Cameras in North Dunedin

Received from Lee Vandervis
Tue, 12 Aug 2014 at 11:05am

Message: The email below is what I sent to Critic in direct response to their questions as further below. Critic editor Zane Pocock’s ‘Editorial’ fails to include any of my responses and instead fabricates false quotations. [see even further below]
I did not say “prevent vandalism” or “I don’t trust you little fuckers”, but Mr Pocock’s ‘Editorial’ gives reason enough.

—— Forwarded Message
From: Lee Vandervis
Date: Wed, 06 Aug 2014 20:41:00 +1200
To: Nina Harrap [Critic]
Conversation: Cameras in North Dunedin
Subject: Re: Cameras in North Dunedin

Hi Nina,

For decades, various attempts to stop couch-burning in public streets have been ineffective, and ratepayers should not be forced to carry the annual burden of hundreds of thousands in repair costs, to say nothing of the equally unaffordable costs of fire-fighting staff, Police and ambulance services.
Video is now a very inexpensive way to combat unaffordable criminal vandalism hot-spots, but Dunedin North has been exempted for various spineless reasons. A very few pyromaniac vandals have been taking advantage of this exemption, some of them students.
The Police would have access to the camera surveillance as they do in many other parts of Dunedin. I would anticipate that the Police would act with prosecutions only on evidence of serious criminal offending.
Cameras would not be an invasions of residents’ privacy as they would be in public places where anybody with a cell phone could also record similar images. Cameras would not need to focus on any residential property as they are concerned with protecting public spaces.
Mr Baxter has suggested that I would not like cameras recording outside my house. The opposite is true. If cameras had been recording, there might have been a chance of catching the tagger who made an expensive mess on a vehicle parked in the street last month.

Kind regards,
Cr. Vandervis.

On 5/08/14 9:00 PM, “Nina Harrap” wrote:

Hello Mr Vandervis,
My name’s Nina Harrap and I’m a reporter for Critic magazine. I’m currently writing a short piece about your proposal to install cameras around North Dunedin. I was wondering if I could possibly get a statement from you in answer to the following questions:
Why do you feel cameras in North Dunedin are a good idea?
Who will have access to the camera surveillance?
Won’t putting cameras up be an invasion of residents’ privacy?

My deadline is 5pm tomorrow (Wednesday), so your speedy reply is very much appreciated.

Nina [for Critic]

—— End of Forwarded Message

[Critic text article supplied. Header and image – screenshot by whatifdunedin]

Critic Issue 19 10 Aug 2014 Editorial 1,jpg

As reported by the ODT on Friday 1 August, Dunedin city councillor Lee Vandervis has called for video surveillance of Scarfie-ville to “prevent vandalism”.

There is a huge problem with this, and it’s because of how much students have improved their behaviour recently. Largely driven by a great effort from both the University and OUSA over the last few years, students have been working hard to correct a past prevalence of misdemeanours, all the while maintaining Dunedin’s reputation as an exciting place to grow up as young, energetic adults. The Hyde Street Party is now a well-controlled and safe event for students to let their energy off. Orientation is similar. Furthermore, the Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival even sees an effort by the students to provide something for the much wider community of Dunedin.

It has been a huge and noticeable improvement, and people like Vandervis undermine that. The clear progress in student culture needs to be encouraged. Taking several years of steady improvements before turning around and saying “I don’t trust you little fuckers” through a targeted invasion of privacy is counter-intuitive and stupid.

Vandervis is looking for a silver bullet when there is none. What there is, however, is a huge cohort of students who really do care about preserving the student culture of Dunedin. No, that doesn’t strictly mean binge drinking and fire starting. What it means is the conservation of a true student quarter and the existence of a true student town in New Zealand. Dunedin’s half dead without the University – the commonly held belief is that there’s not much else aside from the culture here to attract students.

As for privacy itself, the age-old argument that you don’t have to worry if you’ve got nothing to hide should have been abandoned long ago. One of the many oppositional points to this comes down to the sheer confusing nature of law. To the best of my knowledge, one of the reasons we have a judicial system is that a lot of legislative law is extremely convoluted, and a very large portion of our law is based on precedents set by judges’ decisions and not strictly written as rules, which is the common way of seeing law. Although our situation isn’t as confusing as that in the States where they literally can’t count the number of federal crimes that exist, it’s hard to actually know whether you live within the confines of the law or not.

