Different angle to Baldwin Street

Baldwin Street in Dunedin is supposed to be the steepest street in the world. I’ve always wondered about that and am not sure how comprehensively that has been checked out but it’s quite steep. I’ve been up it two or three times.

It has become quite a tourist attraction. I’m not really sure why.

Today was a special occasion with the annual jaffa race, with a crowd of 15,000 odd attending. It was a perfect fine cool day for it.

BaldwinJaffas

It looks like the have different jaffas these days. I wouldn’t know, I eat them as often as i walk up Baldwin Street (but I remember them from a long time ago and they were rolled and bounced when we went to the ‘pictures’).

But Baldwin is getting some exposure on social media for other reasons too.

NZH: Bizarre photos from Dunedin’s Baldwin Street leave internet users scratching their heads

A suburban street in New Zealand has become an unlikely tourist attraction, after people shared photos on social media of a bizarre optical illusion.

That’s typical JAFA ignorance, Baldwin has been a tourist attraction for quite a while already so it’s not unlikely.

Photos posted on Instagram have been getting some attention.

Baldwin Street holds the proud title of being the steepest street in the world. Photo / @plscallmesam Instagram

Photo / @plscallmesam Instagram

Just looking at things on Baldwin Street from a bit of a different angle.

This Instagram user posted a photo of this house on Dunedin Street with the caption: 'How to mess with people's minds - anchor your letterbox so that it's on the same incline as the street. Voila! Your house is now sinking!'. Photo / @jemimakate Instagram

‘How to mess with people’s minds – anchor your letterbox so that it’s on the same incline as the street. Voila! Your house is now sinking!’. Photo / @jemimakate Instagram

Baldwin Street has become an unlikely tourist attraction, after people have shared photos on social media of a bizarre optical illusion. Photo / @kasparschiesser Instagram

Photo / @kasparschiesser Instagram

The Herald sourced that from the Daily Mail overseas (UK). Here’s it’s link:

Bizarre photos from a New Zealand street where all the houses stand at an angle leave internet users scratching their heads – so can you figure out the optical illusion?

  • Baldwin Street in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, holds the title for the steepest street in the world 
  • When photos of houses are taken on an angle, it creates a bizarre optical illusion
  • By tilting the camera to one side, tourists are creating the illusion that the houses are sinking into the ground 
  • The stretch of road is a short straight street that is a little under 350 metres long

They have some more pics and videos that show how steep it is, including this one that includes some more traditional jaffas.

The street is renowened for the Cadbury Jaffa Race where thousands of red chocolates are released at the top of the hill to raise money for charity

 

Defamation: councillor v mayor

The acrimonious relationship between Dunedin City councillor Lee Vandervis and mayor Dave Cull continues with Cull being served legal papers on a Dunedin Street yesterday in  defamation proceedings.

This is a further sign of the degree of dysfunction in the Dunedin council.

ODT: $500,000 claim against Cull

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull is vowing to defend a $500,000 defamation claim, after being served with legal papers while walking down the street yesterday.

Mr Cull was handed the documents by private investigator Wayne Idour near the corner of Bath and lower Stuart Sts yesterday morning.

The documents related to a defamation claim filed against him in the High Court at Dunedin by Cr Lee Vandervis earlier this month.

Mr Cull and Cr Vandervis were both reluctant to comment in detail when contacted, but both expressed regret the step had been taken.

But one or the other must have not been reluctant to go to the media over the serving of papers, unless a reporter just happened to have witnessed it. It’s likely that someone went public deliberately.

Mr Idour said when contacted he had planned to serve the papers on Mr Cull in the council’s Civic Centre building, but had seen the mayor passing by while sitting in Sugar Cafe.

“I was in there, having a coffee and talking, where I go most mornings, and he was walking rather fast down Stuart St. I saw him and shot out.

“I just took the time to explain what they were and handed them discreetly to him. He looked a wee bit shocked.”

Mr Idour said he was acting as “process server”, under a barrister’s instructions, and not working for Cr Vandervis.

