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Diving by boat ramp a ticking time bomb

Letter

Re: Have fun kids, January 11 letter.

Sometimes you cannot ignore stupidity, B. Brown.

The last time I checked we had water to burn, bridges (the signs banning jumping have even gone) and the railway bridge set up so youngsters can jump and enjoy.

Now, I have had the distressing experience of seeing a photograph of a body shredded by a boat propeller. If you can imagine your worst nightmare for a kid, that would have to be it. I would not like to go to bed at night with that vision on my mind knowing there was bugger all I could do to avoid it.

So, B. Brown, if you think dive-bombing by the boat ramp is a birthright, it is in the same league as someone in Vietnam playing hopscotch in an old land mine area; stupid, but perfectly acceptable as a birthright you need help, urgently.

We have one city boat-launching facility designated by the council and the port authority in the harbour (the Marina one is fraught with issues, least of all tidal fluctuations and the high use of the popular waka ama clubs).

This issue has bugger all to do with birthright and everything to do with safety, stupidity and outright flaunting of harbour regulations, supported by our Harbourmaster, the council and Ngati Oneone, amazingly enough.

I will bet dollars to donuts when someone (not “if”), God forbid, is seriously injured or worse, the so-called supporters won't be seen for dust; the finger-pointing will be of epidemic proportions.

Why not just obey the rules and get on with enjoying the abundant environment we have in Te Tairawhiti somewhere else? That would be a great result, instead of supporting behaviour that will end in tears sooner or later. This is a ticking time bomb and it distresses me a lot.

P.S if this is about so-called privilege, reading between the lines, I would love to hear the definition without any bias — because last time I checked, the ramp was used by all sections of this magnificent piece of New Zealand that we call paradise.

Murray Ferris

Regular fisher and harbour user, recipient of unpleasant comment from jumpers and witness to dangerous behaviour

  1. Tanya Hawthorne says:

    I absolutely agree Murray. It is crazy that kids are allowed to swim and jump alongside launching motor boats. There are plenty of other jumping spots.
    Great letter.

  2. Scooter says:

    I’m getting quite tired of the moaning by the boaties about kids swimming by the boat ramp. It seems they are constantly moaning about something (parking, toilets, kids swimming…). I would like to congratulate the inner harbour management for coming up with a solution which takes into consideration ALL users of the harbour. From what I have seen at the harbour it looks like a workable solution. There is a need to learn to share the inner harbour with others, just like roads are shared with cyclists and pedestrians – care must be taken when others are around. Kids have been swimming there long before there was a port.

    1. Tanya says:

      At my place of work I have to wear hi viz everywhere, and there are designated areas we have to stick to because of the risk of vehicles. Health and Safety is a major, major deal.
      How is it that kids are able to swim amongst boats in a loading area and people are arguing that they should be allowed? The whole thing is bizarre. Surely it should be a law with no room for debate?

  3. Winston Moreton says:

    Eastland Port Limited seems to be quietly but persistently edging out the small boat community. How many are aware the port has applied for consents to upgrade its dredging of the harbour basin and the port navigation channel in this same Small Boat Harbour?
    Was the Port’s application notified in the local newspaper?
    Are local news media aware that Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust has formally notified an objection to the Port’s proposal on the grounds the proposal is in breach of the Chief Judge of the Environment Court’s recent decision and the legal requirement for the port to consult with Te Tai Uru Group? Were small boat owners rights to access, dating back centuries, considered? If the newspaper is aware of the Port’s proposals why does it not report them?

    Common sense suggests the port development is unnecessary and a waste of resources. It also involves dumping. The hugely cheaper option of rail to Napier (millions less) would produce more jobs, fewer environmental impacts and a cleaner, more efficient result.

    Do our rank and file councillors even know about the Port’s application?

    Footnote from Ed following discussion with an Eastland Port representative:
    With the heavily-sedimented Waipaoa and Turanganui rivers flowing into Turanganui-a-Kiwa and the harbour, dredging is an essential operation required to maintain a safe and usable harbour basin and navigation channel — for all boats, large and small, commercial and recreational. It is part of the port’s business-as-usual operations.
    The port’s dredging consent needed to be renewed recently. It was publicly notified and was in The Gisborne Herald; from this only one submission was received. The port is now working through the details with the submitter, and hopes to have this resolved early in 2021.
    The dredging application and subsequent submission occurred before the Environment Court decision was handed down and the consultative partnership with the hapu of Turanganui-a-Kiwa was formalised.
    Contrary to Mr Moreton’s assertation, the above dredging consent was not part of the Environment Court decision. That decision and its conditions relate specifically to the granting of consent for stage 1 of the port’s twin berth project, which includes rebuilding Wharf 7 and the slipway.
    Mid-2021, the port will apply for consents for the second and final stage of twin-berth development, which will include extending Wharf 8, around 1.5 hectares of reclamation, some additional dredging, and rebuilding the outer breakwater structure. Community consultation is a key part of the stage 2 consent process, and will include presentations, newsletters, emails, drop-in sessions, updates in the media, a website and other opportunities for people to share their feedback.

