Monday, 25 June 2018


Reprts on two media outlets yesterday, indicated that the Thames-Coromandel District Council was considering a fuel tax, along the lines that Auckland is planning to implement. This is not the case.

The reports in national media said TCDC was among 14 councils in New Zealand that have discussed the possibility of implementing a regional fuel tax.

TCDC is not considering doing this.

"A fuel tax is the kind of thing more suited to a metropolitan area - not a rural district like ours," says Mayor, Sandra Goudie. "We don't have any plans for a fuel tax, or to lobby for a Waikato regional fuel tax in three years when the legislation makes it possible," she says.

It turns out the stories in the national media were based on Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act (LGOIMA) requests. TCDC recieved one from the ACT Party in early May that asked if the council had discussed the possibility of introducing a regional fuel tax under legislation currently going through Parliament. 

The topic was discussed, but it was more than three years ago in a council workshop to prepare the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan, when the council had a different mayor - Glenn Leach. The idea was not incorporated into that Long Term Plan and has not been discussed since. 

It is the middle of June, it is winter, and the last thing on most people’s minds is Christmas. Apart from a few people in the community, that is… A group of Whitianga residents are already planning Christmas lunch, with one thing in mind - other people.

For most, Christmas is filled with fun, family and lots of food. Unfortunately, we do not live in a perfect world and every year there are people out there who are lonely or hungry, or both, on what is arguably the most festive day of the year.

Maureen Kerr and Tania Iti from the Mercury Bay Community Support Trust have on Thursday last week come together with Dorothy Preece and John and Madeleine Saunders from St Andrews Community Church and Yvette Simpson from Whitianga Social Services to discuss and start planning a free lunch on Christmas day this year in the Whitianga Town Hall for anyone who would like to join. "So far, everyone I've spoken to about possibly getting involved in the lunch has said that they’ve been wanting to do something like this for such a long time," says Maureen. "They’re excited by the idea!”
The idea is purely selfless and can only be of benefit to the community. No matter your situation, there is always someone facing something similar. And why spend a wonderful day like Christmas feeling alone, when you’re not?

"Hunger and loneliness are two things no one should be worried about on Christmas and this year no one in the community will have to," says Maureen.

Transport will be provided on the day for those who need it, although that will need to be booked in advance. It will also be helpful if people can book a seat at the lunch in advance, although it will be perfectly in order to turn up as well. “The lunch is for the whole community, no matter their circumstances,” says Maureen. "It's something exciting for our town to look after each other on Christmas day."

The lunch won’t be the first of its kind on the Coromandel Peninsula. For the past seven years, Adrian Catran, the owner of Twentymans Funeral Directors, has organised a free Christmas lunch in Thames, called "A Place at the Table." Adrian himself has felt the pain of being alone on Christmas and he decided he wanted to do something so no one around him had to ever feel that way. Adrian has already confired that he is happy to help where he can to make sure the first Whitianga lunch will also be a success.

If you would like to be a part of this kind and special event, there are many ways you can help. In addition to donations of food and financial support, people will be needed for food preparation and cooking, setting tables, serving, cleaning up and packing down. Even if all you can do is to fold the napkins, your help is wanted and will be valued. Please contact Maureen at email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or telephone (027) 246 6164 if you want to make a donation or help out.

At the "Honouring our Volunteers" service that was held at St Andrew's last Sunday morning, an amount of $593 was raised for the first free Christmas lunch in Whitianga. That was hot on the heels of a local business owner who pledged $1,500 when he heard that the lunch is being planned.

The Whitianga town centre upgrade was from the beginning a controversial, but unavoidable decision. The infrastructure under Albert Street was old and had to be replaced. That created an opportunity to improve the visual appearance of the town centre, and make Albert Street and The Esplanade more pedestrian friendly.

There are concerns among some members of the public about the loss of car parking along Albert Street and the cost of the upgrade project. Unfortunately that has led to reports of pedestrians verbally abusing the staff and subcontractors of Dempsey Wood Civil, the construction company performing the upgrade.

“The Dempsey Wood staff [and subcontractors] on site are being frequently harangued by members of the public while carrying out their day to day work on the Whitianga town centre upgrade,” says Andrew Boden,” the Thames Coromandel District Council project manager responsible for the project. “Uncomplimentary remarks are being received by the site staff regarding the way that they are carrying out their work and the quality of their workmanship, as well as disparaging remarks about the scope of the project and why it’s happening at all.

“This is very disappointing to hear and is totally against the spirit of the project and the good relationships that the project team has established with the retail and business owners [along Albert Street]. To date, we have received complementary comments in writing from business operators regarding the politeness and friendly nature of the site staff, which is completely in contrast to the unnecessary and unwarranted negative comments from the public.

“I would like to request that the site staff be left alone to do their jobs and complete the project without any further interference. Any comments with regard to the scope of the project and how it is being managed should be directed to the Mercury Bay Community Board and myself, in the first instance.”

A positive aspect of the upgrade project that shouldn’t be overlooked is the number of local subcontractors that are being employed by Dempsey Wood. “I would estimate that of the $4.7 million contract sum that we have with Dempsey Wood, approximately $1.5 million would be spent on local subcontractors,” says Andrew. “That doesn’t include the amount of money spent by Dempsey Wood on local accommodation, the employment of local security services and general day to day consumables purchased from local businesses like petrol, diesel, food and office supply items.”

