Tuesday, 25 June 2019


What roadside fire danger signs really mean

Summertime and the living is easy, fish are jumping and the fire danger is high. But what do the familiar roadside fire danger signs really mean?

Clear, colourful and simple, the signs’ message is not as obvious as it seems. The Scion Rural Fire Research Group is working with the National Rural Fire Authority after a study found that many people are not sure what the danger ratings mean, or if they apply to them.
Lisa Langer, the fire scientist who led the work, explains, “We wanted to see if the fire danger warnings influenced people’s behaviour and encouraged safer fire practices.
“We interviewed locals and New Zealand and international visitors in Canterbury and Northland and asked them what the fire danger signs meant to them.
“On the plus side, most people are aware of the signs. But some of our results were surprising.
“Perhaps most worrying is that one person in five felt the signs didn’t apply to them, that they were for others, like smokers or campers or ‘reckless people.’
“And two thirds of people we talked to said that that the signs did not alert them to the possibility that that they might need to change their behaviour. People were also very uncertain as to what they should or shouldn’t do at each fire danger level, other than for low or extreme.
“We also found that the signs were not particularly effective for visitors. This is a specific concern in summer when people are moving around the country and the fire danger is often very high or extreme.
“The challenge is to get people to take notice of the fire danger signs, to make them aware of local conditions, and what they can do to prevent wildfires from starting.
"Rural Fire Authorities, led by the National Rural Fire Authority, have responded to these research findings by developing new TV advertising, YouTube clips, roadside signs and some FireSmart activities. The emphasis is now ‘Check it’s alright before you light.’”
Further work by the Rural Fire Research Group has focused on how to communicate wildfire messages more effectively. “We considered who was using fire, what they needed to know about fire risk, restrictions and other actions to prevent fires, as well as being prepared for a fire if one should occur,” says Lisa.
“Most people are not fire users, but that can change on holiday. It is holidaymakers who do things like light campfires and set off fireworks that could start a wildfire. And holidaymakers tend to be visitors to an area. One of the real communication challenges is to increase the awareness of visitors to the local fire danger in the area they are in."

Rolled truck and trailer causes delays between Tairua and Whitianga

Police advised that a truck and trailer unit has rolled on SH25 between Tairua and Whitianga.

No diversion is possible.

The road is down to one lane and lengthy queues are forming.

The crash is on the Tairua side of Whenuakite so this will affect traffic travelling to Hahei, Hot Water Beach, Whitianga, etc. Drivers are advised that the quickest route to Auckland from Whitianga is via Coromandel town and Thames. The road is expected to be closed for several hours. The truck was carrying molasses and fuel is leaking.

TCDC looking for this man

Thames Coromandel District Council wishes to talk to the person in this photo, or to anybody who may be able to identify the person in this photo, in relation to an incident that occurred at the Hot Water Beach car park on Sunday 4th January 2015 at 11:54pm.

Please contact Steve Hart, Compliance Team Leader on telephone 07 868 0200.

TCDC to prosecute organisers (and landowner) of music festival

Thames Coromandel District Council says a 48-hour music festival expecting 1,500 people plans to go ahead this weekend despite Council serving an abatement notice on organisers and the landowner because of concerns about public safety and noise.

The event - Chronophonium Festival - promotes itself as not-for-profit and its Facebook page reported a sold out event at $60 per ticket. According to the page, 1,500 people are expected to arrive at the Tapu Coroglen Road location today for the 48-hour music festival.

Event organisers told TCDC officers yesterday that they only had one nurse and two security guards to take care of the 1,500 people plus bands and support teams over the 48 hours from tonight. Police advised organisers that they needed one crowd control certified security guard per 75 people.

Council says last year's event caused a series of complaints from neighbours who had not been notified of the event.

Organisers said the event was sold out and for TCDC to just to fine them for not following the requirements under the Resource Management Act. TCDC says when they told the owner of the land at 371 Tapu Coroglen Road that he would also be prosecuted, the organisers said they'd just pay his fine too.