  4. Ken Ovenden says:

    Hi Murray, you are so correct. I went down and had a look at the “trial area” this morning and two points were immediately apparent. The first was that the area was so small to be ridiculous – kids could easily jump on top of one another. But the worst was the very obvious water quality. This inner port area has one of the most polluted streams around draining into it. No one should be swimming there; personally I would not even allow a dog to swim in it. Has the water quality been tested by the port, GDC or health officials before allowing this trial? Where are the health and safety officials? Still sitting in their office while they allow swimming in a working port area, poor-quality water and a tiny “trial” area that is an accident waiting to happen? When there is an accident (hopefully not), watch the Harbourmaster and GDC top brass take to the horizen in his flash new boat (yes, that waste of ratepayers’ money) to try to dodge any responsibility.

  5. Bob Hughes says:

    Hi everyone, I was a kid during an era when most road user were pedestrians or cyclists, and most thought of boats as craft powered by oars or paddles.
    When our family settled here early in WW2, well before the jet-skiing and leisure craft, well before those swimming signs went up, the Cut near the Turanganui river mouth was our water playground.
    The new concrete retaining walls and nearby bridges were our diving/jumping platforms.
    I agree with Scooter: “There is a need to learn to share the inner harbour with others, just like roads are (I add, should be) shared with cyclists and pedestrians . . .”
    Just as nine or 10 years back we eventually got those those “share the road” signs up, I would like to see the same standards for our water places.
    Just like motorists should not think they own the road, it’s time for all boaties to share their favoured domain.
    Kids have been diving and swimming since long before motorboats were invented. Please let our youngsters take some risks and have fun. They have enough restrictions already. Remember, we were all kiddies once.

    1. Craig Miller says:

      It astounds me to read just how many do not comprehend the seriousness of this situation and all they see is that kids are being unduly picked on.

      B Brown are you also saying that it is your birth right to break the law which is what is happening with Eastland Port, Ngati OneOne and Council approval. The Gisborne District Councils appointed Harbourmaster has also decided that the bylaws of which he is responsible for enforcing do not apply to him.

      Scooter, obviously you are not a boat owner yourself because if you were then you would understand what the boating community must deal with on a regular basis. So, it is OK for other community groups to moan about not being catered for by Council but not the boating community. We have a large ever growing boating community yet adequate parking has not been allowed for by Council & we are at fault really! While care is taken by those using the ramp, it can be very difficult to see a person’s head let alone a kids head when they are swimming in the channel believe me a lot of us have had to take evasive action once we realize just what is in front of the boat.

      Bob based your comment about sharing the roads with cyclists & pedestrians, you wont mind if I walk down the road in front of cars and pose a risk not only to myself but other road users because this is exactly what ramp users face with kids swimming in the ramp and the shipping channel, which by the way is deemed a legal road.
      While you may support the prospect of letting kids take the risk of getting injured, what of the boat owners should they be the ones to also take the risk of causing harm, I know I certainly do not.

      A little unknown fact is that the council investigated putting a dedicated jumping platform in the river but once pointed out by their own H & S staff that this posed a risk to council and not only that they may have had to supply a lifeguard the idea got canned, so tell me how is this any different that what they are doing now.

  6. P Millar says:

    One wonders what will happen if it is a port vessel, or the Harbour Master boat is involved in a collision with a swimmer? Would Bob Hughes take kindly to pedestrians jumping on front of cars on our roads? Ken also makes valid points. Consider a broken neck from a collision of jumpers in that confined area?? Who holds the can then?

    1. Martin Kibble says:

      This is the “new normal’ No By-Laws and No Democracy P. Millar . . . .
      Let’s send the local kids out to the airport to ride their scooters on the runway. Then send them to ride motorbikes in the Skate Park.
      They can always paddle their canoes in the Olympic Pool then race their Go-Karts up and down State Highway 35. We can now teach ’em how to juggle chainsaws – that would be just as good as running ’em over with a boat surely! It’s all good as we have more American doctors in and E.
      Question is: will the council pay for the first tangihanga?

  7. Bob Hughes says:

    Craig. Understand please it’s hard for me as a non-motorboat or vehicle owner to see it your way.
    Many years ago jumping in the wharf area amongst the moored fishing boats, harbour-board craft and visiting freighters was a popular activity for kids, myself included. I know things were different then – kids had more freedom before mid-last century. Though not exactly jumping in front of cars, kids were encouraged to walk on the right side of the road approaching traffic where there were no footpaths.
    The rules were that motor vehicles travelled at a speed they could stop at half the visible distance, and pedestrians were always alert.
    I know those old days have gone, but it would be nice if we could get the tolerance and sharing attitudes back again. Like Scooter said, “let’s learn to share the inner harbour with others”.