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Feedback: September 3, 2016

Dealing with stray cats; rethinking the Ruataniwha scheme; the importance of learning a second language.

Cartoon/Jason Conlan
Cartoon/Jason Conlan


Despite all the nice words about predator-free New Zealand, there doesn’t seem to be an agency or organisation that will deal with stray cats, which probably outnumber domestic ones (“Cat flap”, August 27). I can trap strays, but what am I supposed to do with them?

Considering how much money the Auckland Council is throwing away on projects that benefit no one, it’s not too much to ask for centres to be set up in local areas to deal with stray cats. The SPCA is not the answer: apart from being out in the wop-wops, it doesn’t want to be responsible for large-scale euthanasia.

Terry Marsh
(Beach Haven, Auckland)

Cats are major predators of native birds and other native wildlife, but the story missed out the main reason we should rid New Zealand of stray, abandoned and feral cats: that they are constantly suffering from starvation and disease. Cats are our popular, delightful and cherished companions, and every one should belong to a responsible owner.

I am delighted the New Zealand Companion Animal Council has put together a National Cat Management Group comprising the NZ Veterinary Association, Companion Animal Council, SPCA, Local Government New Zealand and the Morgan Foundation, with DoC and the Ministry for Primary Industries as observers, with a key draft strategic goal of “No stray or feral cats” by 2025. The microchipping of all owned cats is essential, and it is pleasing that Wellington Council has made it compulsory. All councils should follow suit. Research shows 1.2 million owned cats still require a chip.

Peter Dormon
(Glendowie, Auckland)


I was on the protest side during the Vietnam War, but I have sympathy for the veterans. Their pain and suffering included Agent Orange-related health damage that was swept under the carpet for decades.

However, the Battle of Long Tan article (“Long day in Long Tan”, August 27) and its questions – who won, who lost, what was the defining moment – disturbed me. Back in the day, the Cold War view prevailed, so killing communists was seen as justified. But surely not 50 years later?

The 245 Vietnamese who died at Long Tan had hopes and dreams, too, including the dream of running their country according to their own beliefs. At the time, communism seemed to offer an answer to the need to empower those made poor and landless under colonial rule, as it did for millions of others in the developing world.

The Vietnam War was responsible for the deaths of more than three million Vietnamese civilians, and a terrible legacy of environmental and health damage. This was the result of a reckless US strategy of driving villagers out of the jungles to deprive the liberation army of safe havens.

It is understandable that the Australian and New Zealand veterans want to get together to mourn lost mates, but at the site of the battle? I understand the Vietnamese authorities agreed to a compromise of allowing a low-key, non-ostentatious event to take place. That was generous, surely.

In my view, no one wins wars, but a truth and reconciliation process could help heal old wounds.

Maire Leadbeater
(Mt Albert, Auckland)


Forty years into environmental policy here in New Zealand and in California, I have never seen such serial obfuscation and duplicity as I have observed with the Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme (“Water war”, August 20) – hyper-compressed commenting time frames, public excluded from key Hawke’s Bay Regional Council debates, attempts to circumvent public comment entirely, material changes to dam design after the board of inquiry decision, and blatant ignoring of key feasibility factors, such as amount of rainfall in the drainage and the presence of earthquake faults. The push behind this very costly dam is staggering. If it goes ahead with Government
funding through ACC, I predict that in 10 years, the regional council will have been forced to sell the Napier port to cover losses, the Tukituki River will have become an agricultural sewer and Havelock North’s campylobacter disaster will be looking like a cake walk.

Phyllis Tichinin
(Havelock North)

I protest at writer Rebecca Macfie’s claim, in the closing paragraph of her dam story, that I haven’t listened carefully to the prolonged promotion of the iniquitous Ruataniwha Water Storage Scheme.

Over four and a half years, I have attended numerous public meetings and made written and verbal submissions to the board of inquiry, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council and the Central Hawke’s Bay District Council. I have sat through many days of the BOI and attended several HBRC sessions. I haven’t felt heard once, although I have listened endlessly.

Thus, I find myself, at 64, holding a placard outside the regional council offices, in yet another attempt to be heard. This after not protesting since the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in the 60s.

Macfie’s comment was condescending and superficial. In truth I’m about as amused as I was to be bellowed at by Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Peter Butler while holding my placard. Not too much listening on his part.

Adrienne Tully
(Hinerua, Central Hawke’s Bay)


Mark Gilmour (Letters, August 27) claims the introduction of a capital-gains tax will cause property prices to fall. However, he offers no reasoning on why this would happen.

Could he – or anyone – point us towards any city in any country with a tax on capital gains where there is undeniable evidence that such a tax has reduced or even stabilised property prices?

Even Green Party spokesman Kevin Hague has admitted that capital-gains taxes have not stopped house price inflation in Australia, the US and the UK.

Peter Lewis
(Forrest Hill, Auckland)


Learning a second language will “boost your brain” (“Speak to me”, August 20).

I had teenagers at the dinner table recently and was foolish enough to ask, “How was your day?” What followed was an incomprehensible, monosyllabic second language, including bae, lit, yolo, sup, chill and on point.

After trying to decipher what all that means, there’s precious little brain to boost.

Christopher Bourn
(Richmond, Nelson)

“Kiwis are record travellers, but 80% speak only one language and that ability is declining …” What can I possibly say?

Mike Patrick


Damn Denniston, damn the track/Damn the way both there and back/Damn the wind and damn the weather/God damn Denniston altogether.

That ditty was written by workers who in 1880 used picks and shovels to carve a safe walking route from the coast to the coal-mining township on the plateau. The Bridle Track fell into disrepair when the mines closed in the 60s. Some years ago, DoC restored the track and built a display around the historic ruins.

I walked the Bridle Track recently, even though it was closed. Locals say it’s always closed because it’s not maintained. Sure, there were some slips, but nothing two redundant Stockton miners couldn’t quickly clear with picks and shovels. Unused, the track is succumbing to the bush.

The Government says it’s committed to generating employment on the Coast. It’s also keen to promote tourism. Why not give DoC a sensible budget to employ people to maintain these iconic walkways, promote the Coast as a tourist destination and reduce pressure on the overcrowded drawcards – Milford, Queenstown and Te Anau?

Wait. I know. It’s because the Government is only interested in an extra annual half a million Chinese tourists – who don’t want to go to Westport. So, Queenstown gets night flights and New Zealanders risk their lives driving on Fiordland roads already cluttered with buses, campervans and rental cars piloted by inexperienced foreign drivers.

The Bridle Track was built 130 years ago for safety. It would take two workers two days to fix, and one worker one day a fortnight to maintain. That scenario could be repeated a hundred times around the country, improving the amenity and conservation values of regions other than the famous ones, and creating at least part-time work for dozens of people in areas that badly need employment.

But no doubt DoC safety funding will be spent on a fat fee for a consultant to interpret new health and safety rules.

Lynda Mabin
(Upper Moutere, Nelson)

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