Aerial view of Stanley Point, Auckland, after a record deluge of rain which caused major flooding across the region. Photo / Brett Phibbs
How smart are our houses?
One has to question if in the 21st century we really are “smart” in the way we design houses. Auckland’s Victorian cottages and villas were built with elevation, having a front
and back steps. This kept the floor-boards dry and provided an area for storage. For the widespread post-Harbor Bridge build on the North Shore, you would have to look long and hard to find a house on flat land that did not have at least a couple of steps up to the front door. State houses around the country were always off the ground. In the past couple of decades, it became the trendy thing to have new builds sitting at ground level. For some, it was practical in terms of accessibility but mostly it provided, in real estate agents’ speak, “In-door-outdoor flow”. Sadly, that was all too apparent for many in Auckland on Friday. A report by the Auckland Harbor Board’s Engineers’ Department in the early 1970s warned that owners of cliff-top coastal properties should not cut down trees which bind the cliffs.
Matt Elliott, Birkdale.
In a vacuum
Our neighborhood is precarious with slips, flooding and debris all around. Some houses nearby are tottering on a newly opened brink for each as the slopes fell away. The community tennis court is obliterated just below us. Police and neighbors are doing an excellent job. The police are about, chatting, sharing photos, calming, finding solutions for those who can’t access their houses, closing roads as slips occur, arranging the removal of debris, supporting the Fire Brigade 100 per cent. So impressed. Neighbors are congregating with equipment to sort joints and individual situations. But the vacuum at the top feels huge. Where was/is the major? Hunkering down to “sort things out” is not acceptable during such an unprecedented weather disaster and is an insult to 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.
It seems the mayor’s handling of the flooding has drawn a lot of criticism. I’d be interested in knowing how many of the people so scathing of him actually took the time to vote in the last local body elections. Obviously those people who didn’t vote, didn’t think it mattered who was major and are only now beginning to see what it does. I voted for him because I thought he would work to solve the economic catastrophe that the city has found itself in. Let’s face it, the current flooding catastrophe is a short term problem for the vast majority of Aucklanders, the economic problems will continue to have an impact on us all for many years to come.
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Charles Fraser, Freeman’s Bay.
Up the drains
It looks as though the heavy rain might be becoming a more regular weather event, with heartbreaking and catastrophic results.. The designers of commercial and high density housing developments need to make adequate drainage a priority. The fields and wooded areas over which they build can absorb rain, concrete cannot. The water must 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 different element was a neighbor’s new concrete-based carport built over what had previously been a lawn. After a new housing development arrived above a friend’s house, rainwater would cascade through her garden.
Anne Martin, Helensville.
Well, what a muck up. Wayne Brown looked like a rabbit caught in the head lights of an approaching road train at his press conference. He just stood there while questions were thrown at him, with a stunned look on his face. It seems as if he just did not 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.
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I don’t think Wayne Brown should be criticized for saying “they shouldn’t be there”, when he referred to houses too close to cliff edges. It is notable that it wasn’t all 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 couple of others … as they teetered closer to the cliff-edge at Eastern Beach.
Colleen Wright, Botany Downs.
Change for the better
Criticism has been aimed at Auckland’s Mayor, Wayne Brown, for his handling of the weather crisis this past weekend. We are so used to pussy-footing around each other in case someone should get offended. As far as I can see 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 seems to be from the same political school as Donald Trump. Petulant 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’m regretting 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’re the leader, you set the tone.” This pretty much sums up every Labor minister. Why is he not calling for their resignations?
Mark Young, Orewa.
First things first
I don’t mind if he doesn’t speak with a silver tongue, I’m fairly sure as an engineer he will understand a functioning stormwater system must come before pretty things like cycleways, festivals, monuments, light OR heavy rail to the airport .
Bill Allen, Milldale.
