In a world of earthquakes, tsunamis, nuclear meltdowns and civil wars, Havelock North faces what many in the village regard as the ultimate disaster … the arrival of McDonald’s.

Last week’s announcement that McDonald’s has finally lodged its consent application to build an outlet at the main entry point to Havelock North has stirred up all sorts of reactions — outright disgust and horror from some … to ridicule from others that HN residents are being a bit precious about the whole thing.

In any situation where citizen emotions run high, our local officials can respond one of two ways.

Path #1: They can run for cover — duck the issue entirely or try to slip the matter through the process with as little visibility and public participation as possible … often following the letter of the law, but disrespecting public apprehensions.

Path #2: Or they can engage the public pro-actively — explain clearly what’s going on, and make an effort to mollify concerns … some of which might turn out to be either uninformed or addressable.

It appears the Hastings Council hasn’t yet made up its mind which path it will follow.

Last week, BayBuzz queried the two Havelock North HDC Councillors — Wayne Bradshaw and Scott Henderson — on whether they expected “any form of public consultation” on the McDonald’s issue.

Henderson seemed to believe that was a matter for McDonald’s to decide. He replied: “I’m not  sure. McDonalds may consider this once they have their answer from Resource Consent Division of Council. You would have to ask them.”

Bradshaw replied: “I would imagine only if the Council says the Development must be publicly notified.”

I thought I was throwing these elected representatives a softball! But neither Councillor exactly leapt off the bench to champion an opportunity for their constituents to ventilate on the matter … and perhaps shape at least the look and feel of this latest addition to HN’s culinary menu. Better to lie low and avoid being put on the grill.

That leaves the HDC staff to make the call as to whether any sort of either official notification and submission process, or informal town meeting, should be initiated.

For its part, McDonald’s could show a bit of ‘good neighbor’ concern about how the locals felt about its plans, and initiate its own forum to engage the public. Perhaps McDonald’s believes the smell of fresh burgers wafting through the Havelock North CBD will soon enough overcome any initial bad tastes its presence engenders in the community.

If so, that’s poor PR judgment on the part of McDonald’s … including local owners of the franchise.

It’s bad enough — and probably unavoidable — that putting a McD’s in Havelock North, especially at this prime entry location, would offend some sizable segment of the local population. But it’s bad form to rub salt in the wound by ignoring community concern and avoiding public dialogue (much of which might relate to ‘in what form’ and ‘where’, as opposed to ‘whether’). Not the right way for a new resident to arrive in town.

Save the salt for the burgers and fries, McD’s and HDC!

Tom Belford

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12 Comments

  1. I disagree with you Mr. Williams. It is widely known that fast food affects the general health in a really bad way. New Zealand is the second worse country in the world straight after the USA with diabetes rates going through the roof. I think the government should start at the roots to adress this problem, by making it difficult for chaines like Mac Donald so spread all over the country.

    Regarding your comment that the law should treat businesses equally – perhaps the law should treat people in this country equally to start with – one just has to look at the new masterpiece of law our National Government has produced.

    It should be about right or wrong and Fastfood is wrong and makes people sick.

  2. There are many food and beverage establishments in and around Havelock North which have opened over the past few years.

    Where was the desire for public consultation when Bay Espresso opened a Havelock North branch? Well simply put, there wasn't any.

    So just because a section of the public disapprove of a particular food and beverage provider, they should be able to veto the establishment of that business?

    I'm no great fan of McDonald's, but surely the law (or district plan in this case) should treat businesses equally, irrespective of the badge displayed out the front. It's a slippery slope when we start applying the law as we please.

  3. Serving food which lacks nutritional merit isn't unique to McDonald's is it?

    That quintessential kiwi favourite the mince and cheese pie is also full of saturated fat and other such nutritional no nos. There are a number of bakeries in the village that serve pies, should they be banned?

    The local New World probably has a hearty "Pick n Mix" lolly section. Perhaps supermarkets should be banned as well?

    There is also a roast shop that has opened recently. Lamb is full of saturated fat and roast potatoes aren't much better than fries. Ban roast shops as well?

    Where is the personal responsibility in all this? If I want to devour an artery clogging lunch, then surely I should be free to do so? Silke, would you prefer to make this decision on my behalf?

    Silke, this sounds rather contradictory to your stance on fluoride. With McDonald's you want to tell people what they can and can't put in their bodies, because you have deemed that it is for the greater good. Yet with fluoride you don't want people who have deemed it is for the greater good telling you what you can and can't put in your body.

  4. I agree with Michael, Silke's argument is simplistic, and where is personal responsibility? Not fair to pick on Mcd's when other places also offer high fat content food as he has pointed out.

  5. For goodness sake – what's the problem? If people want to eat at McDonald's it's their choice. If they can't get it in Hv Nth they will use more petrol and pollute the environment more to get it elsewhere. Junk food addicts only need to go to the local supermarket to be in junkie food heaven – even supposedly healthy food is either highly processed with additives of many nasties or not as fresh as they try to tell us. As for the so called blot on the landscape – well we have a Mc Donald's in Taradale which is one of the most attractive art deco buildings. The only eyesore is the familiar red and yellow sign. The shopping centre in Hv Nth actually looks like any beach side development in Western Australia – cheap buildings all looking alike – much like the items available from chain clothing stores all over the western world. There are many very real serious issues all around us which people should be thinking about.

