What makes a com­mu­nity?

The Northland Age - - Opinion -

In re­sponse to David Fisher’s ar­ti­cle on the des­o­la­tion of Kaikohe (NZ Her­ald De­cem­ber 21).

In my time in Kaikohe we had a daily flight ser­vice to Auck­land. We had a daily rail car ser­vice to Whangarei and back. We had a gov­ern­ment For­est Ser­vice with nurs­eries and plan­ta­tion man­age­ment.

We had our own town milk sup­ply farm and de­liv­ery ser­vice. We had a Maori Af­fairs farm man­age­ment de­part­ment that guided small Maori farms and tribal sta­tions. We had a tim­ber pro­ces­sor and a treat­ment plant. We had an ex­port port at Opua. We had gov­ern­ment en­cour­ag­ing farm set­tle­ment, banks vis­it­ing dis­cus­sion groups to bor­row more money — bor­row more, pro­duce more.

Along came Roger­nomics. Ex­change rate mis­han­dled to dis­ad­van­tage ex­porters and proven fer­tiliser sub­si­dies can­celled. Newly de­vel­oped land re­verted. In­ter­est rates up to 22 per cent. The newly set­tled farm­ers wiped out. The only way out was to give to forestry.

Lo­cal ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties’ num­bers dwin­dled. A lot of land that went into trees should have stayed in tra­di­tional farm­ing. Amal­ga­ma­tion of small dairy com­pa­nies took out a lot of small sup­pli­ers, in­clud­ing Kaikohe’s town milk sup­ply. Farm ma­chin­ery out­lets dis­ap­peared.

Then Preb­ble took out the rail from Otiria to Okai­hau, putting more heavy traf­fic on our North­land roads. John Carter, 24 years as our MP for the north­ern re­gion; it has all hap­pened on his watch. Now mayor of six amal­ga­mated lo­cal bod­ies, claim­ing some­thing should have been done 20 years ago, and North­land’s MP Matt King echoes Carter’s call for change. As I see it Jones and Peters have started the change.

The gov­ern­ment of the day put the prison at Ngawha. The Kaikohe com­mu­nity did not want it here, and the prison was built on a geo­ther­mal plain which is un­sta­ble. Con­tin­u­ing costs of up­grad­ing the fa­cil­ity should be ex­posed.

Ev­ery prison has its in­mates’ fol­low­ers. Their ac­cess to al­co­hol and drugs feeds the un­der­belly that leads to crime, and it’s in ev­ery com­mu­nity, Crime sta­tis­tics should be com­pared with Kerik­eri and Kaitaia, not Kaikohe on its own.

Kaikohe is a good ser­vice town for farm­ers, hor­ti­cul­tur­ists, forestry con­trac­tors, ma­chin­ery ser­vic­ing. That’s jobs.

When a busi­ness wants to start up it should be helped by the coun­cil bu­reau­cracy, not hin­dered by staff mem­bers, and should of­fer help with no ex­tra loaded costs that stop the ini­tia­tive.

The Auck­land port com­pany bought 49 per cent of the North­land port com­pany. The present gov­ern­ment is want­ing to ex­tend the rail link to Marsden Point. Jones and Peters have the in­sight to see where the coun­try’s short­changed pro­duc­tive bases are — Gis­borne and North­land.

Auck­land shows greed by op­pos­ing the new rail link. Their port is over-de­vel­oped and a choked road­ing sys­tem adds ex­tra costs for those at the re­ceiv­ing end.

I could speak about the gov­ern­ment dams at Wairoa Rd and Sandys Rd, which helped Waipapa and Kerik­eri land use de­vel­op­ment. Lake Omapere is an­other is­sue not re­solved.

We could have had a slaugh­ter­house, an an­i­mal and bird pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity, but the big boys stopped the ini­tia­tive.

The Kaikohe wa­ter sup­ply is a con­cern, es­pe­cially in a dry sum­mer, as the wa­ter and sew­er­age are con­nected to the prison and out­ly­ing nat­u­ral spring users are at risk.

Kaikohe is a friendly place — smile, shake hands or rub noses. We are a happy com­mu­nity, The so­cial prob­lems are no dif­fer­ent to other ru­ral towns, in my view. I am happy to be liv­ing in Kaikohe. JOHN COLE­MAN

RD1 Kaikohe

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