Whakatāne Mayor Tony Bonne has described the New Zealand Herald’s approach to finding the best beach in the country as “flawed and, frankly, a bit silly”.
“When I saw the 10 finalists, I just laughed,” he says. “My first inclination was to ask the SIS to investigate possible Russian vote-tampering, but the Herald itself admitted that it had completely ignored popular opinion in determining which beaches people could vote for.
“Don’t get me wrong – the finalists are probably all great beaches – but when you ask for reader suggestions and then discard the beach that has five times more nominations than any other, your credibility is shot to pieces right from the start.”
Mayor Bonne is referring to Ōhope Beach, which was adjudged New Zealand’s Most Loved Beach in a nationwide AA online poll in 2014.
“Most people would have a view on what makes a great beach, but rather than leave the decision to the public, the Herald appointed three ‘experts’ to decide on the 10 beaches people could vote for. In my view, that’s farcical. Kiwis vote with their feet and they don’t need a so-called expert panel to tell them what can or can’t be considered the country’s ‘best beach’,” he continues.
“We have people who have come to Ōhope Beach for their summer holiday every year for 30 years and more. They keep coming back because Ōhope has everything – 11kms of beautiful sand; safe family swimming; a great surf break; heaps of kai moana; fantastic wind-surfing and stand-up paddleboarding; excellent surfcasting; and great cafés and shopping, all within easy reach.
“Added to that is the fact that we have the best climate in the North Island. NIWA records show we have more sunshine hours than any other northern destination, by a considerable margin, virtually every year, which means you can be sure that you will have the best possible opportunity to enjoy the beach while you’re here. So with all due respect to the beaches people can vote for, the Herald has my early nomination for the most meaningless reader poll of 2018.”
He suggests the Herald could partially redeem itself by introducing a ‘popular choice’ category, to give people an unconstrained opportunity to vote for the country’s real best beach.