RRA Election time?

Is it time to review the function and performance of the RRA (Rakino Rate Payers Association)?

The objectives of the Association are set out in its Constitution.

At the Annual General Meeting candidates either volunteer or are persuaded to join the committee sometime later. There is no election process as is defined. Elected officers are those who volunteer for that role. Not much happens. There’s little or no communication with the membership. The Association doesn’t enjoy community support and more importantly respect. All fairly typical characteristics of any volunteer organization. Well-meaning. Volunteers doing their best, but is their best good enough?

In recent times things have been organized independent of the Association. We have enjoyed concerts at the Hall, the Nursery and at the Pizzeria. Yoga classes, art, weaving courses are all well received and supported. The community can make things happen if it has the will. Who needs the Association?

It does seem that decentralization will continue which questions the relevance of the Association and especially as it has seldom taken a lead or achieved much. The hall is but one example. Our emergency response capability is being withdrawn. The Association fiddles whilst Rakino potentially burns.

The Association is nevertheless essential as the body that represents us when dealing with say the Council. Council will only deal with the one voice. The problem with that one voice is that the committee is not democratically elected, doesn’t have a mandate on any position it takes, is seldom well informed and invariably reflects the opinion of the committee or some on it.

We have allowed this situation to occur. We don’t follow the prescribed process for the election of a committee and a Chair. We don’t give them a brief, a blue print for what we want for the Island, where we are going and how we want to get there. If we don’t manage change, it will happen regardless.

I believe the function of the Association should be three-fold;

  1. To achieve representation on the Waiheke Community Board.
  2. To represent the community with key stake holders and deploy expertise within the community for specific negotiations.
  3. To develop a road map which reflects the communities needs and aspirations, coordinate a blue print and invite people to take on specific function, unhindered. Performance is measured by success.

The Hall is a prime example as to why there must be change.

After years of talk, Stephen Thomas came up with a scheme to move and redevelop the existing building which he costed and presented to the community both on and off the Island. His concept was well received and he was congratulated on his initiative. We were to be canvassed for our thoughts. A no brainer really. Unfortunately, covid aside, nothing has happened. More of the same and for the same reasons.

We were told at the last AGM that Council preferred a new build on which premise a vote was taken to do away with the old and bring in the new. A concept by the Association was presented with a few boxes and improved vehicular access. It has since transpired that Council did not express that preference yet a new design is being developed after Stephen Thomas presented his vision and the ink had almost dried. Stephen had broad approval for his concept and has the skill set, drive and contacts to make things happen. Local trades, professionals and merchants offered their support. Meetings brimmed with enthusiasm and suggestions as to how it could happen and how individuals could contribute.

Stephen should be given the job to resolve the hall fiasco once and for all. He has the qualifications to present a concept and costings to the Waiheke Board, get approval from the Board, facilitate funding and consents, negotiate with Auckland Transport as regards transportation issues and bring the community together to build with fund raising if necessary. No one else on the committee has those skills and frankly they have had decades to demonstrate their capabilities. A significant job for a lone individual but Stephen is a team player and can call upon expertise within the community to finally resolve something which has been on the drawing board for decades.

No more delays awaiting the formation of a committee, no more waffle and grandstanding. Responsibility delegated to someone who know what they’re doing. Job done.

What else does the community need? Here’s but a few thoughts to make my point.


Lisa and Holly have shown to have the drive and passion to organize fantastic events with fantastic artists. They should be given carte blanche responsibility with an allocation of funds from the Association. The community should underwrite the associated costs and be willing to pay to participate rather than stand on the fringes and observe.

Sense of community

Why not our own flag, an Island logo, a letterhead, some merchandise that sets us apart. Let’s appoint someone with those skills, which may also include a programmer so that we can vote electronically on whatever design we prefer. The same program could be utilized at the AGM and at other significant decision times.

Other thoughts are; fruit trees along the berms, utilization of the land at the top of the Island for sporting events, a website which brings together all the other sites under the one umbrella, resolution of the mooring travesty, a welcoming committee for new owners, an information centre for visitors.

The possibilities are endless. Someone with a special interest or skill takes responsibility for a specific function after being provided with a broad outline of what the community wants.
Once again, answerable to us, not the committee which in time becomes largely redundant much as it is now but is no longer permitted to stymie innovative thinking or enthusiasm.

