Speech by Hamilton West Green candidate to Campaign for Better Transport in Hamilton

What follows is my speech as the Green party of Aotearoa New Zealand candidate for Hamilton West, delivered at the first public ‘Meet the Candidates’ meeting held in Hamilton NZ by the Campaign for Better Transport.

“Kia Ora, good evening Hamilton.

My name is Max Coyle and I am standing for the Green Party in Hamilton West.

Cars have ripped apart my family, and ripped apart communities. Over three successive years an entire branch of my family was wiped out by car accidents leaving 5 people dead and 2 of my cousins orphaned. The car culture which see’s a car as an aspiration and symbol of wealth in our country today is unhealthy, and also unsustainable. Cars kill and they are inefficient. With the rising cost of fuel and the environmentally destructive methods needed to obtain the black gold, this culture has to end, but that’s not really what I’m here to talk to you about, I’m here to talk about a healthier and more cost-effective and economically beneficial solution, excellent public transport.

Public Transport is about community and you always meet amazing people on trips. On the other hand, motorways are barriers that all too often cut through the heart of communities. Where public transport brings people together, motorways keep people apart.

When my son is older I would like to take him to the beach, or to one of our rivers (once the Greens have made sure they are all cleaned up) and on our trips there I would like to spend time with him, entertain each other and make sure that every moment together counts, I want to be able to look my son in the eye, because the day he was born I realized that those eyes are where I find the most powerful unconditional love in myself I never knew existed. Instead I have to watch the road for fear of killing us all. One of the great things about public transport is that I can actively engage with those I am traveling with, you can not do that in a car traveling at 100km’s an hour.

I often have to travel to Auckland or Wellington and currently that time is wasted. It will be great when I can get my laptop out and connect to the net and get some work done on my journeys. It would not only make me more productive, just imagine how much more productive our whole country could become. Has anyone been to a city overseas where the public transport was effortless? How amazing does it make your trip? I’m sure tourists visiting our 74% pure country would be stoked to have the same experience here.

With amazing public transport which is both cost-effective and comfortable, efficient and timely, well planned and well run, we CAN change the car culture we live in. Being stuck in traffic could become a thing of the past. Every day around Hamilton West I see people driving cars with no passengers. It doesn’t make sense to be lugging a couple of tonnes of metal around by yourself on most trips and it will make even less sense when petrol is $5 a litre.

We must plan for a city of the future Hamilton. We must grasp our opportunity to be an accessible and economically successful city, now and into the future. Which is why I am standing for the political party of the future in the city of the future. My name is Max Coyle and I’m standing as the Green Party candidate for Hamilton West and on November 26th I invite you, to PARTY VOTE GREEN”

I visited the Waitangi Tribunal Library for the first time ever last week. Not to do some research on ‘Wai 262’ though I heard from the receptionist things had been busier there over the past 2 days. My visit was to see something on one of the walls, not in one of the documents, or books on one of the many shelves, well taken care of by a wonderful team of dedicated people.

One of those people was my Uncle, which brings me back to my visit. When I was quite young over the space of 3 years a complete branch of my family was wiped out. 2 Uncles, 2 aunties and 1 baby cousin. The first accident was a drunk driver crossing the centreline and crashing into my Uncle’s car. The other car following my Uncle plowed into the back of his car, causing my Uncles Ford Capri to be crushed betwee the two, I can’t remember whether he died instantly or minutes later. Hamilton West Green Party candidate Max Coyle and his Uncle the late Brett Sinclair

Exactly a year after that, 3 days before my Uncles unveiling, his mother, my Great Aunty Rangi died. The clinical diagnosis was a heart attack, though the rest of the family talked about her dying of grief, even at 14 I was quickly learning how powerful grief was. I believed my relatives, that it was the last year since the death of her beloved son, Brett Sinclair, that had taken too deep a toll. Having seen Rangi 4 months previously for what would be the last time, I remember seeing the shadow of a woman, standing where a once vibrant, warm and welcoming aunty once greeted us with baking and soup and a hug whose absence leaves me cold even today.

Fast forward a year and the family is having another reunion, this time on a happier note and we are preparing for an Uncles wedding. Our grandmothers large house in Gore is full of relatives from all over NZ and all the young cousins/brothers/sisters/nieces/nephews are playing upstairs.

