Friday, 26 April 2019


Whitianga Police Report for Monday 17 November to Monday 24 November


This time of year there are various work places or other groups celebrating the end of year with a with a few drinks and with new drink driving laws coming into force on 1 December people need to plan how they are going to get home safely.

The new drink driving levels are nearly half what they were for adult drivers in that they have reduced from 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath to 250, meaning a couple of drinks may well put you over the limit.

Police advice is that there is no valid reason to get behind the wheel drunk and obvious options to get home safely are to have a sober driver, take a taxi or walk home with friends.

All penalties aside, the main reason for this reduction in drink driving levels is that drunk drivers kill and injure people on our roads and we want that to stop.   


20th - 1 x 22yr old local woman for Dangerous driving.

23rd - 1 x 30yr old local man for Breach of the Peace.


Four domestic incidents attended last week.

On the 17th a child was assaulted at a Coroglen address and our detectives are carrying out the investigation into this incident, while on the 20th a father and daughter were involved in an altercation after a dangerous driving incident involving other family members at a Hahei address.

Then on the 21st a couple from a Carina Way address were arguing about a night out and Police were called to calm the situation while on the 23rd a Police Safety Order was served on a man after he argued with his partner on Albert Street.

On the 18th a Toyota Surf vehicle was stolen from a Cook Drive address and later found burnt out on the Kopu-Hikuai Road.

An Indecent Act incident occurred at a Pipi Dune address on the 19th and our enquiries are continuing to locate a named suspect.

We separated two groups after a fight on Blacksmith Lane after the licensed premises had closed on the 22nd and a residential address on Poplar Street was burgled on the 24th and stored property was searched through.


No drunk drivers apprehended this week.

An 18yr old local man has been charged with Careless Driving after single vehicle crash on Moewai Road on the 14th. Excessive speed was a factor and the two occupants were lucky to walk from the wreckage.

Scheduled flight service into Whitianga from next week

Whitianga Airfield is poised to become a major economic driver in the greater Mercury Bay area with the announcement of a twice daily flight service direct to Auckland and once daily to Great Barrier Island and Tauranga, increasing on demand.

From 1 December, passengers will be able to fly on Sunair 7:00am daily to Ardmore Airport south of Auckland and return at 3:30pm. The 20 minute journey brings the commute from central Auckland to Whitianga to just one hour. Flights are priced at $120 one way for adults and $90 for children 16 and under.

Baggage allowance on the aircraft is 15kg per person and $2 per kg extra. Children under four count as part of the baggage allowance, unless they weigh more than 20kg, when a child seat must be purchased at $90. Animals must travel in a cage and if dogs exceed 20kg, then the equivalent of a child’s fare must also be paid.

Passengers at Ardmore can park for free at Sunair’s secure parking facility, while those arriving from Whitianga who do not have vehicles can choose to either rent a car from the airport or take a $5 regular shuttle to the nearby Papakura train hub, says Sunair pilot Ryan Bergman.

The company is in talks with local shuttle service Go Kiwi to provide transport to those passengers flying into Whitianga to the central business district and the outlying beaches, including Hot Water Beach and Matarangi.

The launch of the daily flight service comes just a month before the opening right next door to Sunair’s Whitianga Airfield offices of a brand new café called The Departure Lounge. The café will be open for coffees, alcoholic drinks, takeout and dine-in food options and will feature a deck overlooking the airfield for passengers and café patrons to relax on.

At the other end of the journey in Ardmore, passengers can also enjoy a café facility with a large sun deck overlooking part of the airport. Ryan says Ardmore Airport has excellent facilities and, most importantly, an "island atmosphere."

Sunair has 16 aircraft with six based at Ardmore and is the largest New Zealand-owned airline outside of Air New Zealand.

Ryan was in Whitianga last week meeting with key businesses to promote the service and to secure potential package deals within the leisure market, which he says the company is targeting foremost.

"We have been planning the expansion for the past couple of months. Whitianga is going to be awesome for us. It is not only going to link people from Auckland with the east coast of the Coromandel, but will also link people from Tauranga and allow for an overnight stay at the Mount and then there’s Great Barrier Island where there are families with students attending Mercury Bay Area School.

"Previously Sunair customers had to have a minimum of two people in order for us to fly, but not anymore. We will fly all year round and we will never say no to a booking.