Thoughtful comment would be appreciated. The next AGM is over Labour weekend. Change is necessary now. I believe we need fresh blood on the Association. There are many talented impassioned people out there to make a real difference. I believe that needs to begin at the top.

Suggestion by Kevin Wragge

I’m not that skilled in drawing things.

My vision for the hall is a double-storied building with multiple functionality, modular in design, prefabricated to minimize costs but clever and inspirational in design to reflect the uniqueness of the “rock”.

I’ve found this image. 

Imagine this prefabricated box on a concrete base which incorporated ranch sliders to its three sides; which could be opened to the elements to act as a transport terminus and a sound stage for entertainment. Kitchen facilities could be incorporated at the rear. A smaller separate single level prefabricated box would incorporate bathroom facilities. 

Remember I’m talking modular. Everything comes over finished and is craned to site. Foundation work only would be required being a concrete base.

The top level would jut out as depicted in this image, affording shelter. Windows would be incorporated above although as this level would be used as a library, a gallery and a reflection place, wall space would be paramount. A solar array would be incorporated. Water tanks would be behind. Generator facilities would be incorporated in the secondary structure.

Vehicular access would be restricted and the area dotted with seating, appropriate plantings and local art.

A dedicated sheltered walkway would lead to the ferry with arrivals and departures separated.

One could even imagine a café and a venue for a fishing competition.

Opinion piece: Further thoughts on Rakino Hall developments…

Vladimir Lennon is quoted as saying “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

This could well be applied to the Rakino Rate Payers Association and the hall where something finally seems to be happening after decades of the same old, same old, trust me I know what I’m doing.

Perhaps the turning point was when Barbara proposed; in the absence of leadership from the Chair, a motion whereby those present at the Easter meeting voted to retain the hall or seek alternatives for the existing structure.

Certainly not a majority vote, but voted by those who could be bothered to attend the meeting which should be a wake-up call to everyone.

There is no point complaining if you can’t be bothered getting involved…and…. accepting in a democracy the majority reaches a decision and those who dissent retire with dignity. We have the opportunity to influence change now. Grasp that opportunity. Get involved. What is being talked about by the Association isn’t particularly inspirational. I’m not sure the Association has a handle on the complexities that present.

The Rakino Hall serves two functions;

  1. Transport
  2. Community

Fortunately, our civic leaders have provided the frame work for each;

In the case of transportation, the following documentation defines the way in which passenger capacity, functionality and operability is to be achieved in ferry Terminal design to meet customer expectations.


Rakino seems to fit into category one and as such this is what we might expect (copied with all spelling errors left as they appear);

4.1 Terminal Type 1 Unstaffed rural, suburban or urban wharf Type 1

Terminals are relatively low patronage Terminal locations but with the potential to grow over time. This potential growth shall be factored into the space planning of the Terminal design. Type 1 Terminals shall: • Provide full mobility access • Provide canopy, enclosed gangway or other suitable shelter structure for waiting passengers • Provide accommodation for at least 50 people with at least 10 seated 03 04 TYPE 1 TYPE 2 TYPE 3 DESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS 7 Ferry terminal design • Provide boarding platforms a minimum of 2 metres wide and 3 meters deep at standard freeboard heights of (900mm 1400mm, 1800mm) to provide near level boarding to the current ferry fleet and standard vessels specified under PTOM • Provide adequate fendering and mooring systems to allow design size vessels to safely berth in all weather conditions • Provide marine-grade non-slip surfacing resistant to scuffing by vessel gangways • Provide a safe passanger environment, fenced and gated to the fullest extent posisble to prevent accidential or unauthorised entry to water • Provide liferings and emergency ladders • Provide LED lighting to provide a safe level of brightness at all times • Provide full CCTV coverage for operational and passanger safety puposes • Provide a Public Adress system for customer service and safety announcements • Provide Emergency Help Points connected to the Auckland Transport Operations Centre (ATOC) • Provide Passanger Information Display screens (PIDS) showing real time service information • Provide AT WiFi connectivity • Provide for advertising screens to beinstalled by AT’s advertising partners • Provide AT HOP card validators (where AT HOP is utilised on services using the facility) • Provide Terminal name sign easily visible from land and water, Terminal location map and wayfinding signage to/from Terminal • Provide suitable shore supply for vessel layover incl. ducts and pipework for wash-down and multi-type/volt power connection(s) • Provide suitable storage facilities to meet ferry operator requirements • Provide litter and recycling bins • Provide timetable and customer information boards • Provide safety compliance signage • Provide cycle storage for a minimum of 10 cycles • Provide landside connections including shelter for bus services (where they are provided) • Provide car drop off point • Provide a means of closing the Terminal to public access after the last ferry service of the day.

