Friday, 26 April 2019


TCDC parks team asks people to use common sense

Ahead of summer, the Thames Coromandel District Council parks team and contractors have been visually inspecting many of TCDC’s reserves for potential hazards that could cause serious harm.

Hazards include areas that drop off elevated paths onto beaches or trees on which locals have tied rope swings. It is not possible to eliminate all hazards, so TCDC ask people to use common sense and take personal responsibility wherever possible.

A recent area of concern has been holes in the ground caused by buried tree stumps which rot over time. Sites in Matarangi and Pauanui are regularly inspected for this because early development of original farmland saw stumps buried before current town plans were developed. Areas which may now be grassed parks can develop cavities not obvious above ground until an event such as a storm causes them to open.

It's challenging for the TCDC team, because there is often no evidence until the surface falls in, which may not be seen until someone trips or falls.

Even TCDC’s current inspection has limitations because they may have found an area clear of hazards only for one to appear a few days later, when the team are in another part of the vast Coromandel parks territory.

The Afternoon Academy at Tairua Library

Local artist Ryder Jones will bring creative mentorship to youth aged 11 and up through The Afternoon Academy, a series of art and creativity workshops at Tairua Library this month.

Having successfully offered The Afternoon Academy workshops in Auckland earlier this year, Ryder returns to his home territory of Tairua to provide a small group of youth with inspiration for implementing art and creativity into everyday life.

This introductory series of small-group workshops will run in co-operation with Tairua Library and Tairua Youth Group at no cost to the young people. There are three consecutive sessions on Thursday afternoons from 27 November until 11 December. The workshops explore a range of creative activities, including sand-casting and rock-stacking, book-binding and pasta-making.

Tairua Community Librarian Emma Darragh will be on-hand to support participants of The Afternoon Academy. She says, “I am delighted the library has the opportunity to host Ryder's Afternoon Academy. He is a champion of youth and creativity and he inspired youth as special guest at The Wonder Programme Finale at Tairua Library earlier this year. This is a terrific opportunity for youth to discover art through play, nature and everyday activity.” 

In order to offer maximum value, participant numbers are strictly limited, and attendance is required at all three sessions. Priority will be given to attendees of Tairua Youth Group.

Please contact Emma at Tairua Library to register your interest on 07 864 7960 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A new team to take the Multi Sport Park forward

The Mercury Bay Recreation Trust has several new trustees and they are positive that they can grow usage of the Mercury Bay Multi Sport Park - starting with the all-important priority of fields that will be usable winter next year.

The project had a $1.4 million overspend in 2012 and since then problems with drainage that have prevented regular use of the fields by sports teams in winter.

When new Trust chairman Bill McLean (also deputy chairman of the Mercury Bay Community Board) talks about his decision to get involved in a facility dogged with controversy, he begins with an explanation of another complex local problem that has faced Whitianga and which he believes has become a political football.

"For over 30 years coastal erosion has been occurring on our foreshores. There’s been report after report that is too technical for people to understand, so they shelve them. I don’t think that’s the way to solve problems. I’ve become involved in the Trust because I want to see the Sport Park living up to its potential.

"I see the Sport Park as potentially another coastal erosion issue if people don’t take care of it. The trustees of the trust are an excellent team - Community Board members like me, we have the chairman of the Mercury Bay Business Association, people who have been on the Community Board in the past, people with engineering backgrounds, people with building backgrounds. And helping us is Sue Costello [Thames Coromandel District Council’s Sport Park coordinator] who will be there for getting things sorted out. And we’re all on the same page."

Mr McLean says one key action is keeping all those with a keen interest in the facility "up with the play" through regular communication.

"A key focus for the Trust is ensuring users of the Sport Park are willing to talk through their ideas and keep their requests reasonable.

"We have identified a list of projects for implementation over the next ten years although, obviously, not all have the same priority. The best and simplest way the different sporting codes can assist the Trust is by talking to us. But remember, the Trust’s role is to facilitate, not create. Our direction is driven by the users of the facility. If each sporting code or other interest group can tell us what they need and we all agree it’s reasonable, then we will work together to achieve our goals."

The Sport Park has five international size playing fields for rugby, rugby league and football. Earlier this year TCDC brought in the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute to try and find out why the fields weren’t draining properly and provide options to rectify the problem.

From January to April next year TCDC will undertake a process on one of the fields which will allow water to filter through the turf and reach drains that run right through the playing area. This work will be monitored, with the aim of treating all fields over the next five years. Funding for the work to be done next year has been approved by the Mercury Bay Community Board.

Finding or raising money for any further drainage works will not be the job of the Trust.