Council says they worked with the organisers last year to guide them through the consenting process, even offering an alternative venue (Thames Racecourse) that would make it possible for them to meet the standards.

Council's Acting Chief Executive Ben Day says, “We don't want attendees' safety to be put in danger and have problems like that experienced at Gisborne recently, when organisers of an event such as Chronophonium refuse to comply with standards put in place to take care of people.

"We want people's memories of Coromandel summers to be happy, not devastating," he says, "And we will prosecute."

A successful resource consent would have cost the organisers of the event about $1,500 and certified the site for all future repeat festivals. On conviction after a prosecution, an individual who has failed to comply with the abatement notice is liable to a fine of $10,000 per person (including the land owner).

Water consumption indicates more Coromandel visitors this summer

Water consumption on the Coromandel over the Christmas/New Year period confirmed more activity than last year in some of the Coromandel's favourite east coast holiday spots.

While those in Whangamata consumed about 77-and-a-half million litres of water over two weeks, Onemana was the outstanding increase, followed by Hahei, Pauanui, Whangamata and Tairua.

Onemana used 25 per cent more water than in previous years, leading to an unusual hose and sprinkler ban over the peak period.

Although slightly down on water consumption compared to last year, Whitianga's over 60 million litres of water over two weeks ranked second overall in the Coromandel's heaviest water use.

"We want to thank those who conserved water over summer by not leaving their hoses running and doing even little things like waiting until they had a full load before washing clothes or dishes," says Thames Coromandel District Council Water Services Engineer Rodney Clark.

"We still have restrictions in place in parts of the Coromandel, so please keep being smart about your water use over the next few weeks," he says.

Whitianga Police Report for the period 29 December 2014 to 5 January 2014


Whitianga has experienced a relatively quiet New Years period with the majority of people out to have a good time.

The weather was pretty good and thankfully there were no major incidents in relation to traffic and water activities as highlighted in other areas.

We did however still have a number of burglaries,  thefts and damage caused, but on a positive note a local prolific burglar was arrested and he can explain his actions in Court.       


1st - 1 x 52yr old local man for Burglary x 3 and Possession of Methamphetamine

There were also 21 arrests for disorder offences including, Fighting in a Public Place, Breaching the Liquor Ban and Disorderly Behaviour.


Seven domestic incidents attended last week.

On the 31st a woman was arrested for Breaching a Restraining order her ex-partner took out against her, while also that day we attended an altercation between a father and son at a Cook Drive premises.

A father and his son-In-law argued at a Mercury Street address also on the 31st , while we attended excess alcohol consumption resulted in incidents in Pye Place and Dundas Street on the 1st.

On the 2nd a separated couple argued at an Annette Place address, while a mother and daughter were involved in a physical altercation at a South Highway address on the 5th.

Alcohol was a major factor in most of these domestic incidents and advice was given in various strengths depending on the severity of circumstances. 

We had four burglaries reported over this period, with a 15hp Yamaha Outboard Motor stolen from a Miro Place address on the 31st and a cell-phone, radio and assorted clothing stolen from a Whitby Ave address.

Meat and bread were stolen from an outdoor freezer at a Cook Drive address, while a Wetties Wet Suit was stolen from a Coghill Street balcony.

A cell phone was stolen from Cathedral Cove while the owner was swimming on the 1st.

Two shop windows were smashed on Albert Street in the early hours of the 1st and eggs were thrown at a house on Oyster Drive on the 4th.

On the 29th a letterbox was damaged at a Leah Road address.


Six drunk drivers were apprehended this week with alcohol readings of between 283 and 596 with the new alcohol level being 150 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, or zero for drivers under 20 years of age.

WRC announces water sampling programme

Waikato Regional Council is this summer undertaking a special monitoring programme of 18 coastal sites on the Coromandel Peninsula that are popular swimming locations.

The programme will measure water quality and assess what effects rivers and streams and other factors may have on these locations. Results will be used to support priority stream restoration works programmes and thereby continue to preserve the Coromandel’s water quality. This work will also help prioritise WRC’s coastal water quality science projects and the development of future monitoring programmes.