And again, with reference to the States, sometimes people should have something to hide. Sometimes people should be breaking the law to amount pressure on lawmakers. Only in 2001 did Minnesota decriminalise sodomy, and thus, to a large degree, homosexuality. How about marijuana – there wouldn’t even be spokespeople for the huge positive change currently sweeping the States if people hadn’t lived illegally against an outdated and one-sided conservative belief system.

I also struggle to trust humans. People watching the camera footage will almost surely abuse their positions. They will laugh at people and they will put footage on YouTube (even though this would be illegal itself). This rounds out my final point: why can’t we have privacy for the sake of privacy? It’s fair to object to an invasion of privacy without even thinking about why you’re objecting to it. Going by Vandervis’ logic, should there perhaps then be a camera in each cubicle of any Octagon bar? The deadly assault earlier this year scared the shit out of a lot of people.

Otherwise, fuck it. You think students are apathetic? Just wait until power-tripping aggression makes things worse. I would hazard a guess that you’ll need even more security cameras keeping track of the student-spying ones.

Zane Pocock
Critic Editors

—— End of Forwarded Message

█ Source:–issue-19
Editorial | Posted 9:16pm Sunday 10 August 2014 by Zane Pocock.

Related Post and Comments:
1.8.14 University Partyville, North Dunedin: Put the cameras in ~!!

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Business, DCC, Democracy, Design, Economics, Events, Highlanders, Media, Name, New Zealand, Otago Polytechnic, People, Police, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Stadiums, Tourism, Town planning, University of Otago, Urban design

25 responses to “Cameras in North Dunedin

  1. Simon

    Students want warrant of fitness for rental accommodation. May I suggest that these students themselves should have to have a warrant of fitness before we allow them into our fair city.That would reduce the student population by at least 10,000.

  2. Elizabeth

    Further to Simon’s comment:

    ### August 12, 2014 – 5:56pm
    Medical students throw their support behind housing warrant of fitness scheme
    Dunedin’s medical students have thrown their support behind a national rental housing warrant of fitness scheme. They’ve started a campaign to support the programme recently trialled across the country. And those involved with the movement say the health issues resulting from poor quality housing need to be tackled head on. 

  3. Peter.

    While l can understand the rationale for surveillance cameras on one level the equally important question is: Who monitors the monitors? If the controls are not tight we risk the abuse of citizens right to privacy irrespective of whether they have something to hide.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Where can one expect to be “private”? On public streets? In cafes and shops, where strangers may see your every move, may overhear your conversations? There is a world of difference between surveillance cameras covering public spaces and spaces in which the public comes and goes (shops, art galleries etc) and covert nosey-parkering. This includes government spy agencies as well as voyeuristic pervs, stalkers, suspicious spouses and jealous ex-lovers who point cameras (or binoculars) at private windows, or install mini-cameras in public toilets and private homes. If you can be seen by normal non-pervy people you might as well be seen on camera, it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other. But if you are in a place where passersby, minding their own business, cannot see you yet someone wants to direct a camera at you because of those two 21st century excuses for barging uninvited into people’s lives – Safety and Security – I’ll be beside you protesting loudly against totally unacceptable intrusion.

  4. Elizabeth

    The existing CCTV systems and the volunteers who work with them don’t seem to have overstepped their authority. They work with the authorities.
    Every shop with camera security has my blessing, and so do our public streets if that’s what it takes to counter lawlessness and vandalism, or indeed poor driving and utter recklessness (dicing with charges of manslaughter) at intersections.
    Given so many own smartphones now, or indeed good digital or travel cameras – and lapel video cameras …. nothing is particularly free from surveillance.
    Keeping the nose clean is more important.

  5. Hype O'Thermia

    So right, Elizabeth. There is much more risk of finding one’s private activities shared worldwide with gigglers and sniggerers, from private phone cameras that can send pictures immediately online, than from CCTV systems under the control of local authorities / police. What’s more those “friendly” cameras are likely to be at your party, in your bedroom, in your car when you drive like an idiot, in all sorts of places where you feel safe from scrutiny. Don’t. Relaxing at home reflectively scratching your bum is so yesterday.

  6. Elizabeth

    I never open my curtains – what would people think. My doctor has prescribed Vit D. I’m pale but alive on screen and webcam.

