Don’t You Forget About HB

DFAHB

Kermit the Frog once sang “It’s Not Easy Being Green”.

Over recent years it’s also not been easy being regional New Zealand after almost a decade of neglect and lack of economic development from central government.

Just like in New Zealand’s media, main centres, especially Auckland, ruled supreme and sucked up all the infrastructure, attention and economic prosperity, whilst regional centres just didn’t matter.

In 2014 then Finance Minister, Bill English, was visiting Hawke’s Bay and was quoted saying:

“Hawke’s Bay’s seasonal low-wage economy “isn’t going to change in a hurry, so let’s get good at it.”

What a pathetic cop-out by the person supposedly tasked with looking after the whole country’s prosperity and economy!

Fortunately, (depending on your political stripes) we have just had a change in government and the incoming Labour / New Zealand First / Greens coalition campaigned on platforms of regional development.

Hopefully places like Hawke’s Bay will soon start to see the benefits of such policy.

Because, over recent years, Hawke’s Bay has been all too easily forgotten.

Non-Nation-Wide Tours

When I saw the headline that New Zealand’s own native songbird Lorde had announced a “New Zealand Tour” I thought “This would be cool – I hope she comes to Hawke’s Bay!”

Imagine a Mission Concert headlined by New Zealand’s latest great songstress!

Lordey2

But it wasn’t to be.

She was barely even scratching the surface of potential venues and destinations – more “whistle-stop” than nation-wide tour.

Lordey1

Media Misses the Mark

As you may have perceived, I have developed a growing lack of faith in New Zealand’s simulcast network media.

This was only deepened a year or so ago, when one such network held a “Provincial Pick Up” promotion.

Starting in Invercargill and taking the “path less travelled”, by visiting regional centres like Timaru, Ashburton and Blenheim it started reasonably well.

But having crossed Cook Strait and stopped in one of Wellington’s biggest suburban areas of Porirua, its next stop was… Taupo.

Not Levin, not Palmerston North, and CERTAINLY NOT Hawke’s Bay where, you would think bigger population bases would have provided more coverage, attention and contestants.

To rub salt into the wound the “map” that accompanied the competition’s page featured a rather clear indication that the Provincial Pick Up would be heading to New Plymouth, when this wasn’t the case.

Provincial

As part of its final leg, the tour would make at least four stops in (as far as you can get from provincial New Zealand)” Auckland.

We Even Get Left Out of Memes!

Coldaf

During a recent winter cold-snap the entire country shivered through some very bracing temperatures.

In true wise-cracking kiwi fashion someone made up an alternative weather map of New Zealand to illustrate just how cold we all were.

The majority of regions labelled “Cold AF” (or “Cold as F***” for those who took English class Pre-2010).

All but Hawke’s Bay!

Now, we are known for enjoying a far more temperate climate than the rest of New Zealand in Hawke’s Bay, but I was here during that time and I can confirm to being one VERY “Cold AF” (the far more “G” rated, name-related acronym, that is) during that time!

Hawke’s Bay – A Technological, Astronomical Region!

Many may have perceived “Regional Development” as “Rural Development” – focusing on farming and other primary industries.

This is not necessarily the case.

The combined population of Napier and Hastings is around 130,500 – making us the 5th largest population base in New Zealand (Hamilton = 150,000 Tauranga = 128,200) – far from the sort of small, rural town that gets ignored more often than not.

Fortunately Hawke’s Bay has a lot of smart, adaptable and ingenious people, so while we were ignored by external assistance, we took the words of Napier’s Douglas MacLean:

“A country made progress despite of its politicians”.

A prime example of this has been the creation of a “Tech Hub”, with anchor tenants Now and Xero opening in Napier’s seaside suburb of Ahuriri.

This has been something I’ve been passionate about and pushing for years – even since one of my first Napier in Frame posts.I would love to think I had some form of influence over such developments, but no one has told me so and I haven’t received any medals, certificates or knighthoods as a result, so I guess not 

But the fact Hawke’s Bay has still been able to make these technical and economic advances as a region is still great to hear.

And how many other New Zealand cities or regions have their own rocket launch facility?

So slap that old John Hughes classic in the VCR, crank some Simple Minds on the stereo and pump that fist in the air.

