Boating Club Re-cap: This photo depicts the current Mercury Bay Boating Club. Early in 2023, Cyclone Hale eroded much of the beach front in front of the Club, making its deck critically precarious. The Boat Club committee, community members with the help of The Waterways and Hopper construction speedily put in place a temporary sandbag and concrete block wall – a huge and generous effort. Within two days, the building was moved back about 40 metres to a temporary position on the same piece of land. The rescue wall erected by the community had to be removed according to instructions from Waikato Regional Council. Then Cyclone Gabriel arrived causing further erosion of the beach front, the edge of the dune ending up where the middle of the clubhouse used to be.
Taputapuatea Spit by Johnathan Kline.
(a response to ‘Historic Whenua’ p 24 Letters to the Editor March 27,2023)
What is the best way to recognise the historical and cultural significance of the Taputapuatea Spit?
What is the best way to educate our community of the significance of this sacred piece of land?
The author of the Letter to the Editor believes that the best way is to keep the reserve free of man-made structures in this case The Mercury Bay Boating Club.
Jonathan Kline, Commodore of the Boating Club, has been working hard on these matters since his coming into this role well before the recent cyclones.
His vision is for a boating club that is dedicated to both Māori and Pakeha aspirations. “Imagine the Boating Club, reinstated on the reserve – with an opening ceremony that binds the navigators of the past with the navigators of the present, “says Jonathan. “Like the Tuia 250 ceremonies, the Boating Club in its new location, could symbolise a coming together, where youth and adults, Māori and Pakeha, could learn of the ancient feats of the Polynesian navigators, the feats of the European explorers and the expertise of the modern kiwi America’s Cup and round the world sailors. What an opportunity for our community to tap into this rich history.”
Jonathan suggests signage with explanations so that everyone would know how important that reserve is and also the erection of some powerful Po with artistry that tells the story of the great navigators sailing from Taputapuatea in Raiatea to Aotearoa.
The current pulse of The Boating Club: “We are making every possible effort to reinstate the Boating Club building on the furthest back position available on the Reserve. To set it down where it is now is not an option we can consider. Thames Coromandel District Council has no plans to erect any hard defences, so our only option is to retreat back as far as we can go. It is TCDC’s land.”
Note: The Shoreline Management Plan – the way things are currently written – stipulates that coastal defence structures are not on the horizon. Unless something changes in the policy, this is what the Boating Club is stuck with. It will be only when the ocean reaches State Highway 25, which runs behind the Boating Club, will the community see a rock wall being constructed and that will be at the behest of Waka Kotahi.
“It looks like nothing is going on but exactly the opposite is true. We have spent hundreds of hours, a massive amount of work since Cyclone Gabrielle. The weekend before last, we ran a Junior Sailing Regatta from the shipping container that is on Ohuka Reserve. The functions of our Club, in terms of sailing and teaching sailing, are still going on but our revenue stream – making the boating club available for community functions – has stopped.”
In order to move the club back to its furthest possible rest position; Jonathan and his team have a mountain of hurdles to get over but are well underway with all of them. The people scaling these hurdles are the excellent volunteer committee and community members who have put their hands up to take responsibility for each of these hurdles. There are five areas of focus: – a) Heritage New Zealand, b) Resource Consent, c) Building Consent, d) Lease Variation. e) Fund raising.
Jonathan says, “We are grateful for robust community support. Dave at Planners Plus is spearheading our Resource Consent application as a community support project. Kirsten Castle is managing all of the building consent options. Grant MacDonald from RMS Surveyors is assisting with project management re site surveys, geo-tech and more. We are in active consultation with Kaumatua, Joe Davis. We have enlisted the services of an archaeologist who is in direct contact with Heritage NZ regarding the cultural and archaeological details of the site. We’re also working with our insurance company and other funding channels to figure out how to raise the necessary finance.
These are all in progress so as to secure a favourable outcome – reinstate the club as far back as we can go on the current piece of land. There is no option to pick that building up and take it somewhere else. Even if we could find a place to put it, the costs of shifting the building by road are prohibitive. The bottom line is – We are either there or not there.”
It is acknowledged that historically, clubs and community centres have not always demonstrated due regard for historical and cultural significance, but the Boating Club is definitely interested in forging a new chapter.
“The Boating Club is doing very well, considering. We are in good shape with the support we are getting. The little phrase I hold on to comes from a poem by Maya Angelou –
‘Still I rise’. For me and the Boating Club it is, – “Still we rise.”
Another view by Noel Hewlett
The letters and articles previously in The Informer on the Boating Club’s predicament are noted as well as the letter from Patricia MacDonald.
We are running out of people like Commodore Jonathan Kline. The huge amount of effort from volunteers (his team) both time wise and with their physical efforts is not sustainable. Volunteers cannot finance an ongoing Boating Club. At its best, running events there to finance sailing is still hand to mouth.
The biggest yachting club in Auckland has refined its premises to be a wedding and large event venue to pay its way. That is the nature of things we cannot ignore.
Jonathan Kline has brought to the fore, with a huge amount of volunteer hours (with his team), the value of youth sailing and its potential for this area and for Mercury Bay to offer it across New Zealand. This is more than having fun sitting in a boat which I would endorse, even it was just that. Youth sailing is about leadership, resourcefulness, pitching yourself with and sometimes against nature, always respecting it and learning its ways. It teaches individual resilience and leadership as well as teamwork. Sailing disciplines provide knowledge and skills for survival in the physical and economic world. Yes, there are other activities that can do this, but we have the most beautiful harbour in New Zealand – we are surrounded by the necessary resource to make sailing a great pastime for thousands and that’s ocean, wind, and natural beauty. Why fight the ocean in one small part of the Bay to establish what will be temporary and at its best, not big enough for the opportunities with sailing that present themselves already.
Considering everything, this community must see that sailing in this Mercury Bay Harbour could be Whitianga’s greatest friend in years to come. It is not taking resource from the ocean. This Bay is not just the home of Americas Cup Challenge to remember something good a few years back over a beer, but a pointer to what is possible for a greater shared future for sailing:- regattas for boats of all kinds, -a sailing academy with other aspects of academic rigour such as shoreline and marine management, ocean studies, marine architecture, – a conference centre for businesses with performance, presentation venue, a standard of accommodation and dining that we have glimpses.
Caption: Concept drawing of what could be possible for the Boating Club and more.