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MILITARY EXERCISES IN WAIKAWAU BAY AREA DUE TO START TUESDAY, 14 MAY

An advert in the Coromandel Town Chronicle magazine on 3 May, said to be from the NZ Defence Force, stated, “The general public is to be advised that the New Zealand Defence Force will be conducting an exercise in the Waikawau Bay Area between 14 May-22 May.
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The exercise will involve 30 NZDF personnel, low flying aircraft and small boats operating day and night. Blank ammunition may be used in a controlled environment away from public areas.” Source: Coromandel Town Chronicle. 3 May, 2024

There was no logo nor contact details and the advert was deemed vague and lacking by persons in the Waikawau Bay Catchment Residents Network (WBCRN):

So a local person contacted the Coromandel Town Chronicle inquiring about this advert. The editor contacted the NZ Defence Dept. who replied.

Following are excerpts from that statement, the full words to be  published  in the June edition of the Chronicle.

STATEMENT VIA LETTER FROM NEW ZEALAND DEFENCE FORCE 

“The NZ Army routinely trains in communities around Aotearoa New Zealand in order to maintain requirements to be able to respond in times when we are called upon to assist. We are incredibly grateful for the understanding, patience and assistance that these communities provide us to complete our training.

The training we do is in the interest of protecting New Zealand, New Zealanders, and New Zealand’s interests. As such, the NZDF seeks to train in environments that have similar characteristics to that in which we may operate, such as metro areas in cities, rural landscapes and beach areas. Waikawau Bay provides an excellent coastal location, with native bush and undulating terrain to mimic the characteristics of a Pacific nation or isolated coastal areas of New Zealand.

The majority of the land being used is privately owned and will not impact the public. With all exercises we consider the size and type of activity, and how this might impact the local residents and public. For the Waikawau Bay exercise it is deemed a low-to-no impact exercise on the local residents.

Low-flying aircraft will be present during the early evening, and no irregular flying hours will be conducted unless there is a real-time emergency situation. Blank ammunition will be used in isolation.

The NZDF has consulted the Department of Conservation (DOC) for the use of DOC-owned land in the Waikawau Bay Area …. without causing any undesirable damage to native fauna and flora.

The NZDF has also engaged with a number of land owners and…through this engagement, we have gained a good understanding of the number of residents in Waikawau Bay area.

We strive to make reasonable attempts to ensure a large majority are informed and that close-knit communities can share the information in their own networks. The NZDF will conduct a pamphlet drop prior to the conduct of the exercise…

We wish to reiterate our thanks again to those who live in the areas in which we conduct our vital and important training across New Zealand.”

Comment from Waikawau Bay Catchment Residents Network: “It is a strange contradiction to collaborate with a military exercise in a significant natural area which has taken local volunteers many years to restore.”

TCDC WAS NOT INFORMED ABOUT THESE MILITARY EXERCISES

Another local person enquired of the TCDC about the military exercises, and astoundingly received this written reply:

“Thank you for your email. We have checked with our Communications Team and they were not notified of this, as this does not fall within Council jurisdiction.”

The WBCRN has requested a response to 10 questions under the Offical Information Act. This was done Thursday, 9 May.  Waikawau Bay is on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, across the cost from Colville and a little further north.

Press release sent to The Informer by Waikawau Bay Catchment Residents Network (WBCRN)