Just a chance serving is possible but seems a bit unlikely. Serving the papers in public and then the media finding out seems a bit suspicious to me.

The serving of legal papers was followed last night by Cr Vandervis’ decision to release a copy of his statement of claim to media.

The document confirmed Cr Vandervis was seeking $250,000 in “general damages” and another $250,000 in “exemplary damages”, plus costs.

The claim followed a heated exchange during a Dunedin City Council meeting last year, when Cr Vandervis claimed to have paid a backhander to secure a council contract in the 1980s.

He was labelled “a liar” by Mr Cull and ejected from the meeting after suggesting he had given Mr Cull “personal evidence” to back his claim.

In May, both men claimed a report by internal auditor Crowe Horwath, examining the backhander claims, backed their positions.

Cr Vandervis then threatened to “double the damages” after Mr Cull stood by calling him a liar in the wake of the report.

And this is where it has ended up, serving papers in public.

The ODT understands the council had insurance to protect ratepayers from the cost of claims against elected representatives in their council duties, although it was not yet clear if a claim resulting from Mr Cull’s comments would be covered.

Ratepayers could still be left to pick up the bill for associated costs, including legal bills, should Mr Cull lose, the ODT understands.

Ratepayers pay in two ways – picking up some of the bill for this spat, and continuing to have a dysfunctional and acrimonious council.

Both Cull and Vandervis have indicated they will be standing for mayor and for council again this year.

But this reflects very poorly on both of them and on the Dunedin City Council.

I think that this obvious and ongoing inability to work together raises serious doubts about the suitability of either for serving the public on council in either capacity.

It’s time voters looked for elected representatives who don’t allow personal animosities to dominate their work for council and for Dunedin.

Disillusioned with city council

One term Dunedin City councillor Hilary Calvert is disillusioned with what she claims are undemocratic agenda driven practices in Dunedin City and won’t be standing again. She also took a shot at mayor Dave Cull.

Calvert was an ACT MP for about a year, taking over from David Garrett when he resigned in 2010.  She stood for Dunedin mayor and council in 2013 and was elected a councillor.

ODT: Disillusioned with council

Dunedin city councillor Hilary Calvert announced yesterday she will not stand in this year’s elections, but not before taking parting shots at some of her colleagues and Mayor Dave Cull.

She said she was unable to make a difference in a council dominated by councillors “whose focus is on carrying out activities for the benefit of the planet and on advising central government on how they may go about their business, not ours”.

I think that one of the best ways to make a difference is as an elected councillor, and standing for mayor again would give her the opportunity to highlight the problems as she saw them, but she has chosen not to do that. She also chose not to stand again for Parliament in 2011.

“This preoccupation has been at the expense of the proper and transparent governance of the city.”

She took aim at what she said were “covert meetings” of councillors and staff before councillors went through “the role play of consulting ratepayers, only to ignore their views”.

“The council meetings held in public are therefore largely irrelevant.”

Cr Calvert (61) said the big issues for ratepayers – cycleways, fraud, what council-owned companies were doing, and maintenance of mud-tanks – were “never on the agenda of council meetings until a rearguard action happens after the problems are identified by others”.

“Unfortunately, I cannot foresee this changing. For me enduring council as some kind of disingenuous spectator sport is unsustainable.”

Unfortunately if no one stands up to undemocratic processes then they are likely to continue.

If Calvert had stood again she would have had a very good chance of being re-elected as councillor. She was the highest polling candidate for council and came second to Cull in the mayoralty.

There is a danger that the Green influence in council in Dunedin will be strengthened this year if strong candidates with alternate views don’t stand, and an existing public profile is almost a necessity.

On her allegations of covert meetings, Cr Calvert said the sharing of thoughts and understanding of issues often happened at workshops and briefings that were not public.

For example, the second generation district plan process went to workshops, and if councillors had concerns they would tell staff. If something was going “where some councillors would not like it to go” that discussion was not public.

Councillors with other views did not have the opportunity to discuss them in public.

