Climate change protests, & destroy Fonterra, destroy the economy?

Destroy dairy farming, destroy the economy?

Newstalk ZB: International calls for climate change

Hundreds of people joined climate action groups across Aotearoa New Zealand today, calling for bold and ambitious climate leadership in response to the Global Climate Action Summit hosted in California next week.

Interesting to see the use of ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’ in a news report.

Events in Auckland, Whanganui, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, and Invercargill, each highlighted different demands for local leaders.

Their main focus: removing the social licence of the oil, gas and coal sectors – the most carbon intensive industries.

Aucklanders gathered in The Domain, targeting the Museum’s sponsorship from coal industry partners, the Stevenson Foundation.

In Wellington, protestors called for the controversial annual Petroleum Conference to be banned from Wellington City Council-owned venues.

In Nelson, they discussed future campaigns to build a Fossil Free Nelson.

Other protests were more general:

Christchurch hosted a climate discussion and a spring fair.

Whanganui there was a soapbox for community speakers on climate change.

Invercargill and Southland communities demanded true climate action in Aotearoa.

Dunedin wasn’t mentioned in that report but it was at The Standard – A Tale of Two Protests:

A few minutes later, on the way through the Octagon, I stopped to chat with a few people who’d gathered as part of the global day of action called “Rise for Climate”, and I picked up some leaflets. When I first passed through, it was before their advertised “start” time and there was a very light smattering of something like a dozen people.

Fast forward one hour.

Coming back through the Octagon, I’d say there was maybe twenty people.

Not a well supported protest.

All white and all exuding a definate air of middle classness There was an electric car and some electric bikes and, to be honest, I immediately thought of a stall at a sales expo.

‘All white’ is a risky assumption.

Anyway, I’ve just this minute read the leaflets I gathered from the Octagon. There’s some good information within the half a dozen or so leaflets I grabbed. But some of the information is also, quite frankly, incredibly unhelpful, while a lot of it is decidedly naive. Overall, there’s too much confusing or irrelevant smash, and no timeless and simple “banner message” that might offer unity and a basis for people to built on.

Just to be clear. I’m not suggesting that everyone ought to be saying the same damned things about global warming or climate change, or that everyone ought to cleave to the same set of priorities.

But there has to be something short and sharp, something unequivocal and easy to grasp that allows people “entry”.

Until then, I suspect actions around global warming will remain somewhat “soft” – places and events where people already familiar with one another can gather to say hello – and the prospects for growing a large and broad based constituency of people, willing to stand up and proclaim that they give a shit –  well, that will remain decidedly low.

The problem with climate change activism and protest is that while many people acknowledge (and most climate scientists) acknowledge it as a significant and real problem, or potential problem, that vast majority of people see no imminent risk.

It must be hard to motivate people to protest now over things that they may or may not think might happen by the end of the century, or at some vague time in the future.

Attacking Fonterra (I don’t know where that banner was shown but it’s from NZH) is unlikely to prompt a popular uprising.

A problem for hard core climate protesters is they tend to be the more idealistic doomsayers who fail to come up with popular or practical solutions.

 

Catholic Church abuses under increasing scrutiny internationally and locally

Pope Francis and the Catholic Church are under increasing pressure for their woefully inadequate handling of sexual abuse by priests, and their many failures in trying to keep the abuses secret within the church.

This is happening in many countries around the world, and has been highlighted as an insidious problem locally as well. It seems to be a systemic problem within the Catholic Church.

A recent damning report in the US has prompted action there – Stirred by Sexual Abuse Report, States Take On Catholic Church

Attorneys general across the United States are taking a newly aggressive stance in investigating sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, opening investigations into malfeasance and issuing subpoenas for documents.

On Thursday alone, the New York State attorney general issued subpoenas to all eight Catholic dioceses in the state as part of a sweeping civil investigation into whether institutions covered up allegations of sexual abuse of children, officials said. The attorney general in New Jersey announced a criminal investigation.

The new inquiries come several weeks after an explosive Pennsylvania grand jury report detailed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over decades. With Catholics clamoring for more transparency from their church, demanding that bishops release the names of accused priests, civil authorities are beginning to step up to force disclosure.

In the three weeks since the release of the Pennsylvania report, the attorneys general of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and New Mexico have also said they will investigate sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states and have asked local dioceses for records. Most bishops have been saying they will cooperate.