"The growth potential is massive. With our fleet we can move up to 500 people between Auckland and Whitianga on Boxing Day and the same number from Auckland to Great Barrier Island, but we’ll fly through winter too. This is an all-weather service, provided that it is possible to get into Whitianga."

Thames Coromandel District Council mayor Glenn Leach was buoyed by the news of the new service when contacted by The Informer this week. "This is absolutely fantastic news for the Coromandel. We’re really looking forward to welcoming more people who may come and visit us through using this service and I want to thank Sunair for their commitment to our area," he said.

The Departure Lounge owner Amy Sammons says friends had questioned her decision to open a café out of town and the announcement of a new daily service was exciting. The café will be open from 8:00am to 8:00pm and will have an aviation theme with old propellers and quirky features.

"It’s been so quiet and dead out at the airfield and for us it is so neat to breathe some life into it. We will be catering to day trippers and domestic pilots and there’s a hole in the market for food between 2:30pm and 5:30pm, which is what we’re trying to tap into. We’ll be serving a lot of local produce including locally baked bread and take out sandwiches, which will be perfect for the Sunair passengers."

Sunair will fly its standard fleet of Aztec 6-seat twin engine aircraft and Cessna 172 4-seat aircraft to Whitianga. "This gives us good flexibility on loadings and also a nice and comfortable fleet for our customers," says Ryan.

For bookings and inquiries phone the company on 0800 SUNAIR or talk to a local travel agent.

Warbirds adventure flights coming to Whitianga

The Mercury Bay Aero Club in conjunction with NZ Warbirds is staging a “rides day” at Whitianga Airport on Saturday 3 January 2015 (or in the case of rain on the Saturday, Sunday 4 January 2015).

For anyone who missed out on a flight experience at the Warbirds and Wheels Event held in Whitianga in January 2014, some of the genuine Warbirds from Ardmore will be back in for a visit on 3 and 4 January 2015, weather permitting. This is not an Airshow but an opportunity for anyone interested to take a flight in a genuine World War II Aircraft.

Pre-bookings are essential to ensure the appearance of the Spitfire and the P40-Kittyhawk.

Warbirds Limited is certified under CAA Part 115 (rules to conduct adventure aviation flights).  To the public, this ensures flights are authorised in strict compliance with NZ Civil Aviation Rules.

There is no entry fee to the airport.  Please pre-book flights directly with NZ Warbirds.  For further information visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In addition to the Warbird rides, flights will also be available in helicopters, Cessna’s and possibly classic Tiger Moths.

Opening act for Summer Concert announced

The duo of Simon Claxton and David Shanhun have been confirmed as the opening act of the 2015 Whitianga Summer Concert on Anniversary Sunday featuring international acts Heart, Foreigner and Three Dog Night.

Simon and David met after being impressed with each other’s performances at an “open mic” night in 2010.  Since then they have worked closely with each other and both feature heavily on each other’s upcoming solo albums.

Simon hails from Christchurch, where he honed his talent singing harmonies with family and later picking up the guitar and songwriting. Having previously represented New Zealand as a dancer, he carries through his brilliant sense of rhythm and melody into his songwriting.

David released his first album “Dreamer” in 2011 after winning studio time at Tsunami Sound Studios in Levin. This gave him the confidence to pursue music professionally and he has since been nominated for the Pat McMinn Rising Star Award (2011) and twice for the NZCM Horizon Award (2011 and 2013). His single “I Believe in You” reached number two on the New Zealand iTunes Country Charts in July this year.

Flood mitigation work in Tairua

Thames Coromandel District Council has approved an extra $300,000 to extend the bridge on the Manaia Road causeway which will be an important element of flood mitigation work at Graham’s Creek in Tairua.

The funding, signed off yesterday, will come from Tairua's stormwater depreciation reserves and a loan. The extension by 16 metres will help keep the road open during flooding and allow floodwaters to drain more easily when combined with floodway improvement works to be done by Waikato Regional Council.

For many years, property owners in the Graham’s Creek catchment, which is upstream of the Manaia Road causeway, have experienced flooding.

To address the problem both TCDC and WRC have been working with the community to find a workable solution. TCDC set aside $620,000 in their 2014-2015 Annual Plan towards upgrading the Manaia Rd causeway bridge. WRC has set aside $600,000 in its 2014-2015 Annual Plan towards floodway improvement works around Graham's Creek, which include stopbanks, re-contouring the floodplain to form a floodway and creek channel works.