Once a public council meeting took place, such policies were “fairly much in completed form” or could not be challenged.

“By that stage it’s almost a done deal.”

If that is true – and from what I’ve observed there may well be some basis to her claims – then claims by the mayor and some elected councillors of adequate consultation in the last campaign ring hollow.

I have seen a number of examples of jacked up apparent public support for things that the council does.

Asked if having green-leaning councillors was the will of voters, Cr Calvert said green concerns were the focus at the expense of local concerns “which we are not short of”.

Voters chose the current mayor and council, but it can be debated whether the council put the will of voters ahead of their own agendas.

The issue of parking space losses because of cycleways was one example, where residents took a petition to the council “but we didn’t take a blind bit of notice of them”.

“I don’t think when people voted the current council in that’s what they were anticipating.

There has been a lot of angst about the preference given to more cycleways and less car parks, especially when existing cycleways are not well utilised.

For example car parks were converted into cycle ways on both sides on Anzac Avenue. I travel there frequently, and cyclists don’t. It is unusual to spot a cyclist.

It will be interesting to see how much of an issue this is this election.

Calvert also had words for Mayor Cull.

Cr Calvert also took aim at Mr Cull, saying it was “quite clearly not a good position to be disagreeing with him”.

“You could find yourself discouraged from continuing, either quite actively or passively, to ask questions”.

Disagreements between Cull and another councillor, Lee Vandervis, have raged throughout this term to the extent that disciplinary action has been taken against Vandervis (whose city heart is in the right place but can be a bit hot headed at times).

Cull stood for the mayoralty last election and won easily (Calvert came second, Vandervis came third) and intends to stand again both for the mayoralty and for council this year.

I stood for both council and mayor in 2013 to see how things worked and yeah, I have some major concerns, but the reality is that without an existing public profile or a political party to promote you,  it’s difficult to attract media attention or votes amongst a crowd of candidates.

Most voters know little about the council or candidates.

It will be interesting to see whether there’s a backlash against ‘green-leaning’ voters or whether they strengthen their grip on Dunedin.

Fireball from Dunedin

Something like a bigger and slower than normal shooting star/meteorite was seen from Dunedin tonight.

Ian Griffin (astonomer) is referring to it as a bright meteor. It travelled approximately southwest to northwest.

Mt John Observatory astronomer Natasha Gardiner: “We have been up here on Mt John for years and we have never seen one this big.” She guessed it was the size of a fist.

ODT: Light over Dunedin ‘rarer’ than a meteor (+ video)

Former resident superintendent of Canterbury University’s Mt John Observatory, astronomer Alan Gilmore, said the fireball was rarer than a meteor.

“It’s not a meteor, I’m certain of that.

“It took too long to go across the sky.”

Mr Gilmore said the flash had all the characteristics of a re-entry of debris from a space craft, or piece of equipment which had been orbiting earth.

Mr Gilmore said the only other such case in Southern skies he knew of happened about 10 years ago.

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Mt John Observatory astronomer Natasha Gardiner: “We have been up here on Mt John for years and we have never seen one this big.”

Nathan Jaquiery I have just seen what looked like a meteor or something else go down over Dunedin city, although it was quite high in the sky hard to say if it landed or not… Anyway quite freaky and dramatic,,.. anyone else see it?

Shani Roberts Seen it heading back out to Brighton it was amazing!! Was so close put here just got bigger as it got closer was bloody amazing tried pulling over to capture footage but the cloud covered our view after we pulled over and we lost sight of it. Hope someone got some footage had to be a meteor?

Mark Kane You legend! My partner spotted it and we watched it from one side to the other. Was really a sight and I’m so glad someone got it on camera! I was thinking to myself “last thing Dinosaurs saw…

Stacey French Abbotsford but it was massive and looked like a huge flaming comet

Tetae Parata Out of it . My partner noticed somethng explode then we watched it spiral downwards

Petra Colwell I saw that too. North East over the harbour. It looked like a big ball of flame.