Because this region has just started going from strength to strength, so Don’t You Forget About HB!

jZgre

People At The End Of Glass Viewing Platforms Shouldn’t Throw Stones

Exclusive footage of what may actually be the "vandal" in action.

Exclusive footage of what may actually be the “vandal” in action.

On, or around the night of the 27th / morning of the 28th of June “vandals” are alleged to have broken one of the three glass panels on the end of Napier’s Marine Parade viewing platform.

This is the fourth time the glass has been broken since the platform was opened in 2015.

In the 30th of June edition of the local paper, Hawke’s Bay Today, Napier’s mayor said it was “soul destroying for council staff” and even the paper’s editor later chimed in vilifying the acts of, as yet, unidentified villains.

Posters on local Facebook pages alleged (without proof) the damage was caused by Napier’s current easy target – Homeless / Beggars / Rough Sleepers.

But there’s a problem with pointing the finger on this matter:

There’s no proof!

Pictures of the damage in the local paper showed, while the extra-strength glass had “shattered”, it appeared to have held its shape, like a car windscreen, meaning the end of the platform wasn’t exposed to a drop of several meters into the waterline below, but it also didn’t give an indication which direction the glass panel was struck from.

As far as I’m aware there are no CCTV cameras on the platform, or located in such a position to get an unobstructed view down to the end of the platform, especially during the middle of the night.

The council officially reopened the platform yesterday, and the paper accordingly reported:

Mayor Bill Dalton said it was the fourth time vandals had smashed the glass, which was initially installed in a single piece but later separated into three panels to minimise the cost of vandalism. He said that any repeats of the vandalism could lead to a decision not to use a see-through barrier in the future.

Council chief executive Wayne Jack said no one had been identified as a culprit for the latest damage..”

In other words they had no idea what may have caused the glass to break?

So why blindly point fingers?

I think I may have a lead on the culprit. But it may not be a “who”, rather a WHAT.

I just happened to be on Marine Parade the afternoon before the “vandalism” took place.

The sea was very rough that day:

rough

The same newspaper picture that showed the broken glass panel also showed a fair amount of water on the platform and some very damp looking concrete and glass – Not unusual, given the platform’s location.

The day before news of the damaged panel featured, coverage of Clifton Beach (south of Napier near Cape Kidnappers) further eroding away after high seas on Tuesday night – the same timeframe as the platform damage – was front and centre on Hawke’s Bay Today’s front page.

Yet no one could make a correlation?

Exactly one week later Hawke Bay put on almost identical conditions, resulting in this stunning footage by local photographer Tim Whittaker of Haumoana Beach (just north of Clifton) taking a battering. So I went for a wander down to the platform to have a look.

This is what I saw:

20170704_162444

The driftwood in the foreground denotes the height the sea was getting to at high tide – It is almost level with the Marine Parade Walkway and entrance to the viewing platform – Some 40-50 meters from the shoreline.

20170704_162651

The wash from some of the swells was still making it around half way to the high tide mark at times.

Given the homeless people blamed on social media have been occasionally seen residing under the viewing platform, the most accessible parts well within this wash zone, it is highly unlikely they were anywhere near it during these large swells. That puts a dampener on claims they were potential culprits.

And of course:

Exclusive footage of what may actually be the "vandal" in action.

Being a beach of big breakers and rough surf, the platform is a popular venue for photographers to get snaps of waves smashing into the base of the viewing platform and spray leaping high into the air and onto, and over the platform and any thrill-seeking viewers who happen to be on it at the time.

High tide on the night of Tuesday June 27 was at 8:20pm – Well after dark, and with high tide exacerbating the already wild seas very few people would have considered venturing out onto the platform in the dark.

With these high, rough seas and, given water weighs one ton per cubic meter (this is what makes tsunamis so destructive) it wouldn’t take too many waves to break even toughened glass after enough of a battering.

Factor in the chance of a hunk of driftwood, or a large stone being hoisted up by the force of the water and there’s plenty of extra ammunition to barrage and potentially break a glass panel on the end of the viewing platform with.

The viewing platform is in a very exposed position on Marine Parade and takes a battering from the elements. It had already come under early criticism for how it was holding up, particularly to tidal shingle deposits building up in the storm-water outfall pipe underneath.

It must be expected that the platform will be damaged by the elements at some stage. Good design and correct building materials should minimise these effects. But given the unpredictable nature of, um, Mother Nature some level of damage must be anticipated.

