Silence is not an option

Back in June, Peter Aranyi posted about the NIMBY community who were opposing the establishment of a school for at risk youth.

Trotting out the same formula: loud protests, threats of an electoral backlash, political agitation, angry, abusive comments at meetings, orchestrated ‘letters to the editor’, frantic searches for any legal issues which could be massaged or manufactured to oppose the project, public campaign to make politicians feel the ‘heat’.

All with what aim in mind? Keeping Howick ‘safe’? Please. What a fearful, self-centred bunch.

Perhaps the wannabe Mayor of Howick and his reactionary mates/local board accomplices should provide a list of who IS allowed to live or be educated in our suburb? Then they could issue ‘passes’ for those of whom they approve.

Those were strong words at the time as the protest had only just got going. In the intervening months I have seen the rhetoric grow and had to clear their newsletters from my letter box regularly. They are implacable. There must not be a school there. Except they forget that the school buildings already exist. It isn’t a new school and the previous school also housed at risk youth.

Last night saw yet another protest. Bizarrely though the protest was held in Botany Electorate at a function organised by and for Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross.

The school however is in Pakuranga electorate. Not only that it is more than 4.1km from the protest site and 2.5km from the closest boundary of Botany electorate. Last night however in their infinite wisdom they decided to protest in Botany about “local issues”. They held up traffic and though well behaved caused long delays for people coming home from work.

To cap it all off Labour’s Botany candidate, not one to miss out some publicity decided that this important local protest was not one to miss and dutifully reported all the detail, except the important bits to Raymond Huo. Raymond, bless, in characteristic best Beijing press release style, posted at Red Alert, and made this all about the community and the great warrior Labour candidate fighting for “his” community.

The post misses the point entirely that this is about providing a safe education environment for at risk youth, something I would have though Labour would have supported. Instead Raymond Huo has given the distinct impression that he and Labour care more about middle class property values. Given that the vast majority of protestors being ordered to stand arms length apart and spread down Botany Road were asian in origin and carrying signs in Chinese writing it stands to reason that this is really and truly about the perception that education standards in the local schools will be diminshed if Thurston Place College goes ahead. This is the worst type of NIMBY-ism.

It is in effect economic apartheid and it is being supported by the Labour party.

I have also been roundly abused for opposing the protestors. Wonder at that for a moment. Here is a free-market loving, capitalist, right-wing blogger and I am sticking up for the under-privileged kids who need a safe education environment. The school site is 425m from my front door. Certainly a lot closer than the boundary of Botany Electorate where Labour’s candidate Chao-Fu Wu is battling on behalf of these Pakuranga Electorate residents. This is a massive beat up over nothing , and the risk touted are ridiculous. If I am not at all concerned then why are these residents?

What astounds me the most is that Raymond Huo is trying to make this sound like an un-caring government in action. All he succeeds in doing is making him and Labour look like the selfish, nimby enablers they are.

I can no longer remain silent at the politicisation of this issue by Labour against at-risk youth. It beggars belief that Labour is essentially saying that because these kids aren’t from round here that they should be schooled elsewhere, despite them failing in every other educational environment they have been in.

It is things like this that make me ashamed sometimes to be a New Zealander. It is disgusting.


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  • Leon Grice

    Great post – short term political thinking trying to harnass fears and anxiety

  • David

    Well said! An indication of where this country has got to. The Government need to complete the school and get the kids that will reside there the help they need. The people objecting should be ashamed. If their kids needed help and there was no facility to provide it the think of the fuss they would make!

  • Spanishbride

    Great post that I wholeheartedly agree with. It has saddened and angered me to see the lengths these people have gone to. Every time yet another handout appeared in our mail box I would read it then put it beside WO’s laptop.
    Education for all is one of the foundations of our country. These people don’t want these children in their child’s classroom but they don’t want them in a school of their own either if they will be in the same area as their children. They see children who need special help in the same light as criminals. Anyone would think that the govt was wanting to build a prison here in Bucklands Beach not re open a school that was specially built to help students with learning and behavioral problems.
    The climate of fear and loathing that they are attempting to build in my community disgusts me. SHAME on them SHAME!

  • Rob

    Anne Tolley is putting other children at risk with no benfits to these troubled teenages. She was warned of significant disadvantages of putting Thurston Place College on the same site as a primary and intermediate school, particularly social and safety issues.
    The Ministry of Education recommended splitting the school over two sites – because having up to 100 students with severe behavioural problems on one site would be difficult to manages.

    Also, if there were two sites the younger students could be separated from the older, more difficult students.

    Anne Tolley ignored this advice too and chose one site.

    We only want the best for the proposed students, but Thurston Place College is not the best destination for them.

    In 2009 the Ministry of Education commissioned Cognition Education to write a report on Felix Donnelly College (which ultimately led to its closure). Cognition recommended three models for the future education of the Felix Donnelly students. Anne Tolley ignored all of them – including the top recommendation to put small numbers of the students into mainstream schools with wraparound services.