Tania Mitchell Metaor I think. Watched it from over towards mosgiel over the hill over our house in Brockville had a small fizz up over pine hill then towards port chalmers it just kept going and going must have been large. Also been told it was seen breaking up north of Palmerston!

Anita Maria Ireland Was seen over Blenheim about 22 minutes ago

Stuff/Press: Meteor spotted flying over South Island

A large meteor has exploded over the South Island, sparking a flurry of phone calls to police.

It was spotted up and down the island when it hit earth’s atmosphere and exploded about 6.30pm. 

Mt John Observatory astronomer Natasha Gardiner said it was the biggest meteor she had seen. 

It exploded into four pieces after hitting earth’s atmosphere. It was not a comet, she said. 

“We have been up here on Mt John for years and we have never seen one this big.”

A similar meteorite in Russia several years ago caused shock waves that smashed windows, she said. 

“We were a bit a little bit concerned initially to be honest.”

Gardiner said it was unlikely the meteor hit the ground. 

“We saw it soaring across the sky and then it exploded and went in four different directions.”

Gardiner guessed it was about the size of a fist. 

“Normally they are about the size of a grain of sand.”

“Dunedin is in the throes of growth, spark, confidence and regeneration”

Dunedin was a leading city in the 1800s, benefiting from gold recovered from throughout the province.

Through the 1900s the city gradually declined as businesses and people headed north. This drift was exacerbated by the gutting of Government services in the 80s and 90s.

While Dunedin is still the second largest city in the South Island there are five larger metropolitan areas in the North Island.

‘But things are apparently looking up for Dunedin. Today’s ODT editorial:

Dunedin’s growing contentment

It is time to consign Dunedin’s habitual discontent to history.

For a time our weather, isolation, strong links to the supposedly dour Scots and misery at our falling fortunes served as excuses.

But the predisposition to self-flagellation is running out of legs on which to stand.

A bit of a grim opening. I’ll edit in the positives from there.

But times have changed. A recent ODT Insight report revealed a growing surge of interest in Dunedin from families around New Zealand looking for a healthy, prosperous lifestyle; families bringing money, skills and energy.

Meanwhile, the city’s technology and tourism sectors are thriving, its sports teams continue to succeed and its presence in the national and international conscience continues to grow.

This time the stories are all positive.

And why wouldn’t they be?

Dunedin’s natural beauty is an asset scores of tourists continually remind us of.

DunedinAerial

The city and it’s surrounds are beautiful, with great beaches (if you don’t expect tropical swimming conditions), bush and mountains in close proximity.

The proximity of Central Otago, the Queenstown Lakes and the Southern Alps is the most decadent of cherries on top.

There are more cherries than that. You can drive to Queenstown, Wanaka and the Southern Lakes and ski fields within 3 hours. But also handy:

  • Catlins on the south coast is an hour or two away
  • Fiordland – Te Anau and Manapouri are a few hours away with Milford Sound a bit further
  • The Mackenzie Country is also an easy half day trip
  • Mt Cook and Tekapo are about 300 km
  • Haast and the West Coast is 400 km of every changing scenery, a great trip from Dunedin

There’s a huge variety of options within easy reach of Dunedin.  But back to the city.

The city boasts extraordinary infrastructure and public facilities for its size.

No other city in the country has anything to rival Forsyth Barr Stadium and, while that exercise came with a big price tag, the city’s rates are still comparatively low.

Dunedin’s libraries and art galleries are well stocked and presented, its roads flow freely and the city centre functions like a vibrant centre should.

Out-of-town families must look at Dunedin’s education options with disbelief.

Our high schools offer diversity in concept yet uniformity in quality and are easy to access.

Our primary and pre-school facilities are as good as anywhere in the country.

The university and polytechnic provide jobs, students and infrastructure but also churn out world-class research and graduates.

Improving internet infrastructure is bringing the world to our keyboards and touchscreens.

I can and do work around the world from an office in Dunedin that is 15 minutes drive (in ‘rush hour’) from rural living.

