I Want to Believe

Andrew's self-confidence, last seen heading into the gaping vacuum of space...

Andrew’s self-confidence, last seen heading into the gaping vacuum of space…

“If just one person believes in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough, believes in you…
Hard enough, and long enough,
It stands to reason, that someone else will think
“If he can do it, I can do it.”

And when all those people,
Believe in you,
Deep enough, and strong enough,
Believe in you…
Hard enough, and long enough

It stands to reason that you yourself will
Start to see what everybody sees in

And maybe even you,
Can believe in you… Too!”

The Muppets – “Just One Person”

Self-esteem has a major, critical failing (ok, maybe several).

Whilst, as the name suggests, it is focused on esteem or confidence in one’s self, it really helps if there are others there to encourage confidence in that self as well.

So it kind of figures that self-esteem has been as hard for me to come by as real-life recognition or praise recently.

I’m trying to remember the last time someone complimented me in person – said “well done!” “good job!” “You’re hired – here’s $100,000!”(ok, I’m pushing the limits of reality there..) and nothing comes to mind.

Twenty years ago I finished working in radio (for the record, I started working in radio on New Year’s Eve 1995).

While I’m confident I could still wipe the floor content-wise with what qualifies as “on-air talent” today, you will likely never hear my beautiful bassy voice on the radio ever again – and not just because I’m inclined to swear lots more than I used to.

I tell people my dream radio career lasted only six months because I had too high an IQ and too low an ego (the other reasons were rubbish pay and trying to stay awake for 24 hours each Saturday).

I just couldn’t fake the level of self-belief required for radio.

And this was ‘90s-radio-level bravado I’m talking here – absolutely nowhere near the stratospherically narcissistic / Ninth Circle of Dante’s Inferno that it has become today.

But, while my radio career was muted, my voice was not silenced.

From an early age I learned the power words can wield.

So I started writing.

I’ve written stories, poems, radio ads, press releases, pieces for work newsletters, letters to the editor, Man About Town columns for “BayBuzz”, opinion pieces in Stuff and even a couple articles in the local paper many years ago about growing up in Napier in the 1980’s and my love for my home town.

My Dad was always my biggest supporter.

He believed in me.

He kept newspaper clippings of every letter or item I had in the paper and even some of the more colourful reactions!

Three years ago I started writing Napier in Frame.

It’s not a profession – I make no money from my writing.

I have a full time job and a young family to support which is my priority, so I can only write when I have the time or inclination.

I still wrote the occasional letter to the editor, when something utterly atrocious stood out – Art Deco buses and the miss-management behind MTG’s construction were stand-outs.

But I steadily shifted towards writing on this site and promoting it via my Twitter and Facebook profiles.

People who know me even say “I haven’t seen your letters in the paper recently” when I see them in the street. I tell them about this site, but they seldom seem interested or even aware of a world wide web beyond traditional print media.

Two years ago my Dad died suddenly.

I kept writing – it helped me cope and process things, but it kind of felt like any support, luck, or belief anyone had in me died too.

I’ve written, what I at least think, is some of my best work since then – The coverage of my recent stay in hospital received plaudits, but these are predominantly from friends online.

This is where things get a bit confuddling.


Positive reactions are always good to receive, but self-doubt (self-esteem’s arch-nemesis) can begin to creep in.

Someone (usually a friend) gives you a compliment on Facebook or Twitter and you automatically discount it – “Of COURSE they’d say that, they’re your FRIEND!” Or “It’s ONLY social media – it’s not ‘REAL’” – sabotaging yourself and your abilities.

Even when you point out something that you think is blatantly wrong – Like hypocrisy over the Ruataniwha Dam, or the local newspaper covering Hastings District Council bailing out Horse of the Year, when the event’s board said in the same paper just weeks before they themselves would cover the loss and nothing is done.

The “bad guys” win.

Worse still can be spending years developing and making your case for a way to improve the city you love and the region you were born and raised in.