At the point when Deputy Prime Minister Carmel Sepuloni (NZ Herald, January 28) said we needed to be reminded that many people in New Zealand have mixed heritage but we can all work together, she didn’t know of the upcoming weather event which would devstate Auckland and other parts of the country. The response from the people of Tāmaki Makaurau is a great example of people working well together. Long may it continue.
Glennys Adams, Oneroa.
While having a mini breakfast in a warm dry cafe on Saturday morning I was oblivious to the carnage inflicted on our tennis club. After being informed by a member I drove to the club. There I found four of our nine courts awash with sand, silt and other debris. The power of the flood waters had strewn paving blocks meters from what were previously paths. Our clubhouse was flooded too. Our club treasurer and his son arrived with wheelbarrows, rakes and brooms to start the clean-up. By mid-afternoon 20 or 30 people were getting stuck in. Some I recognized as members but others were neighbors and local residents, including a family of new immigrants. The 17-year-old boy had joined the club and he had brought along mum, dad and brothers and sisters to help. They told me they wanted to feel part of their new community. Huge thanks to everyone and hopefully we can get things back to normal pretty quickly.
Glen Stanton, Mairangi Bay.
Stewart Hawkins (Weekend Herald, January 28) writes that Jacinda Ardern’s resignation was due, inter alia, to the public’s realization she had become toxic to the Treaty ambition of “one people”. The basis of this claim is Article Three of the Treaty. That Article speaks of Her Majesty’s extending to Māori her royal protection and imparting to them the rights and privileges of British subjects. In other words, Queen Victoria promised to grant Māori citizenship rights held already by British settlers. To that extent, Māori and (British) settlers are one people. To say Article Three is definitive of the Treaty is to deny the existence of the remaining articles. Article One states the Chiefs ceded Kawanatanga, sovereignty or governorship to the Crown; Article Two, that the Chiefs retained te tino rangatiratanga, Māori sovereignty. Clearly, Māori renounced the right to govern pakehas while retaining their right to extend their rule over their own territory.
Elisabeth Garrett, St Heliers.
Short and sweet
Does the ex-Prime Minister think that saving money by staying on as an MP only until April is more important than the removal of parliamentary representation for the people of Mt Albert for six months Mike Wells, Kawerau.
Is major Wayne Brown trying to put his finger in the dyke? Bruce Tubb, Devonport.
Can we all agree now that climate change is real, and we need to take urgent action to cut emissions Allison Kelly, Mt Eden.
Come back Phil Goff. All is forgiven. Geoff Leckie, Flat Bush.
Is there any truth in the rumors that Auckland International Airport is to become our new ferry terminal Bob Wichman, Botany.
I think I would rather have Chris Hipkins’ sausage rolls than Bill English’s pizza. October will tell. Ian Doube, Rotorua.
Talk about passing the buck! Major Brown puts the blame on everybody except himself. We need a new leader. Rex Head, Papatoetoe.
The Premium Debates
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 the job … He was elected on the campaign promise that he would push the bureaucracy aside to be more effective . Now he is hiding behind that bureaucracy and will not front up to his lack of leadership. His belligerent nature and complete lack of understanding of the criticism being leveled at him do not bode well … Populist rhetoric [is] fine until there’s actually a trying circumstance to test it. Sam L.
I am not sure the whole blame can be laid at Mayor Brown’s feet. Civil Defense isn’t his responsibility surely? FENZ would be responsible for its own actions? Or does the central government oversee these two organizations? It’s been hard to see who is meant to be in charge because of the chaos. Wayne Y.
It would be useful to see a flow chart showing all the agencies that have to be involved before a state of emergency can be declared? My understanding is that the major can’t simply call one on his own. Other agencies have to act first. Patrick F.
I have to admit, I didn’t think Brown’s incompetence would show so early in his new post. I am sure there are many in the Far North saying “we told you so”. He is way out of his depth and should save the Aucklanders the time and expense of dealing with him any longer by resigning. If only everyone voted! Nick H.