Let?s talk about facts: Sir Ray Avery

There?s been a lot of noise in the media recently about a concert at Eden Park. In this article, I hope to turn the volume down, so that we can focus on the facts.

Sir Ray Avery was planning to hold a concert at Eden Park, with the hope of raising $4 million to produce 2000 Lifepod incubators.

Eden Park was chosen for a number of reasons: it is the largest capacity stadium in the country, it has good proximity to the city and good public transport connectivity. The Eden Park Trust also agreed to waive the venue hiring fee.? It has been suggested that Mt Smart would have been a more appropriate concert venue, however, they did not agree to waive the hiring fee. For a charity concert, that?s a pretty important fact and is definitely going to influence the choice of venue.? ?

The problem with Eden Park is that while the Auckland Council?s Unitary Plan provides for up to six concerts a year, is it considered a ?discretionary activity? and as such requires a resource consent. ?However, it was hoped that the Trust could work with the minority that objected, and reach an agreement for this event, as a one-off, and avoid the Environment Court process. Sadly that was not to be, despite the support for the concert.? Quote:

A poll released by the Eden Park Trust has found that an overwhelming 91% of surveyed Aucklanders support the proposed ?Million Babies? concert, despite objections by from some local residents.

The survey by polling organisation found city-wide support for the proposed LifePod Appeal charity concert on Waitangi Day 2019 with 87% backing for the event from respondents in suburbs close to Eden Park.

In another question, a poll of 350 residents from nearby neighbourhoods found 75% supported the idea of up to 15 evening concerts a year, on top of its current sporting calendar.

However, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, who lives near Eden Park, is one of 127 objectors to the proposed charity concert for Sir Ray Avery’s LifePod incubators for premature babies, calling it a “Trojan horse” for more night concerts at the park.? End of quote.

This graph from Stuff shows the support.

The Eden Park Trust?s lawyers estimated that it would cost in excess of $750,000 to follow the process to the Environment court. It’s clear that is not a viable option.

Eden Park began as a cricket ground back in 1903 and has developed into the 50,000 seat capacity that it is today. ?Anyone who now lives in the area will have been aware of its existence before they moved in.? In very simple terms, Eden Park was here first.

In an interview with Newstalk ZB, Helen Clark gave her reasons for objecting to the concert: The concert had no noise limits, there would have been the disruption of trucks trundling through the neighbourhood setting up and taking down, and of course, the precedent this might set for any future concerts.

And so a concert that had the potential to help a million babies, cannot go ahead, because 126 people objected.

Why is this concert so important, and what?s so special about these incubators?

Sir Ray has been developing the Lifepod since about 2010.? These are no ordinary incubators, they are designed for 3rd world countries, and that means there are particular challenges to overcome.

From his observations in developing world hospitals, he has been able to identify what the problems are with the incubators in use today.? His first observation is that they are not reliable, and frequently break down. They have an average lifespan of around 18 months ? not long at all for something so expensive.? The other thing he noticed was that there was a disproportionate number of babies with upper respiratory tract infections. When he took swabs from inside the incubators, they showed a level of bacteria 150,000 times more concentrated than in developed world incubators.? Clearly, these problems have had to be addressed, otherwise the baby they are supposed to save is more likely to die as a result.

It takes ingenuity, development, trial, refinement and testing, all of which take time and cost money.

In 2014, Medicine Mondiale, the charity that is developing the incubator, headed by Sir Ray Avery, launched a fund raising campaign to get the Lifepod to the production stage.? It has taken a small group of volunteers, and many fundraising events to raise $1.6 million, which has enabled the Lifepod to get where they are today – production stage.

All the research and development has been completed and the incubator meets the required IS13485 CE Mark Standards for the manufacture of a neonatal incubator.

Production has been handed over to a manufacturing partner in India and they have commenced pilot scale production of the Lifepod.? The production process will need to be validated by an independent accredited organisation, and once that is completed, the selling and distribution of Lifepods can begin.

It has been a long journey, but when you consider that it would typically take a multi-national company around 15 years to develop an infant incubator to production, it is remarkable that we are almost at production.? Even more remarkable when you know that this has been done with extremely limited funds, relying on a large chunk of volunteer labour. Sir Ray Avery is a hero and deserves to be recognised a such.

So here we are.? Lifepod incubators so close to production.? We have a concert that would have raised $4 million to pay for 2000 ???. no ??. no we don?t.? We don?t have a concert, because 126 people objected to a concert in their neighbourhood, for one day.

One of those objectors was Helen Clark.? Helen Clark has been prolific in her tweets from Newsroom, which seem to be doing their best to spread misinformation and to?create confusion.

They seem to be doing their very best to cast doubt on the good work done by Sir Ray Avery.? Shame on them.

Here’s a list of awards that Sir Ray Avery has received:

  • 2008 ? Rotary ? Paul Harris Medal
  • 2008 – Bayer Research and Development Innovator Award (Acuset IV controller)
  • 2009 – World Class New Zealand Award for Biotechnology
  • 2010 – TBWA Disruption Award
  • 2010 ? Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year
  • 2010 ? Sir Peter Blake Leadership Medal
  • 2011 – Ernst and Young Social Entrepreneur Award
  • 2011 ? Readers Digest New Zealand?s Most Trusted Person
  • 2011 – Knight Grand Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit

For anyone interested in reading more about Sir Ray’s work, I can really recommend his autobiography Rebel with a Cause.