Saturday, 04 April 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

TCDC mayor talking about a unitary authority

The Waikato Property Council has recently published a proposed submission to the Local Government Commission in terms of which the Waikato region is to be divided into three unitary authorities, including the Thames Coromandel and Hauraki districts becoming a wider Coromandel council.
Thames Coromandel District Council mayor, Glenn Leach was invited to address the Waikato Property Council last week Wednesday 30 April. Mr Leach was the only elected member throughout the Waikato invited to the meeting.
Mr Leach told the meeting that TCDC will be supportive of a Thames-Valley unitary authority. He said Council looked at the direction central government was taking and knew they had to prepare for the possibility of a wider group of Waikato councils amalgamating and absorbing the functions of Waikato Regional Council. As a result, more decision making powers have been transferred to local community boards. Mr Leach also said that what they’ve done is working and other areas, including New South Wales, are now looking at implementing similar models.
In a follow up meeting with The Informer, Mr Leach spoke about WRC really being, what he called, “a third layer of bureaucracy” which is disconnected from the people of the Coromandel. “A good example is the Moanataiari subdivision in Thames,” he said. “WRC and the Ministry for the Environment took the position that millions of dollars’ worth of earthworks had to be done to mitigate a virtually negligible health risk because of contaminated soil. We stood up against them and won. The affected people were all WRC ratepayers and WRC did not go in and bat for them.
“I must say WRC has done much work since last year’s local body elections to get closer to the people of the Coromandel, but it’s too little too late.”
Mr Leach also spoke about the Waikato Mayoral Forum, an informal body made up of the mayors of all the Waikato area councils and the chairperson of WRC. “The Mayoral Forum really needs to talk about reorganisation of councils, but all they’re interested in is collaboration. They want councils to work together to save money. That’s fine, but you don’t need a forum for that to happen. Our joint refuse removal agreement with Hauraki District and Matamata Piako District Councils is a good example of that. The Mayoral Forum has recently spent more than $200,000 on someone to tell them that Waipa District, Waikato District and Hamilton City Councils have to manage their water together. A Form 2 student would’ve been able to work that out. It was a total waste of money.
“When I wanted to put discussions about reorganisation on the agenda at the Forum, I couldn’t even find a seconder. That really forced us to employ Morrison Low, a firm of local government experts, to tell us what the workable unitary authority options for the Coromandel are. They will report back to us later this year. I personally think we should also look at the Waihou and Piako Rivers catchment area, which is a larger area than just the Thames-Valley and we shouldn’t just focus on going south and west, there may be workable options down the coast towards the Bay of Plenty as well.   
“But one thing is sure, whatever is going to happen, our local democracy must stay.”
The Waikato Property Council will now attempt to get backing for its proposal through a public petition. If enough support is mustered, the proposal will be presented to the Local Government Commission.           

So what happens now

Last Sunday 4 May, the Whitianga Lions’ Project Committee handed a cheque of $230,000 to the Mercury Bay Community Radiology and Health Trust (Trust), which will own and operate the Mercury Bay X-ray machine. The Informer spoke to Malcolm Brown and Chris Rendle, both members of the Lions’ Project Committee and trustees of the Trust, about the work that has been done to date regarding the machine and what the community can expect going forward.

The most exciting bit of news is probably that the trustees of the Trust will be meeting with a representative of Carestream Health in Whitianga on Thursday 8 May to order the machine.

"The X-ray machine will, through the Trust, be wholly owned by the community and will be available to all doctors. The cost of the X-rays the machine will take will typically be covered by the Waikato District Health Board or ACC," said Malcolm.

The Lions have also finalised where the machine will go - in the Health Factory on the corner of Coghill and Isabella Streets, Whitianga. "The Coghill Street location was chosen because of the concrete floor of the premises, the availability of three phase power and the relatively inexpensive cost of the internal fit-out of the premises," explained Malcolm. "We looked at a number of other sites, but all were unsuitable - either for access, parking or construction reasons. As the X-rays are taken by a radiographer who will be employed by or contracted to the Trust, we chose a location that is very close to all the doctors’ surgeries in Whitianga and easily accessible to St John Ambulance."

The design of the premises has been completed and submitted to Thames Coromandel District Council for resource and building consents. Tenders for construction are due by Monday 12 May and building work should commence no later than 1 June. Chris and Malcolm are hopeful that the machine will be up and running by September.

It is expected that both Whitianga medical practices and possibly doctors from neighbouring areas will support the machine. "From a practical perspective, we understand a patient’s doctor will request the DHB, or ACC in case of an accident, to have an X-ray taken," said Malcolm. "The DHB or ACC will then send their approval through to the Trust’s radiographer, who will take the X-ray. A digital image of the X-ray will then be sent to a firm of radiologists who will let the doctor who ordered the X-ray know what their findings are. The patient’s doctor will thereafter decide what the next step is. If it involves specialist treatment, travel to Thames or Waikato Hospitals may still be necessary."