In the case of community structures our civic leaders have provided this inspirational framework;

Community Facilities Network Plan (aucklandcouncil.govt.nz)

We are told;

Community facilities are an important part of realising the vision for Auckland to become the world’s most liveable city. They contribute to building strong, healthy and vibrant communities by providing spaces where Aucklanders can connect, socialise, learn and participate in a wide range of social, cultural, art and recreational activities. These activities foster improved lifestyles and a sense of belonging and pride among residents. The Community Facilities Network Plan (the network plan) provides a road map for how Auckland Council will invest in community facilities over the next 20 years

Toilets at the Hall

The Chair disclosed that AT was to upgrade the hall toilets; something I had not been aware of.

He suggested that exercise should be deferred pending a decision on the hall.

That makes perfect sense and suggests that AT recognizes (in part) its responsibility for Rakino’s transportation function.

A logical conclusion

Surely Rakino should simply give a fulsome thank you to our civic leaders…. we like what you’re saying and are happy to accept what you are offering.

Surely the cost should be borne by both Council and AT despite the confused distinction.

Surely any structure should be fit for purpose and inspirational but cost effective.

Surely any structure should become iconic within the Gulf, just as a simple phone box has become.

Surely everyone on Rakino should be coming up with ideas on what this new structure should look like and what function it should provide?

Rakino needs you!

The Rakino Island community has a couple of pressing issues requiring urgent attention. One is the ongoing problem of the undermining of our Hall by the unrelenting sea, and the other is our limited capability to deal with the unfortunate event of a fire.

The RRA committee is voluntary, and the weight of fire-fighting and Hall issues are reasonably heavy burdens to fall on a small number of shoulders. They are also complex, and require input from experts, and a lot of consultation with Council, and FENZ.

It’s a problem in small communities that it’s hard to get people involved in committees and volunteering generally, because most people are busy, hate going to meetings, and if you volunteer to do something you often get roped in further and further till you just start resenting the whole thing and regretting your initial enthusiasm. Another problem Rakino has is that we don’t have representation on the Waiheke Local Board. It’s easy to get overlooked and by-passed. Things can feel futile.

For a long time, the burden has fallen to the same people in our community. That burden could be lifted and shared equitably if more people could spare the time to participate. When we work as a team, we are more likely to see a resolution to the pressing issues, as opposed to endlessly re-litigating them year after year.
Your informed opinion and skills matter.

Below is an appeal to the community to get more involved in Rakino issues, penned by Kevin Wragge.

This website was originally set up to disseminate information, and facilitate some on-line democracy, so whether or not you agree with Kevin’s thoughts, any feedback would be greatly appreciated and welcomed.


Fire and Emergency Service on Rakino is at a crisis point. Your community needs you…. Now!

Politics is a tough game.

It can be divisive, explosive and more often than not unproductive.

When we stand on the side-line it seems the answers are obvious to all but a fool.

Get involved….and it’s not that easy, or so it seems.

The Rakino Rate Payers Association (RRA) is a case in point.

Nothing much seems to happen. They don’t hold meetings. They don’t issue minutes. They don’t even collect annual subscriptions. The AGM is a bit of a yawn… a push and play. We nevertheless know that some individuals like the current Chair, Chris Clews has done more than most for Rakino. He always puts his hand up. He’s a good guy…. he has passion for the place. He describes himself as the top of the tree. He accepts responsibility.

Should we care that nothing much seems to happen? After all we don’t like change!

Should we simply be grateful that a few of our neighbours feel they can contribute to a better Rakino, join the committee and allow them to do what they do…until of course it impacts on…. you…me …the cat…a wood pigeon…whom ever.

I personally couldn’t. I need to achieve.

The really impassioned and irate seem not to debate a problem over a fence but go instead to the top……Local Member of Parliament, Council…DOC…. or like me recently, the Waiheke Local Board. We know who they are. I’m putting my hand up.

