Letters to Editor: Ferries, rates and a costly war

The Otago Regional Council is proposing a rates increase again this year, suggesting 21.3% Photo:...
The Otago Regional Council is proposing a rates increase again this year, suggesting 21.3% Photo: ODT files
Today's Letters to the Editor from readers cover topics including replacing inter-island ferries,  a call for ORC to rethink a rates rise and the cost of war in Ukraine. 

Time running out for ferry replacement

In 2025, KiwiRail should be operating only two inter-island services. Kaitiaki will be 30, at the limit of her seaworthiness even if she had been scrupulously maintained. We know she has not been.

TV commercials for inter-island services show only peaceful sailings but Cook Strait itself can be notoriously rough. Not as long as the Drake passage but rogue waves occur without warning.

With only two ferries operating, one of which has only three years left, supply lines between the North and South Islands will be stretched to the limit. Air transport cannot fill the gap.

Only 22 ships worldwide are suitable, and at present they are not for sale. So KiwiRail will be faced with a sellers’ market situation, needing to pay an exorbitant premium to fill the gap.

By now, Kaitiaki’s replacement should have been announced, and a delivery date set. Nicola Willis must budget to support KiwiRail as they attempt to fill the gap.

This service is a vital part of our transport structure. Our country cannot afford the threat to safety and support line which is hanging over our heads

Lynne Hill


Alternatively, resign

As a ratepayer I was encouraged to see Ministers Chris Bishop, Penny Simmonds and Todd McClay warn the Otago Regional Council to defer proceeding with the proposed Water Plan. I hope the council heeds that advice, as ratepayers of Otago are tired of meaningless consultations, where good debate is ignored in favour of predetermined ‘‘policy’’.

It should not be forgotten that some of the current councillors wrote to the previous minister, David Parker, requesting the council be replaced by a commissioner, presumably because these councillors were frustrated by a majority of councillors who didn’t share their views. Instead of opposing the direction of the new government, the council should look inwards at its own internal operations.

Alternatively, the councillors who are opposed to the new direction should consider resigning.

Jim Barclay


Neglected material

Rob Harris neglects to add that the petition he mentions in his letter (ODT 22.2.24) put forward by WI Te Hakiro in 1876, asked that there be two classes of schools, one for the children who only spoke te reo, and that they be taught exclusively in te reo and one for children from the age of 2, who should be taught in English. It is a fairly straightforward understanding as to how, as Rob does say, te reo would continue to be spoken in the home, had this been the case.

It didn’t happen, however, and the language very nearly perished, as was the intention.

Morgan Nathan
St Clair


Hear the Voice

I would like to comment on the letter by James Hegarty (ODT 21.2.24) in which he has the deluded opinion that as Act New Zealand were the only party to campaign on the Treaty, he has come to the conclusion that because Act only polled 8.64% there is no reason to believe there is a majority of voters who support the referendum. I can inform him that there is strong support throughout the country for the Treaty’s importance to be heavily diluted and that the previously non-negotiable democratic principles of this country be upheld.

People like James Hegarty are very scared, because they know a referendum on the Treaty would go the same way as the Voice referendum in Australia, that is a resounding defeat for pro-Treaty supporters.

Dave Tackney


Dear Otago Regional Council, please reconsider

Enough is enough. I cannot believe the Otago Regional Council is proposing yet more rates increases this year and suggesting 21.3% (ODT 20.2.24).

Apart from anything else, like a serious cost of living crisis, how the ORC can justify these exorbitant cost increases year after year is unacceptable. It is scandalous that this is happening, and proposed for the next few years. It is like an out-of-control freight train and seemingly no-one can stop this alarming set of increases.

I always thought that if you can’t afford any projects then they should not be started and only do strictly essential projects which must be done. Cut your clothes according to your cloth. Rates have risen by 18% in 2022 and in 2023, by 21.3% in 2024. This is scandalous.

Also, why is the ORC meddling in bus transport when this should be done by private enterprise and not be a burden on ratepayers? Come on ORC, have another think.

Andrew Burton


Drinking culture

A column in the ODT says a whole lot about New Zealand drinking culture and how it has been passed down from each generation as a rite of passage to get smashed at every chance. The future of our country lies with Hugh Askerud (ODT 22.2.24) , and we will have a continuing alcohol problem in New Zealand with comments like ‘‘ It’s a quintessential aspect of the social fabric here in Otago and all part of building community and that’s probably never going to change’’. By the sounds of our family violence related to alcohol is probably never going to change either.

J. McCormick


War malaise explained by numbers

With the defeat of Avdiivka after a decade of valiant defence, the Ukraine war may no longer be a stalemate, with Ukraine on its back foot.

Despite heroic Zelenskyy’s tireless advocacy, this is happening because the apathetic, parsimonious West is passively assisting Putin’s grotesque meat grinder.

Ukraine is being so under-resourced by the West they can no longer even reciprocate Russia’s low-tech artillery fire.

This does not reflect the economic disparity between Russia and the West. The West - US, EU, UK and Canada has an aggregate GDP of $US53 trillion [$NZ86t]. Russia has a GDP of $2.25 trillion.

This 23-fold difference should mean this war is theoretically unwinnable for Russia. To date the aid, military, financial and humanitarian bestowed on Ukraine by the West is a pathetic $US153 billion. This is 0.16% of their GDP pa. Russia is spending 4% of their GDP on the war. This gives Russia a mathematical superiority.

To put the West’s contribution in perspective, the EU is spending only marginally (28%) more on this war than it spends on pet food.

If Putin’s totalitarian tentacles are to be contained, the wealthy, hapless, apathetic West needs to take its fiscal responsibilities far more seriously.

Russia’s territorial expansion have a sobering precedent. During the 300-year Romanov dynasty, Russian territory expanded on average 450sq km per day.

Putin’s quest is to reverse history and destroy democracy. The West needs to ‘‘do the math’’ and come to its senses.

This doesn’t require rocket science figuratively, just literally.

Ian Breeze
Broad Bay

Address Letters to the Editor to: Otago Daily Times, PO Box 517, 52-56 Lower Stuart St, Dunedin. Email: editor@odt.co.nz