That idea gets local and national coverage.

Heck, even John Campbell likes it!


But when you approach people you believe have the resources, funds and it’s in their best interests to actually enact your idea and the response is nothing – silence.

In this gaping vacuum of space no one can hear you scream in frustration.

I’ve had similar responses trying to rejig New Zealand’s flailing mainstream media – But the general consensus there is

“What would he know? He’s only from Hawke’s Bay!”

If I’m wrong that’s not a problem. You can learn from mistakes and correct them.

But no one has told me I’m wrong.

People tell me they “admire my passion” and am constantly queried on how I would achieve the goals I seek.

I tell them, but they don’t offer to help and “passion” won’t pay the bills, or finance what I have planned.

What if I’m right and no one cares to help try and make a difference, to help effect change or fix the problems I’m trying to remedy?

Ignoring problems doesn’t solve them or make them go away.

But ignoring people who are trying to fix problems makes the people go away – lose hope, lose self-esteem and confidence.


I’ve become quite philosophical and theological about it:

“If Andrew makes a factual statement and no-one notices or cares, is he still right?”

“Before THE WORD, or there was light, or even the Big Bang, Andrew was wrong”

When the negativity or gaping vacuum of ignorance gets to you and makes you glum, sad, or grumpy and strips away your self-belief, you’re STILL wrong – Because being glum, sad, or grumpy isn’t allowed – You’ve apparently got to be happy, positive and smiling All. The. Time?!

This isn’t one of those inspirational stories of the little struggler, the battler, who overcomes adversity to triumph.

It is the tale of someone who has been told they’re wrong when they’re not, who has been ignored and unappreciated long enough for it to essentially become a default setting – a shitty-mood Stockholm Syndrome.

@Oatmeal Nails it once again :/

@Oatmeal Nails it once again :/

Having to spend a few weeks in hospital pales in comparison.

Shakespeare said we only have an hour upon life’s stage to strut and fret before we are heard no more.

I want to make a difference in that hour, but I can’t do it alone.

I need support, I need people to believe in me.

I need to believe in myself.

I want to believe.

No Such Thing as a Free Car Park


Central business districts around New Zealand are suffering.

Shops that thrived for generations now lie empty due to drops in customer numbers, increases in rents and the rise of internet trading and ill-conceived council planning allowing giant malls to be built on city peripheries.

Currently the most popular panacea to injecting life into central cities seems to be offering free parking.

All the cool North Island cities are doing it – Rotorua, Hastings, Tauranga, Hamilton, Palmerston North

And now Napier is joining in on the fun, with our city council deciding to provide free on-street parking in Central Napier on Saturday November 28 for its (VERY EARLY) Christmas festival and in Taradale on December 5th for their festive fair.

There’s no such thing as a free car park, however, and NCC estimates “losses of (parking) revenue to the council of about $4200 in the city and $700 in Taradale) for these days.

But is there really a loss of revenue?

If having to pay for parking is such a turn-off to central city visitors, or the parking is too expensive, no one will park there, so no income will come from that parking space regardless of cost.

It’s like airline flights being too expensive.

If a seat on a certain flight isn’t sold – no matter how expensive of cheap the price may be, the moment the doors close and that plane takes off, the airline will NEVER recoup the money for that unfilled seat on that particular flight.

So is the cost of parking the actual problem?

Go into Napier’s CBD on any particular weekday when you have to pay for parking and the closer you get to the centre of town, the harder it will be to find an empty car park.

Having to pay for parking isn’t stopping people parking in town.

Heck, go to Wellington, where parking costs in the centre of town are ridiculously high and viciously enforced and you will have an even harder time finding an available car park.

To put it bluntly, price is no barrier to laziness. The closer people can drive to their destination and the shorter the distance they have to walk, the better.

Fifty cents or a dollar or two isn’t a great inhibitor to that.

