay.
On the drains
It looks like the heavy rain may become a more frequent weather event, with heartbreaking and catastrophic results. The designers of commercial and high-density housing developments must make adequate drainage a priority. The fields and wooded areas they build over can absorb rain, concrete does not. The water has to go somewhere or accumulate on the surface. A few years ago, my mother’s basement flooded for the first time ever during a period of heavy rain. The only other element was a neighbor’s new concrete-based carport built over what used to be a lawn. After a new housing development arrived above a friend’s house, rainwater poured through her garden.
Anne Martin, Helensville.
Well, what a mess. At his press conference, Wayne Brown looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an approaching road train. He just stood there as questions were thrown at him with a stunned look on his face. It seems like he just didn’t have a clue what the question was about. There is an old saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.
David Cave, Mt Roskill.
Edge of the cliff
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I don’t think Wayne Brown should be criticized for saying “they shouldn’t be there”, when he was referring to houses that are too close to cliff edges. It is worth noting that it was not that long ago that the property of a previous mayor — (later Sir) Barry Curtis of Manukau City — was condemned and fenced off along with a few others … as they approached the cliff edge at Eastern Beach.
Colleen Wright, Botany Downs.
Change for the better
Criticism has been leveled at Auckland Mayor Wayne Brown for his handling of the weather crisis over the past weekend. We are so used to pissing each other off in case someone gets offended. As far as I can tell, Mayor Brown is not of that ilk. He is a man who does not necessarily conform to what has become the norm and in my opinion he is a refreshing change.
Janet Boyle, Orewa.
Wayne Brown appears to be of the same political school as Donald Trump. Sad and self-absorbed. Tory Whanau’s response to Brown’s silly attack on Wellington made him look like a child. I thought we were getting someone who would lead from the front. I regret voting for him.
Rowan Hill, Mt Eden.
Dave Letele says about Wayne Brown; “You can’t keep blaming advisers. At the end of the day, you are the leader, you set the tone.” That pretty much sums up every labor minister. Why doesn’t he ask for their resignations?
Mark Young, Orewa.
Wayne Brown, Mayor of Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
First things first
I don’t care if he doesn’t speak with a silver tongue, I’m pretty sure as an engineer he would understand a functioning storm water system must come before nice things like bike lanes, festivals, monuments, lights OR heavy rail to the airport.
Bill Allen, Milldale.
At the time when Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni (NZ Herald, January 28) said we need to be reminded that many people in New Zealand are of mixed heritage but we can all work together, she did not know about the upcoming weather event that would Auckland and other parts of the country devastated. The response of the people of Tāmaki Makaurau is a good example of people working well together. Long may it continue.
Glennys Adams, Oneroa.
As I ate a mini-breakfast in a warm, dry cafe on Saturday morning, I was oblivious to the carnage inflicted at our tennis club. After being tipped off by a member, I drove to the club. There I found four of our nine courts awash with sand, silt and other debris. The force of the flood waters scattered paving blocks meters from what used to be roads. Our clubhouse was also flooded. Our club treasurer and his son arrived with wheelbarrows, rakes and brooms to start the cleanup. By mid-afternoon, 20 or 30 people were stuck. Some I recognized as members, but others were neighbors and locals, including a family of new immigrants. The 17-year-old boy joined the club and he brought along mum, dad and siblings to help. They told me they wanted to feel part of their new community. Many thanks to everyone and hopefully we can get things back to normal quickly.
Glen Stanton, Mairangi Bay.
Stewart Hawkins (Weekend Herald, January 28) writes that Jacinda Ardern’s resignation was, among other things, due to the public’s realization that she had become toxic to the Treaty ambition of “one people”. The basis of this claim is Article Three of the Treaty. That article talks about Her Majesty granting her royal protection to Māori and granting them the rights and privileges of British subjects. In other words, Queen Victoria promised to grant Māori citizenship rights already held by British settlers. To that extent, Māori and (British) settlers are one people. To say that Article Three is definitive of the Treaty is to deny the existence of the remaining articles. Article One declares that the Chiefs have ceded kawanatanga, sovereignty or governorship to the Crown; Article Two, that the chiefs retained te tino rangatiratanga, Māori sovereignty. It is clear that Māori relinquished the right to rule pakeha while retaining their right to extend their rule over their own territory.
Elisabeth Garrett, St Heliers.
Short and sweet
Does the ex-premier think that saving money by only remaining as an MP until April is more important than removing parliamentary representation for the people of Mt Albert for six months Mike Wells, Kawerau?
Is Mayor Wayne Brown trying to stick his finger in the dyke? Bruce Tubb, Devonport.
Now can we all agree that climate change is real, and we need to act urgently to reduce emissions Allison Kelly, Mt Eden.
Come back Phil Goff. All is forgiven. Geoff Leckie, Flat Bush.
Is there any truth to the rumor that Auckland International Airport is to become our new ferry terminal Bob Wichman, Botany.
I think I’d rather have Chris Hipkins’ hot dogs than Bill English’s pizza. October will tell. Ian Doube, Rotorua.
Talk about passing the buck! Mayor Brown places the blame on everyone but himself. We need a new leader. Rex Head, Papatoetoe.
The Premium Debate
How authorities failed Aucklanders in an emergency
Every single person who voted for Wayne Brown should read this excellent summary of what went wrong, because it is very clear that he is not up to it… He was elected on the campaign promise that he would sweep aside bureaucracy to be more effective to be . Now he hides behind that bureaucracy and won’t face his lack of leadership. His combative nature and complete lack of understanding of the criticism leveled against him does not bode well… Populist rhetoric [is] well until there is actually a difficult circumstance to test it. Sam L.
I’m not sure the whole blame can be laid at Mayor Brown’s feet. Surely civil defense is not his responsibility? FENZ would be responsible for its own actions? Or does the central government oversee these two organizations? It was hard to see who was meant to be in charge because of the chaos. Wayne Y.
It would be helpful to see a flowchart showing all the agencies that must be involved before a state of emergency can be declared? My understanding is that the mayor cannot simply call one on his own. Other agencies must act first. Patrick F.
I have to admit, I didn’t think Brown’s incompetence would show so early in his new position. I’m sure there are many in the Far North who say “we told you so”. He is way out of his depth and should save Aucklanders the time and expense of dealing with him any longer by resigning. If only everyone voted! Nick H.