Two sides to hut story

IN reference to Friday, April 24 “Group found camping out in Te Urewera hut”, there is always two sides to the story.

The group were all local residents, returning from further up the river during the last heavy rain.

Due to one vehicle problem, which is still parked up, they chose to use the facilities till the vehicle could be repaired or till such time as level four lifted.

After being being evicted by police … the Whakatane Lions Club president and Waimana Te Urewera board member, allowed a couple of non-local residents to travel from another region, Whakatane-Tauranga, to use the facility, thereby giving permission to outside interest to breach level four protocol.

Would it have been better to include and not evict the locals, into looking after the facilities rather than allowing total strangers from outside the region to do so with permission from a Te Urewera Board local member?

Though it appears the locals evicted may have acted in a law unto themselves … the reaction by officials was far worse.

Acting in their own sphere of the law.


Anzac with a difference

TODAY was special and so different from any other Anzac Day.

As a local resident and brass bandsman since 1967 (now retired) I have attended many dawn parades and mid-morning Anzac Day services.

I was so touched by the patriotic wonderful contributions of New Zealanders as they adapted to Covid- 19 Anzac Day lockdown conditions.

At 6am standing to attention in my quiet cul-de-sac with other residents and hearing in the distance across Sullivan Lake someone playing the Last Post followed by the Reveille which was so touching and the respect and reverence was breathtaking, then followed by the residents remembering and telling stores of their family history involved in past wars.

What an emotional and special time.

I set off on my usual walk at 7am within my boundaries of my home which I have witnessed since lockdown the wonderful support of Whakatane residents with their teddy bears, which has been amazing, but this morning the poppies in windows, on fence, on trees, on letter boxes and wreaths, placards and flags flying as tributes to the fallen heroes of past wars was overwhelming.

The greatest and most poignant response for me was Malcolm Akehurst’s Pinocchio (wearing his Covid-19 mask) standing up saluting whilst looking down to the crosses with poppies above them reminding us of the battle of Covid-19 victims and past fallen soldiers of war was a resounding parallel of the past and present battles.

This lockdown has been fraught with differing opinions which is natural. We all have opinions and are entitled to them in this democratic country.

One will never know what path was the right or wrong as in sliding doors, but for me personally, I am so proud and in awe of the swift action of our Government to protect us and arrive at the best, safest outcome for us all.

I have been a staunch National voter but cannot fault our government for its approach, actions and foresight into Covid-19.

As we move forward into the difficult recovery period, I know New Zealanders will do their best to rebuild our future.

Catrina Jones

Get to the back of the line

THERE was considerable fanfare during level four about the important role played by frontline staff, including the supermarket workers.

I understand that as a group Foodstuffs, and its supermarket owners, all agreed to pay a 10 percent bonus to staff during level four lockdown (though, apparently, not all staff received the agreed bonus).

I was disappointed to hear that now that level four is over, the bonus is to be taken away.

I’ve written separately to the managers of the local supermarkets to protest about this.

I heard back from one manager this morning who said: “We have done pay reviews during the lockdown and done extra rewards for the staff. All foodstuffs stores (Pak’nSave, New World and 4 Square) [will] stop paying the 10 percent after today. Countdown have also stopped.”

So, the big supermarkets all ganged together on this?

Supermarket staff will continue to work under stressful conditions during level three and perhaps beyond.

It seems a little mean given that the supermarkets have been operating for five weeks without any competition from butchers, produce marts or weekend markets.

Get to the back of line. And move over, as you’ll no doubt soon be joined by hospital cleaners, carers, nurses, rubbish collectors and others that kept the country running every day and who we praised for a short period.

Let’s pay these workers fairly for their work and offer a bonus to say thank you for working under exceptional circumstances.

Graeme Storer

Lions Hutt ownership clarified

WITH reference to a recently published article in the Beacon on Friday, April 24 regarding people occupying the Lions Te Urewera Education Centre (Lions Hut) in the Waimana Valley during the Covid 19 level four lockdown.

There are a couple of points that I wish to raise through this column, and one is the inaccuracy of the details in the Friday article relating to the ownership of the Lions Hut and the state it was left in. Neither are correct and it’s disappointing that your reporter had not sort the correct details prior to print.