Cooperation by bishops has been badly lacking in the past.

And criticism goes right to the top of the church – What has Pope Francis covered up?

The Catholic Church is confronting a series of interconnected scandals so shameful that its very survival is threatened. Pope Francis himself is accused of covering up the activities of one of the nastiest sexual predators ever to wear a cardinal’s hat: his close ally Theodore McCarrick, the retired Archbishop of Washington, DC.

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are also implicated; they did nothing, or almost nothing, while McCarrick was seducing every seminarian he could get his hands on. (‘Hide the pretty ones!’ they used to say when he visited seminaries.) Yet powerful cardinals kept quiet and are now suspected of lying their heads off after McCarrick’s crimes were recently made public.

McCarrick is the world’s only ex-cardinal. He was forced to resign in July when sexual abuse allegations against him were found to be ‘creditable and substantiated’ by American church authorities. But now the Pope is also being urged to step down — by his own former apostolic nuncio to the United States. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò says he told Francis in 2013 that McCarrick had ‘corrupted generations of priests and seminarians’. The Pope ignored him and lifted sanctions that Benedict, who’d been told the same thing, had imposed.

Last month – Pope in Ireland: Francis speaks of Church’s failure to tackle clerical abuse ‘scandal’

The pope has spoken of his pain and shame at the failure of Church authorities to tackle the grave scandal of clerical abuse in Ireland.

On the first day of his historic Irish visit, the pontiff said people had a right to be outraged at the response of senior figures in the Catholic Church to the “repugnant crimes” inflicted on young people.

But:

Responding to the pope’s speech at Dublin Castle, victims advocacy group BishopAccountability.org said the pontiff’s remarks “gave little comfort to heartsick victims and Catholics hoping that he has a plan for ending the abuse and cover-up crisis.

“The pope again chose to commit to no specific solutions. Nor did he acknowledge his own responsibility for the crisis.”

And a day later – ‘I won’t say a word about it’: Pope silent on abuse claim letter

Pope Francis has declined to confirm or deny claims by the Vatican’s retired ambassador to the United States that he knew in 2013 about sexual misconduct allegations against the former archbishop of Washington.

The pope was dismissive of the 11-page text by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, saying that it “speaks for itself” and that he would not comment on it.

Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation as cardinal last month, after a US church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.

Since then, another man has come forward to say McCarrick began molesting him starting when he was 11, and several former seminarians have said McCarrick abused and harassed them when they were in seminary.

The accusations have created a crisis of confidence in the US and Vatican hierarchy.

Here in New Zealand over the last month the Otago Daily Times has published a series of articles revealing that abuse has also been perpetrated and hidden within the Catholic Church in Dunedin, around New Zealand and Australia. It appears to have been a deliberate plan to cover up abuses over decades.

Yesterday: Scale of abuse, suffering revealed

It started with one bad apple – a paedophile priest from Dunedin who abused four boys and was jailed for his crimes. But the story of Fr Magnus Murray’s crimes has opened the floodgates, releasing a torrent of torment and abuse held back for decades.

Mr Klemick can still recall every detail of four years of abuse at the hands of Ian Thompson, a teacher at St Paul’s High School, beginning in 1979 when he was just 12 years old.

The memories are of sodomy and sex acts, including the ones he was forced to perform on another young boy, also a victim of Mr Thompson.

The experience has left him battling post-traumatic stress disorder and, despite counselling, the urge to try to take his own life again.

Michael Haggie has a similar story of torment to share.

There is much more.

Now, after a months-long investigation by ODT Insight, a clearer picture of the scale of sexual offending within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin is emerging.

It began with revelations Fr Magnus Murray, a paedophile priest from Dunedin, had many more victims than previously thought.

Fr Murray was jailed in 2003 for offences against four Dunedin boys, but ODT Insight found he could have up to 15 victims on the Taieri alone, as well as others in Australia and the North Island.

But, when ODT Insight also revealed offending by Br Desmond Fay and a second Christian Brother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – in Dunedin, more victims soon came forward.

Br Fay was accused by the mother of one victim of driving her son to suicide, but the story prompted three more men to reveal they, too, had been targeted by Br Fay.

But Br Fay, who has since died, was not alone, the man said.

He also recalled being punished by former St Edmund’s principal Br Vincent Sullivan, who “put me over his knee and gave me a light spanking and then fondled my buttocks while Br Fay watched”.