So why was the potential of a natural cause not considered or opined along with the chance of it being some miscreant human?

Given Napier City Council’s current strike rate with their ratepayers’ trust, it seems fool-hardy to just blame phantom “vandals”.

People at the end of glass viewing platforms shouldn’t throw stones!

The Truth Shall Make ye Fret

Napier ratepayers' fuses are running down over their council's treatment of the city's war memorial eternal flame.

Napier ratepayers’ fuses are running down over their council’s treatment of the city’s war memorial eternal flame.

“The truth shall make ye fret” Terry Pratchett “The Truth”

Albert Einstein once said “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.”

It certainly appears that public trust in what Napier City Council says is the truth is fading fast.

That NCC, normally so obliging for a positive-spin photo op, was not quickly forthcoming with access to the stored-away flame and Roll of Honour plaques (note – we haven’t seen a photo of them yet) erodes what little public trust they may still have even further.

Long-term, seat-warming councillors can express their regret, hindsight and sympathy all they want. But it doesn’t hide the fact that those same publically elected councillors voted to remove the “War Memorial” name from the Marine Parade conference venue (on the basis of marketing jargon from unelected council staff) and in doing so, consigned a sacred memorial to a council yard and the Eternal Flame to being sheltered by what appears to be a rubbish bin cover.

This is hardly new, though.

The likes of “Spin-Doctoring”, “Fake News”, “Alternative Facts” and “Dirty Politics” have been around long before #Hashtags made them fashionable on social media and American politics somehow made them standard operating procedure.

In recent years Napier ratepayers were told Art Deco Busses would be a great tourism attraction and money spinner. They weren’t.

We were told 680,000 people would visit the city’s new Museum, Theatre and Gallery. They didn’t.

The same facility was meant to be able to house the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust’s $44 million, 100,000 object collection. It still can’t.

Napier Skating Club was told that “SK8 Zone” would remain open and in place until the new, Council operated “Bay Skate” facility was opened. It didn’t.

When the council demolished Sk8 Zone ahead of what was previously stated, we were told they had found a temporary facility for the club. The week it was supposed to open we discovered that wouldn’t happen either.

Watchdog! claimed there were serious issues with the Napier Pound. Napier’s mayor called it a “pathetic crusade”. The Ministry of Primary Industries found otherwise.

Following a positive E.coli test and subsequent chlorination of Napier’s normally pure water supply in February this year, another positive test was returned in late May.

To ensure the waterborne bugs were killed off the council chose to chlorinate the whole system for “up to a month”.

That was still on track in mid-June when Napier’s water was due to return to normal “by the end of the month”.

Yet, here we are in July – six weeks later and it still smells like a swimming pool whenever I turn a tap on and our annual rates are up 4.9{3919f50c199a8627c147b24d329ff0de8aa05e3a462fa3330e11cd9ea56ed948} for something that never used to be a problem.

And, of course, we’ve been told Napier “needs” a multi-million dollar velodrome, in fact it’s the “number one priority” for some in council and is sneaking back into agendas.

We don’t.

I’ve read through the “O’Connor Sinclair Participation Report 2014” and “Hawkes Bay Sports Regional Facilities Plan Feb 2015” reports which were being used as a basis for justifying this “need” and for the life on me, all I can find about a velodrome is that, Under “State of the Sport” for Cycling, quote: “There is no track cycling venue in HB” and under “Development Options”: “Explore future opportunities for a velodrome”. That’s it!

The same report stated that ”No additional development is required” for “Aquatics” (Swimming), despite “an increasing trend” in participation , current facilities closing due to earthquake strength issues, and lane pool demand outstripping supply.

During the last election the public very clearly voiced their opinion that what the city needed a public swimming pool like the old Onekawa Olympic Pool. Those running for re/election voiced almost universal approval for a pool and dismissal of the velodrome.

Even the mayor said the Velodrome/Public Pool issue was “not an either/or situation”.

Yet thousands of ratepayer dollars have been spent on viability reports for and promotion of a velodrome concept wanted by a very small minority, while there’s no sign of a new, publicly supported, competition / Olympic-sized swimming pool under construction and silence from its freshly elected ‘supporters’?

More recently, many a “Yeah, right!” has been muttered at revelations NCC’s offices were dangerously earthquake-prone, despite 2010/11 reports saying they were 100{3919f50c199a8627c147b24d329ff0de8aa05e3a462fa3330e11cd9ea56ed948} up to code.