Southern winters are becoming less of an issue as housing improves, with new homes virtually unaffected by the cold and older homes benefitting from the retrofitting of insulation, double glazing and draft stopping.

Heat pumps have made a big difference too.

But even the bitter winters of the past seem to have lost their bite. We are in mid July and have had a few cool southerlies this is been perhaps the most mild of a run of mild winters over recent years. (Mild is relative in the south).

And I love the changing seasons. Spring buds are already starting to appear.

The current upsurge for Dunedin may not be a boom of mythical proportion with gold ingots springing from the soil.

But Dunedin is in the throes of growth, spark, confidence and regeneration.

There are certainly many positives here. And while it is nice to share it would be kinda nice to not grow too much.

Dunedin is a bonny wee city.

Councillor critical of bureaucracy and politicisation

A long serving councillor has announced that he won’t stand again this year, but has blasted growing council bureaucracy, and the politicisation of councils.

His criticisms apply across the country.

ODT: Council role loses lustre for some

Long-serving Dunedin city councillor John Bezett has fired parting shots at the growing bureaucracy and politicisation of the council, yesterday announcing his intention to stand down at the coming election.

Cr Bezett, who in ending a 30-year involvement in local body politics, said the role was no longer “fun”.

He bemoaned the increasingly-obvious political ideologies of some councillors, the intensified bureaucracy of local government and the workload of councillors.

“It’s got quite political. It’s something that I just don’t like at all. If you are a Dunedin city councillor, I think you should be looking after the city and not have an allegiance to a political party.”

Labour considered becoming openly involved in local Dunedin politics but backed off. The Greens are promoting a mayoral candidate – see Green candidate proposes local currency – along with  very Green sounding policies. The council is already quite green leaning, with cycleways and anti-oil priorities.

He also took aim at the expectations of central government which had increased the workload of councillors.

“There seems to be an endless commitment to submit on the select committee work they are doing in central government.

“There’s endless consultation and I find for someone to be an effective councillor they have to be totally involved in that and I can’t because I haven’t got the time. Not only that, but I don’t want to be totally involved … the role has changed and there’s no fun in it anymore.

“I have had a really good run and I have thoroughly enjoyed it but the fun has gone out of it for me and I’m going to go do other things,” he said.

He advised anyone considering standing for council to be prepared to treat it as a full-time job.

“Today, to be an effective councillor, I think you have to be a full-time councillor and I have never wanted to be a full-time councillor.”

So there’s a need for professional councillors but not for career politicians.

And ‘the people’ are becoming increasingly fed up with bureaucracy. It is justifiably blamed for being a significant factor in the current housing problems.

The NIMBYs have become adept at manipulating bureaucracy to stifle development.

And the career politicians have become adept at misusing democracy to push their party policies, claiming they have majority support through manipulation of consulting processes.

The best way of combating bureaucracy and politicisation  is for strong independent candidates to stand, but council is not a very attractive option for successful people.

Green candidate proposes local currency

Stuff reported on Saturday that Dunedin was on the comeback trail.

Dunedin: The return of New Zealand’s first city

Dunedin was New Zealand’s first city, but has since been overtaken in size by six other cities. But something is stirring in the Edinburgh of the South, and Dunedin is on the comeback trail.

This morning the ODT reports on the major planks of  Green candidate’s mayoral campaign – a ‘living wage’ city and a Dunedin currency. This is supported by Green co-leader Metiria Turei.

Living wage, Dunedin dollar his platform

Dunedin mayoral candidate Aaron Hawkins has announced his intentions to transform Dunedin into New Zealand’s first living wage city and establish a local currency if elected mayor.

Speaking at the Green Party’s Dunedin local body elections launch, the first-term councillor said he wanted to push for every resident to earn a living wage and to establish a local currency, the Dunedin dollar, modelled on the Bristol Pound.

My dream for Dunedin is to become New Zealand’s first living wage city. That is a city where every worker, regardless of where they work, makes a living wage.”