The man fondled in the swimming pool by Br Fay had also learned, years later, three of his friends had been abused by Christian Brothers in Dunedin.

Two had, separately, confided in him that they had been molested by Br Francis Henery, a teacher and rugby coach at St Paul’s High School in the 1970s, he said.

THIS week, ODT Insight has confirmed another paedophile priest from Dunedin, Fr Kevin Morton, was quietly stripped of his priestly faculties in 2002 after allegations of historic abuse emerged.

A complaint in 2002 prompted the then-Dunedin Bishop Len Boyle to strip Fr Morton of his priestly faculties, but he did not defrock him.

It was the same sanction handed down to Fr Magnus Murray, who also remained a priest in retirement despite his conviction.

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley, asked about Fr Morton this week, confirmed the diocese had “full records” of the complaint and Fr Morton’s punishment.

He would not elaborate, citing privacy, but Fr Morton was “dealt with through the approved complaints procedure”.

The procedure seems to have been to keep it covered up within the church, and allowing perpetrators to continue to offend elsewhere.

In 1993, Fr Robin Paulson, a fourth-form teacher at St Peter’s College in Gore, admitted six charges relating to historic offences against three boys in Southland.

He was sentenced to periodic detention, then returned home to England, where he remains a member of the Rosminians, the Catholic order beset by their own abuse scandals in Britain.

Teaching alongside Fr Paulson in Gore at the time was another man also later convicted of offences against boys.

In 1977, Patrick Thwaites was a deacon at Holy Cross College in Mosgiel, studying to be a priest, when he was dispatched to St Peter’s in Gore to teach third and fourth-formers.

In 1999, Fr Thwaites was a priest in Christchurch when he was found guilty of offences against schoolboy parishioners in Christchurch and on the West Coast, dating back to the 1980s.

Fr Thwaites has been removed from public ministry, but also remains a priest in retirement.

But ODT Insight has also been told of other allegations, including one by three men who shared the same story of abuses committed by a former top-level, long-serving member of the Dunedin diocese, who has since died.

There seems to have been many bad apples in the Catholic barrel.

And many victims are still suffering as the church fails to take anything like full responsibility.

BISHOP Dooley, speaking to ODT Insight last month, responded to the revelations of historic abuse within the Dunedin diocese by apologising to the city.

But, asked how big the list of offenders could be, he doubted it would mirror the revelations seen in other countries.

“I don’t believe that’s our case here, certainly not in the Dunedin diocese. I see no evidence for it and I’d be very surprised if their are further offenders.”

He confirmed the diocese kept records of every complaint received, but would not say how many there were or how much money the diocese had paid to victims.

The dirty secrets are being uncovered, but the Church still seems reluctant to deal with it openly or adequately.

Victims said the sexual offending in Dunedin was only part of a wider picture of violence at St Paul’s and other schools at the time.

Men like Br Fay, Br Wellsmore and Mr Thompson were notoriously bad-tempered and violent towards boys at the schools where they taught, they said. Several men have described how Mr Thompson would erupt over the smallest infractions and beat those responsible.

Chris Gamble, a St Paul’s pupil, remembered Mr Thompson as “the most heinous, violent man”.

And Suicide to avoid exposure

A Catholic school in Dunedin has been accused of a historic cover-up, after a teacher who sexually abused pupils for more than a decade took his own life when finally confronted, victims say.

Three men – all former pupils at St Paul’s High School in Rattray St – have told ODT Insight the teacher, Ian Thompson, targeted pupils at the school throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s.

The Christian Brothers had employed Mr Thompson after he was forced out of a Marist Fathers seminary in the North Island, allegedly after affairs with other seminarians, a third pupil said.

That seems to be a common pattern – moving a problem priest to fresh pastures where abuses continued.

Another article today – What victims want most: justice

Dunedin’s new Catholic Bishop, the Most Rev Michael Dooley, seems like a good and honourable man.

He has fronted media and his parishioners, expressed shock and pain at recent revelations, apologised to victims and the city for past events and urged those still suffering in silence to come forward.

But he remains reluctant to answer some tough questions.

Bishop Dooley won’t say how many complaints have been received, or how many past offenders he is aware of, within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin.

That information will only be revealed to police or the Royal Commission, not to media, the bishop  says.