Many consider this timing all too auspicious, given NCC management were looking at selling the site off to hotel developers, relocating NCC HQ into the neighbouring library building and somehow squeezing Napier’s library into a much smaller space amidst Clive Square and yet more war memorials – Napier’s Women’s Rest building and the city’s cenotaph!

Throughout this, the senior, unelected, Napier City Council management behind many of these decisions have remained silent, while the city’s mayor attacks public, press and online questioning and criticism of his council’s decisions and actions, lambasting critics as “nay-sayers”, as if the rate-paying public who fund his salary were responsible for the problems.

It used to be that public servants took great pride in doing just that – serving the public.

More recently, and locally, it feels like there is an expectation that the public should be serving them.

The people of Napier want answers.

The people of Napier want the truth!

The people of Napier deserve better!

A Priceless Home

FB_20151022_12_48_58_Saved_Picture

You’ve heard the term “A month of Sundays”, right?

Well, having finally gotten Mum into the care of a rest home, it’s taken me two months of Saturdays, plus any available time outside of that to clear out her and Dad’s old place.

It’s meant less time spent with my wife and daughter and even less time still spent on myself, which has been wearing me down faster than anything else.

It’s been very hard, dusty, heart-breaking, priceless and vastly under-valued work.

It was never going to be an easy task, but with the help of my wife on a couple weekends when the “outlaws” looked after our daughter we managed to get the job done.

When I say “hard” I don’t necessarily mean physical.

While there was a fair bit of heavy lifting involved, the hardest part was the simple fact it was essentially emptying out and dismantling keystones of memory in the house I grew up in.

I’ve gotten in trouble with my wife for calling it “home” in recent months, as we now have our own piece of New Zealand. But you can’t help but refer to the place you lived the first twenty-plus years of your life as “my home”.

So much stuff that I grew up with was still there.

In a lot of cases I mean that literally – There were packets of herbs and spices in the back of cupboards that were as old as I am!

There were quite a few keepsakes – photos, family heirlooms, mementos and the like I couldn’t bear to part with, but there was also a lot of stuff that, while it had no major sentimental value, did have a commercial value. It’s just a crying shame it was such a small value.

Chairs, tables and vases. Books I learned from and developed my thirst for knowledge. The crockery and cutlery that had fed me for over twenty years – all things that had been around me my whole younger life and were now no use to me, having plenty of my own in our own home needed to be sold, so we called in antiques and second hand dealers.

While we made a reasonable amount of money to put back into mum’s bank account, and while most of the stuff was “retro” and “vintage”, rather than desirable, expensive “antique” it still felt like they were worth so much more than what we got for them.

While I would understand or more readily accept a “buy for $5, sell for $10” policy, the predominant tactic of “buy for $5, sell for $15 or $20” left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.

It seems commerce has no sense of sentimentality.

Other stuff, like clothes and random chattels, we donated to the Cranford Hospice Shop and St Vincent DePaul.

But in the majority of cases, like those herbs and spices, it was a matter of “get rubbish bag, open cupboard / drawer, tip entire contents of cupboard / drawer into rubbish bag, chuck on trailer, repeat”.

That happened so much I’m now practically on first name basis with the security guard lady at the dump!

One of the tasks that unexpectedly cut the deepest was the simple act of getting the phone disconnected.

The phone number I had committed to memory my entire life, the means by which company, conversation, consolation, congratulation and FAMILY was only a few button presses away is now greeted with a blank, “beep, beep, beep” dial tone.

I can no longer “phone home”.

Going through old boxes of stuff, especially Dad’s things, yielded many great memories and items. A lot of them tinged with sadness that he is no longer here to tell me the stories behind them.

I found a metal cash box / deposit box under a chest of drawers and I guess it spoke volumes about what Mum and Dad valued most.

There were no share bonds for Apple or Microsoft from the early 1980’s or gold ingots in this little box. No papers linking me to royal lineage, untold wealth or some mysterious twin I had never known.

In this box were well-wishers’ cards from Mum and Dad’s wedding, the registration papers for my first car (a Ford Anglia Dad helped me buy and get running) and report cards from my first years at primary school.

Family memories – far more valuable than anything else.

Friends of ours are now renting Mum and Dad’s old house, my old home.