Mercury Bay resident, Lissa Whiteman is also fulltime employed by Dempsey Wood to manage the relationship between them and the business owners affected by the upgrade.

Among the Mercury Bay businesses that have so far been employed by Dempsey Wood are Peter Yates Contractors, Garth’s Gardens and Landscaping, Donovan & Son Contractors, Roadworx and Coastline Excavations.

Most of the business owners along the section of Albert Street that is at the moment closed off (between the Blacksmith Lane/Lee Street intersection and Monk Street) have a positive view of the upgrade project.

“No doubt our turnover is down compared to last winter, but, on the other hand, we’ve had a better Queen’s Birthday Weekend than last year,” says Leith Simpson of Stirling Sports. “That having been said, the upgrade work has been progressing well and once everything is done, it’s going to look very good, something I’m looking forward to.”

Brent Prisk of Frankies Sports Bar & Grill says the Dempsey Wood staff and subcontractors have all been extremely professional and forthcoming with any information they need. “Also, a lot of the people who work on the project come and have a drink and some food here after work,” he says.

Su Marceau, the owner of Mainly Casual and The Style Makers, says it’s difficult at this stage to determine what the impact of less car parking in Albert Street, but more in the side streets, will be, but she expects more pedestrian traffic to go past her two shops.

Ali Abdul of Mercury Bay Pharmacy says he’s excited to see the finished product. “What they’ve done so far looks great,” he says.

By Suzanne Hansen

Being a fire and emergency volunteer is obviously in the DNA of Whitianga Sports' Collier family, because for the first time in the history of the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade, there are three Collier family members serving as volunteers at the same time. 

Derek Collier joined the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade back in 1987, when a friend of his grandfather’s thought that the brigade needed some new blood. Derek’s grandfather was Douglas Butcher, who was at one time the Chief Fire Officer of the Stratford Fire Brigade and later the President of the United Fire Brigades Association of New Zealand.

Derek was immediately drawn to the warm comradery of the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade that operates in his words as “one big family.” Over his time with the brigade, Derek has held various leadership positions including Station Officer from 1993 and Senior Station officer from 2004. As of Wednesday 30 May, Derek has been promoted to Deputy Chief Fire.

Derek is now proudly serving in the brigade with two of his five children - his sons Paul (35) and Adam (30). The three Collier men share the same passion for the brigade and for the Whitianga community and all three are excited and proud to be working together. 

Paul Collier who works in window treatments and as a tattoo artist, joined his father in the brigade three years ago when he returned home after several years on Auckland’s North Shore. He wanted to give back to the community and it felt right joining an organisation that had been such a positive part of his life growing up.

Three months ago, Paul talked younger brother Adam into joining the brigade too.  Adam, who works in roofing and has a passion for tourism, outdoor education and brewing craft beers has just returned to Whitianga in December. He has spent seven years working in tourism in the Milford Sound before travelling through Asia and North America. Adam was looking to “put down some roots” in Whitianga. He is now going through his initial training as a firefighter, coordinated coincidentally by his father Derek, and will soon be off to Rotorua to complete his national training.   

When asked what it is like to work with their dad, both Paul and Adam were brimming with pride in their father who “leads by example” and who’s leadership style is one of guidance rather than direction. They call him “stern but fair” and they also mention that their teenage years spent working in the family business seasoned them to Derek’s leadership style. They specifically point out Derek’s zest for continuous learning, growth and extracting the most out of his time with the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Derek, for his part, is getting used to the novelty of having a second son in the organisation, but he treats both boys like all the other firefighters, especially when there is work to be done. It is nice for them, however, to be able to spend time as a family comparing notes and experiences and Derek is personally bursting with pride to have his sons working with him.

After 31 years in the brigade, Derek is as enthusiastic as ever and looking forward to his new leadership role. He still gets that little surge of adrenalin each time the fire siren goes off and having his sons as part of the organisation makes it even more rewarding.   Perhaps Derek can recruit his other three children as well...

When the party starts for the end of the town centre upgrade, Sue Marceau, the local owner of Mainly Casual, is sure to have something festive to wear. Sue has owned and operated clothing boutique Mainly Casual for over 24 years and has grown the business to three stores in Whitianga, Whangamata and Thames. 

By Jordan Gower


Mercury Bay Area School NCEA Level 2 and 3 students are being given some very unique and exciting opportunities through a programme known as gateway. The programme is all about giving senior students inspiration, focus and even possible career pathways. Students choose an area of interest and spend some of their school time completing generic employment unit standards, upon which they are placed with local businesses or enrolled in practical courses to receive hands-on experience.

Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre (COLC) intern, Alicia Lose has recently come back from an Outward Bound course in Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds. Outward Bound is an organisation focused on showing people another side to themselves and challenging them to be a better person, using the outdoors.

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Should Mercury Bay property owners pay and additional, say, $300 per year in Thames Coromandel District Council rates to fund a new swimming pool in Whitianga?

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.