May I acknowledge that I’m a thorn in the side of all RRA committees. Its politics after all. My mantra is; do something…anything…but whatever is done…you’re accountable…to me…. you…the cat and the wood pigeon. Some things don’t really matter. Some things however have serious repercussion.

The critical thing that we need to understand is; Councils, the Fire Service want to chew the fat with a representative of the community and in our case the RRA. They don’t want dissent. They want one voice. They want things rubber stamped or in our case put on the back burner for year after year, ad nauseum.

This leads to a very important point…just one of many.

Fire and Emergency Services on Rakino

The RRA has been told;

The organisational risk associated with untrained community groups firefighting is not acceptable.

We cannot provide training to community groups who are not registered volunteers. This would require the establishment of a volunteer fire force on the island, including all the requirements such as medicals, guaranteed turn out and response, maintenance of training currency and skills that will take up to 3 – 5 years to obtain.

The reason I am asking is to clarify some of the points discussed particularly around risk reduction and education options given training of volunteers, medicals, police checks, currency training and time required to train a Fire Fighter did not appear realistic to the group.

 I need to reiterate we cannot expose untrained people to the risks associated with fire fighting or the operational risk to Fire and Emergency NZ.  

 I am happy to assist the Community in Fire Reduction and Education but cannot support any additional equipment to untrained and unqualified members of the public for Fire Response.

Should we care; damned oath we should care.

Are you aware that one Fire Lord has already been withdrawn from service?

Are you aware that the RRA, which doesn’t hold meetings, is in negotiation with Fire and Emergency Services and has ignored what is perceived as the risk to the community (you and me) and suggested some of us will be trained in good time? That’s the sum total of the RRA’s response…other than constructing a little shed.

Do you realize that Fire Services are saying the community should not be providing a first response but instead should await the attendance of trained personal from a Fire Station in Auckland which has that capacity at the time? One imagines they trundle down to terminal 3 at the Ferry Terminal and await the next Belaire ferry service…Wednesday though it may be.

We are expected to watch our property or that of our neighbour burn to the ground.

It seems to me that the focus is on risk, not of property but of people.

Fair enough but life suggests that in an emergency event, everyone will rush to help. It’s happened before and will happen again…unfortunately. It’s what we do.

I’ve got nowhere with the RRA or Fire and Emergency Services (and believe me I’ve tried) and in desperation have a approached the Local Waiheke Community Board to inform them of our predicament.

Its not for me to make decisions on behalf of the community but it seems to me that Rakino needs to establish an initial response of its own.

We need land on which to have all equipment in the one place out of the elements, a command centre, develop an emergency strategy, work out whether we could indeed meet the requirements of registered volunteers and receive FENZ support, purchase our own equipment, take control.

What do you think?

You may wish to;

Comment here.

Seek clarification from the RRA

Seek clarification from Fire Services; ‘Tawa, Dale’ <Dale.Tawa@fireandemergency.nz>

Express your concerns to the Waiheke Community Board Cath Handley (Waiheke Local Board) cath.handley@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

This is something that cannot be ignored. We must get involved but in a constructive manner.

Kevin Wragge

What an ill wind blows to Rakino

Motutapu Island lies to the south West of Rakino and is part of the Hauraki Gulf Maritime Park

Waikalabubu Bay is more or less straight across from Home Bay.

The slopes of the foreshore have been fenced for stock management and nature has been left to do what it does best…unhindered.

Back on Rakino, there’s been an influx of noxious weeds in recent times and in particular moth plant.

Much effort by Auckland City and a small dedicated local team have been working hard to eradicate and control moth plant in particular.

The cost to the Auckland City Rate payer must be significant to pursue this ecologically important task.

There has been discussion as to why this once seldom observed weed has impacted Rakino so dramatically in recent times

It’s everywhere.

We may have the answer.

Beyond a sign at Waikalabubu Bay urging everyone to

“Help Keep our Hauraki Gulf Island Pest free”

Is the most significant area of flowering moth plant one might imagine could exist.

The infestation is predictably spreading either side of Waikalabubu Bay at alarming rates.

When recognized, the green of the moth plant is discernible from Rakino.

Obviously, the parachute like seeds are impacting Rakino and could well explain the expediential increase in the number of the plants in recent times.

Perhaps pressure from Rakino residents against the various custodians of Motutapu to take their responsibilities with some seriousness, rather than just erecting a sign, may result in some positive action to rectify…..before the seeds implode…..soon.