  6. Oh gosh – some heated discussion – great. Sorry for my simplistic aproach. I agree, that banning food chains like Mc Donalds won’t solve the problem. And to be honest I don’t really care about the appearance of Mc Donalds shops so much, I care about peoples health.

    And unfortunately New Zealand has the 2nd highest Obesity Rates in the WORLD straight after the USA! Diabetes Rates going through the roof. The Health Boards and Hospitals are already struggling to cope with the demands. Thats what the problem is Diane and thats what concerns me.

    I don’t want to take away any responsibility from people as to what they eat, but its obvious that a large part of the New Zealand population don’t make the right food choices.

    This problem is not going away it has to be adressed in some way. I am not an expert, I don’t have the answers, I am just a concerned individual.

    Here are few ideas from my simplistic brain on how we could start educating people on healthy nutrition:

    – teach healthy Nutrition in Schools, Kindergardens
    – offer healthy, affordable food choices in schools, universities
    – subsidise healthy food choices like milk, good bread, fruit, vegetables, cheese so people with low incomes are able to make the right choices
    – organise school gardens, cooking classes in schools and educate/ involve parents
    – organise community gardens
    – subsidise gardening classes on how to grow your own vegies & fruit

    It would be great to have a constructive exchange on how to improve the health of the New Zealand population. Any ideas anybody? Would love to hear your thoughts on that Michael.

  7. Silke you forgot what all New Zealanders really need and that is to walk!!!Exercise would go a long way to fixing a fat nation.

    MacD's not all bad.Opportunities for employement and that is a plus even in Havelock North.

  8. As a mother of a child with multiple food allergies I celebrate Mc D's coming to Havelock Nth. They provide information on all their food and which allergens are in which items. I have suffered many a blank stare at cafes around the bay when asking what ingredients are in food (although some have gone out of there way to accomadate us). It's great to be able to go out for a meal with my family and McDonalds is a safe option. Agree with comments re personal responsibility. Education is important and there is a lot of information out there.

    Well done Strawberry Patch on having dairy free ice cream!

  9. I suspect all of us commenting here can make the 'right' choice when it comes to food and exercise, but obviously not everyone can or does and for a variety of reasons – loss of, or lack of knowledge about nutrition, busy hand-to-mouth lives/low incomes, etc. We are not all armed with the same information to lead 'ideal' lives. Look how much effort Jamie Oliver had to make to change the thinking about those American school lunches!

    Personally I dislike the taste of mcds, but suffer it on children's birthdays if it is a treat. And even though I think HN looks pretty awful these days with the weak architecture, (I used to work in HN when there were some interesting 1950's buildings), the addition of mcds is surely not an improvement, and I'm sorry HN but most times I eat in your cafes and bakeries the services is poor and unfriendly but again I don't think mcds will improve this. I also can't agree that employment for the sake of employment is a good thing either – follow this argument to a conclusion and all forms of employment are good! are they?

    but i am glad we have freedom of speech – cheers and good luck!

    PS I do like the idea of gardens in schools.

  10. I would really hate to tell people what to eat, but any way you try pretty it up, fast foods have a fairly negative affect.

    It encourages people to become lazy with cooking-(A skill we could all probably improve a lot on-not to mention a perfect opportunity to get a family involved in something constructive), and a majority of the food is especially harmful. The Mcdonald's fries are heart clogging and the burger patties are full of poisonous preservatives.

    And, though it may provide employment, it will no doubt steer our shoppers away from our local cafes and restaurants to a cheaper and somewhat easier alternative, that is Mcdonalds. I think my dollar would be better off supporting a local company that i know will buy local and sustain a healthy provincial economy.

    If anything, we should be keeping fast food at bay, or better yet, out of the bay.

  11. I agree it's great to support local businesses. But isn't the Havelock Maccas goin to be owned and operated by a Havelock local? Who as I understand it also owns the Hastings branch and through this supports a broad range of community activities. Won't it also employ local people? And provide things currently lacking in Havelock like free wifi?

    I don't expect to change anyones point of view on this, but it's simplistic to just dismiss it on the basis it's a McDonald's. That said all our debate doesn't count for much, as consents aren't about public opinion.

  12. As an annual visitor to Havelock North and a much travelled Englishman, I have an inbuilt loathing and dislike of McD, for the food they serve, for their dubious advertising and also for most of their buildings. Having said that, private enterprise has a right to flourish. What concerns me most about the proposed arrival of McD in HN is the very prominent site and how it will be developed. Handled badly it could be an absolute nightmare and look like the gateway to a Disney type of toy town . Much of modern HN building is third rate, out of proportion with neighbouring buildings and with zero architectural imagination. This must not continue with new buildings whether McD or a proposed new and larger supermarket. It is the duty of HN residents and shoppers to be vigilant and alert to all building permits.

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