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Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

Revenge and counter-attack Print E-mail

No one who lives at Karaka Bay needs to read fiction. The real thing is just so much more interesting.



Tony Watkins, Karaka Bay

30 March 2009

Grant Muir
Private Bag 92516
Wellesley Street
Auckland 1141


My apologies for the delay getting back to you. I have been really sick. It was difficult to know what was wrong with me until all the grass began dying at my entrance and I realised that your team had sprayed my only access to my property with toxic chemicals. Some time ago I had the same experience. I was very sick and could not work out why. Then all the grass around my entrance began dying and I realised I was having a severe allergic reaction to your toxic spray. As nowhere else in the Bay seemed to have been sprayed I had to conclude it was a vindictive act on your part. If it happens a third time I will be left with little alternative other than to sue the Council for attempted murder. You ought to know your way through the Local Government Act and there is absolutely no way that any judge could conclude that your actions have complied with Part 2, Subpart 1, Section 10 (b).

In response to your letter if I had to find one word to describe you it would have to be incorrigible.

I had been anticipating that you would send us all a letter of apology.

The last time you came down to Karaka Bay and dug out all the frontage, including valuable archaeological remains such as the Maori middens which dated back to before the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the last great cannibal feast here when the Ngapuhi were eaten on the beach, the result was, as we tried to explain to you it would be, massive erosion.

The next storm took advantage of all the ecological disaster you had instigated and the resulting damage freaked out neighbours such as Rae, Peter, Christine and others. Their resulting complaints to Council have resulted in consultants being called in to see what could be done to overcome the damage you caused.

At least the consultants were up-front. They explained that if they stated that you had caused the erosion they would never get another consulting job, and that they needed the work in these tough times. It seems that your skin has been saved by a lack of ethics and the global economic melt-down, so you have nothing to worry about.

However after all this we might reasonably have expected a letter of apology from you for the damage you caused not only in ecological terms, but also to the community. If I was you I would have been too embarrassed to show my face again at Karaka Bay. You left behind not only a botched-up job but also hatred, resentment and ill-feeling.

I guess that we have to concede that communication is not exactly the strong point of Council.

We used to have wonderful nasturtiums beside the path down the hill. Everyone loved walking past them when each leaf held a sparkling globule of delight. I say everyone but there must have been one exception who complained to Council. As usual the Council never revealed who complained or what they complained about, and never heard the voice of those who loved the place. Presumably one mean, selfish, inconsiderate, ignorant person found instant favour with the Council. I guess there was a common language of understanding. So the Council ripped out all the nasturtiums and sent everyone an increased rate notice to pay for their stupidity.

Of course the weeds then grew so someone complained to Council about the weeds. So the Council brought down rolls of black polythene to cover up the ground to prevent the weeds or anything else from growing, and they sent everyone an increased rate notice to pay for their stupidity.

Of course it was so ugly that someone complained to Council about the polythene. So the Council decided terribly fashionable native grass was the latest landscape fashion. They planted lots of grass and sent everyone an increased rate notice to pay for being trendy.

Of course it was not long before someone complained about the grass needing to be cut so the weed-eating team knocked the fashion for a six and flattened it. Everyone was sent an increased rate notice to pay for cutting the grass.

People who hate nature hate with a vengeance so they then complained to Council that there were still living plants to be found at Karaka Bay. The toxic spray team arrived to spray what was left of the very expensive native grasses. The Council of course sent everyone an increased rate notice to pay for spraying toxic chemicals everywhere. The dead plants now serve as a reminder of the urgent need to address climate change.

I would love to think the saga is over, but I fear it is only getting started. Every complaint results in an ever more stupid response and a negative spiral of this type has no natural limits provided only that ratepayers keep paying the bills.

I suspect the Council does all this to distract attention away from what it ought to be doing. For example it is now 56 years since Tibor Donner, the celebrated Council architect, erected the memorial fountain at Karaka Bay. Twenty years later it had been vandalised and we have now been waiting thirty-three years for the Council to carry out the necessary repairs. It may not happen in my lifetime, but it would be encouraging to know the Council was doing something for our heritage other than knocking down the Edmiston wing.

