Monday, 16 July 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Face-to-face with Jan Tinetti

 By Stephan Bosman

The Labour Party list MP responsible for the Coromandel, Jan Tinetti has spent the last few days travelling around different areas of the Coromandel Peninsula, listening to what the locals have to say. She popped into The Informer office on Monday this week, after meeting members of the Tairua Business Network in Tairua.

Jan told us the purpose of her trip around the Peninsula was to better understand the issues the residents of the Coromandel are dealing with. “The meeting I had with the Tairua Business Network was really interesting,” she said. “Straight away I could see that there are things of great concern to the locals that I haven’t considered before.”

One of the issues Jan was referring to, is the impact of commercial fishing on recreational fishing and tourism. “It was obvious how much commercial fishing was worrying the Tairua business community, so it’s an issue I immediately wanted to be a part of,” said Jan. “I now realise how important it is for me to get the concern across to the decision-makers in Wellington.”

Jan listened carefully as we voiced many of the concerns the Mercury Bay community is faced with.

We discussed the problem of sedimentation in our waterways and the flow-on effects it creates. We focused strongly on the, in our view, responsibility of DHBs to make government-funded specialist medical care more accessible to rural communities that are not in close proximity to a hospital.

The discussion transitioned easily to the pressure on St John in the Mercury Bay area and the absolute importance of retaining the Coromandel rescue helicopter base. It was clear that Jan fully appreciates the benefits to the entire Coromandel Peninsula of an air ambulance service based in Whitianga. “It really is a great service,” said Jan. “I’m finding out as much as I can about the matter and I am working on it. I hear you loud and clear.”

Inevitably we raised the Coromandel’s state highway network. Continuous “patching up” of the Thames Coast Road, the dangerous passing lanes on the Kopu-Hikuai Road and the Tairua one-lane bridges were all discussed. Jan was agreeable that a closer look at the Peninsula’s roads is warranted. “It’s about safety too,” she said. “I’m well aware that the government needs to consider regional roads carefully, particularly in places like the Coromandel, where you go from not much traffic in the winter to a major increase around the summer months and the roads just aren’t equipped to handle the increase in vehicles.”
We also spoke about the pressure tourism puts on local infrastructure. We suggested to Jan that New Zealand’s natural attractions, like Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, should perhaps not be that “free” to overseas visitors anymore. That prompted Jan to talk about the tourism levy that will be introduced at the county’s borders. “That’s what the tourism levy is designed for,” she said. “It’s designed for places like the Coromandel, where you need help to improve or extend the available infrastructure. We just have to make sure some of that money makes it here.”

Jan told us that she was proud to be the first Labour MP in a long time to visit the wider Mercury Bay area. She says there is a great realisation in the government about how precious the Coromandel is. “I’m pleased I have taken the opportunity to travel around the Coromandel and hear about the issues that are affecting people’s lives,” she said. “This is the difference between reading about an area and talking about it face-to-face. There’s so much more going on than anyone realises.”

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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.