Well welcome back everyone, the people of the North Shore, from hopefully a few weeks’ holiday. I spent mine, as per usual, in one of my favourite places in the world, which is Russell in the Bay of Islands.
Three weeks I spent there, with family and friends coming and going. Swimming, barbecuing, and a few gin and tonics in the evening, sometimes an extra one – as my friend Chris Tankard told me, you never count your first gin and tonic. And also, you’ve got to be able to actually taste the gin; life is too short for weak gins.
One thing, the Christmas America’s Cup Regatta was completely ruined by the over-zealous people at Auckland Transport for the visitors coming to Devonport. This was for the first couple of days, preceding the event for at least a week, they had signs up telling everyone the foreshore roads were going to be closed and nobody would be able to park along the waterfront to see the proceedings. On Regatta start date, the Friday, the majority of visitors to the waterfront were red badge security people patrolling the area. On occasion I was asked where I was going, and I politely told them to mind their own business. I walked up North Head for the first day of racing, and at the base of North Head was a contingent of these red badge security people, two of them right at the gates, asking everyone to dismount their bicycles as there was to be no riding on the mountain. This was, to me, completely over the top. Once I got to the top of North Head, the only food outlets there were a Mäori hangi company and an ice cream shop that had run out of ice cream. The second day I went up there, it was all set up for racing then the Race Committee changed the course to the outside course off Takapuna Beach. There was then a Dunkirk-type exodus from the mountain to better vantage points in the north. Come the Sunday racing, which was light to variable out on the outside course, Devonport was a ghost town, as was North Head. Devoid of any red badge people, hangi makers or ice cream scoopers.
Hopefully come America’s Cup time Auckland Transport will let people work out their own travel and parking arrangements and vantage points for watching the races. We don’t need to be herded like children and told what to do, and where to go.
Even in January, at the beginning of the Prada Cup, the Sunday of the catastrophe for the American Magic boat, I walked down to the Devonport Yacht Club to have my daily swim and I was asked by a red badge security person where I was going. I told him it was pretty self evident, as I had a towel over my shoulder and was wearing togs. I asked him what he was doing, and he proudly answered that he was security for the Prada Cup that was happening right now. I told him that the day’s racing was ten miles to the North of where he was pacing around and he might like to relocate himself to where he was actually required.
My point is, let the America’s Cup happen in our environment and we can manage this ourselves. If there is a traffic jam for hours at the end of the day’s racing in and out of Devonport then so be it; it’s not a new occurrence. We can deal with it.
Just briefly talking about the Devonport Yacht Club wharf, which is still closed for reconstruction work and has been for four years. There’s been no word from anyone anywhere about what is happening. This might be a good thing for Simon Watts to make enquiries about.
Another thing, a young couple I know want to get married in Devonport in a public park. The rigmarole that they would have to go through to use a piece of public ground for an hour is amazing. They have to produce a Health & Safety statement, advise if there are going to be tents or food or music and if there are toilets provided, and advise their plan in case of any terrorist activity. Plus of course, pay a fee.
There are many people who set themselves up on local beaches and parks, often for the whole day, and there are no permits required, no Health and Safety plans required and no anti-terrorist plans. So what is the difference between this and having a wedding ceremony for 50 people on a part of one of our beautiful parks or beaches? Can somebody from Auckland Council please tell me the difference?
Sorry the column is a bit short, I’m still in holiday mode and getting back into work. I’ve got a few things in my mind though, and they’ll be coming out in the next column or so.