We need the full story

Last updated 08:25 15/09/2012

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OPINION: A few weeks ago the New Plymouth Rotary Club organised a fundraising evening for the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Nick Smith was the speaker and the topic was the proposed local government reforms.

A good crowd attended and the net result was we were able to donate a few hundred dollars to a good cause.

Ironically the event was held on the very day the tragedy on the Paritutu rock occurred, making the recipient of the funds particularly worthwhile. One chap even approached me at the end of the night and gave me an extra $10 to pass on, saying he'd once had to use the service and thought it was an essential one for the region.

It was a nice PS to the evening, and everyone was happy.

Since then of course, stories in this paper have highlighted the perilous state of the trust's finances, with the threat that we may lose the service altogether.

Like many people in Taranaki, I get the feeling there is more to the story than meets the eye.

As an aside, I've never really worked out why Eltham's helicopter whiz Alan Beck was dumped. He was an absolute genius at getting people off the mountain, or out of tricky situations, and is widely recognised as one of the best in the business in this country.

It appears he may have to come back and do the job again, and presumably it would be a lot cheaper than the current service for the very simple reason that he already has his own helicopters.

At this stage, the trust seems to be on its last legs, which would leave an unpleasant taste in the mouths of those who worked to raise funds, and the many Taranaki people who gave money to the cause.

I accept Mark Masters and his trust have worked hard and must be incredibly frustrated at what's happened, or is in the process of happening.

But given the amount of public funding it has received, I think it only proper that we are told the full story.

And as for one letter-writer during the week describing me as having 'the old white guy" point of view, I think that the writer is being racist. As always, anyone disagreeing with my views is welcome to disagree and put forward an alternative argument.

However, here we have another instance of name-calling, which doesn't worry me one iota.

To be frank, it's more of an insight into the writer's mind than anything else.

So I am white. The relevance is? Bringing up the colour of my skin hardly advances his argument, other than to label me.

And I am old. Gosh, that reeks of ageism, does it not? What is the relevance of that? Just another label to discredit my views, to some. Without wanting to waste too much space on the issue, all I will say is that age brings about a certain wisdom as we accumulate and learn from experiences. That's one of the reasons why Maori respect and bestow the title of kaumatua on many of their old people. Can you imagine the uproar if I dismissed one of their views by describing him as 'the old brown guy". I wouldn't, of course; that would be disrespectful and miss the point entirely when it comes to debating an issue.

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By the way, I saw something strange on the telly the other morning. It was on the Breakfast Show on TV One, in between Petra talking and the zany weather guy racing pygmy horses, or whatever he was doing that morning.

The Young Guns from Parliament were doing their bit and were talking about Paula Bennett's new government policy.

Naturally National MP Jamie Lee Ross was singing its praises, but what was astonishing was, when it came to Labour MP Chris Hipkins to comment, he said he actually agreed with it! Well done, young man. It was a magic moment, if only for his refreshing honesty.

Finally, it was with some weariness that I read the release from the New Plymouth District Council that its customer service was recognised with three national awards.

I quote: 'The Association of Local Government Information Managers (ALGIM) has given NPDC awards for Customer Service Team of the Year, Team Leader of the Year and Manager of the Year," it read.

Stop right there. I agree the customer service there is great, but the reality is that if you throw enough people at it, you'll do a good job and pick up a few meaningless gongs along the way.

Trouble is, we are footing the bill for the ever-increasing number of staff members, so forgive us if we don't quite join you in celebrating this meaningless accolade.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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