20 July 2019

After 18 ferry cancellations during May, Waihekeans’ escalating frustrations with the Fullers ferry services hit the mainstream media. In response Fullers called a public meeting on Sunday 9 June, chaired by former Waitakere mayor Sir Bob Harvey. Morra Hall was packed to capacity for this meeting, with more than 100 people forced to listen from outside. The numbers attending and their very vocal protests made it clear that ferry users are united in their demands for reliability and accountability from Fullers.

At a private meeting on 18 June, Fullers CEO Mike Horne said Fullers is seeking independent financial advice on the cost to Auckland of subsidising Waiheke services. Auckland Councillor Chris Darby, who was at this meeting, told the Gulf News that “…Fullers were fiercely defending their corner – suggesting that things are rosy and perfect with 99 per cent efficiency.”

Nevertheless, the discussion continues, with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff asking for Fullers’ exemption from the Public Transport Operating Model (POTM) to be revoked. Meanwhile local board chairperson Cath Handley is urging ferry users to keep up the momentum to convince the Minister of Transport to waive this exemption. Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye is also asking for heightened urgency on improving the ferry services. Watch this space…

In other news, volunteers came together to plant 650 trees at Te Matuku wetland in early May. Waiheke students and environmentalists joined forces for the second nationwide climate action strike on 24 May. Plastic Free July got off to a roaring start with a Market Day on 30 June, leading into a series of events organised by Waiheke Resources trust, Island Waste Collective and Plastic Free Pantry. Electric Island organisers have sourced four courtesy electric vehicles (EVs) for locals to trial for three months, each user driving for a week at a time free of charge. And three cheers for the local board, whose efforts to plan a facelift for Little Oneroa are finally coming to fruition.

In the ‘not so good’ news: a recent University of Auckland-led study suggests that our efforts to rid the island of predators are not enough to save our seabirds. Forest and Bird is also calling on Auckland Council to implement border controls to stop kauri dieback disease (KDD) reaching the Island, particularly via soil on vehicles that have been driven in infected areas of Auckland.

And  what’s happening at Project Forever Waiheke? We recently published the results of a visitor satisfaction survey conducted with 441 visitors to the island on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during April and May. The results were on the whole very positive, with the main complaint being how expensive it is, both to come to the island and to enjoy its attractions.

Finally, to celebrate National Volunteer Week (16-22 June), we launched our ‘MAD about Waiheke’ campaign (Make A Difference)* to promote community engagement and recruit volunteers for worthy causes. If you want to list your organisation, or find an organisation you’d like to volunteer for, it’s all right here on our website: Get MAD about Waiheke!

*Special thanks to Paul and Paola Dashwood for developing the MAD concept.