Dreams are free, but forcing up wages could be expensive for businesses, and could well cost jobs.

The creation of the Dunedin dollar would complement the city’s push for wider economic equity, he said.

“The Dunedin dollar sits alongside our existing currency, rather than trying to replace it,” he said.

“A living wage and a Dunedin dollar are both commitments to doing economics differently.

Commitments to setting up a Green experiment in Dunedin.

Some of the Green promoted cycleway experiment was botched and had to be redesigned, and some had to be scrapped because costs were going to be double what was estimated.

“They both work from the bottom up rather than waiting for the trickle down.”

The objective was to encourage people to spend their money with local, independent businesses in the city.

Based on the local multiplier effect, the currency was aimed at keeping more money within the local economy.

“If I were elected mayor, I would happily take 25% of my income for that elected position in the Dunedin dollar,” Mr Hawkins said.

Would wages be topped up to ‘living wage’ level with the Dunedin dollar?

The council would spend the next term designing “something that fits our local situation” to be launched by 2019, he said.

Only if the council – not just the mayor – supported the Green dream.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei described the proposals as “fantastic concepts for the city”.

“We need to be supporting the living wage and challenging council and challenging our business community leaders to step up,” she said.

“And the Dunedin dollar is all about supporting each other.”

So it sounds like Hawkins’ dream is a part of the Green local body strategy.

Hawkins is very much a Green formula campaigner, sticking to strategy and script.

A current contentious issue in Dunedin is the redesign of the main one way streets to include cycle lanes and remove hundreds of car parks.

This was already controversial in the last mayoral campaign, but is now closer to reality – and the opposition to it is also stronger, there’s a lot of people getting very annoyed at streets that are dominated by underutilised cycleways.

So Hawkins and the Greens will have a challenge selling their ‘living wage city’ and Dunedin dollar on top of this.

But there is quite a large Green vote in Dunedin. The city could become a green nirvana.

However current mayor Dave Cull is fairly Green leaning so Hawkins and Cull will compete and may split the Green vote.

However there is also likely to be a strategy to stack the council with Green votes even more.

Another day in John Key’s neo-liberal nightmare

Paul has been kicking off the day lately at The Standard’s Open Mike with a string of posts that suggests he is not a John key fan. They all begin:

Another day in John Key’s neo-liberal nightmare.
We have become a cruel, greedy, uncaring and selfish nation under his wretched leadership.

So far today:

Selfish, greedy.
Max Key.

David Slack: ‘Greed, and hair gel, is good’

And:

Greedy.
New Zealand property investors.

‘Housing ‘mess’ has spread from Auckland to Tauranga

And:

Greedy.
New Zealand property investors.

‘Market tough for renters

And:

Greedy, selfish, uncaring.
New Zealand’s private landlords

One of the worst years for housing problems, says union.

But there’s hope:

Yet there are people who still care and who are unselfish.
Marie Retimana represents the best of New Zealand.
A government that does not ensure its citizens are not paid enough to feed themselves represents the worst of New Zealand.

Helping the needy through social media

Paul is helping the needy at The Standard – they desperately want to believe that New Zealand is a cruel, greedy, uncaring and selfish neo-liberal nightmare under Key’s wretched leadership.

He has added:

Yet there are people who still care and who are unselfish.
Park Up represents the best of New Zealand.
A government that does not house its citizens adequately represents the worst of New Zealand.

‘Park Up For Homes camp out on Beehive backdoor.

Continually promoting over-wrought negatives is not presenting a more positive alternative.

CharismaAndrew

 

Put to the Swordfish

Swordfish seems to think he is good at numbers but regardless of if being an obvious tongue in cheek dig he is quite misleading in this comment at The Standard:

I was about to say: It’s amazing how many Dunedinites are on this site.

But, come to think of it, Dunedin is still the most Left-leaning City in the Country* (Wellington’s the only other centre where the Left continue to beat the Right Bloc) … so maybe not all that surprising after all.