“We don’t know as much as we’d like about the water quality at these locations. This programme will give us an indication of the general water quality at the time of the year when population pressures are at the peak and that will inform our future work,” said Hilke Giles, leader of the WRC’s Coasts, Land and Wetlands team.

This programme follows a range of matters raised by the community through harbour and catchment management works programmes and community engagement through land care activities. The sites are spread around the Peninsula on both the east and west coasts. The project is conducted jointly by WRC’s integrated catchment management and science and strategy teams.

“Local people have raised a range of general concerns about water quality at these sites, so we’re going to do some testing to check out exactly what’s happening,” said Coromandel area manager Emily O’Donnell.

While the Coromandel has generally good water quality, concerns raised about downstream sites often used for swimming and recreation over summer include elevated faecal bacteria levels (particularly as the water warms up), build ups of algae at times and smells from water in sheltered areas, Ms O’Donnell said.

“We’re not aware of anything that poses a current or imminent risk to people, but this is about being proactive in response to community concerns and checking things out and ensuring we can enjoy these amazing coastal locations. Our testing programme will help us determine if there are potential problems or sites where we need to investigate further and how we go about addressing any issues.”

Dr Giles said the monitoring will include a range of standard water quality tests (concerning oxygen, nutrients, suspended sediments and faecal bacteria). “Where faecal bacteria levels are high we will also send samples to the Cawthron Institute for faecal microbial source tracking. This method uses ‘genetic markers’ to identify the presence and relative contributions of human and ruminant animal sources of faecal contamination.”

Ms O’Donnell said the findings from the testing will be known in the middle of 2015 and will help determine any extra works or other activities needed to improve water quality.

Already, significant gains in supporting the improvement of water quality had been made around the Coromandel Peninsula with fencing and planting of streams, wetlands, forest fragments and erosion prone areas over the last 10 years.

“The combined efforts of more than 160 landowners, along with the council and others, have seen the planting of nearly 145,000 eco-sourced native plants, 160 kilometres of fencing to keep stock out of rivers, streams, wetlands, forest fragments and erosion-prone areas and more than 1000 hectares retired from active use for environmental reasons,” said Ms O’Donnell.

The 18 sites to be monitored include specific locations at -

Wigmore Stream, Kuaotunu Stream, Stewart Stream, Ramarama Stream, Taputapuatea Stream, Tarapatiki Stream, Tohetea Stream, Pepe Stream, Graham’s Creek, Pitoone Stream, Otama River, Otahu River, Taiwawe Stream, Purangi River, Whangarahi Stream, Manaia River, Te Puru Stream and Te Mata Stream.

Mercury Bay beaches getting media attention

The Fairfax Media Group has just released their list of New Zealand’s top ten North Island beaches for 2014. Not surprisingly, Mercury Bay is on the list, with the following being said about Hahei Beach -

This is about as postcard-perfect as it gets. There are pohutukawa trees right down to the sand and the water is so clear you can see your feet.

It's also the perfect place to stay if you want to walk over to Cathedral Cove, and you definitely do. The walk is about 90 minutes return, but take lunch and stay the day. Almost too beautiful to be real.

In October last year New Zealand Herald columnist Rhonwyn Newson wrote about her top ten New Zealand beaches, featuring both Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove.

She said this about Hot Water Beach -

Mercury Bay's famous beach on the Coromandel Peninsula is a favourite for locals and tourists. The underwater hot springs bubble up at a temperature of 65C, so you can dig your own hot pool. Bring a bucket and spade, and be wary of those rip tides.

And this about Cathedral Cove -

One of New Zealand's most photographed scenes and it's no wonder why. This spectacular destination is in the Coromandel, near to another iconic beach - Hot Water Beach. Cathedral Cove is a marine reserve so there is much to see under the water. The cove is accessible by foot, boat or kayak - I recommend kayaking.



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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.