They are taking care of it – doing the gardens, cleaning up the remaining bits and pieces we didn’t get to.

My wife, daughter and I went over there for lunch the other day and it’s so heartening to see the place being LIVED in again, as opposed to being merely existed in, as Mum had done since Dad passed away.

We kept some of the furniture in parts of the house like the kitchen, where there isn’t much space and the chairs and table Mum and Dad had there fitted perfectly.

Out of sheer habit, I sat in the place I’ve always sat in at that table as we had our lunch. When the others went back outside I just sat there by myself for a while.

I could hear Dad tinkering in the garage.

I could hear Mum cleaning in the sitting room.

I smiled to myself and shed a tear.

Going, Going, Gone.

H1

Napier Hill’s skyline has started to change.

Since being closed down in 1998, the site of the city’s former hospital has been empty – slowly going derelict through inattention, intrusion and even armed and emergency service training exercises.

The hospital’s old wards were first to be demolished – Lower and Upper Robjohn are gone, Thomas Gilray has been swept away.

Now the hospital’s main block is coming down and like the building itself – the work is hard to miss – especially when large chunks seem to be carved out of it by the day.

Front 1

The site will be cleared and twin, high-rise apartment blocks will take the place of the main hospital block building, with lower-set housing spread around the site.

Long-term tenants will soon reside on the site where short term patients had recuperated since 1880.

WP_20150729_012

The closing of Napier’s hospital is still a sore point for many and having what appears to be high-end apartments – something out of reach for average Hawke’s Bay incomes built on the site may not help feelings – especially when there are still so many similar apartment complexes, with empty apartments, already around Napier.

But it must be said it is far better to have the site used, rather than going to waste as it had been for the last twenty years.

Napier Hill deserved better!

It even appears the Eye of Sauron joined in on demolishing Napier's old Hospital.

It even appears the Eye of Sauron joined in on demolishing Napier’s old Hospital.

New York, New Zealand, Same Old Problems!

Spot the difference – it’s not as obvious as you’d think…

Spot the difference – it’s not as obvious as you’d think…

Split Enz were wrong – History repeats all the time.

Most gallingly, it always seems to be the worst aspects that repeat most often.

Scientists have spent centuries testing the attentions spans of dogs, goldfish and other animals, but the species that does the testing seems to have such a deficit of mental storage that we keep doing the same stupid things over and over again.

Of course, it doesn’t always repeat in the same place. But the advancement of communication technology now allows us to see what has happened – and indeed IS happening, AS it happens – across the globe, so you would think our new global awareness would lessen the chances of bad aspects of history repeating.

But it doesn’t.

Over summer, Mrs in Frame and I spent several evenings watching a quite remarkable documentary series on the history of New York City. From its discovery and settlement, through to the 2001 terrorist attacks it covered wondrous highs, terrible lows, heroes, villains, and all the flotsam and jetsam that make up what has become one of the greatest cities in the world.

Throughout the series – 17 ½ hours viewing in total – I kept having a form of Deja-vu – that I had seen or been through all this before. I had – just not in New York City, but here in New Zealand and in Napier.

Because at the same time as we were watching this HISTORICAL series similar scenarios were being played out daily in out papers, news programmes and online.

Of particular current topical interest in the documentary was New York’s development in the early to mid-1800’s

Immigration was a massive issue as millions of Europeans flooded into New York City seeking a new life in the “New World” of America. They were not always welcome and faced injustice, persecution, racism and were often forced to live in terrible conditions.

It wasn’t until the turn of the 20th century that Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” (“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses..”) was inscribed upon the base of the Statue of Liberty that stood as a beacon of hope and a slightly warmer welcome to those entering New York Harbour.

210 years later and little has changed.

Racism is still prevalent across the globe and here in New Zealand we still face the same problems New York faced two centuries ago.

Debates over refugee quotas and boat loads of poor foreigners seeking asylum and a new, better life in our own country feature in the news often. As do attacks on working immigrants and claim Auckland’s appalling house prices are the result of foreigners, apparently, buying them all.

From the mid-1800’s until the turn of the century, the gap between New York’s rich and poor exploded as industrialist “Robber Barons” made millions, while those working for them on the lowest levels struggled to make ends meet.