* Indeed, it’s been argued that Pete George is the only Dunedinite to have Party-Voted National at the last Election. Isn’t that right, Pete ?

It’s true that both Dunedin electorates currently have Labour MPs and have historically mostly had Labour MPs.

For a start, going by numerous comments at The Standard bitterly complaining about neo-liberalism and National-Lite/Labour-Lite having Labour MPs doesn’t mean electorates are left-leaning.

But Swordfish is ignoring the actual numbers in Dunedin. Take the Dunedin North (the electorate I live in) party vote election results from 2014:

  • National 11,147
  • Labour 11,302
  • Greens 8,035
  • NZ First 2,364
  • Conservative 956
  • Internet Mana 603
  • Legalise Cannabis 172 (go Abe!)
  • Maori Party 124
  • ACT Party 111
  • United Future 86
  • Ban 1080 60
  • Civilian 27
  • Independent Coalition 7
  • Focus 1

Over 70% of the votes went to centre-ish parties. Ok, a few National and Labour voters may lean outside the centre a bit, but there were more votes for National than for any other party.

And it’s worth looking at trend for National:

  • 2002: 4,481 (16.19%)
  • 2005: 8,217 (25.14%)
  • 2008: 9,692 (29.35%)
  • 2011: 9,707 (32.89%)
  • 2014: 11,302 (32.26%)

Sure the Labour+Green vote is significantly higher but that is influenced markedly by Metiria Turei standing for Greens. She is arguably still better known than Michael Woodhouse and certainly has had a higher profile than David Clark. If she retired it would be interesting to see how the party voting went.

Swordfish also didn’t mention that this century I have voted for four different parties in Dunedin North, including Greens and Labour.

Te Reo Putake was taking a dig at Colonial Viper but lets look at his comment “Curran is too popular” in relation to the Dunedin South results in 2014.

Curran won the electorate by 3,858 votes from a National candidate with very little public profile.

That’s not a large margin compared to say Phil Goff with over twice as big a margin and David Shearer with three times the margin (but TRP may not think they are very left leaning).

But the critical party vote in Dunedin South in 2014:

  • National 15,003
  • Labour 12,518
  • Greens 4,626
  • NZ First 3,429
  • Conservative 1,104
  • Internet Mana 307
  • Legalise Cannabis 171  (they are based in Dunedin South)
  • ACT Party 125
  • Maori Party 95
  • Ban 1080 77
  • United Future 63
  • Civilian 18
  • Focus 7
  • Independent Coalition 5

That doesn’t look hugely left-leaning to me.

And TRP, before and while Curran has stood for Labour in Dunedin South their party vote:

  • 2005: 20,348 (57.13%
  • 2008: 17,408 (46.73%)
  • 2011: 12,326 (34.97%)
  • 2014: 12,518 (33.13%)

If I was a Labour supporter I’d be alarmed by that.

Dunedin South includes the South Dunedin area, one of the most socially deprived areas in New Zealand.

Despite that Dunedin doesn’t doesn’t look to be a hugely left leaning city, and is trending away from Labour.

And I’m sure a few Standardistas would also argue about how left leaning David Clark and Clare Curran actually are. They are hardly working class heroes.

Both are more typical of the modern Labour Party and their careerist MPs – they both worked for Labour MP offices in Wellington before being awarded their safe Labour electorates, which are getting less Labour vote as the century rolls on.

The Dunedin electorates are leaning less and less Labour’s way.

Risks of rising sea levels

In Question Time in Parliament yesterday Green MP Eugenie Sage asked Bill English questions about the fiscal risk of rising sea levels.

Sage tabled a Ministry of Transport report obtained under the Official Information Act showing the cost of replacing infrastructure is close to a billion dollars.

This following a trip to Kiribati by Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett who says that seeing the problems the islanders face has been “an eye opener”, “a dose of reality” and “when you are faced with it in reality, it is incredibly stark”.

[Sitting date: 07 June 2016. Volume:714;Page:9. Text is subject to correction.]