He is also not yet prepared to discuss some allegations levelled against clergy, including those aimed at one of the most senior figures within the diocese in recent times.

Instead, he has insisted Dunedin’s problem remains small compared with  the shocking revelations seen in other countries, from the United States and Ireland to Australia.

But, as he does so, the list of alleged offenders from the Deep South keeps growing.

The pattern is repeated elsewhere, including in the North Island, where Hamilton Bishop the Most Rev Steve Lowe also remains tight-lipped.

The Catholic Church still seems reluctant to address a massive issue that is severely damaging the church.

For men like Paul Klemick, abused as a young pupil by a Catholic teacher at St Paul’s High School, what happened is not historic.

It remains an everyday reality  and as painful as it was when they were innocent children.

But as they speak, one word keeps coming up.

Justice.

Men like Paul Klemick want their experiences acknowledged and they want compensation.

But, most of all, they want the Catholic Church to answer for what happened.

Which is exactly why the Catholic Church, and churches of all stripes, need to be part of the Government’s pending Royal Commission into historic abuse.

But the Government is moving slowly on the Royal Commission: Cabinet yet to hear abuse inquiry proposal

Three months after receiving a report on its proposed terms of reference, Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin is yet to complete the next step in the Royal Commission of Inquiry into abuse in state care.

Martin, alongside Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, announced the inquiry as the “final commitment” of the coalition Government’s 100 day plan at the beginning of February. At the time, the stated time-frame for it to begin to consider evidence was mid-to-late 2018.

However, in a letter addressed to law firm Cooper Legal – which represents more than 900 people with claims of abuse under state care – Martin reveals she is yet to finalise her proposal to Cabinet on the inquiry. The proposal is supposed to take into account Commission chair Sir Anand Satyanand’s report on public submissions about the draft terms of reference. While Satyanand submitted his report on May 30, Martin is yet to follow this up with a proposal to Cabinet.

Before the inquiry can proceed to evidential stage, Cabinet must decide on its final terms of reference, additional commission members, and budget. That decision-making process is due to begin once Martin makes her formal proposal on the inquiry to Cabinet.

In the meantime, the many victims continue to suffer.

 

 

 

Whales play off Dunedin coast

For the first time I saw whales off the coast of Dunedin yesterday (actually 6 km south of Brighton). It was a southern right whale mother and her calf, the mother just floating barely visible most of the time, but the calf spent some time jumping and breaching. They were not far offshore, just beyond the very tame waves.  We watched for maybe half and hour, a thrilling experience.

It is probably the same whales that came right into Otago harbour last weekend – ODT: Whale calf probably born off the NZ coast

The southern right whale calf seen in Otago Harbour was probably born off the New Zealand coast, a rare occurrence researchers hope will become increasingly common.

A mother and calf thrilled locals and tourists at the weekend as they swam near Aramoana and Deborah Bay, among other locations.

I missed that, but yesterday, having not long got home from a walk at the beach just north of Brighton, saw on Facebook that there was a sighting of probably the same whales between Brighton and Taieri Mouth. So we went for a drive. With the help of updates on Facebook we found a bunch of parked cars and people peering seaward. So I found a place to park and found a good possie – the road runs close to the coast for kilometres there. This was mid-afternoon Saturday (11 August 2018).

Timing was good – just as I got to as small cliff edge the whale calf started to jump. It had a good play for about ten or fifteen minutes, not far offshore just outside some benign breakers. It’s mother was just floating around, sometimes submerged, sometimes rising enough to blow and breathe.

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Photo – Megan Douglas

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Photo – Craig Latimer

After a while the calf calmed down and floated around with it’s mother, which occasionally waved a flipper.

It was really nice to experience them so close to land, probably oblivious to perhaps 50-100 people dotted along the coast watching with amazement and joy.

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Photos from the Dunedin News and Saddle Hill Community Board’s Facebook pages (I took some video on my phone but it isn’t good enough to show).

ODT:

There were three or four notable sightings of calves being born ”haphazardly” around the coast of New Zealand in the past decade.

It was likely the calf was born off the coast of New Zealand as the animals had an ”off-shore, on-shore” migration rather than the north to south movements of some other whales, such as humpbacks.

Pre-whaling numbers of southern right whales were estimated to be 27,000, but were reduced to a low of less than 100 whales in 1925.

