As a co-organiser* of Waiheke Island’s Ditch Double-Decker protest and as someone involved with the petition to remove these buses from Waiheke, I believe that Mike Hoskings has completely misrepresented this issue.
Firstly, anybody commenting in the media, should be responsible enough to check the facts first. On the 16th March, Under the heading DOUBLE DECKER ON PRECIPICE, the Waiheke Gulf News had this to say; “A double-decker bus which slipped off the edge of Carson’s Road, on Saturday, could not have come closer to disaster.” Hoskings says the more protest, “the worse the image.” Had the dozen or so, passengers, tumbled down the bank and died, what does he think that would do for Waiheke’s image?
There have been a number of incidents involving these unwieldy vehicles. TV3′ news showed footage of an oncoming car forced onto the verge as double-decker lurches by, straddling the white line and within a few feet of the car. Waiheke’s roads are narrow, twisty and tree-lined and completely unsuitable and unsafe for double-deckers. In order to enable mass tourism, the government has classified all roads as being the same, which may be why Mike felt moved to comment. Mike isn’t too worried about safety, his concern is the tourist dollar.
Mike doesn’t mention that native trees have been pruned at ratepayer’s expense, to enable the tall buses to operate. It seems that in Hosking’s world it is acceptable for public money to be used to increase a private company’s profit.
Waiheke has become a world famous destination because it is unique and beautiful. If we allow a transport monopoly, that charges some of the highest ferry fares in the world, to further exploit the island by turning it into a trashy theme park (with optional wine), our uniqueness will disappear. In order to secure the success and the future of our local economy, we must not destroy the very thing visitors come here to experience. Fullers is not creating wealth, it is making profit at the expense of the attraction it is promoting.
The double-deckers are not creating local employment in that they ferry their drivers over and the tour guide’s job last only as long as the season and smaller (local) tour operators say they are taking their business.
Opposition to these buses is not right-wing versus left, or selfish, backward-looking old hippies resenting progress as Mike opines. (His mother-in-law, was one of the protestors). Had Mike had enough respect for his readers to do some research, he would have found that the Waiheke Local Board, is 100% supportive of the petition, it’s chairman, spoke at the protest and Nikki Kaye put the petition on her Facebook page. Ludicrous to suggest that the local board and MP are somehow anti-tourist and resentful of Fuller’s “success. Its enough to make you choke on a pineapple lump.
*It was my great honour and pleasure to work with Susi Newborn (who I didn’t know before), on this project.