  7. Hype O'Thermia

    I open my curtains but wear a false nose. You might like to try that. In my case it is rather flattering, being straighter than my own.

  8. Peter

    Whether it is CCTV cameras or private digital cameras it is all part of the invasion of people’s lives. One can potentially be as bad as the other when they fall into the wrong hands for the purposes of snooping.
    What exactly are the controls?

  9. Elizabeth

    In Dunedin, police want the city’s CCTV network expanded.

    ### ODT Online Wed, 13 Aug 2014
    CCTV surveillance expanding
    By Rebecca Ryan
    The eyes of the law are expanding across Otago. Oamaru’s first CCTV network could be operating next month, and in Dunedin, police are in talks about adding more cameras. The Waitaki District Council will install up to eight cameras at hot spots in Oamaru and their number could eventually double.
    Read more

  10. Elizabeth

    Mayor Cull needs to stop trying to score political points. As for the garbage from the ‘PC’ director of student services, a complete waste of space.

    ODT 1.9.14 Letter to the editor Wells [replies University, Mayor] p8 (1) ODT 1.9.14 (page 8)

  11. Elizabeth

    ### ODT Online Tue, 9 Sep 2014
    Area outside library monitored
    By Hamish McNeilly
    Young tearaways rather than bibliophiles are the focus of extra police attention in central Dunedin. Late last month CCTV cameras outside the Dunedin City Library were added to the current network monitored by police.
    Read more

    The article also says “talks were under way to extend the city’s camera network. That could include CCTV cameras along Princes St – between Moray Pl and the Octagon – and part of George St near busy late-night eateries.” Mayor Cull, to spite Cr Vandervis, does not want CCTV in the Tertiary Campus Area, obviously!


    ### ODT Online Tue, 9 Sep 2014
    Liquor laws ‘spanner in works’ for Cook
    By Vaughan Elder
    Plans to revive Dunedin’s best-known student watering hole could be hampered by proposed new liquor laws. Greg Paterson, one of three directors of Orari Street Properties Investments Ltd, which owns the building, said the Dunedin City Council’s proposed controls on bars had put a “bit of a spanner in the works” in their plans to revive the Captain Cook Tavern.
    Read more


    ### ODT Online Mon, 8 Sep 2014
    Students fear for ‘vibrant’ nightlife
    By Vaughan Elder
    The Otago University Students’ Association says proposed new alcohol laws could put students off coming to Dunedin by damaging the city’s vibrant nightlife. The Dunedin City Council is consulting on its draft local alcohol policy, which suggests bars should close at 3am (an hour earlier than the present closing time) and that there should be a 1am start to the city one-way door policy. The draft policy, aimed at reducing alcohol-related harm, also proposes banning the sale of shots of alcohol after midnight and that bars’ outdoor seating areas, on public footpaths, be cleared of drinkers from as early as 11pm.
    Read more

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Wed, 10 Sep 2014
      Bar owner challenges draft alcohol policy
      By Vaughan Elder
      Dunedin bar owners are angry at being left out of discussions over a draft alcohol policy which some fear would put them out of business. Dunedin Hospitality Ltd (Mac’s Brew Bar) director Richard Newcombe said it was not fair the Dunedin City Council had considered reports from police and the Southern District Health Board, while bar owners had been left out of the process.
      Read more

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Mon, 13 Oct 2014
      Work to revive student bar
      By Vaughan Elder
      Construction has started on a “more than $1 million” revamp of the Captain Cook Tavern, with the return of the student bar now certain. The Cook, founded in 1860, closed in June last year, but since then its owners have been working on reopening plans. Greg Paterson, one of three directors of Orari Street Properties Investments Ltd, which owns the building, said he expected the work to be completed within five months.
      Read more

      • Hype O'Thermia

        I’d like to see it return to what it was in its heyday, a university & community pub with a high proportion of adult patrons. University – not student. Staff of all ranks, academic as well as people from the many other roles that keep a university turning over, as well as students. Not many people, not even all those in their teens and early twenties, enjoy an atmosphere tailored to the delayed-adolescence demographic.

        • Elizabeth

          Good point. Given the architect and the owners I think that’s how it will arrange.

        • Elizabeth

          ### October 13, 2014 – 7:26pm
          Work begins to re-open the Captain Cook Tavern
          Construction work has begun on the Captain Cook Tavern, which is set to be re-opened.