Both pieces of work need to be done in tandem for a successful outcome.

In June 2014 a joint working group was set up to help refine and finalise the work programme. Made up of affected residents, elected members as well as staff from both TCDC and WRC, the group held four separate workshops and came up with a preferred solution, which included a two-way causeway bridge (rather than a one-lane as previously indicated). 

"It's good to see we are finally coming to a conclusion and from a bridge perspective we can deliver what the Tairua and wider community are wanting," said TCDC mayor Glenn Leach. "I want to thank the Working Group for their commitment and involvement to helping to make this happen."

Thames Coromandel regional councillor Clyde Graf says,  "The decision aligns with the Graham’s Creek working party’s wishes and is a key milestone in determining the scope of the works being carried out by us in the area.

“The new bridge design will complement the wide-ranging measures being undertaken by the regional council upstream of the current bridge. The combined effect of both our works will provide significant flood risk relief.”

TCDC has worked with WRC to set up  an information day at the Tairua Hall Annex on Saturday 6 December from 10am - 1pm to give property owners in the area the opportunity to talk to staff about what is planned.

Construction of the regional council flood mitigation work and construction of the new bridge is due to start in the middle of next year once resource consents are obtained for both projects.

TCDC's 2014 - 2015 Annual Report now available

If you want to get a sense of what Thames Coromandel District Council has achieved in the past 12 months, check out their annual report which has just been published.

"In the last year the local body elections saw the majority of Councillors return for another term and saw us welcome a number of new Community Board members to continue to strengthen our new local community empowerment model," says Chief Executive David Hammond.

"We have progressed Council's anchor projects for the Coromandel, in particular the Cathedral Coast Walkway, which is part of our Coromandel Great Walks project, the Coromandel Harbour Facilities Project, and support the proposed Kopu to Kaiaua section of the Hauraki Rail Trail. The Rail Trail won the Local Government New Zealand Excellence award for local economic contribution, having exceeded all predicted economic benefits, and we congratulate our partners the Hauraki Rail Trust and Hauraki District Council in this.”

TCDC's financial result reflects a number of factors. Other expenses were less than budgeted (in the order of $3 million). These operational savings helped the Council maintain the lowest operational costs per rateable property of any council in the Waikato (according to the Taxpayer Union). “Clearly this helps our marketing of the Coromandel as not just a great place to live and work, but a cost effective one also,” says Mr Hammond.

“In addition development contribution revenue exceeded budget for the year. This is a pleasant change from the last couple of years. Hopefully this is a positive sign for the future development within our District.”

A new Whitianga ferryman

The iconic Stella B ferry boat that has provided inspiration to artists, delight to visitors and a reliable, though somewhat quaint, mode of transport to commuters in Whitianga for decades will be replaced in the coming year under the guidance of a new owner.

Fred Acke and partner Caroline are taking ownership this week of the Whitianga ferry business from Dave Pierrepont, who has owned the business for 40 years and will finally be able to enjoy a Christmas off.

"It’s a nice office and I’ve met a lot of people and made friends with them. The ferry brings people together," says Dave. "I would like to thank the people who have supported the ferry over the years.

"I’m looking forward to doing other things. We want to have the first Christmas with the family for 34 years. It’s like the Pony Express, it’s got to keep going no matter what, which has been a bit of a challenge sometimes with the weather."

Ferry users will see little immediate change to the service while Fred takes the helm during the silly season, but there are already plans afoot for a replacement 50 seat ferry for the Stella B over the next year.

As a trained boat builder, seaman on super yachts for 32 years and aficionado of coastal village character, Fred is intent on making improvements to safety, comfort, capacity and accessibility without compromising personality.

"Dave has run an excellent service and has great staff, so I would be a fool to wave a big stick and change anything straight away," he says. "I’ll watch how the business operates this summer and that will give me a lot of new ideas. Dave has got great ideas too and as we get into it we’ll bring a new boat online.

"We’ll come up with a great ferry. The size will be the biggest change as it will match the Mercury Star [the service’s other ferry]. At 46 years old the Stella B is getting a little old and small capacity-wise for the ever growing services in Whitianga. Having the three steps in and out makes it difficult for wheelchairs and bikes and in summer you can have 50-100 people waiting, so I want to speed that up and also increase the safety side of things with lifejackets on board."