    It is fairly obvious that putting 100 students, boys and girls, ages 11 to 17, on one site is a terrible idea. Anne Tolley’s office has intentionally with holding this information from the public. The Ombudsman has been involved due to breaches of the official information act.

    • Ahh yes a cut and paste of the Stop Thurston website and a cut and paste of the same bullshit you posted at Red Alert.

      Nice to see Labour hate the underprivileged.

    • Gazzaw

      “but Thurston Place College is not the best destination for them”

      …………….but Tamaki College or Aorangi would be just perfect?

  • Mr Blobby

    Let me think about that one for a minute.
    1. They won’t interact with the locals in a positive way, socially or economically.
    2. Undesirables will start hanging around the neighborhood
    3. Petty crime and vandalism will increase.
    4. Little shits wanting to mark their territory with Tags.
    What should we do?
    1. Give them a reasonable allowance to spend – probably on cigarettes, alcohol and Spray Paint cans.
    2. Encourage them to express themselves
    3. Stand around and make sad generational excuses for them

    • Spanishbride

      Light the torches and bring out the pitchforks, lets deal in what ifs instead of facts shall we? Lets make gross generalisations like ‘ THEY WON”T interact with locals in a positive way.’

      HMMMM sounds to me more like ‘ some of the locals WON”T INTERACT with them in a positive way’ would be more accurate.

      Should we deny these kids their right to an education unmolested by the bigotry and fear mongering of a tiny percentage of our community or should we say ‘ We only want the best for them as long as it is not in our backyard? ‘

      • Mr Blobby

        Yes “light the torches and bring out the pitchforks.”

        “If not there, then where” Who cares.

        My point is what we have been doing for decades; throwing money at the problem hasn’t worked. It hasn’t worked because the problem is still with us and we are still debating it.

  • thor42

    The question I ask is – “if not there, then where?”
    More pertinently – this school has been there for AGES, and yet it is only now (with an election coming up – surprise, surprise) – that Labour suddenly pipes up about it.
    Labour. The party that is supposed to “care about the poor”. Labour – the party that is supposed to “be all about a fair go, and giving people a chance.” Bullshit.

  • JJ

    I likewise live not more than a few hundred metres from the proposed site and I find the hysteria surrounding Thurston Place College a very sad example of society’s inclination for hysteria without good reason. The Ministry of Education ought to release information regarding other schools which have been set up for children who are similarly at risk – of which I assume there are many. If they could show concretely that children at these other schools do not, in fact, rape and pillage the surrounding communities perhaps the Stop Thursdon Place College movement would be satisfied – or am I asking too much of human nature?

  • Hi Cam, I’ve just seen your post about the constructed outrage (“putting our kids at risk!”) over the proposed Thurston Place College. (Thanks for the link to my post at The Paepae.)

    Good on you for the position you and Spanishbride take about the facility … yeah, I agree, it’s time for people in our neighbourhood to wise up and be part of the wider community. Spanishbride put it wellride about the fevered anti-school campaign:

    The cli­mate of fear and loathing that they are attempt­ing to build in my com­mu­nity dis­gusts me. SHAME on them SHAME!


    Of course, Cam, with your obvious hammer-Labour-at-every-opportunity predilection, you can be expected to latch onto any tendril of a chance to whack them, viz:

    I can no longer remain silent at the politi­ci­sa­tion of this issue by Labour against at-risk youth.

    … and leave your mates (I mean this) the National Party/faux National C&R/right-leaning National proxies unscathed.

    Can I point you to this June ‘Open Letter’ from ‘Independent’ (cough) Auckland Council Howick Ward councillor Sharon Stewart, who, it seems to me does a fine job of ‘politicising’ the issue — even threatening electoral ‘consequences’ if the fearmongering red necks aren’t listened to:

    Open message to PM

    Residents of Pakuranga and Bucklands Beach are up in arms about the proposed Thurston Place College, which will cater for up to 100 pupils under Child Youth and Family care.
    This college will back on to Pigeon Mountain Primary School.
    Parents from this school fear for their children’s safety and are actively fighting it if you would like to take time out to look at the website
    The education board is closing two other facilities, which had a record of poor governance, and is now planning to build on the Waimokoia School site that was also under a cloud.
    The board seems to be unable to give any assurances on how pupils will be controlled and local residences protected.
    No one has any confidence in the education board’s ability to run this school because the other two schools ended up being run by commissioners.
    Hopefully you can intervene and influence the Minister of Education not to proceed on this site.
    Remember this is an election year and, even though we all vote blue here, this issue could blow up in National’s face and MP Maurice Williamson may come under severe pressure if enough people get motivated.

    Howick & Pakuranga Times 23 June 2011

    Gee, Cam, Sharon ‘we all vote blue here’ Stewart said the issue could ‘blow up in National’s face’ with Pakuranga National MP Maurice Williamson coming ‘under severe pressure’? Really? Can it be true?

    Well, what do you know? Within days, according to Maurice’s potted history published 15 July Time to talk about school’s future, the Education minister slammed her own ministry for not carrying out ‘sufficient consultation’ and put the plans ‘on hold’. Wow.
    (Maurice’s column is worth a read as a masterclass in artful, say-NOTHING-really, soothing noises.)