A 2013 estimate was about 2200.

This is the first time I’ve seen whales in Dunedin. I’ve done the whale watch twice at Kaikoura, the second time a few months before the earthquakes there.

The Kaikoura experiences were certainly worthwhile. As as well as seeing a couple of humpbacks floating for a few minutes (actually a small par of their back, and blowing occasionally) before flipping their tail and diving, there was a bonus of seeing a heap of dolphins close up. The down side was feeling quite queasy afterwards.

But my whale experience yesterday was better. It wasn’t quite as close up, but it was from the stability of shore. And it was for quite a bit longer, with the calf putting on a great show for 10-15 minutes.

It’s good to see sea mammals returning after being close to wiped out 200 years ago. Seal numbers have increased markedly over the last thirty years, a population of sea lions have established themselves around Otago Peninusula over the past few years are are easy to view – try Allens Beach and especially Victory Beach (quite a long walk). It depends on the time of year and they aren’t always there.

And it is easy to see penguins (blue as well as yellow eyed) around Dunedin as well as north and south – my best yellow eyed penguin experience is at Moeraki lighhouse, but I last saw one in June at Curio Bay in the far south (Catlins).

But it is especially good to see whales so close to shore.

Published on Aug 11, 2018

This is a ‘baby’ Southern White whale breaching several times off the Otago coast of NZ. It is not a ‘video’ but a collage of photos I took.

Road work machinery a century ago

Every week the Dunedin City Council post a bunch of old photos. They provide an interesting window into out past.

Today the focus was on road works about a century ago.

In my living memory heavy fossil fueled machinery has been almost exclusively used, but in the 1920s horse power, steam power and man power were still in common.

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The Public Works Department road gang, working on a hairpin bend at Saddle Hill,
c1928, Taieri County Council Collection.

Steam powered traction engines with rollers on the front.

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Workers with a concrete mixer on lower High Street,
undertaking work for lower Rattray Street development in the 1920s.

Most concrete is trucked in now – I don’t know how long mixer trucks have been used.

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Dunedin Drainage and Sewerage Board ‘Bear Cat’ excavating machine and work horses, c1920.

While petrol (and diesel) engines were introduced about the start of the 1900s horses were still used a lot well into the middle of last century.

I remember in the mid 1960s stopping on the way from Queenstown to Cromwell to watch the use of horses doing hay making on Chard Farm across the Kawarau River (it is now a winery, just on the Queenstown side of Gibbston).

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Workers at recently reclaimed Lake Logan laying pipe as part of
preparations for construction of the 1925 NZ and South Seas Exhibition.

The above view is looking towards what is now Otago Polytechnic.

Lake Logan became Logan Park after the exhibition and is now a sports ground, including the University Oval crick ground, the Caledonian athletics ground, and closer to the harbour is Forsyth Barr Stadium.

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A labourer breaking rock for work on George Street, December 1928.

Manpower is still obviously being used now, but not breaking rocks.

Cycleways, and more interference from Wellington

What?

I have no idea why traffic lights are being controlled from Wellington. Dunedin mayor Dave Cull, who also heads Local Government New Zealand, has been trying to promote Bringing government back to the people – LGNZ and The New Zealand Initiative start Project Localism.

The increasing number of cycleways and traffic disruption in Dunedin, and a dwindling number of car parks, are not particularly  popular in Dunedin.

The cycleways themselves are not particularly popular either.  From my observations some seem to be rarely used, and others seem to be used only occasionally, although cyclist numbers do seem to have increased a little (from hardly any to bugger all).

Traffic jams being ‘controlled’ from Wellington are also going to be unpopular.

Otago regional rates to rise 21%, then 23%

This is a bit of a shock – ORC plan adopted, rates to rise 21.1%

A 21% rates rise is on the cards as the Otago Regional Council finalises its long-term plan.

But wait, there’s more.

General regional council rates will rise 21.1% in the next financial year and are predicted to rise another 22.8% the year after.

Targeted rates will rise 5.4% in the next financial year and 5.7% the following year.

That means that rates of say $200 now would rise to $330 over four years.

The plan includes about $650 million in spending over the next 10 years and tackles new projects such as increased water monitoring, urban water quality initiatives and better preparing the region for climate change.

The cost of going green?

