Letters to the editor: My heart sank when I read about Matariki beach fires - NZ Herald (2024)

A reader says beach fires are a threat to endangered species such as the banded dotterel. Photo / Supplied

In reference to “Matariki beach fires to go ahead” (Hawke’s Bay Today, June 8), I must say my heart sank.

I fully appreciate the cultural and fun aspect of connecting with family and friends around a fire, but this sounds like a free-for-all all and anywhere-goes from Clifton to Mahia. The article reads as if this is not only permitted, but encouraged; as if the burning driftwood is beneficial not only to the environment, but to climate change. Wait a moment.

Coasts are valuable ecosystems in their own right. Driftwood has been on beaches for millennia — it is an important part of those ecosystems by providing shelter and harbouring invertebrates (small crawly things) that live on our beaches and provide food for the larger inhabitants such as skinks (lizards) and birds.

The critically endangered northern spotted skink lives year round on Awatoto Beach and relies on the wood for shelter. The native grass skinks, too, are present on our coasts.

Native banded dotterels breed on all of Napier’s coasts (August to February); not at Matariki time, but rely on the invertebrates harbouring around the wood for food.

Many other native bird species visit our beaches — variable oystercatchers, little penguins, white-fronted terns and the endangered black-billed gulls.

Beaches are not meant to be denuded. Will there be designated or controlled zones for these fires? Who will be putting the fires out? (I understand the aquarium has a penguin with burnt feet — from beach fires five or six years ago — that cannot be released back into the wild). The health and safety aspects, too, are of great concern.

Letters to the editor: My heart sank when I read about Matariki beach fires - NZ Herald (1)

It won’t just be one night of the year; now it is out there, many will think this is not only a permitted activity, but an encouraged one — anywhere goes, anytime.

“Basically, you pick your favourite spot at the beach, head there and do your thing,” the article reads. And now there is talk of this going nationwide.

On Napier City Council’s website under Fire Rules and Restrictions, it clearly states — Beaches, Parks and Reserves: “All fires are prohibited at beaches, parks and reserves at all times.”

Why the about-turn? It is going to be very difficult to rein this in again.

I ask the local councils and Neill Gordon to look more deeply into the ramifications and possible consequences of these fires.

Lynne Anderson


Prisons over schools

I find it quite confusing that the Government can find a lot of money to build prisons, but not enough to carry on building schools.

Niki Keehan


Balance in the cafe debate

Table occupancy policy is surely the prerogative of individual cafes based on customer volumes etc, and unless administered discourteously or unfairly, would have little newsworthy potential.

I have insufficient background to know whether Mr [Mark] Story was treated rudely or inappropriately and would not wish to pass judgment either way.

While Mr [Greg] Bruce makes some valid points about kindness and feelings, he has turned the matter into a competition in journalistic prowess that is irrelevant, and in my view unprofessional.

Mr Story has been able to present his side of the argument from an advantaged position and it is your paper’s responsibility to ensure balanced reporting.

Avon Downie


Rates debate — honesty is good

One has to applaud Cr Xan Harding’s honesty in the comment made by him in his article re HBRC’s failure to listen to ratepayers.

The next HBRC meeting may be an interesting one for him — that’s if his fellow councillors have been listening/reading what he’s written. On performance to date, that’s by no means a given.

In these challenging times we enjoin our elected local officials to focus on core business, yet still get hit by huge double-digit rates increases.

Promises to tighten belts at district and regional councils never entail much reduction in expenditure or headcount or serious cuts. Instead, rates soar ever upwards and it’s ratepayers who pay for councils’ failure to seriously attack their budgets.

Wayne Brown in Auckland is showing what can seriously be done by a financially literate leader, driving his executive to meaningful action. If only that were the case in Hawke’s Bay.

An issue one does take account with Mr Harding is where he claims that democracy is alive and well in the regional council.

The Local Value to Capital Value rates move was a flagrant disregard of local participatory democracy.

The decision to ignore the fact that 90 per cent of feedback from several hundred responses was against the change, leads many to think the call for responses to the proposal was itself a fig leaf and the whole process was a stitch-up from the outset.

My community has been hit by an average 92 per cent rates rise, with no additional services to the few we already receive as a rural area.

It’s no wonder many have little faith in our local councils to seriously manage budgets.

Simon Nash


Letters to the editor: My heart sank when I read about Matariki beach fires - NZ Herald (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Laurine Ryan

Last Updated:

Views: 6470

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (77 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Laurine Ryan

Birthday: 1994-12-23

Address: Suite 751 871 Lissette Throughway, West Kittie, NH 41603

Phone: +2366831109631

Job: Sales Producer

Hobby: Creative writing, Motor sports, Do it yourself, Skateboarding, Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Stand-up comedy

Introduction: My name is Laurine Ryan, I am a adorable, fair, graceful, spotless, gorgeous, homely, cooperative person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.