Feedback: September 17, 2016

by The Listener / 17 September, 2016
The case for water chlorination; mismanagement of DoC; controlling our cats; and a cohousing approach to apartment living.


I have been appalled by the recent revelations of just how many New Zealand towns and cities do not have chlorinated water.

Hamburg, Germany, initiated water chlorination in 1895, and in 1897, Maidstone, England, was the first town to have its entire water supply chlorinated. Regular chlorination in the UK and the US started in the early 1900s. In New Zealand in 2016, the question should be, “What is not in our water?” Answer: “Chlorine.”

Get a grip, New Zealand. Our ground waters are especially subject to contamination, with increased dairying, earthquakes and falling water tables.

Tim Brown
Professor Emeritus (Microbiology), Massey University


Women are sick and tired of men (and other women) telling us what we can and can’t wear (Editorial, September 10). I feel like donning a burkini and walking around the streets and beaches in protest. Anyone like to join me? Perhaps we can go on a Burkini March.

Aren’t health professionals always advising us to “cover up” on the beach to prevent skin cancer? Now, women in France are being told to “take it off”. Utter madness.

Helen Carver

Sometimes being biased against something is the right stance. I find a burka-wearing woman extremely offensive and one of the ugliest and upsetting sights it’s possible to come across. It personifies the evils, absurdities and excesses of religious fundamentalism.

One wonders whether the price of tolerance is sometimes too high, and whether controls are required to curb religious fundamentalists, sects and cults who prey on ignorance, superstition and insecurity, attracting and entrapping the weak, ignorant, gullible and desperate. One is reminded of liberal Germans who showed tolerance to the rise of Nazism until they were engulfed by it.

In many Islamic states, religion and the state are virtually the same thing. But proud as we are that this is no longer the case in the West, we still need to be wary of religious fundamentalists who try to influence lawmaking procedures by opposing liberal and progressive legislation or promoting legislation favouring their conservative ideologies.

Rather than accommodating religious fundamentalists with their absurdities and excesses, perhaps we have a responsibility of at least pointing these out and possibly ridiculing them.

Murray Eggers


The Department of Conservation has been progressively mismanaged and undermined by successive directors-general and Labour and National governments to the point where it is now incapable of carrying out its statutory functions.

Part of the problem is that the department is easily diverted from the conservation of biodiversity into soft and cuddly recreation and tourism management. If the department is going to survive as the manager and protector of our unique biodiversity and its habitat, the Government needs to set up a separate Department of Recreation and Tourism so we can see where taxpayers’ dollars are really being invested – or wasted.

Basil Graeme


Jan Mitchell’s view of the effect of cats on native birds is misleading and incorrect (Letters, September 10).

Many of our native land birds are or were flightless or weak flyers, having evolved in the absence of mammal predators. The reason we don’t often see native birds foraging on the ground is that the species that feed this way have been driven either to extinction or to marginal areas, such as offshore islands. On pest-free islands, native birds such as tieke/saddleback, kokako, kakariki and popokatea/whitehead are frequently seen on the ground. Kiwi have no choice but to forage there.

All mammal predators have contributed to the decline of native birds. Cats can and often do hunt in trees as well as on the ground, and like rats and possums are capable of killing the nestlings of tree-nesting birds. Cats certainly can help control the rat population, but they are efficient predators and will take whatever is easiest to kill.

If we want to see native birds returning in numbers to the areas where they were once common, all introduced predators need to be controlled, including cats.

Kay Milton
(Matakatia, Auckland)

Never mind the birds … what about my seedlings? Freshly dug soil is just another public toilet for cats. Keep them inside at night with a stinky cat box. That’s what my garden smells like.

Phil Skipworth
(St Johns, Auckland)


The August 20 editorial, “Littler boxes”, focused on the need to move away from the traditional one house/one section model of living to new, more intensive and sustainable ventures. It featured Ngati Whatua’s Whai Rawa development at Bastion Point: “flexible spaces for multi-generational living … centred around a big shared lawn”.

Since 2013, a group of people in Dunedin have been progressing a cohousing development on the former High Street Primary School site. This project, comprising 22 self-contained, one- to six-bedroom units in two terraced blocks, has at its heart a common house, which has a kitchen, a large dining room, a lounge area, guest bedrooms and a workshop, where residents can share meals, accommodate guests, socialise and pursue hobbies. Between the common house and the units, residents will share an open, sunny relaxation and recreation area, and there will be areas for vegetable gardens.

What makes this development even more attractive is that it will be built to Passiv­haus standard, meaning that through insulation, triple glazing and heat exchange, the units will be maintained at about 20°C year-round without extra heating. It is hoped building will begin this year, with a 2018 completion date.

For more information, see

Frances Ross
High Street Cohousing Project
Letter of the week


Once again, Jane Clifton contrives to cast the Opposition in a poor light when writing about the Government’s policy failures (Politics, September 10).

By dismissing as “panic stations” Labour’s call for a state of emergency to be declared to deal with Havelock North’s unhealthy water, she aids and abets the perpetual Key-led “relax, everything’s fine – but if it wasn’t, it would be Labour’s fault” spin machine.

Michael Smythe
(Northcote Point, Auckland)


If Auckland is to resolve its housing crisis and become a truly liveable city, politicians need only look to Singapore “Singapore sting”, August 13). In the 1960s, Singa­pore had one of the world’s worst housing crises. The Government set up the Housing and Development Board and through a massive scheme built 21,000 state houses in less than three years, effectively resolving the housing shortage and accelerating economic development.

Ethnically segregated silos were prevented from developing by residential quotas in these housing blocks, unlike the ethnic enclaves that mark Auckland. Today, 90% of citizens own their own home and homelessness is virtually non-existent.

If our politicians are still living in their quarter-acre paradise dream, we need only commuter train services to Hamilton before it, too, becomes swallowed up as a dormitory suburb of Auckland.

Darren Zhang
(Clover Park, Auckland)

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