Corruption became rife, especially at government levels, where graft, cronyism and all sorts of un-sporting political and social nastiness exacerbated the plight of those with the least, while feathering the nests of those with the most.

In New Zealand today the wealth gap continues to exist and indeed grow – making us one of the least equal countries in the western world. This not only harms our economy, but also social structure.

And while it may not seem as obviously prevalent as back then, skulduggery amongst those in power certainly still seems to exist, while the poor public pay for their power struggles and multi-million dollar follies.

Jump forward 50-plus years and New York is almost unrecognisable post-World War Two. The city had literally and figuratively reached for the sky. The city’s landscape goes vertical with the development of skyscrapers, while new bridges, tunnels and a new-fangled invention called the “highway” cross the city and open up between Manhattan Island and the surrounding mainland.

The point of these highways was to ease congestion on New York’s city streets, but all it did was encourage more people to buy and use cars, further clogging an already jam-packed system.

That certainly sounds very familiar to present day Auckland traffic congestion and our government’s rather short-sighted transport policy, doesn’t it?

Leading the charge on most of New York’s civil projects was city planner Robert Moses. While many of his early works were lauded and welcomed, he started to lose favour with the city’s citizens when he started ploughing great swathes – usually through the heart of poorer urban neighbourhoods for more of his expressways. But because he was not an elected official, the public could do essentially nothing to unseat him.

Don’t you think that sounds similar to the creation and project management of a grand, artistic Napier edifice in recent years?

Around the 1940’s and 50’s housing New York’s poor – especially those uprooted from neighbourhoods demolished for highways and other features – became a pressing issue. While local and national governments assisted with the creation of “Projects” – they also attempted to encourage the private sector to construct affordable homes. This was not always successful and New York real estate prices reached staggeringly high levels – “affordability” suddenly becoming “utterly unobtainable”.

Today in New Zealand “affordable housing” – especially in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch is becoming a thing of the past with prices reaching up to and beyond New York levels.

And while in New York they BUILT housing for the poor, in New Zealand, our government SELLS OFF EXISTING STATE HOUSING TO PRIVATE DEVELOPERS!

When will the madness end?

When will we learn?

When will history stop repeating?

We deserve much better than to go through this all over again!

Palmed Off and Blocked Off on Prebensen Drive

Prebensen Drive's Phoenix palms - gone, but not forgotten!

Prebensen Drive’s Phoenix palms – gone, but not forgotten!

They say “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

Well, in Napier’s case, the road to the port is paved with tree stumps and dodgy intersections.

A couple of months ago Napier City Council started a project 11 years in the making – the widening of Prebensen Drive from two lanes into four.

The intention is to ease congestion and hasten the trip of heavy vehicles to and from Napier’s Onekawa and Ahuriri industrial areas as well as the Port of Napier.

Built in 1990, Prebensen Drive (also known as “Tamatea Drive”) was created to help decongest Taradale Road and speed up the transit between central Napier and the suburb of Tamatea (hence the moniker). An extension linking it to Greenmeadows and Taradale came later on in 2005.

One of the first features added to Prebensen Drive was a line of Phoenix palm trees planted on either side of the road to give it a natural look not too dissimilar to Kennedy Road’s famous date palms and Marine Parades Norfolk Pines. From looking like tiny little pineapples, the Phoenix palms grew into big, wide, beautiful palm trees. Until earlier this year.

On a trip down the road, I noticed a few of the palms were missing, with the sawn-off remnants of other trees lying nearby. It wasn’t a good look and it even got some media attention, with international business visitors saddened by the destruction.

Napier City Council claimed they had tried to sell of, or move the palms, but there had been no takers and the palms had grown too big to economically re-plant elsewhere.

But it did raise the question – if four-laning Prebensen Drive had been in the works for at least 11 years (it’s not unreasonable to consider it was part of the larger plan upon creation of the road) could a solution, other than destruction of these majestic trees been incorporated earlier?

Despite lots of focus and advertising recently being put behind the constant creation and adjustments of council “Long Term Plans” the answer is evidently not.

But within the last few weeks the planning and traffic flow adjustments of Prebensen Drive and its’ surrounding industrial areas just got even stranger:

Some time ago, soon after Mitre 10 Mega moved onto its Prebensen Drive site, a roundabout was put outside the store on the corner with Ahuriri’s Severn Street.

