Letters March 9 2013

by The Listener / 28 February, 2013
Lake Horowhenua; bowel cancer; and SkyCity pokies.


The pollution in Lake Horowhenua (“Lake of shame”, March 2) is similar to that that threatened Lake Ellesmere some time ago. The Manawatu River has been under threat, and down south rivers are either drying up as a result of the intensification of farming practices or facing increased pollution from too much nitrogen and phosphate runoff entering waterways. In the north, it has been decided that no further funding will be sought to solve kauri die-back. Nature will be allowed to take its course, and if this involves the loss of another species, then so be it. At Mokihinui, in the Buller, a 500-year-old kahikatea tree was felled because its location threatened a Department of Conservation (DoC) hut. The tree was there first. In Whanganui, the council has a failed waste-water system and now pumps raw sewage out to sea. What all these situations highlight is that DoC, and those running it, has conceded and is now acquiescing to the demands of a Government that neither cares about conservation nor wants it to be a part of its core consideration. Funding has been cut and staff laid off, and increasingly our commitment to conservation appears to be as dead as the dodo – although in New Zealand the moa or the huia might be a more apt analogy. Now Environment Minister Nick Smith is deciding whether the Milford-Dart Tunnel or Fiordland mono rail will be built on pristine conservation land. He says it’s inappropriate for an unelected official to make such a decision. The similarities to the SkyCity deal are overwhelming. Our heritage is under threat and our lifestyles and culture are being cast aside by a Government that is only too willing to disregard the concerns and desires of those who live here.
Peter Kennedy
(Melrose, Wellington)


SkyCity has given assurances that installing another 300 pokies will not lead to an increase in problem gambling. How will problem gamblers identify these new machines so as to avoid using them?
Fred Muller


With increasing disbelief I read the February 2 Nutrition in which Jennifer Bowden advocated these foods for healthy school lunches: “chicken with pesto, tomatoes and lettuce; tuna and sweetcorn with low-fat mayonnaise; chicken, brie and cranberry sauce; salmon and low-fat cream cheese; ham, cheese and crushed pineapple”, etc. This is ludicrous. The price of food is horrendous, most New Zealanders have not had a wage rise for years, unemployment is rife and the food banks are overwhelmed by families facing starvation. Does she imagine our bairns lolling around at lunchtime surrounded by such unattainable luxuries? It is altogether too much to swallow.
L Elphik
(Blaketown, Greymouth)


I have long pondered what led to my father’s death from colorectal cancer over 20 years ago at age 69 (“The silent killer”, February 23). There had been no family history of the disease, and his diet was no different to that of my mother, who died of natural causes a couple of years ago. One thing of interest was the view that the main drivers of colorectal cancers appear to result from some sort of exposure before a person’s 25th birthday. My father joined the 2nd New Zealand Division in Egypt, and he would have just turned 24 when he was marched into captivity for three years. Most of his POW contemporaries would have been of a similar age, and some endured five years in prisoner of war camps. I don’t have all the figures, but just over 8000 ground force personnel captured in the Mediterranean theatre were interned in POW camps during World War II – a not insubstantial number. (I am not counting air force and other personnel or those interned by the Japanese.) I grew up on a diet of POW stories based on their heroic escapes. They were notably short on the realities of camp life. Only in the past 20 years have we started to hear what life was really like. These prisoners’ diet was such that, despite the supplement of Red Cross parcels, they suffered from dysentery, in some cases so badly their bowels bled, often constantly. Those forced to march through Germany in the winter of 1945, when toilet stops were not allowed, had to choose between the indignity of soiling their pants or stemming it by eating charcoal from the fires by which they warmed themselves at night. What effect did that have on their long-term bowel health? I know this sounds anecdotal, and it may be coincidental that the peak incidence of colorectal cancer in the late 1980s seems to have occurred around the time many of these men were passing from our lives, but I wonder how the incidence of this disease among this sector compares with that of the general population and whether it is statistically significant?
Jeffrey Plowman
(Upper Riccarton, Christchurch)

I was diagnosed with bowel cancer nearly two years ago at 82. I was fortunate to have an early diagnosis and surgery quite quickly, with no chemo or radiation therapy required. Within about three months I was back to my normal fitness. Since then I have talked about it a lot and been surprised by the number of people who have been through this, too. There needs to be more information available about this disease, and much more publicity. My cancer was diagnosed when I went to my GP with stomach discomfort, loss of weight and appetite. Blood tests showed I was anaemic, and so she ordered a stool test. This showed traces of blood, so I had a colonoscopy, which confirmed the cancer. The article listed symptoms to watch for, but I was told anaemia is also a common indicator. GPs should be more proactive in advising everyone from middle age on to have regular blood tests, and there should be information available in their waiting rooms, along with that for the other types of cancer. The “Big Three” cancers – breast, cervix and prostate – have a huge profile, with such campaigns as “Pink Ribbon Day” and “Movember”, but because – to quote my clinic nurse – “nobody wants to talk about poohs”, bowel cancer is virtually ignored, even though it’s one of the most common types of cancer.
BH Smith


Oliver Hartwich is wrong to say the Brits chose to join the European Economic Community in 1973 for their economic future (Diary, February 9). Premier Edward Heath convinced many of his Conservative MPs to approve the motion – failure to follow the party line would have harmed one’s political future. The public had no say, and if the move was in the party’s electioneering statements, most Conservative supporters would not have voted against it for fear of allowing Labour to win. Such is democracy. In a later referendum, the public voted to stay in the EEC because the country had burnt its boats as regards the Commonwealth and/or because the country ought to abide by the signed contract as an act of honour. The EEC would have been rejected by the electorate had the referendum been held before a parliamentary vote.
Gordon Edwards


I don’t wish to detract from Jack Tame’s obvious talent (“Two minutes with …”, February 23), but his Saturday morning radio programme is not nationwide. NewstalkZB listeners in Wellington get me (not necessarily always “wholesome and jolly nice”).
Justin DuFresne
(Raumati South)


The Listener Photo Essay Competition winner’s name was incorrectly spelt in last week’s issue. It was Billie Win of Billie Brook Photography in Wellington.
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