The parking fines for over-staying your allotted time, however, might be.

When compared to other centres’ parking fines and fees, Napier’s are actually quite reasonable.

Putting a dollar in a central Napier parking meter buys you the right to keep your car there for, say, an hour.

But get way-laid and return fifteen minutes to just over an hour late and you run the risk of facing an additional $12-$21 parking fine (the time examples given being merely a reasonable representation of how long an appointment or lunch with friends might over-run their anticipated time).

Is the equivalent of twelve hours’ worth of parking time a fair penalty for being a quarter of an hour late?

How does 25c worth of time justifiably manifest itself into a fee forty-eight times that value?

Worse still, fail or forget to display one of the tickets from a parking-lot machine on your dashboard and you’re in for a fine closer to $40.

For some that’s a week’s worth of petrol and they just can’t afford to take that risk.

Parking fines that better reflect the value of the park that is being over-stayed in might be a better idea.

Lower fines would likely be more easily and promptly paid too.

If all else fails you can just do what I usually do – park at one of the hundreds of one and two hour “free parking” spaces that ring Napier’s CBD – Along parts of Marine Parade, next to the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council building, up Shakespeare Road and down Munroe Street – soak up the wonderful Napier weather and enjoy the very short stroll from these already ratepayer-funded car parks into town.

Ultimately, there has to be something in town worth paying to stay and visit, too.

Rows of empty shops, vacated when landlords’ income expectations far exceed their current worth won’t attract people into city centres.

Neither will a lack of events or activities that enhance or compliment the CBD.

Bringing vibrancy and vitality back to our CBDs is what is needed to re-enliven our city centres.

If city councillors, or those tasked with looking after the heartbeat of our main business and shopping areas seriously think that a dollar or two is the only thing inhibiting our city centres from thriving, it’s beyond time they stood aside.

Why should a CBD’s vitality be fined for their over-staying?

Hawke’s Bay’s (and New Zealand’s) inner cities deserve better!

“The Rest is Silence”

"Thanks for your input, but we don't care..."

“Thanks for your input, but we don’t care…”

“But I do prophesy th’ election lights
On Fortinbras. He has my dying voice.
So tell him, with th’ occurrents, more and less,
Which have solicited – the rest is silence.”

Hamlet Act V Scene 2

When last we left our submission-making protagonist, he had just made his presentation to Napier City Council and was eagerly awaiting the results.

And waiting.

And waiting….

Then the council released the results of their submission process (viewable HERE: Report from NCC LTP & AP Submissions Hearing )



Most of the key projects the council had been championing, promoting and featured as a major part of the submission form got the go ahead, with “overwhelming support”.

But no mention of my submission!

No mention of the council reviewing their outdated Youth Policy or “YCON” website.

No money, services or interest in allocating assistance to Napier’s youth, or trying to keep any of the almost one thousand students who finish Hawke’s Bay high schools each year and leave the region each year.

What the hell??!!

Were my submissions wrong??

Did they deserve to be totally and utterly ignored??

I did plenty of research. I used facts and statistics. I made what I and those who read and shared my posts thought were valid arguments and points and I made suggestions on how this situation could be overcome.

All for nought, it appears.

The only semi-NCC-related-reaction I got was this on Twitter:

Is someone telling tales out of school?

Is someone telling tales out of school?

The “Michelle” Condy mentions is Councillor Michelle Pyke and Condy helps run “The Thirsty Whale” – a bar previously owned by Councillor Keith “Spongy” Price.

I don’t know what you will make of that comment, but it certainly seems to be more of an insight to a catty mind-set among some of Napier’s elected officials, rather than any smudge on my concept of empowering Napier’s youth to stay in the region and help it prosper.

If that attitude is any gauge as to how Napier is being led, then the decision behind Funding Request 13 for the Art Deco Trust comes as no surprise:

“Discussions covered the huge “in kind” contribution made to Art Deco events during Art Deco Weekend, and (sic) the committee was concerned that there were no financial plans, or justification for the large sum of money requested.”

