At the start of 2021 the New Lynn Sea Scouts became the proud owners of a brand new Welsford Houdini lugsail rigged sailing boat, thanks to the generosity of Don Sollit.
It was late 2020 when Don advertised via Trade Me for expressions of interest, offering the $20,000 boat and trailer package for the small sum of only $10 to a group, family or individual that could demonstrate a passion for both the craft and the sea. The craft had taken Don seven years to complete. In the end he decided he wanted to donate it to a worthy recipient.
Over fifty applications registering interest in the Houdini were received from throughout New Zealand. While the patrons were able to discount some of the contenders fairly quickly, there were a number at the top end of the range that made their decision-making process much harder as they worked through the merits of each. In the end it was the track record, the programme, leadership, and importantly the stewardship of the New Lynn Group that stood out from the rest.
The Houdini will complement the group’s Pathfinder yacht which they use for costal cruising - also a John Welsford designed boat. Welsford is a prolific Kiwi boat designer of cruising sailing dinghies who has a considerable international following.
The Houdini will add another offering to New Lynn’s weeknight boating programmes. While mid-week they undertake lots of different water-based activity, the opportunities for sailing are more limited due to the time it takes to rig their traditional Scout cutters. The Houdini - which could be described as an Optimist on steroids - has the advantage of being very quick to rig. Being much bigger than an Optimist (a typical learn-to-sail youth boat), the Houdini has room for 4-6 on board at once compared to the opti making it ideal for getting the group’s younger members out on the water under sail.
Andrew, one of New Lynn Scouts leaders, comments that the Houdini will add new challenges and experiences for the younger members, while the older members have an attraction to the boat’s more traditional rig. Don wanted to see the craft go to a group with ‘seawater in their veins’; for it to have a home somewhere that could offer a ‘life changing experience’ to those using the boat. Both elements tie in nicely with the ethos of scouting which focuses on the personal development of its membership via its outdoor adventure-based programme.
The New Lynn Sea Scout Group caters for boys and girls aged 5 - 19 years. So, if you want a slice of the action on the water, or to go camping and explore the awesome adventure playground that we are blest with out west, then give Andrew a ring on 027 6939 756, or check out www.newlynn.seascouts.org.nz for more details.
Houdini’s first sail: Some senior Scouts take the Houdini for its first sail at French Bay in a fresh 15-20 knot breeze, commenting on their return to shore, “Cool, this is one lively boat!”. This matches with John Welsford’s intention designing a boat with a large sail area to weight ratio. L-R Josefine, Alex, Zara (hidden), Willow, Elijah
Our People: Charles Buenconsejo
Generating a village through the practice of giving
Artist Charles Buenconsejo and his wife Grace often imagine what their life would be like if they hadn’t left their homeland in the Philippines to come to Aotearoa. He says, “We could have been like many of our family and friends who, for seven months now, have had no physical contact with loved ones.” Instead, he and Grace have been building a garden – and through that a shared community of growing – in the front yard of their small rental property in New Lynn, with the support of their landlords.
For Charles, Covid-19 is a clear signal from nature that she is not healthy or happy with our extractive and unsustainable way of life. However, paradoxically, the first lockdown gave he and Grace hope. The pause from the daily grind provided time for them to understand that their practice of gardening over the previous two and half years had prepared them for a crisis.
Looking back Charles remembers that “as seedlings disappeared from garden centres, supermarket shelves emptied and my wife Grace continued to work from home, I stood in my garden and contemplated the abundance of lettuce seedlings which had self-seeded at my feet. I had an epiphany and started to prick the lettuce seedlings out, pot them and make them available to my neighbours from a table at my front gate - along with produce, worm fertilisers and seeds.” In return he receives a lot of smiles and waves, conversations and sometimes even jars of marmalade and chicken curry.
With the support of the Whau Local Board, Charles and Grace have since established Open Homes, a community-focused creative arts and gardening project that shares food, permaculture gardening knowledge and creativity from their front yard. At the heart of the project is the philosophy of kapwa, a core value of pre-colonial Filipino society, and something which informs the generosity many Filipinos are known for. Kapwa is a practice of reciprocity which is mirrored by whanaungatanga. It is about relationships, not only with fellow human beings but with all of nature: microbes and worms, birds and bees, plants and trees, rivers, air, sun, and moon.