Also in the ODT today: Plans for $200m hotel complex

That’s plans for a hotel in Queenstown. Probably instead of a proposed hotel inn Dunedin, which once again faced vocal opposition and planning approval difficulties.

The man behind a so far unsuccessful bid for a five-star hotel in Dunedin’s Moray Pl has moved his attention to Queenstown.

An Environment Court appeal over his Dunedin five-star hotel planned for a site across the road from the Dunedin Town Hall was withdrawn last month, but he indicated at the time he was not giving up on the project.

Sounds like he has given up on Dunedin, like developers before him.

 

7.84% rates rise “a normal part of the cycle”

Saying that a 7.84% rates rise will be “in the lower quartile” won’t mean anything to ratepayers who face increases of $200-400. I am horrified by this level of increase – and it sounds like it is what much of the country should be expecting.

ODT: DCC approves second highest rates increase since 1989

The Dunedin City Council has backed a higher-than-expected rates rise of 7.84%, after agreeing to a series of last-minute funding boosts yesterday.

Plus:

The council has also signed off on a 4% increase in most fees and charges.

The waffle:

But Mayor Dave Cull insists the rates hike, like the fees and charges, are just a normal part of the cycle as cities invest in their futures.

That was within the council’s new self-imposed rates limit of 8% for the first year.

That’s about four times the rate of inflation.

Council chief executive Sue Bidrose said the city’s rates would remain in the lower quartile, while other centres across the country eyed increases of between 3% and 15%.

Lower quartile, about average, that’s tosh when trying to make excuses for an increase of about 8%.

It’s not as bad as 15%, but that’s like saying it’s not as bad getting two teeth pulled by the dentist as getting four teeth pulled.

Mr Cull said cities went through cycles of investment, leading to periods of higher rates increases, but the alternative would be worse.

Those cities that kept rates artificially low by not spending in the short term were eventually forced to catch up, leading to ”massive rates increases” later, he said.

”They pay the price in the end. The idea is to try to keep it smooth, but every now and then you have got to invest,” he said.

More nonsense. I think that rates have been rising ahead of inflation for yonks.

This is budget day news. I don’t expect to get any joy from the Government today either, but the budget shouldn’t be this bad.

Largest health building project ever

The Government announced plans today that confirmed the largest health building project ever in New Zealand, a new regional and teaching hospital in Dunedin.

Building will begin ‘before the next election’, it will employ 1000 workers at it’s peak, and is set to be completed by 2026.

Importantly it will be built in downtown Dunedin, on separate land to the existing hospital buildings, ensuring minimal disruption during construction.

The now closed Cadbury chocolate factory site will be used, as well as another whole block. A down side for some will be the closure of the Cadbury World tourist attraction.

ODT has maps and details – Dunedin Hospital announcement: What you need to know

This is big news as well as very good news for Dunedin.

Dunedin’s WW2 defences

I wrote last week in an ANZAC Day post that there were armed sentries protecting the remote Fiordland power station at Monowai during World War 2. Defences were established all over the country, and the Dunedin City Council has posted archived photos and information that shows the extent of these were not just the gun emplacements and and radio station on Otago Peninsula.

DCC: World War Two – #FBF

World War II affected the average Dunedin citizen more intimately than other wars, with shortages and blackouts, especially after the entry of Japan. Slit trenches appeared in various parts of the city, as well as concrete pipe shelters in the parks. Air raid shelters were built in many buildings across the city.

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Air raid trench shelters and pipe shelters, upper Octagon, 1942.

It’s hard to see those trenches as being effective from an air raid, but it should be remembered that Pearl Harbour was attacked in December 1941 and Darwin in northern Australia was attacked by air on 19 February 1942  so concerns in New Zealand were understandable.

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The Emergency Precautions Scheme (EPS) was set up by the government in 1935 to coordinate a national response to natural disasters or enemy attacks. EPS began as an early version of Civil Defence but during World War II it shifted its focus to air raids, fires, and poison-gas attacks, as well as earthquakes.

Preparations included flour bombing exercises and blackout practices – A new experience for the city’s residents. During the war, nearly all civilian New Zealanders were involved in the EPS to some extent. Thousands of civilians prepared against attack, built trenches and shelters, planned evacuations and protection of school children, fire watched and policed the blackout.

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Queens Gardens air raid trench shelters and pipe shelters, 1942.