And yet:

“It was decided to fund the Art Deco Trust usual $59,000 in service contract but fund an additional $41,000 specifically for events. This would bring the annual funding to $100,000.”

Translation: “We’re a bit worried that you can’t justify why you need so much money, or show us what you will do with it, but, what the heck – We’ll give it to you anyway!”

Now there’s the sort of sound logic we know from our council of old!

Napier City Council once again puts tourists ahead of its own residents.

That. Is. WRONG!

And that is the core argument behind my submission.

Napier STILL deserves better than this!

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 Not WHAT You Know…

"Napier Life" - promoting Napier to people who already live here...

“Napier Life” – promoting Napier to people who already live here…

It looks like Napier City Council’s new CEO, Wayne Jack and his staff have been having a good old clean-out at the NCC offices.

Closets are being emptied and a few skeletons have been evicted.

While at least one skeleton came back to haunt the council, causing a bit of a poltergeist-like mess and costing the council a fair bit of cash, other skeletons have been evicted a bit more quietly than they should have been.

In late February THIS little doozy appeared in the Dominion Post and on Stuff, but didn’t seem to get much airtime here in Hawke’s Bay, where I would have expected it to deservedly cause a bit of a stir.

“Napier Life” magazine was a bold, glossy, ratepayer-funded publication intended to attract people from around New Zealand and the world to come and live in Napier.

It was first produced in 1997 – 90’s television presenter Lana Cockcroft and the Marineland dolphins featured on the cover. The magazine had a pretty impressive 16 year run until 2013, where the last issue’s back cover was an advertisement promoting the debacle that was to be the Art Deco Buses.

In retrospect it’s kind of ironic how those two Napier tourism attractions – without doubt the most hotly-debated ventures of recent times – literally and figuratively book-ended the existence of what should also become a thoroughly debated, or at least PUBLICLY examined, venture.

Because most of the 31,000 copies produced in 2013 were delivered to Napier letterboxes and local businesses – mainly motels, hotels, cafes and the like.

Yup, around 30,000 glossy, ratepayer-funded magazines meant to attract people to Napier went to around 30,000 ratepayers already living in Napier – Now there’s some marketing genius for you!

And there was nothing in the Dominion Post’s article to indicate that any of the 15 previous editions were any different – making that total potentially closer to Half a Million Copies!

“Napier Life” was the baby of former Economic Development Manager Ron Massey (one of the aforementioned evicted “skeletons”) and a company called “3Sixty5 HB” which is owned by Napier advertising executive Rick Hopkinson and his wife Judith. Hopkinson edited the publication and his wife wrote articles for it.

Last year Napier City Council commissioned an audit of Massey’s Economic Development Unit focusing, in particular, on its operational spending.

The audit found $555,441 – 35{3919f50c199a8627c147b24d329ff0de8aa05e3a462fa3330e11cd9ea56ed948} of operational expenditure – between January 2012 and February2013 (EDU’s total expenditure was OVER $1.5Mill PER YEAR?!) went to one company – the Hopkinsons’ 3Sixty5 HB”!

And here I was thinking “Napier Life” was financially self-sufficient from selling advertising space and glossy, multiple page “advertorials” like most regular magazines.

The auditors stated they were “not provided with evidence of the approval of this expenditure before it was incurred” – Never mind a regular review, tendering process, or due diligence…

“To comply with council policies”, the Dominion Post reported, “Massey should have had the spending approved by former council chief executive Neil Taylor.”

“The audit recommended the council look closely at the sum being spent with one supplier when spread over several projects under the control of one manager. This would “set a ceiling on the amount able to be spent with one supplier before CEO approval is required”.

Napier City Council had since ceased publication of “Napier Life” and was moving its focus to more effective and cheaper methods of promoting Napier, such as social media.

