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Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

Damn lies Print E-mail

ImageWhen someone feels the need to lie you need to ask what they are trying to cover up and why. Glyn Jones, Media Manager for the Auckland City Council, fed a litany of lies about Karaka Bay, rather than just a single lie, to the media. Indeed everything he said was a lie.



 Lie 1. Council proposes to undertake erosion protection works at the south end of Karaka Bay (similar to work successfully undertaken at the north end in 1995) to be completed before the end of the current financial year.

 Fact Coastal experts agree that the proposed work will cause erosion rather than preventing it. The work at the northern end of Karaka Bay cannot be called successful. The wave energy bouncing off the hard surface of the gabion walling is causing erosion of the adjacent soft landscape. More importantly this gabion walling needs to be seen as a temporary stop-gap measure, protecting private property values only until the natural balance of the ecosystem has been re-established. Sadly nothing has been done about the health of the beach, and the ACC takes the attitude that this is someone else’s concern. In nature everything is interconnected. With a life span of around twenty years it will not be long before the existing gabion walling will have disintegrated to leave a hopeless mess at Karaka Bay. The shambles where the gabion walling is disintegrating at the base of the Barfoot slip indicates what Karaka Bay will soon be like. Putting on bandages to hide a festering wound may make the wound look better, but the bandages do nothing to help the wound heal. What we need at Karaka Bay are a few doctors who understand the healing process, and are concerned about the health of our natural ecosystems.
 Lie 2. ARC has been consulted about these works, and  it consider s  the works to be outside of the Coastal Management Area, and therefore a coastal permit is not required.

 Fact The ARC is opposed to the proposed works. This is why no application was made for a coastal Resource Consent. The ARC does not agree that the works are outside the Coastal Management Area. The proposed works extend some two metres below MHWS. Haggling over a legal line does however seem rather stupid. It is rather like letting a patient die while emergency staff haggle about who should take them to hospital. We have been through all this many times at Karaka Bay, most notably when a dead cow washed up on the beach. Suddenly no one wanted to take responsibility for the cow. In the finish a few practical locals lit a bonfire and immolated it. The attitude taken by the ACC is the reason why it seems likely that the planet will collapse and the human race will destroy itself. Our only chance is to display some common sense, and that seems to be in short supply in relation to the proposed works.
 Lie 3 The works are designed to protect the bank edge at south end of Karaka Bay, and also to protect the sewage pump station, which now due to coastal erosion is just one metre from the bank edge (SEE ATTACHED PHOTO)

 Fact The wet well of the pump station sinks some three metres into the ground. Metrowater agrees that it is not at risk. This is all just a red herring. The real issue is that the massive erosion adjacent to the pump station is caused by the ACC. Taking away the cause of the erosion would solve this problem. A change of attitude is needed. The real dilemma is that the ACC is not willing to take responsibility for the environmental damage it is causing.
 Lie 4 Failure of the pump station has the potential to cause raw sewage to discharge to the bay, and loss of sewer infrastructure to Karaka Bay properties.

 Fact The pump station is no risk of failure. Only one resident took any action to stop raw sewage flowing into Karaka Bay, without a word of support or even a message of thanks from any of the other residents. That one person who is concerned about raw sewage is opposed to the proposed works.
 Lie 5 Residents have regularly raised concerns about the rate of erosion and retreat of the bank edge along the southern end of the bay.

 Fact Two neurotic people do not constitute a movement. If you dump all the clay from your excavations all over the beach it is a little precious to argue that you love the beach or are concerned about its future. It is the people who have not raised their concerns about this kind of despicable behaviour who ought to be listened to. The biggest problem with the ACC is that it is complaint driven. Lots of people do not want to waste their lives complaining.
 Lie 6 Contract value of the works is $65,000.

 Fact The contract involves excavating a stable ecosystem. Once this has begun the ongoing costs will be enormous. It is like the leaky homes syndrome. We all knew those buildings were going to rot and fall apart, but they were cheap to build. The fools who thought they were getting a bargain eventually discovered they were actually buying a problem. When will we ever learn?
 Lie 7 The proposal is to install gently sloping reno gabion baskets to dissipate storm wave energy, with hydro seeding for a hardy grass covering. The existing contours will be followed as much as possible to minimise the appearance of intervention and maintain the amenity values of the bay.

 Fact Anyone wanting to go for a swim will need to walk across four metres of sharp rock and tangled wire. This reality was recognized at the northern end of Karaka Bay when Doug Armstrong had a boat ramp built for himself so he could get to the beach. The proposed works have no provision for access for anyone wanting to go for a swim. Gabion baskets do not dissipate storm wave energy. They concentrate it. Anyone who does not believe this only needs to look at the coastline adjacent to the Barfoot slip. It is being destroyed. If the grass is going to survive the storms why not just have the grass and leave out the gabion baskets. Who is kidding who? Anyone seriously interested maintaining amenity values and minimizing the appearance of intervention would take the soft-ecology approach.
 Lie 8 Stakeholder liaison carried out by the council has identified majority of residents support the works. On April 1, a Council letter informed all directly impacted residents about the proposed works. As a result, we've received faxes from eight Karaka Bay property owners supporting the proposed works.

 Fact It is just a lie to say that directly affected residents received a letter on 1 April. They did not. A quick check will reveal that all the eight faxes came from the same fax number. Fair enough. We have all written letters to the editor under an assumed name to boost the numbers, but is the ACC so stupid as to fall for this? How many beach users were consulted?
 Lie 9 Due to the increased rate of erosion last winter, there is an urgency to complete the works.

 Fact It is a myth to say that storms occur in the winter. The bronze plaque on the Routeburn commemorates the tramper who died of hypothermia at Christmas. The Wahine sank in April. How about the equinoxal gales? Garbage in garbage out is a fundamental engineering principle.
 Lie 10 Council is currently seeking Iwi endorsement for the works.

 Fact It would be helpful to know which iwi. None of the iwi with connections to Karaka Bay seem to have been consulted. Nga Mana Whenua o Tamaki Makaurau was signed at Karaka Bay while the ACC proposals were still being kept secret to avoid any opposition. In business subterfuge may be admired, but it has no place in a public body.
 Lie 11 Work is now scheduled to commence in late May.

 Fact Bulldozing through a counter-productive foolish proposal, notable mostly for a lack of consultation and a lack of honesty, seems to indicate that nothing has been learnt. Why foist a lie onto future generations?

 Fact This erosion was caused by the foolishness of two residents who did not understand the ecology of Karaka Bay. They said they could get away with it, but eventually discovered that nature always wins. The really sad thing is that they apparently learnt nothing from the fiasco. Nature is a friend. If you abuse a friend you risk losing them.

Because there was no erosion to photograph which would justify the proposed works the Council used a fifteen year old photograph from a different place. It would be hard to imagine a more convincing argument for the absurdity of the proposed works. If this is the kind of logic used in Coroner's reports it would seem that much more needs to be called into question than the lies of the Council, but that is all another issue for another time. 



Restoring the health of the cockle beds and restoring the ecological health of Karaka Bay would seem to be a better way to go. Doctors take a Hippocratic Oath to protect life. If everyone at Karaka Bay did the same then we could have a valuable discussion about keeping Karaka Bay healthy.

The world’s greatest engineers understand all this perfectly. They talk of healing the world rather than destroying it with their interventions. Ove Arup, for example, always works with nature rather than against her.


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