Apart from ordering the machine, on the Trust’s to-do list for the next few months are finalising agreements with the DHB, ACC and the firm of radiologists who will read the X-rays, advertising for and interviewing radiographers, overseeing the fit-out of the premises where the machine will go and updating the local doctors on progress.

Mike Brown, another Whitianga Lion who assumed the role of project engineer on request from the Lions’ Project Committee, will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the fit-out work that needs to be done to get the machine operational.

Day Camp once again a great success

The 14th Mercury Bay Day Camp that was held for three days last week on Graham and Selma Morcom’s farm outside Cooks Beach was, once again, a great success.

According to camp director, Rev Mary Petersen from St Andrews by the Sea Community Church, 65 teen leaders and more than 100 adult leaders, the most ever, signed up to help. A large group of parents of children who attended the camp were also happy to help every day.

The 300 six- to 13-year-old children who attended the camp had the opportunity to participate in 20 activities, including archery, clay bird shooting, a confidence course, hut building, a craft corner, kayaking, mud- and waterslides, a 220m flying fox and a vertical bungy trampoline. Two new activities were introduced this year - a mystery trailer ride and sack sliding. Rev Petersen said the children really enjoyed both activities. During the mystery trailer ride children did things they wouldn’t normally do at home, like gumboot throwing and building a pyramid out of tyres.

The teen leaders all received a certificate and subway voucher. Two of them, Emma Smith and Natalyha Surgison, received an additional $50 each for having been nominated the most encouraging of all the leaders. 

This was Emma’s third year as a teen leader. She’s a Year 11 student at MBAS and used to attend the camp when she was younger. “I’m really privileged that I have had the opportunity for a few years now to be a leader. This year’s camp was just so good. Everything ran smoothly and the kids were great.” 
Natalyha is a Year 12 student at Hamilton Girls High School. She used to live in Mercury Bay and, like Emma, attended the camp when she was younger. This was her first year as a teen leader. She said, “I have really enjoyed it being a teen leader at this year’s Day Camp. It was a neat experience, especially getting to know the other leaders and the kids better.”

Rev Petersen said planning for next year’s camp will start in the next few weeks.

Petition launched for New Chum application to be publicly notified

The residents group “Preserve New Chum for Everyone Inc” has launched a petition to call on Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC) to publicly notify any existing and new applications for development adjacent to Wainuiototo/New Chum Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Towards the end of last year the owners of the land adjacent to the beach lodged an application for resource consent to build three dwellings on their land.

“Although this application is for only three houses above the beach, it should not be permitted,” said Linda Cholmondeley-Smith, spokesperson for the residents group. “If allowed, this application would be the beginning of a gradual development of the privately owned land next to this iconic beach and the end of its pristine wilderness value. In fact, one house is too many as its unique character will be eroded and its uniqueness is lost forever.

“TCDC must publicly notify the application so that everyone who loves New Chum can have their say. This is a matter of significant national interest and requires leadership, not only from local government but also from the National government and the regional authorities charged with protecting the environmental and recreational values of our area.”

New Chum for Everyone Chair, Grahame Christian said a land swap between the government and the owners of the land adjacent to the beach is the obvious route to go now. “It’s been talked about for three years and the time has come to act. We don’t want to wake up one morning and find that [New Chum’s unspoilt character] is gone forever. Some people claim that there are other areas such as New Chum on the Coromandel. This is not correct. Only New Chum can be accessed on foot.”

Green MP Catherine Delahunty, who helped launch the petition, said that many people had assumed the New Chum issue had been resolved, but as it has not, there’s a need for the community voice to be heard on protecting the values of the beach and the coastal land next to it.

TCDC said the application for resource consent is on hold while the land owners provide further information to them, including a detailed landscape plan and a more detailed visual assessment.

TCDC is treating the application as a “controlled activity,” which means they do not have an obligation to publicly notify the application. No decision on notification has been made as yet.

Pauanui to Tairua walkway closer to being built

Stage one of a cycleway and walking track enabling people to cycle or walk between Pauanui and Tairua is getting closer to being built.

In December last year, Thames Coromandel District Council awarded $56,000 to the Hikuai District Trust, a charitable trust that's spearheading the project. That same month, forestry company Rayonier guaranteed $30,000 towards the project, over the next three years. These significant donations means the Trust can proceed with the construction of the first stage of the trail.

The complete track will be 25km long and follow the banks of the scenic Tairua estuary, continuing from the end of the existing Coastal Walkway track, over a newly-constructed bridge at the Tangitarori Stream, following the estuary up near Hikuai School, down to the north-western side of the Tairua River and estuary, finally linking up with the public access way from Tairua Primary School.