  12. Peter

    Saddened to hear in Saturday’s ODT that the Botanical Gardens has become the new night time venue for drinking, now that there are restrictions from elsewhere.
    I realise that particularly for first year students getting pissed, away from home, on the streets of a faraway city has become some kind of rite of passage. Such behaviour has happened for generations, to be sure, but is it age perception on my part that the problem of excessive alcohol consumption is now so much worse?
    No easy fix given the hypocrisy of city/university leaders when they are so keen to use ‘Speights/ Rugby Culture’ for the university’s marketing. Getting rotten drunk, regularly, is not just a student activity.
    Those who have to attend to such people in hospital should put them down the priority list for treatment – unless it is life threatening – so they suffer the consequences more fully and, perhaps, think again.

  13. Elizabeth

    Related comment:

    I was a student at the University of Otago in 1978-79 before fleeing to somewhere better and as far away as I could afford to cater for my architectural design interests (University of Auckland)…. – two things, firstly, yeah that makes me old…. secondly, it makes me bloody pedantic on any topic related to alcohol abuse. At both universities we were far from naïve, when we became of legal age we partied – but infrequently by comparison to what’s happening now. Less money, less access to alcohol, less need to be wrecked for half the week or more, did not become habitual users of ED. We had more pride and respect for ourselves and each other. Now, there seem to be less or no boundaries of self respect or community respect attached to the drinking patterns of youth.

    Further, today we know alcohol causes cancer – back then we were happy enough to think of the odd binge as good form, complete in the knowledge that endorphins could still be worked up for high pleasure and ambition between times.

  14. I’d like to point out that this was private correspondence between Cr Vandervis and myself, and that the two of us were the only people who I thought would ever see it. I certainly didn’t show it to Zane, because I was a lowly intern working on a small news piece and so no-one cares what enquiries I make as long as I get the piece in before the deadline. So you really can’t blame him for not referencing your response in his editorial, seeing as he never saw it.

    Also, thanks a lot for letting me know that you were publishing our private correspondence… a bit of warning would be nice, I would’ve said yes but just putting an email I sent on the internet for anyone to see without telling me is a bit of a dick move.

    {If correspondence was intended to be in confidence with Cr Vandervis then you could have indicated that or provided a disclaimer, or simply phoned him to set out and agree terms. Everything is most usually negotiable. -Eds}

    • Mike

      I think that the use of quotes in “prevent vandalism” is obviously poor journalism on the part of a beginner (not you, the editorial writer) Lee obviously meant that in his mail, but that’s not what quotes are for.

      However, speaking of “dick moves”, making stuff up like “I don’t trust you little fuckers” is just not on, and obviously reflects negatively on Lee, what’s he going to do other than say he didn’t say that and show the world the proof, his correspondence with Critic.

      Lee’s perfectly allowed to put his email on the internet, while your email seems polite and professionally written and isn’t something you should be ashamed to have published.

      It’s the context that makes the issue and in the end it’s Critic’s editor who’s responsible for his own words.

      {Abridged. -Eds}

      • I’m not at all ashamed to have my private email published, just a bit shocked. Imagine my surprise when idly Googling my name to find one of the top hits being private correspondence that I was never told would go public!

        Also, I’m pretty sure Zane wasn’t intending the quote “I don’t trust you little fuckers” to look like it came from Cr Vandervis. When I first read his editorial (and re-reading it now), to me it seems like he’s using that more as a general statement of what he thinks the DCC or the non-student population of Dunedin might be thinking about students by proposing/agreeing with this legislation, not a specific quote from anyone.

  15. Elizabeth

    How and where amateur and professional journalism sits is a moving feast – and the status of emails, similarly.

    Topically, for me this week, emails/messages containing reference to an organisation’s files received for investigation, may have been automatically construed as files received by leakage…. in fact, official information requests had already legitimately placed the files in public domain, and subsequently the public including me have open access.

    It’s important to stay awake. Rather than be misinterpreted, personally and professionally. With that is the issue of whether you might look and sound enthusiastic and safely benign; or dangerous and unwieldy.

    Is it medium is the message?

  16. Phil

    When the opening line of the mail announces oneself as a reporter for the Critic, then the author is correctly assumed to be acting in a professional capacity (paid or otherwise) and not as a private individual. Can’t have it both ways.

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