Fares for casual ferry users will increase from $3 to $4 one way and $5 to $6 return and children’s fares will increase from $1.50 to $2 for one way and from $3 to $4 return. Concession passes will remain the same for now at $60 for 40 trips.

Thames Coromandel District Council owns, manages and maintains both the Ferry Landing and the Whitianga wharves and it was the Council’s decision to review the prices. "There is a cost to maintaining this infrastructure," says Mercury Bay Community Board chairman Paul Kelly. "And Whitianga ferry fares have not been reviewed and raised for some years."

As one of its current projects, TCDC has set aside $660,000 to restore the existing historic stone wharf at Ferry Landing by recovering old stone blocks from the sea floor beside the wharf. These will be used to rebuild the original stone steps and sections of a missing wall.

The wharf is classified as a Grade One structure by the Historic Places Trust and is need of restoration. A working group has been appointed for the project, which is in partnership with TCDC, the Historic Places Trust, iwi, the Institute of Engineers and the Mercury Bay community.

Fred is no stranger to coastal heritage, hailing from the Channel Islands off the coast of France. Before sailing away at age 16, he grew up in a place called Alderney, which he says is a three square mile island best described as, "1800 alcoholics clinging to a rock - and I think I’m the only person to escape since the war."

Fred has owned his house in Whitianga for four years and met Caroline here. He first sailed to New Zealand in an old sailing ship, the Anna Kristina.
"I came around the North Island in 1989 and on that tour of New Zealand, this is the honest truth, I always knew I would end up living here. Of all of the world that I have sailed, I think Mercury Bay is probably one of the best places to live."

He says Alderney is similar to Whitianga, which he now calls home. "It has a lot of the characteristics of where I grew up. A little ferry business in a small town surrounded by water."

Fred worked in the super yacht industry and lived in the Caribbean for 16 years before sailing to New Zealand on that first visit 25 years ago.

He wanted to buy Dave’s ferry business for three years and jokes, "The only way Dave could get rid of me was to sell me the business. It is about time he had a Christmas off. I wonder how many times he has crossed the harbour."

The ferry operates 365 days of the year with seasonal variations in times, currently crossing all day from 7:30am to 10:30pm with two one hour breaks between 6:30pm and 7:30pm and 8:30pm to 9:30pm.

It’s a service that has operated for over 100 years since its beginning in 1895. Many individuals rowed themselves and others across the river before a ferry service began. The service was first officially started by Neil Harris, who rowed people and livestock across the river for a fee.

Public asked to submit questions prior to proposed Cathedral Coast Walk meeting

Thames Coromandel District Council is now busy formalising the format of the public meeting  that will give an update on the proposed Cathedral Coast walk.

Everyone is invited to the meeting at the Hahei Community Hall on Saturday 29 November, from 10:00am until midday.  TCDC said Waikato Regional Council has also been invited along with Council staff and Mercury Bay Community Board members and councillors.

“This is a chance for us to share with everyone where we're at with the Walks project and to discuss parking issues around Hahei," says Garry Towler, TCDC’s spokesperson on the proposed walk. "We need to talk about the impact that increasing visitor numbers is having on Hahei and how we can best manage it short and long term.

Pre-prepared handouts will be available at the meeting and attendees will be able to take those away with them.

After presentations from Mr Towler and John Gaukrodger from the Department of Conservation, who will go through the proposed route the walk will follow, there will be a public question and answer session.

"We want to provide an opportunity to submit questions in advance so presenters can have time to prepare and have additional information with them on the day," says Mr Towler.

If you'd like to submit questions in advance, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The proposed walk is being developed in partnership with DOC and local iwi Ngati Hei. Stage 1A and 1B of the walk is approximately 10km in length from the iconic “blowhole” at Hahei’s Te Pupuha Recreation Reserve through to the Purangi Estuary at Cooks Beach. It takes in DOC estate, Council reserve and QE2 Trust land. A private section of land at Lees Rd is also being negotiated, which will help to provide additional car parking for anyone wanting to walk the route.

One of the next steps in the project will be finalising the names of a working group, made up of permanent Hahei residents, non-permanent residents, the Hahei Business Association and Coastal Walkways. This group will be the major forum through which the Hahei community and stakeholders can table views and issues and report back to the Project Governance Group, which is made up of TCDC, DOC and Ngati Hei.



Should small businesses and farms be made subject to capital gains tax?

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.