Napier City Council’s previous administration certainly didn’t seem to do many people many favours. But for the select few it did favour….. Good grief!


Since writing this on Friday, something has been gnawing away at me- annoying me:

No-one knew about what was going on with “Napier Life”?


I can’t believe that while the auditors may not have “been provided with evidence” of prior approval, that this sort of spending or contracting out of work went un-noticed or unknown once, let alone SIXTEEN TIMES!

Half a million dollars per year is a significant amount of money – especially when it is ratepayer’s money. There are checks and balances in place to monitor its usage, right?

Neither the Tourism and Economic Development Committee, or the Finance Committee asked about any of the spending or practises employed in making “Napier Life”?

And while there may have been no evidence NCC’s previous CEO Neil Taylor gave prior approval for the spending or deal with 3Sixty5 HB, Napier City Councillors were certainly at least aware of the publication’s production.

Previous mayor, Barbara Arnott, wrote an opening piece / welcoming letter in each issue and councillor John Cocking (who was apparently renowned for his accounting nous) appeared in the publication on multiple occasions as his “Art Deco Ambassador” alter-ego of “Bertie”. I’m pretty sure I remember seeing other councillors featured in “Napier Life” at different stages, in different / prior capacities, too.

During that time none of those elected or employed council people featured bothered to ask or check how much “Napier Life” cost, how many people it reached, where it went, or how the project was tendered out? As a glossy promotional job for the council – a good, solid, well-paying client – it would have been a dream job, so other parties must have been some interest in getting in on the deal themselves.

But nobody did and here we are again.

Napier deserves better!

NiMBY City Council

Napier City Council is scared development of the former Caltex site (far left) will be detremental on Napier's CBD. But seem perfectly happy for it to clash with the Marewa Shopping Centre (far right)

Napier City council is scared development of the former Caltex site (far left) will be detremental on Napier’s CBD. But seem perfectly happy for it to clash with the Marewa Shopping Centre (far right)

Property developer, “Matvin Group” has bought the vacant former Caltex service station site on the corner of Georges Drive and Kennedy Road in Marewa, Napier. They plan to turn it into “a six-store retail complex”, but Napier City Council and its subsidiary, Napier Inner City Marketing is concerned these new shops could harm Napier’s CBD.

Oh, for goodness sake!

I can’t help but notice that just a few weeks ago, I read about Napier councillors welcoming with open arms a home décor store, not unlike those we already have in central Napier, into their new site in Ahuriri – even further away from the CBD.

But two councillors do own businesses in that area, so I guess that makes it perfectly fine…

Council staff recommended granting permission for the Marewa development, but suggested it only contain businesses that won’t compete with central city stores.

So, as councils do, NCC:

Passed the decision off to a hearings committee and employed an “independent commissioner” to oversee proceedings:

The committee was to be chaired by former deputy mayor Kathie Furlong and include current deputy mayor Faye White and long-term councillor Mark Herbert.

I’m a little concerned at the “independence” of the committee, though. Furlong was Napier City Council’s representative on the Napier Inner City Marketing board for many years until her retirement from council. She has since been replaced on the NICM board by none other than Faye White!

“Napier Deputy Mayor Faye White said the committee was still deliberating after the “lengthy” 6-hour hearing, and an outcome was expected “by the end of the week”.

And an “economic effects” consultant’s report was commissioned:

“The report, by Adam Thompson of Urbecon, concluded the new development would have either no effect or a very limited impact on existing retailers, and it was not necessary to limit the types of retail businesses at the proposed site.

However, council planners said in their report on the consent application, despite Mr Thompson’s assessment “there remains concern that the proposed development could contribute to what appears to be a trend of declining retail occupancy rates within the CBD”.”

Napier Inner City Marketing’s latest manager did something her predecessors never did – addressed this elephant in the room / CBD:

“We already have quite a significant amount of untenanted spaces in Napier.”