The latest brainless proposal of Council is to put a boat ramp in the middle of St. Heliers Bay. In the first week of their planning education students do not seem to have difficulty understanding that you cannot mix swimmers and water-skiers without inviting tragedy, So you put swimmers up one end of a beach and water-skiers up the other end. I presume your inspectors came from Dargaville and had a look for a few minutes on some wet day when there were no swimmers, or boats, or para-surfers, or other beach users, but even then I would have thought they could not get it so wrong. What was that Community Committee you mentioned doing? Do you seriously expect me to waste my life making submissions and going along to a hearing? There is something seriously wrong with Council processes.

Frank Brough was right in assuming that Council should not be regarded with rancour, but rather with pity, disdain and contempt.

I would have thought in the middle of all this the fact that Animal Control finally came down to Karaka Bay and fined Murray and Chrissie Jameison for breaking the law should have generated nothing more than laughter.

But no. They not only continued to openly flout the law but also launched a vindictive revenge attack against Joan.

The correct course of action would have been to send Animal Control back to fine them for a second time. Perhaps you could also have suggested they get a decent dog like a cocker spaniel rather than some stupid fashion accessory.

But no. You decide that you will crucify Joan and all the rest of us. We need seats because there is so much dog shit on the grass that it is a health risk to not use a seat. We are dealing with our problems without blaming anyone else. We are getting on with life.

It is some time now since Murray and Chrissie Jamieson completely blocked off the public access past their house at Karaka Bay. “Cluttered” is the word you use but anyone with English skills would consider this to be a euphemism.

When you came down to Karaka Bay last time you took away all the rubbish the Jamiesons had strewn over the beach but failed to open up the access which is what was really needed. They are the people who are blocking public access, and they end up with you supporting them.

In these tough economic times when everyone else is cutting back it comes as no surprise to discover that the Council is looking for new things to do to spend ratepayers money on but my suggestion would be that you stay out of the local fights and let the miserable complainers get on with their miserable lives. The rest of us like living down here, and we like Joan, and we like all the things she does, and we like the wonderful way she looks after her frontage.

Just go away.

Thank you for telling me I had been inspected. When you have people who are so gutless that they cannot even identify themselves, smile, say hello, or perhaps leave a visiting card it is bit hard to see what they might have misunderstood. Did they comment that the Council sign is historically incorrect? Did they know enough history to be able to comment? Were they arrogant or just ignorant? Could they not see how foolish the Council looks by not even knowing their own whakapapa? I imagine they were people who had never been to Karaka Bay before, would never come again and had absolutely no qualifications to deal with cultural or ecological questions.

We do however need a Council picnic table on the patch of grass in front of the Jamieson’s and it needs a big sign on it to explain that this a public space and that the table is for the public to use. The Jamiesons have privatised the beach in front of their illegal (what Coastal Protection Zone?) house and it needs to be reclaimed for public use. A few raucous drunken parties up that end of the beach would help to liven everything up, and they could complain about something other than Joan and the rest of us.

On a more serious note I would be pleased to learn when you are going to restore the Karaka Bay cockle beds. This work is urgent and critical, as I presume your wise and astute inspectors would have immediately observed.

A bit of positive energy around the place would be helpful too. Why should the negative people run the city?

Yours very unfaithfully,



Tony Watkins, Karaka Bay

2 April 2009

Grant Muir
Private Bag 92516
Wellesley Street
Auckland 1141


Further to my previous letter I should have pointed out that you are playing a deadly game, lest you think I only need to be humoured.

Unfortunately I was away at the time so that my interpretation of the following events may not be entirely accurate, but it will be near enough.

Recently the two people who spend so much time complaining to you, Chrissie and Rae, watched through their binoculars while a man drowned off Karaka Bay and apparently did nothing to help save the poor man’s life. Because they get you do everything for them they had forgotten how to take community action themselves.

Another resident also accustomed to ringing up Council about problems raced for the telephone to get help. Help did arrive, but by then of course the man was dead, so all the outsiders had to do was pick up the dead body and put out a media release to say what a good job they had done.

Over the years we have rescued more people and more boats off Karaka Bay than I care to remember. Often in really foul conditions, but only people involved in search and rescue know that it is usually like that. Good weather is for the inspectors. My recollection is that we have never lost a life. There is nothing newsworthy in saving a life of course, and afterwards we all had to dash off to something else anyway because the people who save lives are also the people who get involved in every other community activity. Joan is one of those people.