For a time it appeared half the roundabout was there for the sole purpose of allowing easy access for Hawke’s Bay’s handy-men and women to the region’s largest hardware store. But other plans were afoot.

Ford Road, a minor side-street in the Onekawa industrial area was being extended over the creek that used to border it and past Mitre 10 Mega to join up with Prebensen Drive. This new extension opened only a few weeks ago.

But with the opening up of Ford Road, traffic flow into the Onekawa Industrial area via Austin Street – its main thoroughfare and entry / exit point was halted.

Where Austin Street used to have right-of-way from Taradale Road at one end all the way through to Prebensen Drive at the other, it suddenly had a stop sign planted at the Ford Road intersection, mere meters from the Taradale Road egress point.

While extensively publicised and signs on the road indicating the upcoming change for several months, it has been hard to break the traffic habit of decades and incidents at the new stop sign’s intersection have apparently been numerous.

But the news gets worse for Austin Street – From May 12th, due to the four-laning of Prebensen Drive, access into Austin Street from Prebensen Drive will cease permanently – essentially making Austin Street Napier’s biggest, busiest, most industrious cul-de-sac!

To enter the Onekawa Industrial area you will need to use the new Ford Road extension / Mitre 10 roundabout.

Once construction of the additional lanes on Prebensen Drive is complete, restoration of one-way, EXIT ONLY traffic from Austin Street onto Prebensen Drive (a tricky intersection at the best of times) is being considered.

But that doesn’t address a major issue this corner faces. Getting onto Prebensen Drive and heading towards Tamatea / Taradale at this intersection, particularly during morning and evening rush-hours accompanied with the rising / setting sun makes vision particularly difficult – especially with more heavy traffic set to thunder down the road at right-angles to merging traffic.

Ultimately the question for this whole project is:

“Is it necessary”?

“Does Prebensen Drive REALLY need to be four lanes?”

The prime focus of this expansion is to accommodate more heavy trucks and keep them off suburban roads and, of course, off Marine Parade.

But, while often busy, I must say I have never seen Prebensen Drive jam-packed with traffic (except when a particularly long train passes the level crossing at its central Napier.

We are a regional area, largely ignored by national economic development and internal immigration. So our suburban traffic along Prebensen Drive will likely never get to the levels of Auckland or Wellington rush-hour congestion.

And, to be honest, can Hawke’s Bay drivers really handle a four-laned road?

Many Hawke’s Bay auto pilots can’t even seem to fathom a two-lane roundabout without cutting across lanes, cutting other vehicles off, not indicating, or simply running into other vehicles? Is a four-lane road leading into a roundabout with four lanes just a few lanes too many?

I can’t help but think that, once again, there are bigger problems at play here which won’t be cured with the expensive, complicated projects that have been set in motion.

Napier, its road users, industries and palm trees deserve better!

It’s an Interesting Life – My 100th Post!

happy-100th-blog-post

A few weeks ago when I was getting my hair cut the barber said “I’ve seen you in the paper a fair bit recently. Do they give you a call whenever they are getting low on news to fill up space?”

My first reaction was to think – “Gee, what a douche-bag! Looks like I’ll be getting my hair done elsewhere from now on…”

My second reaction was to actually say “No. I just have an interesting life that occasionally involves situations that deserve publication!”

And, as this is my 100th “Napier in Frame” post, I think that’s true!

Over the past two-and-a-bit years I’ve:

Been fortunate to end up in some unique situations,

IMAG2110

To do stuff I love,

Merv

To meet wonderful, interesting people,

The team gathers before the game...

The team gathers before the game…

To share trials, triumphs and tragedy,

Double Grandad

Have some fun,

"Where are we going, Wilbur?"

“Where are we going, Wilbur?”

Generate debate and discussion,

beggar

And, more often than not, to have a bloody good vent!

g

I have also been very fortunate to have you, my readers, get involved, give support and feedback and, well, read my posts! It makes the whole exercise worthwhile.

angel

So, thank you!

Here’s to another 100+ posts and, who knows. maybe even something professional may come of it! (I’ll write for food and / or money!) 😉

Lest We Forget

RSApoppy

Last week I had to travel down to Lower Hutt. On the drive there and back I went through Wairarapa. It’s become one of my favourite areas and drives on the way to Wellington and it was looking particularly pretty after recent rain across the region and a dusting of snow on the Tararua Ranges.