According to its deed, the Trust’s goals are to benefit the wider community of Mercury Bay in the promotion, provision, development, construction, management and maintenance of social, cultural, educational, recreation and leisure facilities in the area.

Getting the grassed playing fields at the Sport Park usable is the Trust’s top priority, but it is not the trustees’ direct responsibility. That responsibility belongs to TCDC.

"Part of the Trust’s management of all parks is to ensure their condition is suitable for whatever activity is planned. Where concerns are found, Council will be advised and appropriate action will be taken," says Mr McLean.

The Trust’s top five priorities for the Sport Park are -

  1. Get the grassed playing fields up and usable - TCDC responsibility.
  2. Netball courts flood lighting - jointly by the Trust/Codes/Sponsors/Community.
  3. Provide a form of function facilities - jointly by the Trust/TCDC/Codes/Sponsors/Community.
  4. Car park lighting - TCDC.
  5. Grassed playing fields flood lighting - jointly by the Trust/Codes/Sponsors/Community.

When it comes to the other projects on the wish list so far, and others that may be suggested by sport codes or other groups, the Trust will not be reliant solely on ratepayers to foot the bill. Just last week Mrs Costello secured a grant from Pub Charity which will be used to provide new rugby posts at the facility.

Mr McLean says irrespective of each project’s priority, the Trust will determine who pays for each project so that appropriate responsibilities can be allocated to TCDC, the Trust, sporting and other entities, sponsors and of course the community at large.

"It is not widely known that the Trust’s responsibility is for all Council owned sport and recreation facilities in Mercury Bay, most of which are already developed and in use. The Sport Park is a work in progress and is therefore the primary focus of the Trust’s attention. The Trust’s role includes fundraising, management, promotion and further development to meet its objectives."

The Trust is busy developing and reviewing policies with regard to sponsorship, signage, event hireage and concessions to ensure standardisation throughout the Mercury Bay area. It’s hoped the policies will encourage local sponsorship and signage opportunities and allow the Trust to seek major sponsorships for park facilities.

Junior, collegiate and senior netball teams use the Sport Park at the moment and Mrs Costello says last week saw two new sporting codes, the Whitianga Touch Association and the Mercury Bay Junior Cricket Club, starting to use the facility. The Trust is fully of the intention to add to the number of users.

There is interest in the facility from outside of the Coromandel, including from Auckland Rugby League, which helps keep the focus positive.

"We are working to market the Sport Park and this area for team training camps, regional tournaments and events. We thank all the sporting codes for supporting the facility and everyone's patience and understanding during the turf embedding process in our first year of operation," says Mrs Costello.

The trustees of the Trust, in addition to Mr McLean, are Wayne Malcolm (involved in the building industry), Gary Fitzsimons (tourism and transport operator and chairman of the Mercury Bay Business Association), Shelly Balsom (horse trekking operator and Ngati Hei member), Sheree Webster (tourism and accommodation provider), Deli Connell (education consultant and Mercury Bay Community Board member), Kiri Moore (BNZ employee and involved in multi-sport events) and Mike Brown (retired consulting engineer).

Coroglen Saleyards now a public reserve

The Old Coroglen Saleyards has been rejuvenated into a public picnic reserve thanks to a joint initiative between Thames Coromandel District Council and the Coroglen Community.

For more than 50 years the Coroglen Saleyards was a hub for people to gather, sell and buy farm stock and catch up on the local gossip. When PGG Wrightson decided to close the Saleyards earlier this year, TCDC managed to purchase two of the three parcels of land for $50,000, paid for by money set aside in their Annual Plan for maintenance and development costs

With help from a working committee, made up of Coroglen community members, TCDC staff and members of the Mercury Bay Community Board, the transformation of land from Saleyards to public reserve is now almost complete.

Land has been re-contoured and landscaped with bollards installed. One of the old loading ramps and one holding pen have also been retained. Interpretative signage will be installed beside it by the pen and areas around the reserve, to let people know about the historical significance of the Saleyards.

The old kitchen building and office huts have also been retained and are currently being converted into a "Sunny Dunny," eco-toilet along with a separate changing room, in time for public to use in summer. Picnic tables and rubbish bins will also be installed in time for summer.

"I look at what the local Coroglen community has done out there, and what a fantastic entranceway the Coroglen Reserve now is to Whitianga," says TCDC mayor Glenn Leach. "Families can now picnic on the banks of the Waiwawa River and there's a water hole that could be one of the best on the Coromandel.

"We know this area has always been a special place in Coromandel's farming history and also a huge part of the Coroglen community. This project typifies what we are trying to achieve with community empowerment. I want to congratulate and thank everyone for what has been achieved out there."

"It's been a great success," confirms Mercury Bay Community Board chair Paul Kelly. "The local input has been phenomenal and I want to thank Heather McPhee and everyone at Coroglen for their input."