In all the time Chrissie has lived at Karaka Bay I cannot recollect a single thing she has ever done for the community. She is driven by pure selfishness. She blocked off the public path in front of her house because she wanted to privatise the space and make it her own. She does not have an ounce of generosity or tolerance in her body. I can accept that. Some people are just going to be selfish, mean, bitter and twisted.

What I cannot accept is the part you play in their deadly game.

You respond to every phone call and every complaint. You create a culture which finally results in people drowning. You expect the rest of us to pay rates so you can have fun doing it.

In my opinion you might do much better to support the people who do not spend their lives complaining. Joan gives her life to support just about everyone. To those who thank her, and to those who never do. If the Council is so smart it is about time you gave her a “good citizen” award.

Instead of wasting their time inspecting what they do not see your “friends” might do better to bring down a bottle of wine or two. Through this they might find out more about how the place ticks than by just using their own dull, tired eyes.

I hold the Council partly responsible for that death. If you, and your fancy Community Board, carry on the way they have been, there will be many more deaths to come.

You expect us to play Chrissie’s game. Someone who has spent their life working as an abortionist killing children will tell you at every Council hearing about the deep concern they have for children, and how their actions are not driven by selfishness, but rather by a pure love of children. People who know what is going on sit at these endless hearings and wonder why the lawyers cannot see through the lies. Amusing, I suppose, if you have nothing else to do with your life.

Get a life.

Set up a culture which will save lives. Support the people who seek to bring life to everyone.

I know it is hard. I know it takes guts. I know you will get abused. If you find it is all getting you down all you need to do is to come down and share a bottle of Karaka Bay wine and a yarn or two. I can tell you which houses will make you welcome, and give you the support you need, but I am sure you already know that.

I perhaps should say that Chrissie was very upset by the experience of watching somebody drown, but I presumed you would know that. For myself I have never watched through binoculars while somebody died so I have no idea as to what it must feel like. I have the same trouble trying to understand Council. What you see through your binoculars is a complete mystery to me.

Your affectionate ratepayer,



Tony Watkins, Karaka Bay

6 April 2009

Grant Muir, Auckland City Council

Great news. Colin Davis has agreed that all the private paving in front of Chrissie’s house should be ripped up and also that a path should be opened up so that the public can once again walk past her house to the end of the beach.

It is some years now since Chrissie blocked off the public access past her house and it will make a tremendous difference for the public to no longer be excluded from walking along to the end of the beach and the old paths up the hill.

I gather that Colin and the Community Committee now simply request you to carry out this work. It would be great if you could have it completed this week along with the residents’ inorganic collection you have so generously organised.

It also turned out that your remarks about “inspection” were ill-founded. Helen Wallace was very upset that you should have suggested she should act as a policewoman and inspect the beach, or indeed be friendly enough to say hello to any members of the public she should meet. She said she had agreed only to have a cup of tea with Joan Chapple on Friday. She did not want to be seen as a policewoman. This lets you off the hook, as obviously everything you said in your letter about your actions following from an inspection was incorrect.

With a total lack of communication within Council, and a complete failure by the about-to-be-defunct Auckland City Council to comply with the Local Government Act, it is hard to know how any ratepayer might sort out what is going on. It becomes even more difficult when your KGB Council is not willing to disclose who is doing what or why. However all is well that ends well. By internalising the feed-back loop so that Chrissie complains and you then rip up her frontage it means that the rest of us can get on with life without getting involved.

There was a great community celebration with an illegal bonfire on the beach on Thursday night and everyone came except Chrissie and Rae. All the kids toasted marshmallows, and all the illegal dogs, except Poppy, chased each other. A brilliant night, a great moon and everyone had lots of fun. Karaka Bay is a very special place. It has so much to teach the Council.

Now plans are under way to have a noisy, drunken party on the lawn in front of Chrissie’s so that she will get a feeling for what it is like to get up in the morning and find that everything out on the beach has been trashed during the night.

When a husband and wife are arguing it can be very unwise to intervene. They will suddenly team up and go for the person who was only trying to be helpful. It can be the same with small communities. A wise person stays out of the local scraps.

Hopefully everyone has learnt something about human relationships from this whole debacle.

The person who pays your salary.


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