Monday, 17 February 2020


Restoration of kiwi-shaped outline close to completion

If you look up at the hills above the northern end of Wharekaho/Simpsons Beach, you will spot a giant kiwi-shaped outline made from wood and stones.

Right behind the hill that the kiwi is situated on is a kiwi bird protection zone.

Overt time, the kiwi structure has deteriorated significantly and during the last few months a team of volunteers have been working hard to restore the structure and make it more visible against the landscape.

New painted timber frames with white rocks alongside have increased the thickness of the outline so it can be seen easily from a distance.

Kim Lawry, the managing director of Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre (COLC) in Whitianga, is the driving force behind the restoration and says there’s only one more working bee to go and the restoration will be complete. All COLC’s overseas language students participate in outdoor activities and conservation programmes while they attend the language school.

“I was inspired to organise the restoration project on a group walk to Mt Maungatawhiri last October, when I noticed that the kiwi was in need of a rebuild and paint,” says Kim. “It’s my understanding that the last time any work was done on the kiwi was seven or eight years ago when the Whitianga Lion’s Club volunteered their time.”

Kim contacted Damian Percival of Percival Construction and Joe Reece of PlaceMakers Whitianga and asked for their their help. Joe generously donated all the building materials required.

At the end of 2018, a Chilean group of language students who attended COLC at the time, joined Kim, Mercury Bay resident, Bruce Andrews, and farmer, John Simpson, to take the building materials up the hill and paint the timber.

Due to unpredictable weather, it wasn’t possible to complete the work before Christmas last year.

More has been achieved over January. Damian, Joe and a team from Percival Construction completed the wood placement in only one morning. Since then, Kim and Bruce have been up the hill with another group of COLC students to do more painting and attend to other outstanding bits and pieces.

“We hope to have everything done and dusted in the next week or so,” says Kim. “I want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved. The time and energy that has been invested into the restoration project is incredible. The kiwi certainly adds a unique element to the beautiful Wharekaho/Simpsons Beach landscape, enjoyable for both locals and tourists.”

The kiwi-shaped outline above Wahrekaho/Simpsons Beach may well become one of the lasting legacies of Coromandel Outdoor Language Centre in the Mercury Bay area.

Kim Lawry, the COLC managing director, wrote to the language school’s homestay families last week, informing them that they will have to move from their current premises in Robinson Road, Whitianga in the foreseeable future.

As they haven’t been able to secure suitable alternative premises, the decision has been taken to close COLC at the end of June this year. Until then, it will be business as usual.

COLC established, and are responsible for, a number of environmental projects in the Mercury Bay area and Kim and his team are looking into ways for those projects to continue.

Pictured: Restoration of the giant kiwi-shaped outline on the hills above Wharekaho/Simpsons Beach is one working bee away from completion.


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