    But the opponents of the school have, however, NOT been soothed. As you say, Cam, they are implacable. Their ill-motivated (IMO) ‘pressure’ campaign rolls on, with “Plans to lobby Auckland’s mayor and the prime minister were among the tactics discussed at the latest public meeting around the proposed Thurston Place College.”School protests resume 18 Aug

    I think I understand why you would seek to smack and smear Labour over the issue, but, jeez, what about your beloved National Party playmates?

    – Peter

    • Well Peter, I know for sure that the Thurston Place Nimby brigade have lost the support of Jami-lee Ross after targeting his function when he isn;t even the MP.

      I also know that the TPNB are telling a lot of porkies. That will come out soon enough.

      Maurice’s attitude also disappoints me. I doubt Sharon Stewart’s faux outrage and I seriously doubt that Maurice would come under severe electoral pressure from a vocal group of racist, bigoted, nimbys.

      Can’t wait till the next public meeting, i’ll be going to front these bigots.

  • Maurice’s atti­tude also dis­ap­points me. I doubt Sharon Stewart’s faux out­rage and I seri­ously doubt that Mau­rice would come under severe elec­toral pres­sure from a vocal group of racist, big­oted, nimbys.

    Cam: For someone with your National Party background and relationships to issue such a damning condemnation of Pakuranga MP  Maurice Williamson (‘Maurice’s attitude also disappoints me’) … well, I’m sure that’ll cut him deep, Cam, coming from you. Scathing. {snort}

    Sharon Stewart’s ‘we all vote blue here’ mafia protection racket-style letter to John Key (however divorced from reality) reminds me of the cleft stick democratically-elected officials inhabit. At one level they’re there to ‘represent their constituents’ and at another they have a role as ‘community leaders’. That’s democracy for you. It’s a dilemma.

    It might be said that Sharon Stewart is ‘representing’ the loathsome point of view of  ‘a vocal group of racist, big­oted, nimbys’ (to use your phrase).
    Is she one of them?  I have an opinion, based on the protracted  ‘race war’ the Howick Community Board waged the over the reinstatement of the little whare in Howick’s Garden of Memories.  But you can decide for yourself.

    We’ve discussed this elsewhere, but let me repeat: It’s not enough for our ‘representatives’ to just ‘represent’. There’s a time for leadership. That takes courage.
    My observation: Sometimes it’s hard. Many small c  conservatives find it easier and more electorally rewarding to live in the past and use dog-whistle codewords like Dick Quax’s  ‘Preserving Howick’s Heritage‘. Thus, the ‘politicisation’ of such issues to which you referred.

    The challenge for politicians who want to actually use their office to make a positive difference is to inspire communities to BE more and DO more … to move past parochial protectionism.

    Does Jami-Lee Ross fit that leadership model? Yeah, probably, in my view. He could do … but it’s sure not a given. Your comment that the NIMBYs have ‘lost the sup­port of Jami-lee Ross after tar­get­ing his func­tion’ makes me wonder … would they still have his support if they handn’t mis-handled him? Was it just their bad manners? Hmmm.

    Howick, I’m sure,  is not that different to any other community in that regard, and despite my occasional funk about some of them, overall, we’re probably no more badly-served than the rest of NZ, with exceptions. We get the politicians we desrve, as the saying goes.

    It’s human nature/the Tory raison d’etre to seek to ‘preserve existing privilege’. I understand that. I’m not immune to it. But Question: As a community, is it right that we share both the benefits and the burdens of actually being a community? I think it is. Others appear to disagree. Some in my neighbourhood seem prepared to go to near-hysterical ends, pursuing ludicrous political, quasi-legal and, as Spanishbride said, hateful means to oppose plans to school at-risk kids here.

    What? Anywhere but here? That’s disgraceful.

    You say the opponents of Thurston Place College are telling a lot of porkies, Cam. I’m not surprised to hear that. As my June post noted: The same type of people, employing the same tactics.

    – Peter

  • Just to note for the record, the outcome of the protracted anti-Thurston Place school protest action and lobbying government members ,,,

    Thurston school stopped  Howick Pakuranga Times 24/4/12 MEMBERS of the community calling for a stop to the development of Thurston Place College have been granted their wish.The Education Ministry announced last Friday that the proposed school in Bucklands Beach will be canned …” from these comments, the ‘bizarre’ protest at a John Key appearance in Jami-Lee’s Botany electorate is credited as one of the key (pun) factors in the ‘victory’ …

    Richard Spong, spokesman for the Bucklands Beach Action Society, which was formed to fight the development, is pleased the reasons outlined by the ministry to not go ahead are the same as the group campaigned on.“I was surprised they took on board everything we said,” says Mr Spong…. Mr Spong says two events in the year-long battle were pivotal: a protest during a visit by Prime Minister John Key to Botany, and Mrs Parata replacing Mrs Tolley.“That protest couldn’t have gone any better. It was really well planned. We had a big turnout and got to speak to John.“Having him say he was open-minded and he knew where we were coming from was reassuring.”

    – P