The second point is to provide a brief understanding of the history of the Lions Te Urewera Education Centre (Lions Hut) within Te Urewera.

In 1965 a few wise men realised the need for a facility where young people could experience outdoor and cultural education. A few of these visionary men were a policeman, a Urewera National Park ranger and a local Maori land owner. Consequently in 1966 the Lions Hut as it was known was built, all be it a smaller version of what’s there today.

Over the past 54 years the facility has been modified considerably in line with its core objective as a facility for the education of our young people through outdoor and cultural experiences. It is formally recognised as an education facility, hence the name Lions Te Urewera Education Centre, however the title of “Lions Hut”, a hangover from the past is often how it is referred to.

The original project was funded and co-ordinated by the Whakatane Lions Club and built by voluntary labour from local tradesmen and local people of the day.

The land where the facility stands was provided by generous local Maori landowners in the day when few doubted the value of a deal made by a handshake with not a pen or paper in sight.

The Lions Te Urewera Education Centre building is owned by the Whakatane Lions Club and is operated as a voluntary non-profit organisation where no one is reimbursed for their time and any remuneration is directed back into the maintenance of the facility.

The Whakatane Lions Hut Committee is responsible for the administration and operation of the facility. The committee consists of Lions club members, public members and iwi representation from the Waimana Valley.

In 2014 National Park status was removed from Te Urewera leaving Te Urewera as a separate entity with “no ownership” as such however requiring management. Te Urewera is currently managed by the Te Urewera Board in conjunction with the Department of Conservation guided largely by the principles of the Te Urewera Act.

An underlaying principle that the management of Te Urewera is built around is one of respect. This includes respect for Te Urewera as an enduring eco system that has evolved over millions of years, respect for Tuhoe culture and their history within Te Urewera also respect for all people and their property within Te Urewera. This applies to all people within Te Urewera.

The Lions Te Urewera Education Centre reflects these principles and respects the fact that it is a privilege to occupy its position within Te Urewera. It is not about ownership. It is about a partnership that began with a handshake agreement made 54 years ago. A partnership that is built on trust and respect. It is the mana of that unique occasion that enriches the value of the Lions Te Urewera Education Centre within Te Urewera.

In spite of the negative actions of a few, change is afoot for the better within Te Urewera and its community.

Slowly but surely people shall come to realise there is only one way forward – that is together with respect.

Ray Walker
Lions Te Urewera Education Centre

Legalities of Coronavirus management

WHAT are the legalities of the Coronavirus epidemic management?

The preamble of The Health Act 1956 Sec 70 (1) states the following:

  • For the purpose of preventing the outbreak or spread of any infectious disease, the medical officer of health may from time to time, if authorised to do so by the minister or if a state of emergency has been declared under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 or while an epidemic notice is in force. We are currently under the constraints of all three legal requirements that are available to authorities to manage the coronavirus “outbreak”. These are:
  • The prime minister gazetted an epidemic notice in accordance with section 5 of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006 on 25th March 2020.
  • The Director General of Health, in his capacity as a medical officer of health issued a Health Act 1956 Notice in accordance with the Health Act 1956 Sec 70 on April 3, 2020 and an update on April 21, 2020
  • A State of National Emergency was declared in accordance with Sec 71 of the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act on March 25, 2020 and has been renewed every seven days in accordance with the Act

According to the requirements of the prime minister’s epidemic notice compliance with the level four “lockdown” rules can only be voluntary and cannot be enforced.

This is because it is stipulated in Sec 12 (3) (c) and Sec 15 (3) (c) of the Epidemic Preparedness Act 2006 specify that the rights enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 remain unextinguished under an Epidemic Notice.

This includes Sec 16: Freedom of peaceful assembly, Sec 17: Freedom of association and Sec 18 (1) Freedom of movement.

Is the prime minister’s gazetted epidemic notice the principle legal basis for the imposition of the coronavirus “outbreak” management including the imposition of levels one, two three and four and the State of National Emergency and the Medical Officer of Health’s

Health Act Sec 70 Notice subordinate to that epidemic notice?

If the prime minister’s gazetted epidemic notice is the principle legal basis under which the coronavirus “outbreak” is being managed and our rights enshrined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 remain unextinguished then strategies such as police check points, where movement is stopped and information on movement destinations are demanded and, in some cases freedom of movement is prevented are a breach of our rights.

