Letters to the editor
Outgoing Associate Transport Minister Simon Bridges is looking at leaving his mark.
I thank him for looking at speed limits outside schools, but his plans are not going to make much difference to schoolchild road safety.
Don't be fooled by all the positive jargon in his media statement; it's just a smokescreen. One of his comments really irks me: he talks about rural areas "where parents dropping off and picking up their children must also deal with high-speed through traffic".
Fair enough. In rural areas, the traffic does travel at ridiculous speeds, but this does not take into account those hardy souls who walk or bike.
It is these most vulnerable citizens that we need to address with a 30kmh speed limit - only at busy times - as studies show it to be the absolute maximum safe speed for children.
When children are in the company of their peers, their unpredictable nature at all ages has the potential to prove fatal on our roads in the absence of protective speed limits.
School speeds need to be simplified, not made more complicated. A national school speed limit is the only logical solution, with a maximum speed outside schools of 70kmh during daylight hours and 30kmh during busy times. Even on 100kmh roads, this will not impact drivers' journey time.
These variable speed trials are just a waste of taxpayer money, and have the potential to cost another child's life along the way.
Sadly, the message remains, as it was before Simon Bridges took on those precious reins: children are not welcome on the road.
I hope that Michael Woodhouse, our new associate transport minister, will take a more practical approach and make safety outside schools actually happen.
Though perhaps a little late this season, the sound of cicadas is a sure sign of high summer. It seems as if it heralds the sacred day on nature's calendar which falls, this year, on February 2 - midsummer.
As Peter Dunne has recently suggested, I've long thought the official summer holiday should be in the settled weather of February, which instead sees many already back at work and is back-to-school time.
The ancients of our old religion called the day Lughnasad. It's also called first fruits and half harvest, so can be celebrated as such. On the surface, it's a time of plenty, but before our people brought the fruit trees, which now form a part of the harvest, it should be noted that the day was called lean time or te waru by Maori.
But nowadays, we're able to hold our local festivals Blues and Brews, Beerfest, Wine and Food and Maritime around this day. It's the right time to celebrate the "fruiting" in our own lives; then contemplate "ripening" achievements and decide what to carry forward.
Halfway between summer solstice and autumn equinox, the days are getting shorter and the light is waning, so midsummer is a time to contemplate change, squirrel stores away and prepare for the darkness to come. "Yeah, right," I hear you say. What with the present heat, fire risk, little rain and typical Marlborough weather, I can't blame you.
- The Marlborough Express