Editorial - Local Board Elections

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by John Ogden

 


I am a hoarder. This is counter-productive because eventually so much stuff has accumulated that I can’t find whatever it is I want in the pile. At this point I generally have a massive random throwing-out session. This happened with my Local Board file the other day. That is when I found a set of statements from candidates for the Community Board elections in 1992 (Yep I really do have stuff that old!), which is how I know for sure that some things haven’t changed much in twenty years. Back then, controlled tourism development; waste disposal; marine reserves and fishing were issues for David Palmer, Ray Michell, Cindy Golaboski (Wiseman) and Sally Coombs. “A community with a future for our children” and “a more trustful relationship between the people of the Island” and “maintaining Barrier’s character for future generations”, were also themes (Hillary McGregor). Bruce Marx (Independent and Green!) foresaw the Board’s requirement to consider “environmental, social, and lastly, economic development” – an order the Board still grapples with: “Recognising that any change that results in damage to the environment is not progress but mere greed in disguise”. Good old Bruce – I’ll vote for him!

Throughout New Zealand there has been a massive change in the way we regard our relationship to the environment in the last twenty years. This change involves landowners in recycling, energy use, run-off control and coastal development for example. On Great Barrier several large private sanctuaries have been established in attempts to stop the decline of biodiversity driven by rodents and feral cats. However, in some other respects the Island has lagged behind, relying on a small population size and distance from the controlling bodies to justify resistance to change. The Department of Conservation has, until recently, tended to shun public engagement over conservation issues impinging on private land. Whatever the cause, there has been a continued decline of some of the Island’s native bird populations. At least two of the candidates view current progress in biodiversity protection on Great Barrier as disappointingly slow. Given the Board’s awareness of the situation, I’d have to agree.

However, there has been progress; since the formation of the Local Board three years ago environmental protection on GBI has received strong support from Auckland Council. The Environmental Strategy Planning Committee was a first step towards a longer-term view putting environmental aspirations on a par with social and economic. Biosecurity has been beefed up and this has led to increased awareness of the risks faced by our rare biota. There has been real progress in waste management and recycling. Locally lead tourism is also taking off with “Destination Great Barrier”. There is a feeling amongst the new