Their focus on kapwa emerged from their journey of learning te reo Māori and finding connections between te ao Māori and indigenous Filipino culture. Working with and learning from the gardeners at Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae, Charles realised that “as we learnt through the lens of te ao Māori, we were led back to something in ourselves that we had lost our connection with. We now understand that our garden has propagated kapwa since the first sunflower popped its head over our fence. Many people have been drawn to our sunflowers like honeybees, but during the lockdowns, they became a swarm. Our garden is a living entity with an energy of its own, emitting generosity, kindness, love and joy to its surroundings. It has not only connected us with our past, but it also connects us with our neighbours.”
Interestingly, Charles and Grace have discovered that their garden connects their neighbours with their past too. A regular visitor to the garden loves to tell stories of her father who was a great gardener, and their self-sufficient life in Hungary before she moved to Aotearoa in the 1950s. A Tuvaluan neighbour reminisces of his father growing fruit trees and veggies in their backyard, and the Samoan neighbour recalls his way of life back home and how the practice of growing and a culture of sharing through seeds and plants is still alive. An Indian neighbour has told them their garden reminds him of the way of life he left behind in Southern India. Their kiwi neighbour shares stories of the family who first inhabited their house, who filled the entire quarter acre section with fruit trees and strawberries. Walking into the future, they are discovering their past together.
The connections that the couple have forged with sunflowers and sharing have deepened over time and new connections continue to be made. Their neighbours are now opening their homes to them too. Some are even offering pieces of their backyards to grow more food for their street and bringing supplies for the garden – cardboard from work to establish no-dig garden beds, banana and taro plants from the community for planting. Many on their street contribute by bringing coffee grounds and food scraps for compost making, seedling trays and seeds for germination, and even the occasional six-pack of beer or chocolate brownie.
Encouraged by this energy Charles and Grace want their roots to go even deeper still, to welcome more people in to play. They plan to hold gardening sessions in their space, learning together by sharing knowledge as they plant, build compost, harvest, ferment, cook, and share in conviviality. Instead of having an ‘Open Home’ to sell property, they will open their home to give away free starter gardening kits with instructions, seedlings, seeds, fertiliser, produce, and other fermented products created in previous gardening sessions. They plan to run printmaking and sign making workshops. In autumn they plan to recreate the ﬁesta experience from the Philippines with the village that has formed around the project; a social gathering and celebration of generosity where people open their doors to the public and serve home-cooked food.
At the heart of all this activity is the hope the Open Homes of their village of people in New Lynn will inspire other homes to open. That it is a model that germinates in other communities, making them and theirs more connected and resilient too.
Follow Open Homes on Instagram: instagram.com/openhomesnz/
(putting seeds into packets) Whae Ruth and Ara helping us redistribute the generosity of seeds, so it'll germinate in our community’s backyards and continue the threads of reciprocity and abundance.
Captions by Charles Buenconsejo
It’s roughly estimated that there are 4.5 million mallard ducks in New Zealand. Just like the human population of NZ, sometimes it feels like they are all in Auckland. Not true of course, but with ducks and humans having close to a 1:1 population ratio in NZ, it’s easy to speculate.
What is true however, is that the mallard is New Zealand’s most numerous and widely distributed waterfowl. Since its introduction in 1867, the mallard has colonised all of New Zealand and its distant islands. It has cross-bred extensively with the native grey duck, or pārera, resulting in the grey duck now well on the way to “extinction through hybridisation”. Pure grey ducks are now considered rare.
Some people feel the large urban populations of ducks are cause for concern, both from both a health and nuisance perspective, complaining they excrete on roofs and decks, get into gardens, wander inside homes, and harass their backyard chickens. Others feel it’s their duty to feed them as though they are incapable of achieving this natural feat unaided. But as with most human interactions with wildlife, it’s the wildlife that comes off second best.
Dr Lynn Miller, General Manager of NZ Bird Rescue in Green Bay, believes that the urban duck population is artificially high, and it’s to the detriment of the ducks.
“We’ve made the problem much worse by feeding them and encouraging them to stay and live as urban ducks,” Dr Miller said. “Not only that, but many also feed them white bread which is a cheap carbohydrate filler. It’s the equivalent of a McDonalds diet on crack”, she says.
