Wednesday, 9 August 2006

Brain slippage

The big news this morning on local networks is minor landslips in Lower Hutt that will see some home-owners losing their homes, and some insurance companies helping to put them into new ones. Big and very sad news for those involved to be sure, but nothing we haven’t seen before you would think, and like previous slips nothing that can't be put right with a little hard work and forethought.

Somehow, however, these minor landslips seem to have triggered an ‘unhinged’ gene in some locals. The mayor for instance. “Climate change!” asserted Hutt City mayor David Ogden as the reason for the slip. “More rain than we’ve ever seen ever before,” he said [I paraphrase only a little]. “Climate change and weather bombs are to blame. Rain, disease, pestilence, famine and death.” [Okay, I might have just overdone the paraphrasing a little.]

The four horsemen of the climate change apocalypse and “greedy developers” who want to build on hills. Between them they’ve got poor Mayor Ogden in a perfect wee storm.

Not exactly a burst of sanity from Old Oggie then.

Last time I saw Wellington, aside from Te Aro and the Hutt Valley river plain -- which have their own problems -- the place looked to be full of hills. Does he really suggest that everyone huddle together beside the Hutt River in risk-free government-provided housing? And if this is the worst Mayor Ogden has seen has he never heard of Abbotsford? Or Aberfan? Or Ruahihi? Or Ongarue? Or the 1976 storm that "caused widespread landslides in Wellington City and the Hutt Valley." Of Paraparumu in 1936? Or Waihi in1846 -- a lanslide that killed 60 people?

All tragic slips, along with many, many more floods and tragic slips that happened long before the currently fashionable harbinger of pestilence and disaster called ‘climate change’ appeared on the scene (although we all knew back then that an ice age was on the way, didn’t we).

And have recent slips in Eastbourne and the Hutt really launched a movement to put a stop to building on hills altogether? Has the ‘unhinged gene’ spread more widely? As Breakfast TV news breathlessly followed each crack as it appeared this morning in that Upper Hutt backyard, the journalist on site – who looked barely old enough to have opinions of her own – told us that there had been a recent protest march in Wellington calling for an end to building on hills.

Is that really true? Have the 'there-ought-to-be-a-law-against-it' and 'the-gummints-got-to-do-something-about-it' brigades really protested about this!?

Lord help us. If that report is true – and we all know how reliable media reports are – are there really people who think that risk can be totally removed from life? Are there really people who don’t understand the idea of choice, and about taking responsibility for those choices, and measures to minimise the risks?

And maybe, too, about getting a little perspective on things.

UPDATE: My politico-geography corrected (thanks Michael for correcting my own brain slippage). New links added.

LINK: Google news links on Kelson - Google

RELATED: Politics-NZ, Global Warming


  1. Yep - bloody morons I'd say.

    There are not too places in Wellington that aren't built on a hill.

    The places that are on the flat are surronded by hills where run-off of rain water (i.e. flooding will ocur).

    Based on this premise I think Wellington should be abandoned and the government build me a luxury house somewhere nice (say Sydney).

  2. Umm, I feel obliged to point out that Kelson is in (Lower) Hutt City and David Ogden is mayor of (Lower) Hutt City. It's about 10km south of the boundary with Upper Hutt. (Wayne Guppy is Mayor of Upper Hutt.)

    And David Ogden is generally pretty good, sticking to core council business and not spending millions on loopy white elephant schemes - unlike you Aucklanders, our rates are going up 3% this year.

    And being on the Valley Floor isn't much help - I've lost count of the number of times my garage has been flooded since I moved in 3 years ago.

  3. Whoops. Thanks Michael. That brain slippaeg has been corrected.

    I'll have to rely on your own estimate of him as being otherwise pretty good, if indeed rates going up only by three-percent can be considered good in objective terms?

  4. 3% is better than the Dicking you and your fellow Aucklanders are getting.

  5. Michael is largely right, although Ogden has got a fetish for one type of grand scheme - roads - he witters on about a very expensive highway across the valley that ratepayers couldn't pay for, that would never be able to be tolled, but wants everyone else to pay for it. John Banks had the same in the eastern corridor.

    Ogden is probably the most frugal mayor in the Wellington region, but that isn't saying much

  6. This increase in slips and slides is due to climate change - but only because of the BELIEF in climage change. Planners and councils fret endlessly about sea level rising (actually about 1.6mm a year for the last 100 years and no recent increase) and ignore the risk of flodding from rivers and hills. The Old Drainage Boards used to keep rivers and drains clear of silt etc. Suggest this today and the Earth loving planners will reply "You must let nature take its course." So we get another flood.
    The other problem is Smart Growth which persuades councils to intensify rather than let their villages grow. Hence they infill on land which is prone to slips and slides. One behind the other.
    NOt all hills are slip prone but some are. They should seek the advice of geologists rather than planners who rather let people build beneath a slip circle than on rural land.

  7. Another Hutt resident, Lindsay Mitchell, has some things to say about our mayor David Ogden.
    While everyone here's complaining about the crappy weather, he's off somewhere much warmer and drier in Arizona "celebrating our sister city relationship".
    After that it's off to "see first hand [Santa Fe]'s promoting of economic growth through the arts."
    We should be grateful that someone's willing to do all these irritating little jobs for us.


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