Is this is the fault of a few shops over a kilometre away in Marewa? No!

Outrageously high rents have taken business away from Napier’s CBD. Long-term empty shops, like the giant, boarded-up and half-abandoned Mid City Plaza have scared potential business away from Napier’s CBD.

NICM’s goals include promoting the central city and attracting diverse and vibrant businesses to the CBD. So why have they been so unsuccessful in filling the numerous empty shops in recent years?

The developers have at least shown some flexibility and agreed to alter their plans to suit the council.

“Matvin Group had offered to restrict the type of businesses at the site to “convenience” retailers – including food and beverage sellers, chemists, hair dressers, butchers, florists and dry cleaners – that were unlikely to be located in the CBD. That restriction has been included in a list of conditions council staff have recommended the hearings committee include in granting consent for the development.”

Here we have a major problem. Marewa Shopping Centre, mere meters away from the site being developed, already has long-established businesses providing those exact same things! You can’t tell me that replicating these businesses in such close proximity would have an adverse effect on the existing Marewa businesses!

I live just down the road from this development and half expected the site to become a Carls Jr or Wendy’s Drive-thru / Fast Food Takeaway – something that would be quite well suited for the site and most people wouldn’t mind.

However, the amount of noise and disruption a drive thru would cause to the suburban houses and streets surrounding it and a lack of space for parking makes it reasonably impractical and kind of rude to the neighbours.

So we are left with the current development debate.

As usual, it doesn’t do a thing to address what is central Napier’s biggest problem in recent years, but rather continues a NCC trend of deflecting blame. Such posturing is typical and sickening.

Napier deserves better!

So I Was Right All Along??!!

"Where are we going, Wilbur?"

“Where are we going, Wilbur?”

So it’s finally over. “Berties Buses” are no more. Sold off for a paltry $1,250,000 less than the whole sorry saga cost Napier ratepayers.

Is it any wonder Napierites are baying for blood and demanding Mayor Dalton and all his fellow councillors and staff from the previous term who signed off the dud deal pay ratepayers back?

But, as the MTG saga showed, there will never be any accountability, responsibility or blame taken within Napier City Council, will there? No-one has ever done anything wrong at NCC – “It’s because we have got one or two extremely vocal critics who are stirring the thing up” says Mayor Dalton.

Well, Bill, I’ll happily take credit for being one of those critics – Because you know what? I was right!

I said the buses were a silly idea back in 2011 when they were dreamed up. Their construction, delivery and resulting repairs were a farce in 2012 and in the (2013-14) year they were in operation, virtually no-one used them! – “The poor drivers must be beside themselves – because no-one else is!”

And yet, just as Mayor Dalton’s predecessor pointed the finger of blame for problems with her museum at those capable enough of seeing and reacting to problems much quicker than she and her council could, Mr Dalton blames the critics?

Am I happy the buses are gone? No! Because they were such an elongated, obvious waste of money from the outset – they should never have been allowed to go ahead!

Rather than once again pandering to fly/cruise-by-night tourists, imagine what $1.3 – $2 million could have done for developing projects and initiatives for Napier’s youth, who get blatantly ignored, or community development, or even encouraging economic development in the city!
These are projects and people that call Napier home ALL YEAR ROUND – Not just in cruise season, not just during the holidays, EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR – Napier projects and funds for Napier people!

Rather than trying to develop Napier into a city embracing the future and evolving into a new technological and business powerhouse, the council long ago shackled itself to the past by clinging to historically-based tourism as the city’s saviour and in doing so indentured its economy and people into tourist servitude.

I’ll keep critiquing gaping faults like the Deco Buses because I love my city! I want to see it succeed. I don’t want to see it waste its time, money, people and resources on follies like these buses.

Napier deserves better!

Managing Accountability at MTG


The question is often asked “What planet do politicians live on?” In the case of Hawke’s Bay’s local body politicians the answer must be “Planet Teflon” – as nothing ever seems to stick, especially accountability.