She goes on to say that studies show birds cared for in people’s backyards tend to breed earlier, have larger babies and more of them “because they’re getting this artificial inflation of calories”. “The females also return to breed where they were hatched which they instinctively regard as a successful breeding area”.
And it’s not just the duck population that’s out of balance due to feeding by well-meaning public; other species such as sparrows, pigeons, mynas and rats also thrive on the leftovers.
Dr Miller warns that an overpopulation of birds increases the likelihood of infectious pathogens to crossover to other species, including cats, dogs, and humans, citing a salmonella outbreak among sparrows in 2002 in New Zealand which killed two people.
She urges people to encourage birds to forage naturally by not feeding them, but advises those who are involved in feeding birds to take care with their hygiene practices. Salmonella is passed on through the faecal-oral route, but is relatively easy to avoid by regularly washing hands and any equipment used to feed birds such as backyard chickens, with hot soapy water.
While some call for the ducks to be culled, Miller argues that the numbers in city areas can be reduced simply by reducing the feeding, the pay-off being that you enjoy the few birds that are around.”
HOW YOU CAN HELP
I recently saw on TV a couple in China who were about to celebrate 60 years of marriage. Unfortunately, they constantly argued. The husband wished his wife would divorce him and release him from his living hell. That is not happily ever after! How incredibly sad to see your life slipping away in emotional pain when the power to change is in your hands. There is only one person that you can change and that is you – but then the changes that you make also change the relationships that you have with those around you.
I have often heard men saying that Valentine’s Day is just a commercial rip off and they celebrate every day of the year. Then why do so many of them look like relational sad sacks? Sure, every day counts but are they actually making the effort to push the boat out from time to time and woo their partner?
It takes intentionality to serve the other person. Not everyone can easily give or receive love. A history that includes sexual abuse can make relationships incredibly challenging. But there are many other factors that can be a barrier to intimacy of the heart. People feel loved in different ways, sometimes called ‘love languages’. These are commonly listed as: words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch. It is really helpful to identify your partner’s primary and secondary love language.
You might think that many men’s primary language is physical touch, yet I would suggest that words of affirmation go a long way too. That is why arguing can be so destructive. Words have power, so I now choose carefully what is worth a disagreement over. Not every battle is worth the cost of so-called winning.
Being intentional towards Kerrie led me over a decade ago to take her out for dinner once every week for a ‘date night’. We had five kids at home and cashflow wasn’t the greatest. I found a tiny Indian restaurant in Sandringham village (sadly now long gone). I can still remember that the weekly bill was only $27 for both of us. That was manageable, and it gave us time together each week. We eventually learnt that it was not the time to discuss anything contentious. It was the time to try and connect more deeply. Our marriage has been far from plain sailing, but even at our very lowest point, our intentional date nights have kept us connected.
I have enjoyed the excuse that Valentine’s Day gives me to make a fuss over Kerrie. It does not have to be expensive. Even a note or a hand-made card makes a statement. It can be easier to convey the deeper things of the heart in text than face to face. Words have power.
May this Valentine’s Day bring you closer to the one you love.
By John Subritzky
Avondale town centre development really started to gather momentum in 2020, with several large apartment projects announced. Progress is also being made on the new library and community centre. A key project is the Aroha development by Ockham, right at Avondale’s front door. It is bounded by Ash Street, Peace Park and Great North Road. Having a highly regarded developer involved is a real win for the rejuvenation of the town. Marcus Amosa, Chair of the Avondale Business Association (ABA), is thrilled that these developments are finally starting to take shape, after enduring the vacant ex 3 Guys site for two decades, right in the heart of the shopping area.
But then in a stunning own goal, Ockham pushed Auckland City for non-notified consent to fell an approximately 120-year-old scheduled macrocarpa. The tree is right on the boundary and is partly owned by Auckland City and AT. As owners, the Council had to give permission before the macrocarpa could be felled. Submitting to threats of legal action, Auckland Council chief executive Jim Stabback issued the consent on December 23rd, just before Christmas.
In his report, Stabback noted “There is also a financial risk to council if council does not grant this application, as the developer has threatened legal action. The developer has indicated that it may seek to recover costs from council incurred as a result of delay by council in granting this application, or as a result of council declining this application.”