A knock at the door see’s a policeman at the door, cap in hand. he has come as death’s messenger and informs us that My Auntie Lee, Bretts Sister, her husband and their 1 year old son have been killed in a car accident en-route to the wedding after my Uncle fell asleep at the wheel. There two older boys, my cousins, survived the crash, and were never the same again.

Unfortunately I didn’t have time during my speech to tell this story, I wish that I had. National both during the public meeting and through their policies are saying that the numbers just don’t stack up on funding public transport. David Bennett the chairperson on the Transport Working group refused to accept the 11’500 signatures from Waikato people calling for a passenger train to Hamilton. My number is 5, 5 dead, and I wish that number counted for something.

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5 thoughts on “Speech by Hamilton West Green candidate to Campaign for Better Transport in Hamilton

  1. Max, great speech; your background in radio journalism shows!
    I’d have sub-edited a couple of grammatical things, but that’s just me being a grammar-nazi – your story is sobering, and unfortunately so real for many families.

    We live in a country where people think nothing of uprooting themselves & shifting for work, my parents did this many times – I got very good at avoiding the bullies in the new school, and I suspect my mordant sense of humour was developed during those days; but the upside is I’ve lived in many beautiful parts of Aotearoa before coming to rest in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington.

    It also means that I’ve spent a goodly portion of my adult life travelling to visit relllies, new baby in carseat, anxiously awaited by the grandparents and cousins at the other end of the journey wanting to greet the new addition to our wider family. I’ve seen many awful accidents on SH1, and for a while worked in clerical admin at the Ministry of Transport, before they were amalgamated with the Police.

    I have insisted that we stop, pull out the sleeping bags, and sleep until dawn in the carpark of the Mobil petrol station at Waiouru, for instance, much to the dismay of my English-born ex-husband, who was hell-bent on returning to civilisation asap – but I knew the trucking figures for that road, and the crash report figures, and I was adamant the better course was to arrive at our destination later, not risk continuing driving while tired and killing our entire carload.

    One of the saddest funerals I have ever been to was a young couple who died one year around 3am on Good Friday, travelling on a back-road they were unfamiliar with, trying to get to a weekend gathering of some of our friends at Ngongotaha, near Rotorua. The day started with the announcement that their parents had called during the early hours to say they weren’t going to arrive, then we all went to Palmerston North on the Tuesday after Easter to join with their families and friends from all over the country to farewell them. They were engaged, only in their early twenties, and a great loss to all of us.

    Adequate public transport service in regional areas is limited to those routes that have heavy tourism traffic – great if you want to travel to Queenstown, not so hot if you live in Wairoa or Gisborne, who lost their rail connection to Napier for passengers a long time ago. It’s time to see that these are vital issues if we are going to maintain rural communities who can sustainable continue to engage in agriculture, horticulture, and raising families safely in their communities without fear of the cost to get a child to the nearest Doctor or school.

  2. Max’s over-emotive hyperbole is disapointing, and is just the sort of thing that alienates voters. Saying “Cars have ripped apart my family, and ripped apart communities” is simplistic rhetoric, and analogous to saying:
    ‘Swimming pools have ripped apart my family, and ripped apart communities’ because some kids drowned, or
    ‘axes have ripped apart my family, and ripped apart communities’ because somebody chopped off a leg, or
    ‘chocolate chip cookies have ripped apart my family, and ripped apart communities’ because some people with no self control have scoffed them at an olympic pace.

    Its not cars, nor pools, nor axes or chocolate chip cookies that do these things, but peoples inepttude and in some cases just pure bad luck

    Trying to demonise an inanimate object and assigning it anthropromorphic attributes is one step from whitchcraft.

  3. I completely stand by my entire speech though I understand where you are coming from ‘misanthropic curmudgeon’, until all cars are self driven I personally think they are all unsafe armored transport vehicles (see Tank). Personally my thoughts are that NZ should be the first country to entirely roll out the Google Selof Drive Car system which could be fitted on our existing vehicle fleet now and reduce the road toll to zero instantly whilst cutting emissions by up to 70% whilst rapidly decreasing drive time and congestion.

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