Maybe it’s just because of the focus on this year’s ANZAC Day being the 100th anniversary of the battle that would forge two countries’ identities, but while driving through Wairarapa’s smaller towns, like Carterton, Greytown and Featherston, I couldn’t help but notice just how prominent war memorials were in these towns. I dare say they had all been given an attention-seekingly timely spruce-up, but they seemed more prominent than usual.

On the drive home I stopped and had a look at Carterton’s memorial, noting the memorial’s broken main column. I don’t know if this was an actual structural break, but from an artistic point of view it would quite subtly and beautifully represent lives cut short, broken promises, or unachieved aspirations.

WP_20150414_010[1]

I also noted on the “Roll of Honour” where the same surnames appeared grouped together on a couple of occasions and couldn’t help but feel for the Wairarapa families who lost multiple members – fathers, sons, brothers, cousins in places literally and geographically as far away from their Wairarapa homes as you could get and how devastating that must have been for those they left behind.

Whether it’s the hundred year old architecture of the region that has been lovingly preserved, or the smaller, closer-knit communities that these Wairarapa towns seem to have, but you can easily get a feel for life there a century ago when so many of their menfolk went off on a “great adventure” “to fight for King and country” and “do their duty“, from which many did not return.

In August last year young men, around the same age as those who went off to war a century ago, re-enacted the march from Masterton’s town hall to the railway station and off to war that their ancestors took. It looked like quite a remarkable and emotional recreation.

Hindsight can be a wonderful and terrible thing.

We look back now on “The War to End All Wars” with mixed emotions – pride at how our forces performed and how the ANZAC identity was forged. Love and admiration for those who returned; Sorrow for those who didn’t and Futility at the sheer number of lives lost, the level of destruction and the repetitiveness with which subsequent conflicts have arisen.

With modern communication and attitudes evolving, war is seen very differently nowadays. I would hope we never see scenes like those of 100 years ago being repeated again.

But memories are short.

War, like so many other things, has become a business and there are profits to be made, land and resources to acquire. Jingoism, intolerance and evil still abound.

Perhaps the best weapon we have to defend ourselves against these elements are these memorials across the country and our memories.

Lest we forget.

Just Spray (Money) and Walk Away!

This little doozy almost snuck under the radar, printed in the Napier Mail last week (week begining 16 Feb 2015)

This little doozy almost snuck under the radar, printed in the Napier Mail last week (week begining 16 Feb 2015)

I’m pleased to announce that Napier’s beleaguered Museum, Theatre, Gallery’s (“MTG”) problems have apparently all gone away!
You’ll be excused for not noticing the change as, while publicised, it did seem to be done all hush-hush.

I’ve previously mentioned the wildly inaccurate consultant’s visitor number calculations, woeful storage capacity issues, over-priced entry fees, staff restructures, job losses and all the associated bad press and public opinion that go with it, but before these problems could “go gentle into that quiet night”, there was one final financial flaw to face – Napier City Council announced recently that the facility’s operating costs were expected to be $500,000 more than budgeted.

Half a million dollars!

That’s TWO Dibble sculptures worth! 😉

While a fair bit of that budget blow-out is from continuingly lack-lustre visitor numbers, a fair amount would also result from the workforce restructure NCC instituted last year and pay-outs for redundancies and the like.

But we needn’t worry about that money any more – It’s all been fixed financially, after Napier City Council’s Finance Committee (Which actually includes ALL COUNCILLORS) elected to retire MTG’s debt of $5,000,000. You read right – not just this year’s blowout of $500,000, but the WHOLE debt of FIVE MILLION DOLLARS!

The money – YOUR RATEPAYER MONEY – was re-distributed from the proceeds of land sales in Parklands.

The council’s spin team evidently decided that a clean slate was required – All the bad decisions, big debts and former staff have gone and everyone can start afresh with no memory of the past.

So it isn’t too surprising to find our local paper, The Hawke’s Bay Today, appeared to give almost too-glowing coverage of MTG’s new director Laura Vodanovich’s appointment, arrival and first few days in office.

The paper has even given the new director her own column in their weekend edition.

That’s an awful lot of support for someone who’s barely been in the job long enough to get their chair warm, let alone turn MTG’s fortunes (literally and figuratively) around. I don’t remember Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins being accorded such support.

I wonder what the turn-around time is these days between pandering and being on the endangered species list?