Reaction from tree protection protesters was rapid and took Ockham’s plan to speedily fell the tree, head on. Protesters arrived on site and stopped a massive mobile crane from deconstructing the tree between Christmas and New Year. Now there is a standoff between Ockham, widely regarded as a quality developer, and Mana Rakau, New Zealand’s most experienced tree protesters. The Mana Rakau protest at Canal Road is the longest tree occupation ever in New Zealand.
Mark Todd, Ockham owner and managing director, went high level in an extensive article in the media. He says that they are only doing what is right and in alignment with the Auckland Council Unitary Plan to address climate change, public transport, urban living, provision of Kiwibuild and partnership with Marutūāhu iwi. Some of the shine comes off though, when you realise that the public were shut out of the process by threats of legal action against the Council.
It is the principles that have been violated, almost more than the tree itself, that is really stirring up opposition. If it takes public consultation to get a notable tree scheduled, then it should take public consultation to get the same tree removed from the schedule so it can be felled. There have been trees that have been speedily felled without consultation when they have been deemed by professionals to be a danger to people. This seems to be the first time that a tree that is not dangerous has been treated this way.
Dr Mels Barton of The Tree Council has not seen this sort of non-notified consent happen before. She says “The Tree Council is informed about every scheduled tree application and we submit on all the publicly notified ones. Usually, the only ones that are non-notified are because the tree has a serious health issue. That's why the Avondale mac is such an unusual situation.”
Arborist Zane Wedding agrees “Non notified consents in my experience are almost always issued under the guise of health/hazard issues. This is exactly why the mac is so important. It is such a slippery slope once you start issuing non notified consents for healthy scheduled trees.”
In the Avondale-Waterview Historical Journal (Volume 20, Issue 116), local historian Lisa Truttman, expresses concern about the wider significance of this decision on other heritage assets. She says, “My personal opinion is that, when anything like a tree, a building, an object, or a site is included on a protection schedule such as those kept by Auckland Council under the Unitary Plan, there should always be a publicly notified process when it comes to resource consent applications for alteration or removal of those trees, buildings, objects or sites. That such are included on a schedule in the first place, by definition, means that they have some form of importance to the public, in degrees from a local community to the country as a whole — and so the public should have an opportunity to express their opinion, yes or no, on any change, deletion or removal.
“I don’t think the decision to take something off a protection schedule should be done in this way. We’ve already seen the St Andrews Sunday school hall in New Lynn bowled in next to no time, a scheduled heritage building. I worry as to what will come next.”
There is real irony here that the tree is partly on a council park, not private land. With the minimal tree protection currently existing, Council has agreed to fell a scheduled tree that is on its own land. Council has also decided against scheduling any further trees blaming an estimated cost of $1,500 per tree to do so. Instead, Council is pushing Government for Resource Management Act reform to protect all trees, but the question is, could they do a better job of tree protection in the Whau?
A sense of belonging and identity for me was created and nurtured at the address 1817 Great North Road - beneath the shadow of this Macrocarpa.
Our tree was a constant in my childhood… shelter in the summertime while we waited patiently for our hangi/umu to cook. In autumn you could smell the dry decay of fallen leaves, and in spring the pungent smell of new growth. I remember fondly we would climb up the tree, as we made it our treehouse sitting deep in the bosom of its large branches.
Our tree had seen it all, the experiences of a young Pacific/Māori family growing up in working class Avondale after being through the tumultuous 1980s New Zealand. It offered sanctuary from the tornado that would visit home and leave again.
Artist's impressions of the new Ockham development, Aroha
The environment has benefited from collective action during 2020, according to new figures from EcoMatters Environment Trust.
More than 49,000 EcoMatters volunteers, supporters and team members have helped enhance 580ha of local land, equivalent to 58 times the area of Eden Park, and kept waste equal in weight to five blue whales out of landfill.
On average, 46 bike repairs have been supported each week, while five homes a week have benefited from sustainability improvements.
These achievements are part of the charitable trust’s Highlights 2019-2020, showing the impact its work is having on the local environment.
“In such a challenging year, we’re immensely proud of what has been achieved with the help of our valued volunteers, funders and supporters,” says Damon Birchfield, EcoMatters CEO.
“Grassroots environmental action has continued to thrive in Auckland, thanks to the dedication and enthusiasm of our community.”