New property CVs out next week

Thames Coromandel District ratepayers will start to receive the new Council Values (CVs) of their properties from next week. People will have until close of business on 24 December to challenge the results.

Thames Coromandel District Council said they will mail the valuation notices to ratepayers on 19 November.

Anyone can object to a property value, not only the property owner.

Like previous years, TCDC used Quotable Value for this round of valuations.  Quotable Value used a “mass-appraisal” method, looking at sales and trends in specific areas, building consent statistics and significant changes like subdivisions. Their process is independently audited by the office of the Auditor-General. A ratepayer is given the opportunity to object to the CV of their property as Quotable Value may not have been aware of improvements to the property, eg a new kitchen.

TCDC uses CVs to determine the rates payable by property owners and CVs also play an important (although informal) role when sellers determine how much to list a property of and buyers determine how much they are willing to pay for a property.

CVs are updated every three years.

Watching a movie for a can of food in Whitianga

Mercury Twin Cinemas in Whitianga is participating this year in the Wattie’s Cans Film Festival. Movie goers around the country will be swapping cans of food for tickets to see a blockbuster film this Wednesday 12 November.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be screening in Whitianga at 7:00pm, but, said Glen Parker, owner of Mercury Twin Cinemas, be early as it’s one screening only at the admission price of a can of food. Yes, if you want to see the movie, all you have to pay is a can of food.

The Festival is this year celebrating its 21st anniversary of helping New Zealanders through donations of cans for The Salvation Army’s food banks. Wattie’s then matches each can donated at the Festival bringing the total to over 20,000 cans each year.

Octobers weather in review

The month in review

Our tracking for October ran from 1 to 31 October and we at the Informer got the timing of our first issue in November exactly right to capture all of the October data in time for publication. We are starting to see temperatures move up now and along with it the corresponding first signs of summer. Blowflies, hot nights and mosquitoes. Remember mosquitoes breed in stagnant water, so it’s a good idea at this time of the year to have a scout around your property and see if there are any pockets of water trapped in hidden places where they could be flourishing.

The birds that were waiting to be fed on the back porch every morning all through the winter have now disappeared, with an abundance of food naturally available to them. The little waxeyes still turn up to enjoy kiwifruit and apples, but with so many nectar plants available to them they are spoilt for choice.

Visitors are starting to arrive to enjoy the wonderful beaches and boating that the wider Mercury Bay area has to offer and the shopkeepers are starting to smile again. October temperatures were fairly typical for this time of year with a low of 2 degrees (25th October) and a high of 23 degrees (15 October). Historical averages for the month are 3° and 22° centigrade. However, October typically has around 146mm of rainfall and we were well below the historical average at 102.2 millimetres for the month.

The science of weather forecasting - emerging technologies

We’ve all experienced what happens when it rains and our cell phones start dropping the signal. One emerging new technology has found a clever way of using this very problem by tapping into networks of cell phone towers to detect rainfall events.

Current observation techniques for rainfall can be limited in the amount of coverage they provide, but antennas for mobile phones cover 90% of the world’s inhabited areas. The Science Daily website recently reported on a new idea which has originated on the African continent.

The Rain Cell Africa consortium is exploring signal disturbances as a way of predicting rainfall, managing water resources and providing drought and flood warnings. So far the research is proving 95 per cent accurate in detecting rainfall. In a country like ours which has extensive cell phone coverage, this new technology could prove valuable for farmers, trampers and many others if it is adopted by forecasters.

Public meeting on Cathedral Coast Walk to be held in Hahei

A public meeting has been arranged to provide an update on the proposed Cathedral Coast Walk, which is part of the Coromandel Great Walks Project of Thames Coromandel District Council.

Everyone is invited to the meeting at the Hahei Community Hall on Saturday 29 November, from 10:00am until midday.

"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," said Garry Towler, TCDC's spokesperson on the proposed Cathedral Coast 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," said Mr Towler.

The Proposed Cathedral Coast Walk is being developed in partnership with the Department of Conservation and local iwi Ngati Hei. Stage 1A and 1B of the Cathedral Coast Walk is approximately 10km in length from the iconic "blowhole" at Te Pupuha Recreation Reserve at Hahei through to the Purangi Estuary at Cooks Beach. It takes in DOC estate, Council reserve and QEII 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.

"While the public meeting is primarily as an update on the Walk project and parking around Hahei, DOC are also coming along to give an update on its integrated plan for Cathedral Cove and Hahei," said Mr Towler.

WRC has also been invited along with TCDC staff and elected members.

One of the next steps in the proposed Cathedral Coast walk 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 local iwi 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.