In accordance with the prime minister’s gazetted epidemic notice we have all been voluntarily complying with the level four “lockdown” rules and have chosen not to avail ourselves of our rights to assemble, to associate and our right of freedom of movement.

Steve Clark

Keep your cat at home

IN response to the letter from the Barracloughs about having cats at Ohope.

Thanks to sustained pest control, much of it by volunteers, we now have a returning native bird population including kiwi, weka, tui, robin and bellbird in our local bush.

Our special native wildlife doesn’t know if it lives in a national park, a farm, or someone’s backyard. We need to protect our wildlife no matter where it lives.

There is now so much evidence available to show cats are a serious threat to native species. Cats climb trees, move at night, kill adult kiwi, eat eggs and chicks, rare native bats, lizards and insects, and disrupt breeding. If you have cats please keep them contained at home.

We are fortunate to live close to native bush reserves and right on the beach, but we also have obligations to those natural environments and should not allow pet cats into such places so as to protect our vulnerable native species.

We had tui killed and eaten by a cat on our lawn this breeding season and nests in our and neighbour’s trees predated, and eggs eaten. We know it was a cat because pest experts identified the remains as cat predation, and we saw a local cat sitting at the base of one of the trees where a nest was.

Just yesterday we saw a pet cat in the bush, several hundred metres from any house and we frequently see two or three pet cats regularly going in and out of the bush near our house.

Cats are destroying the chances of survival of ground-nesting and feeding species that will never be able to re-establish with cats roaming in the bush.

Please help us protect our native bird life at Ohope. If you have a cat please ensure it is neutered and kept indoors. Get it chipped so if it is caught in a cat trap it can be returned.

If you would like to know where and how far it goes when out of your house get a temporary GPS tracking collar fitted. Better still help our birds by joining the pest trapping programme at Ohope.

Some years ago, Forest & Bird did cat control in the local reserves, at a cost of $20,000 for the 20 caught – that is a serious waste of money that could have been avoided if pet owners were more responsible. Keep your cat at home.

M Fort

Unanswered questions on Covid-19

CONSIDERING only 19 people have died and most were over 80 years old with other underlying health problems in the past five weeks, could someone from the government tell us how many New Zealanders over 80 years old have died in the past five weeks from influenza, pneumonia, cancer, heart attacks, etc.

Could someone tell us if the prime minister is directing the new police commissioner concerning the policing of the illegal roadblocks?

Do we have two laws in New Zealand? Why hasn’t the army been engaged to help? Who is really running this country? Answer, the fourth estate.

D Dawson

Case of different rules for some

I READ with interest your cover story last Friday headed “Ohope residents dob in Auckland businessman” regarding a flagrant breach of lockdown by Remuera New World owner Adrian Barkla, following the death of his stepfather Brendon Neutze recently.

Whilst people will have differing views of the apparent arrogance of Mr Barkla and his partner creating the appearance of a Stuttgart express with their Porsche/Mercedes convoy between Auckland and Ohope last Sunday week, I do agree with the local police that compassion and common sense has to be applied in these difficult times.

What I do have an issue with however is the related article titled “Police apply discretion” which quoted Whakatane Senior Sergeant Mark van der Kley who informed readers that “His mother was on her own and needed support, and so a certain amount of discretion can be given to the family” and he went on to say that it might have been a different situation if Mr Barkla’s mother had family support in the region, but because she was left alone, her personal welfare played a large role in police decision making.

The Barkla family are a very respected and well-known local family with two other brothers with widespread farming interests living at Onepu less than 30 minutes’ drive from Ohope.

Even if Mr van der Kley was inexplicably unaware of this, the most basic intelligence gathering/detective work would uncover this fact and I would be shocked if they were not providing “local” support to their mother.

In processing my thoughts, my mind flashed back to the old television series Hogan’s Heroes and the unforgettable Sergeant Shultz with his famous catch line “I know nothing”.

I am left to wonder if what Mr van der Kley omitted to tell us was more pertinent to the case than the very selective information he did provide us with.

I am left with the uncomfortable feeling that this appears to be a case of different rules for some and not others and certainly not the sort of clear objective decision making that new Police Commissioner Andrew Coster is calling for during these testing times for us all.

Concerned Ohope Resident