In late January 1942, enrollment in the Emergency Defence Corps (which included the EPS and Home Guard) was compulsory for all able-bodied men aged 18 to 65 who were not in the armed forces. There was some overlap between EPS and Home Guard, and men could be part of both. Women were asked to volunteer for the EPS, and once enrolled could not resign at will.

Some information courtesy of Te Papa, for more from Te Papa go to their EPS collections https://bit.ly/2JueIug #FBF

Otago coastal fortifications in WW2 (from Coastal fortifications of New Zealand)

  • Rerawahine, Otago Peninsula – 2x6in Mk 7 guns
  • Tomahawk, Dunedin – 2x6in Mk 7 guns
  • Harington Point, Otago Harbour – 2xTwin 6pdr guns, 2x6pdr H&N
  • Cape Wanbrow, Oamaru – 5in Mk 7 gun (USA)
  • Bluff – 6in Mk 7 gun

It’s hard to imagine all this from a safe and lucky post-war generation, but the gun emplacements can still be seen:

Tomahawk Battery

Constructed in 1942 and the installation of two 6-inch Mk-VII guns was completed in September 1942. The Tomahawk Battery was camouflaged to look like a beach house and shed.

Harington Point Gun Emplacements

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Rerewahine Battery

Rerewahine Battery gun emplacement

Photo of one of the gun emplacements during a shoot, circa 1943

I know someone who worked there as a radio operator. She is now in her nineties.

I don’t know if the Armstrong Disappearing Gun at Taiaroa Head was commissioned for WW2, it was installed at the time of a Russian scare in the 1880s, and is still in place and functional.

60% rates rise proposed

It’s not uncommon for mayors and councils to play down rates rises. Like this:

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Gwynn Compton:  Spin cycle shrinks rates as well as clothes

But for Wellington City Council, an attempt to spin the merits of reducing a potential 7.1% rates rise down to 3.9% has ended up with an announcement that they’re reducing rates down to 3.9%, which would be a 96.1% cut!

In this case, the words “rise” or “increase” appear to have been omitted from the article.

In contrast, in the ODT today:  Rates must rise to maintain momentum, mayor says

Dunedin faces a 7.3% rates rise as the Dunedin City Council eyes a decade of increased investment, but Mayor Dave Cull says it is essential for the city to keep riding a wave of activity.

Mr Cull was commenting before today’s start of public consultation on the council’s latest 10-year plan, which outlined proposed spending for the decade to 2028.

However that is a bit misleading too – the 7.3% rise is proposed for the first of ten years. More detail:

Rates would rise by 7.3% in the 2018-19 year,
by 5% the following year,
and by 4.5% each year
until 2027 when the increases would drop to 4%.

That amounts to about 60% over ten years.

Modest rates of $2000 would rise to $3190 after ten years.

2018   2,000.00
2019 7.3%   2,146.00
2020 5.0%   2,253.30
2021 4.5%   2,354.70
2022 4.5%   2,460.66
2023 4.5%   2,571.39
2024 4.5%   2,687.10
2025 4.5%   2,808.02
2026 4.5%   2,934.38
2027 4.5%   3,066.43
2028 4.0%   3,189.09

And that is without any knowledge of future inflation, which would presumably add to the increases.

The council had come out of a period of austerity, during which rates increases were limited to 3% and spending was cut, as the focus shifted to driving core council debt down below $230 million.

Rates had still risen faster than inflation over the last ten years.

At the same time, core council debt – excluding companies – was forecast to climb from just over $200 million now to $285 million by 2028.

So debt is forecast to rise despite the large rates rises.

Not helping, from ODT at the same time: Tender troubles mean more delays for cycleway

Dunedin City Council staff have voiced frustration after a call for tenders to complete an Otago Peninsula safety improvement and shared pathway project came in $20 million over an already-inflated budget.

The council last year announced a revised budget to complete the project alongside Portobello Rd and Harington Point Rd, which rose from an estimated $20 million to $49 million.

This is not the first ‘shared pathway project’ (cycleway) where the costs have blown out.

So even with large rates rises there must be little confidence that the ‘increased investment’ wouldn’t increase substantially more.

This was Mayor Cull’s pledge last election:

In the six years I have led our Dunedin City Council we have reduced rate increases.

That’s much like the Wellington example above – rates increases were ‘reduced’ to above inflation.

I wonder how what he will pledge if he stands again in next year’s local body election.