From storage space shortages, to wildly inaccurate consultants’ reports on projected visitor motions (pun intended); things did not get off to a good start for Napier’s revamped cultural and historical hub – “MTG”, or “Museum, Theatre, Gallery”.

Now, after another council-commissioned consultant’s report – The “McDermott Miller Report” has been released into just what went wrong, where, how badly and how it could be fixed.

I have read the report and it makes pretty good, common sense. Perhaps its only down-fall is that it cost Napier rate-payers the equivalent of New Zealand’s average annual wage to tell them what a Napier ratepayer on the average wage could have told them after a visit or two to MTG.

After a flurry of publicity and changes in the last couple weeks, I now understand that Napier City Council announced they will not be blaming, firing, or holding anyone accountable for MTG’s much-publicised failings.



In fact, the council appears to have taken a “move along – nothing to see here!” (Inferences like that will NOT help visitor numbers, by the way) approach. Napier City Council’s new CEO Wayne Jack even said he was “tiring of the barrage of criticism” being levelled at MTG.
My advice to Wayne in helping avoid such situations is simple:


Not to be outdone, former Napier mayor, Hawke’s Bay Museum Trust chairwoman, acting trust general manager and MTG project champion, Barbara Arnott has already identified who is to blame – saying she “believed the whole MTG issue had been blown out of proportion by some people who had expressed their feelings and opinions without “thinking it through”.” in the local newspaper.

Of course, how silly of us – it’s all the rate-paying public and fact-quoting media’s fault! What an absolute load of imperious rubbish!

I was saddened not to hear or see any rebuttal from Hawke’s Bay Today Editor, Andrew Austin, supporting his reporters or readers / online commenters on such a ludicrous statement to what is a very public issue.

In the real world, when things this big go this wrong, people lose their jobs. MTG is currently going through a round of staff redundancies as a result of their current review. If MTG’s marketing department had indeed ignored a large portion of the community as potential visitors because of their socio-economic status, as McDermott Miller claims then, yes, heads certainly need to roll – A region’s culture and history is made up from everyone’s input, so no-one should be exempted from being able to view and appreciate it. But you can’t help but feel that deeper problems, well out of the control of staff, have not been accurately accounted for.

How are Mrs Arnott and former NCC CEO and MTG project manager Neil Taylor, despite their deep involvement in MTG’s development, apparently completely free from criticism or accountability?

Current Mayor, Bill Dalton says he “did his apprenticeship” under Arnott and the majority of the current council is unchanged from the one led by Arnott for so many years, so there is doubtlessly still a sense (or burden) of loyalty there.

But there appears to be far less love between current council CEO Wayne Jack and his predecessor – Jack having to tidy up a number of messes left over from the previous regime in his first months in office. In fact the way in which Jack does a number of things is a complete reversal to Taylor’s modus operandi, so it would not have been too surprising to have seen Taylor being “Thrown under the Art Deco Bus (another of his projects)”, But no – no accountability there either

Come to think of it, any and all past and current Napier city councillors involved in committees for and voting on MTG’s errant planning and enactment have somehow escaped any and all responsibility or accountability for some very expensive mistakes that are very embarrassing to Napier.

How is that fair?

All this MTG publicity couldn’t come at a worse time for the “Friends of MTG” programme, as they are in the middle or their annual membership renewal programme.

My wife and I are “Friends of MTG” and have been for a number of years – so any “conflicts of interest” claims that those mentioned above have completely avoided will doubtlessly now be levelled at me…. 🙁

I and a number of my fellow “MTG Friends” think for all its faults MTG does indeed have a lot of unfulfilled potential – it’s still a bit of a “blank canvas” if you will. But we also want to see those responsible for some major errors held accountable for their actions.

What do other “MTG Friends” think?

I would expect this year’s membership numbers depend on it.

Napier, its history, present, and future, its art and culture deserves better.