First of all I would like to congratulate our beloved publisher, the Henry Luce of the North Shore, Mr Aidan Bennett for his brilliantly orchestrated campaign which sees him now as a member of our the Devonport Takapuna Local Board. It is great knowing that Mr Bennett is in a position of power, and I know his personal telephone number so I will be hounding him when I see things happening on the Shore that I don’t necessarily agree with.
It’s November again, and we are looking right down the barrel of Christmas 2019. I find it amazing how quickly the time goes by, and if you think you’d like to go and do something like a World trip or even buying a motorhome and driving around New Zealand, especially you people of my age, then you should just get out and do it. We are the baby boomers who grew up with Bob Dylan, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. We saw the first man step out onto the Moon probably when we were still at secondary school. We remember where we were the day that John Kennedy was assassinated, and probably remember where we were when his brother was shot down in that hotel in Los Angeles.
What I am trying to say, is we are getting to the age when we go to more funerals than weddings. We attend more 70th birthday parties than 21sts and we watch rugby games, wishing we could still play the game again. We watch cricket wishing we could bat and bowl again. We go for long walks along our beaches and feel the cricks in our knees.
We occasionally travel overseas and when we return to New Zealand we realise what a paradise we live in and how well we live. But with our age, there is a sense of calm and appreciation for what we have, and hopefully a life well lived. I know personally, my business partner Walter Gill, and I walked out of Takapuna Grammar School 50 years ago with a School Certificate education, many first XV games, many Second 11 cricket matches and some really neat friendships but actually no real idea of what we were going to do for the rest of our lives.
I was so lucky to have lived across the road from Walter Gill, who at secondary school was a top athlete, but in saying so was also a bit of free thinker. We started working together in the concrete industry since late 1969 which was the year of the great Woodstock Music Festival and Neil Armstrong’s walk on the moon. We have remained working together ever since. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, and I know that he wouldn’t either. It has been a great friendship and a great business relationship over the years.
I don’t really know where this last few hundred words have come from, I think I’m just trying to say that it is closing in on Christmas again, go out and enjoy yourselves and your family and friends. Have barbecues with our wonderful produce, make salads from our abundance of vegetables and drink some of our spectacular local wines. You just never know when the big game of life is all over and the referee blows his final whistle.
The Local Body Elections are all over for another three years and I can’t say I’m sorry to see that all those placards displayed everywhere have been taken down. Now it’s time for the new Councillors to start honouring their election pledges. I personally would like to see more accountability for local body contractors who are doing the work around our former boroughs. I can still remember what the boroughs were, Northcote Borough, Devonport Borough, East Coast Bays Borough and the City of Takapuna – this was when every Borough had their small gangs who got on and got things done. Streets were cleaner, parks were well maintained and everything seemed to be tidier and it didn’t cost so much. First thing I’d do would be start controlling the weeds which are rioting over the gutters of the Shore.
Getting away from the North Shore and further into the Heartland of our country, I am getting concerned about some of our major infrastructure. I have had my daughter attending one of the oldest and most wonderful schools in the country, Whanganui Collegiate School, and I have been driving up and down to Whanganui for the past five years attending so many different School events. My usual route after leaving Auckland, usually around 5am, is down Highway one to the Waikato Expressway, through Otorohanga, Te Kuiti, Taumaranui, Ratehi and finally down the winding Parapara road. It’s a drive of usually 6.5 hours. Last month, due to a force of nature, large swathes of the Parapara road had slipped and thus cut off Whanganui’s lifeline to the North. The only way through to Whanganui now is either going down to Marton and coming back up to Whanganui or going through the Mt Messenger road, into the Taranaki region and then into Whanganui or if you are brave enough, taking the river road through from Ratehi which is mostly a metal road.
The same problem occurred a few years ago in the Manawatu Gorge which is now closed, cutting off the vital lifeline between Palmerston North and the Hawkes Bay and the Wairarapa region. The only access roads now are small winding roads, that are proving to be difficult for the trucking industry.
It’s time Shane Jones, the self-acclaimed Prince of the Heartlands and Regions and in fact all Central Government to start stating their intentions with regards to getting these roads opened as soon as possible.