Murdering Mavis

Mavis Yarall was murdered by the Auckland City Council.




She always had a kind word to share, and her positive approach to life lifted everyone up.

The businessmen who run councils only had tales of woe about their falling profits during the depression. Mavis remembered the depression as a time of joyous friendships and a strong community. The fish were plentiful, the beach frontage of Karaka Bay was planted in potato and kumara, and everyone had lettuce and tomatoes in their garden.

Mavis was a cantankerous but genial neighbour.

Mavis loved her garden and it was everything to her. To others it might have seemed to be something of a wilderness, but she knew every plant and she loved them all. Throughout the garden she had seats so she could smell the sweet scents and take in the ambience of a natural world full of wonder and life. A series of stopping points made it easier for her to get both down and up the hill when she took her daily walk along Karaka Bay.

She embraced life and was happy to embrace death if need be in this world she had made for herself. Then the Council came along.

They decided that her house might collapse into the sea, which of course it never did.

As Doug Armstrong said Councils almost always manage to get it wrong. The Council condemned her house and forced her out. She pleaded to be allowed to stay. She could accept that if she was to die as a result of the house sliding down the hill she would be where she wanted to be, among all her beloved flowers.

The Council forced Mavis out of the house and garden she loved and she died of a broken heart.

Twenty years later the house remains, solid as a rock. It is empty and neglected. The flower garden has gone to weeds because it needed her love and devotion to keep it smiling.

We launched Mavis’ ashes out into Karaka Bay and the bamboo raft was consumed by fire. Not one of the Councillors or Council staff who had murdered her came to her funeral. Perhaps they were too busy sending out rate notices.