“At the moment we are waiting for resource consent from Waikato Regional Council which has had our application for some weeks," said Hikuai District Trust spokesman Gary Fowler. “Regional Council required a huge amount of information and experts had provided this. An extensive ecological report was part of the application, along with support from local landowners and Iwi. Meanwhile a Regional Council staff member has walked the trail and pest control has also been introduced to the area.”

The application for stage one covers the section from the Tangitarori Stream to Duck Creek. The Trust plans to complete this section before undertaking the next section to Hikuai.

“We are lucky to have trail expert John Gaukrodger as part of the Trust’s Trail Committee,” Mr Fowler said. “John has a great deal of expertise with these projects and has been hugely helpful in getting us this far. We also want to thank both the Thames-Coromandel District Council and Rayonier Matariki for their financial support.

 “There are large outgoings needed to pay for approvals before we can start on any construction. Money is an ongoing concern and once we have something to show, fundraising will become more aggressive.

“The first job once consent is given will be a bridge over the Tangitarori Stream. This has been designed and is part of the Regional Council application. It specifically allows for small craft access underneath, something that has met with approval from local canoeists and paddle-boarders.”

The Trust is working closely with the Coromandel’s Coastal Walkways group.

First hit-out for Peninsula Area Schools First XV

For the 2014 rugby season, Mercury Bay Area School has combined their First XV with Coromandel and Manaia players to be known as the Peninsula Area Schools First XV in the Thames Valley Coulter Cup Competition. Training is on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Thursday trainings held in Whitianga one week and Coromandel the next to keep the amount of travel fair for each group of players.

Although it has taken a little while to gel as a playing group, the Peninsula team felt confident in heading into their first and only pre-season game against the Otumoetai College First XV on Saturday 3 May in Tauranga.

The game was played in great weather conditions in front of a solid crowd of supporters of both teams. Although the Peninsula team found it difficult to find their rhythm, they only trailed by a single penalty kick after 20 minutes. However, defensive lapses in the next 20 minutes saw them behind 17-0 at halftime.

The team came out really fired up and determined in the second half with winger, James Hunter crossing for a try in the corner. The conversion failed and the game slowly got out of our reach of the Peninsula team. The final score 36-5 in favour of Otumoetai.

The team took plenty of positives out of the game and is confident heading into the first round of the Coulter Cup Competition against Hauraki Plains on Saturday 10 May.

ANZAC Day in Mercury Bay

Big crowds attended the two ANZAC Day services held in Mercury Bay last Friday, 25 April. In Whitianga World War Two and Vietnam War veterans (pictured - top photo) marched as part of the dawn parade from the Mercury Bay Club to the 6:00am dawn service at Soldiers Memorial Park. Many wreaths were laid and president of the Mercury Bay RSA, Bruce Collier, read a poem about the merchant navy, an often forgotten group of people who also courageously served their country.

At Matarangi’s 11:00am service, the guest speaker was Lt Col David Harvey (pictured - bottom photo), chief of staff of the New Zealand Defence Force. He spoke about the Battle of Gallipoli and how also among the new recruits of the New Zealand Armed Forces there’s not only a sense of adventure, but a sense of duty and a willingness to serve. Next year will see the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, which lasted from 25 April 2015 to 9 January 1916.

ANZAC Day in Mercury Bay

Big crowds attended the two ANZAC Day services held in Mercury Bay last Friday, 25 April. In Whitianga World War Two and Vietnam War veterans (pictured - top photo) marched as part of the dawn parade from the Mercury Bay Club to the 6:00am dawn service at Soldiers Memorial Park. Many wreaths were laid and president of the Mercury Bay RSA, Bruce Collier, read a poem about the merchant navy, an often forgotten group of people who also courageously served their country.

At Matarangi’s 11:00am service, the guest speaker was Lt Col David Harvey (pictured - bottom photo), chief of staff of the New Zealand Defence Force. He spoke about the Battle of Gallipoli and how also among the new recruits of the New Zealand Armed Forces there’s not only a sense of adventure, but a sense of duty and a willingness to serve. Next year will see the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, which lasted from 25 April 2015 to 9 January 1916.

LATEST WEEKLY ISSUE

Latest business rest of site

Go Kiwi

Go Kiwi is the only direct transport operator in Whitianga with daily departures to and from the Coromandel Peninsula. They provide a direct service to and from Auckland Airport and downtown…

ONLINE POLL

Are you concerned about Thames-Coromandel District Council’s proposed rates increase of almost 10 per cent?

The Mercury Bay Informer is a highly popular community newspaper, based in Whitianga. The paper is distributed throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, coast to coast from Thames to north of Colville.