Alf’s world is in a serious state of upheaval. He was not approached by Fairfax hacks to contribute to a video and newspaper report in which Eketahuna residents share their memories of the 6.2 earthquake that rocked his neighbourhood at 3:52pm on Monday 20th January, 2014
At the same time the Grumbles have learned (a) that Dierde Barlow has died, (b) that The Sun may be stripped of its Page 3 girl and (c) moves are afoot to reduce if not eliminate sledging from international cricket, which is the best bit of the game in Alf’s view.
But you can be sure there are some tossers elsewhere who have got their knickers in a twist on much more trivial matters.
You can find them in Auckland, according to a Radio NZ report which curiously combines good old English with Te Reo.
A group protesting against plans to destroy 80-year-old pōhutukawa trees in central Auckland is urging people to voice their concerns at a public meeting tonight.
The Pōhutukawa Savers, made up of people from across the rohe including mana whenua, said the trees’ fate was hanging in the balance.
So what’s this all about then?
Well, there’s this council outfit, Auckland Transport, which wants to remove the six trees opposite the Museum of Transport and Technology in Western Springs to widen Great North Road.
Wider roads presumably are needed to deal with the city’s obesity issue.
Anyway, planning commissioners have concluded that, on balance, the roadworks around the St Lukes Road motorway interchange required the land on which the trees sit to be taken.
This decision came as a blow to the Waitematā Local Board which had led efforts to save the trees.
But can’t Aucklanders have both the wider road and keep the trees too?
It depends who you talk with.
An Auckland Transport spokesperson said it would not have supported the application to remove the six trees from Great North Road if there had been any other viable option, but all engineering experts agreed that there was not.
But a spokesperson for the Pōhutukawa Savers Jolisa Gracewood said roads could be built around them and the trees should be treasured.
“We have the lake which is full of tuna (eels), we have this beautiful green space which is sliced through by motorways at the moment.
“Anything we can do to preserve the spirit, the mauri of that place, will be a positive thing in terms of keeping it a place that people want to be in and want to take care of. The trees themselves are like guardians along that road and we can help by being their guardians as well.”
Jolisa reckons there’s growing support to retain the trees as people became more aware of the issue.
She said Auckland Transport did have has plenty of options and could be more flexible as to how they apportion the space for travel in the morning and evening.
“Auckland Transport’s plan has a built-in redundancy plan so they’re designing around the worst-possible scenario for in 20 years time, but why do they need to do that when who knows what the traffic projections are for then? As the agency says itself, it’s hoping for a bigger uptake of public transport and cycling so you don’t necessarily need all those extra lanes for car traffic.”
Auckland Transport’s Chief Development Officer is a bloke by name of Greg Edmonds and he said the proposed works would help the entire Waterview, State Highway 16 and State Highway 20 complex operate to its full potential.
This would also help reduce Auckland’s congestion and encourage alternative transport methods.
“We regret that the trees will be lost, but a major benefit is that they will make way for cycle lanes to the motorway overbridge and for an extended bus lane and bus priority measures in Great North Road.
Oh – and let’s take special note of this:
Mr Edmonds said the New Zealand Transport Agency would replace the trees with Pōhutukawa planted on adjoining land.
It looks like a no-brainer to Alf.
One lot of trees gets the axe.
The road is widened.
And new trees are planted nearby.
There’s no need, surely, for a meeting, hui, hooley or any other sort of gathering at the Western Springs Community Garden Hall at 6pm this evening.
Further down south there will be great bewilderment at the pohutakawa protectors’ protest. In Marlborough, for example, the bloody thing is a weed.