Established in 2002, EcoMatters today works in and with the community to help people restore nature, reduce waste, ride and fix bikes, grow food, and live more sustainably.
“It has been a year of change and disruption, but on the positive side, it’s helped us all become more resilient and think about how to do things differently,” says Damon.
“What both 2020 and these highlights have shown us is that our individual actions do add up and can make a world of difference.”
“We are immensely grateful to our key funding partners Auckland Council, and the Henderson-Massey, Waitākere Ranges and Whau local boards, as well as Watercare Services Ltd, Auckland Transport, Panuku Development Auckland and Ministry for the Environment, for their support too,” says Damon.
Visit ecomatters.org.nz to find out more.
Highlights for 2019-2020
Free efficient showerheads for local homes
Locals could save hundreds of dollars a year on water and power bills, thanks to free efficient showerheads.
EcoMatters Environment Trust, thanks to support from Live Lightly, Mitre 10 and Watercare, is installing efficient showerheads for free in eligible homes in New Lynn, Green Bay, Kelston, Rosebank, Avondale, New Windsor or Blockhouse Bay.
There are still showerheads available, while stocks last, so to find out more about if your household is eligible and to book your free installation, please visit ecomatters.org.nz/showerhead
Zero Waste Event Grants Now Available
Now it’s easier than ever to make your community event zero waste. You can apply for up to $200 for a community event in Auckland, to help reduce waste and recycle more, thanks to grants from Auckland Council.
The grant can go towards zero waste-related expenses such as hiring reusable cutlery, crockery or recycling and food scraps bins, or paying for recycling and food scrap collections. You could also use it for purchasing compostable packaging or for thank you vouchers for volunteers helping with waste-related tasks.
It’s quick and easy to apply, and you’ll hear back within seven business days if your application is successful. Find out more and apply here: https://zerowasteevents.org.nz/zero-waste-events-grant/
More than fifty Auckland beaches were deemed unsafe to swim in over the Christmas-New Year period, disrupting the plans of thousands of summer beach-goers. So why were the beaches polluted in the first place?
The stormwater system is designed to collect excess water when it rains. During intense rainfall such as those we experienced this summer, the pipes can become overwhelmed causing water to backflow into sewage pipes. The stormwater then mixes with sewage before it is discharged into the streams, eventually running into rivers and out to the sea.
The presence of sewage in the streams can cause other problems too. Sewage contains nitrates which can feed the algae in the water to result in an overgrowth in algae (algal bloom). These blooms can causes several problems to the ecosystem and water quality. One is that the overabundant algae can block out the sunlight to other organisms that need light to survive. Another concern is when the excess algae start to die. It creates an increase in bacteria to breakdown the algae. Unfortunately, the bacteria utilize a lot of oxygen and can deplete the water of oxygen rendering some waterways unfit for any aquatic life. Some algae release a toxin when they die, which can be absorbed by filter feeders such as shellfish. This toxin magnifies as it moves up the food chain, resulting in poisoning the animals and humans that ingest it.
The best time to test the stream water is after a heavy rainfall. Although it is summer, the ‘La Nina’ weather patterns are causing warmer and wetter days for the northern part of New Zealand. The more rain in Auckland, the more we should be concerned about our waterways.
The Whau River Catchment Trust test the water of various streams within the catchment. If you would like to join in the stream water testing or just observe and learn how to test the water, contact Justine via email: email@example.com or text 021 627864 for more details. The next testing date will be on the Saturday 13th February 10am. The destination is yet to be confirmed. If you cannot make that date, there will be more stream water testing events coming up.
Decades ago, in a spurt of forethought by what was then the Auckland Regional Council, the Ash Street Bridge which spans the Whau River and links New Lynn and Avondale was built wider to accommodate potential road widening in the future.
Pots were later placed to fill the spaces created by the differing widths of the bridge and road. They were planted with pohutukawa trees over the ensuing years (most of which passed away for lack of water) and the pots became regular targets for graffiti.
Recently the pots have had a beautiful makeover by artist Paul X Walsh, commissioned by Tag Out Trust. Derek Battersby, a foundational trustee of the trust said that it had long been his view to inject some colour into the pots and liven up the bridge environs.
A fun quirky collection by artist Paul X Walsh: Liquorice Allsorts; Jars and cans of food; Fish tanks with jellyfish, fish and turtles.