7. EUGENIE SAGE (Green) to the Minister of Finance: Does he still believe that the fiscal risk associated with sea level rise is “a bit speculative”, given the damage surging seas inflicted on coastal properties in Australia this weekend?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): Yes.

Eugenie Sage: Does he disagree with the head of climate monitoring at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, who said: “We know that [coastal erosion from storm surges] is progressively becoming more damaging because the sea level is rising.”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I have not seen those comments. I am sure they were made on the basis of considerable expertise. The Government tends to see this issue as a matter of getting in place the tools for managing the risk. So, for instance, we will be issuing a document in the next few months that looks at how risks of natural disaster are shared between central government and local government, because local governments make the relevant regulatory decisions, but when a large or persistent natural disaster turns up there is a 60:40 basis for sharing the costs. I think we all agree that could probably be changed so that the risks, such as this one, are better managed.

Eugenie Sage: Can he tell the House what the estimated cost is of replacing the 160 kilometres of rail lines, 222 kilometres of State highway, and more than 2,000 kilometres of local roads at risk from sea level rise and storm surges, according to the New Zealand Transport Agency?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No.

Eugenie Sage: I seek leave to table a Ministry of Transport report obtained under the Official Information Act showing the cost of replacing this infrastructure is close to a billion dollars.

Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that particular report. Is there any objection? There is none. It can be tabled.

  • Report, by leave, laid on the Table of the House.

Eugenie Sage: Will he reconsider his decision to ignore the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment’s recommendation for him to examine the fiscal and economic risks associated with sea level rise?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: There has been no such decision. I mean, as the member has just pointed out, someone has done an assessment that says that over the next hundred years it might cost a billion dollars to replace those assets. There are probably cheaper ways of dealing with that kind of risk. The Government is proceeding with some pretty significant work in respect of managing natural disaster risk, both through the review of the Earthquake Commission and the review of local government insurance arrangements. Over the next couple of years, as the new arrangements are put in place, both central and local government will have clearer understandings and incentives about how to manage that kind of risk, which, I must say, in New Zealand is only one of a whole lot of other risks, such as earthquakes and floods, on which we are paying out fairly large amounts of money more regularly. In Christchurch we have just tipped over $17 billion.

Eugenie Sage: Does that work in relation to the Earthquake Commission or other agencies include looking at whether homeowners should be compensated for loss of property resulting from climate-induced sea level rise; if so, when will a decision be made on that?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: I do not think it addresses that issue specifically at this stage. It may arise in the future.

In the meantime Paula Bennett has just visited Kiribati.

One News reports: ‘This has been a dose of reality’ – Paula Bennett checks out impact of climate change on Kiribati

New Zealand is urgently looking for ways to help as rising sea levels in central Pacific islands like Kiribati becomes more of a problem.

It is estimated that by 2050, up to 54 per cent of the main island, South Tarawa, will be inundated by sea water.

Much of the land is less than three metres above sea level, and king tides, which hit for several months each year, are doing increasing amounts of damage.

“This has been a dose of reality,” she said.

“You can read about it, you can hear the stories, but when you are faced with it in reality, it is incredibly stark.”

New Zealand is looking at ways to assist the country, including building a housing project to ease overcrowding, as well as filling in land to raise it higher above sea level.

RNZ reported similar in Pacific visit an ‘eye-opener’ for Bennett:

Mrs Bennett said climate change was a big topic everywhere she went, and seeing for herself the problems the Pacific Island nations were facing was an eye-opener.

The minister was part of the annual Pacific Mission, led by Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

The mission visited Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Tuvalu.

In New Zealand Christchurch has had large areas of housing red zoned in part due to the effects of the earthquakes but made worse by being close to rising sea levels.

A large part of Dunedin faces major issues with poor drainage and rising water table levels already contributing to flooding – see Climate change and South Dunedin flooding.

Perhaps English will have retired as Finance Minister before the problem deteriorates to a stage that poses real and imminent fiscal risks.

Bennett is Associate Minister of Finance and is said to be being groomed for positions of greater responsibility.

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