Tuesday, 16 July 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Pauanui Tairua walking and cycle track making rapid progress

Volunteers armed with recently-granted consents from Thames Coromandel District Council and Waikato Regional Council have made outstanding progress on the walking and cycling trail that will eventually link Tairua and Pauanui.

In December, locals volunteering under the banner of the Hikuai District Trust have built five more bridges over the ephemeral streams (streams that last for short periods of time and are often dry) crossing the track, have secured the bridges with metal and have now completed 700m of track.

When finished, the track will follow the banks of the scenic Tairua estuary from the end of the existing Coastal Walkway track and link up with the public access way from the Tairua Primary School.

At this stage, resource consent has been granted to take the trail as far as Duck Creek.

With the Tangitarori Canal Bridge and Duck Creek to Picnic Point parts of the trail now completed, summer visitors to the Coromandel can walk these sections and get their first real sense of the finished project.

In addition to members of the community giving their labour to the project, in the last month petrol company BP has joined the trail sponsors by donating petrol vouchers to the volunteers who need to travel to the trail construction area.

"The vouchers are most welcome and have been passed to the construction team," says trail chairman Gary Fowler.

Two additional grants were received this month. The Sir John Logan Campbell Residuary Estate has granted $2,897 to assist with pest eradication and the Waikato branch of Forest and Bird also granted $1,400 for trail pest eradication.

Mr Fowler said work on constructing the outer casing of traps was now being undertaken by the Pauanui Menz Shed.

Mr Fowler and the Trail Committee were honoured at the recent Pauanui Sports and Recreation Club's annual Volunteer Awards ceremony.

In addition to the many organisations that have donated to the walkway, Thames Coromandel District Council has given $56,000 and the Tairua-Pauanui Community Board has given $6,300. Other contributors have included Rayonier, Walking Access Commission, Coastal Walkways, g.a.s. Service Station Pauanui, Forest and Bird Waikato, Sir John Logan Campbell Residuary Estate and BP.

The project began with Ian Hopper building the first stage from the Pauanui Waterways ten years ago, covering 1,600m of mostly boardwalks over the mangroves.

Summer Shuttle service from Ferry Landing to Hot Water Beach to start this week

Thames Coromandel District Council said there will be more seats on this year’s Summer Shuttle bus service so everyone can travel between Whitianga and Hot Water Beach without the hassle of driving and parking.

TCDC has teamed up with Waikato Regional Council to provide the shuttle service, which will operate from 27 December to 26 January and again over the Waitangi Day long weekend (6 to 8 February).

The decision to introduce a bigger, air conditioned vehicle follows a survey of passengers using the shuttle last year to travel between Hot Water Beach, Hahei, Cooks Beach and Ferry Landing.

“About 3000 people travelled on the bus during the month it operated, with 83 per cent of the passengers crossing from Whitianga and using the shuttle to go to the beaches from Cooks Beach to Hahei,” said WRC’s public transport operations manager Ben Barlow.

One way Summer Shuttle bus fares are - $3 adults, $2 children, $7 families (up to two adults and two children).

Mercury Bay Community Board chairman Paul Kelly said, “We're so pleased to be working with WRC to provide the shuttle this year. We realise we need to look at how we manage the growing number of visitors within this area and that traffic and parking need managing.”

TCDC said the service helps to ease traffic congestion and parking hassles for Cathedral Cove visitors, as well as improving the safety for pedestrians and other road users.

TCDC will also be employing “parking ambassadors” to remind people not to park on Grange Road in Hahei when they are visiting Cathedral Cove or Hahei Beach.

The parking ambassadors will be issuing leaflets about parking restrictions and working with the Department of Conservation and TCDC compliance staff on Grange Road. Traffic cones and signage will also be alerting motorists to the fact that there is no parking on this road.

Meanwhile a Park and Ride service is also available at Pa Road in Hahei. This allows people to park their vehicle and then ride a bus up to Grange Rd to start the walk to Cathedral Cove.

According to TCDC the Park and Ride was extremely popular last summer, carrying about 20,000 people up the hill from Hahei to the start of the Cathedral Cove walking track.

The Summer Shuttle timetable can be found on this website on page 32 of the PDF copy of The Informer of 24 December 2014.

Whitianga Police Report for the period 15 December 2014 to 22 December 2014

GENERAL

This week there has been a couple of thefts from shops which is even more disappointing when we see most shop owners work extremely hard to make a living during the winter months, to then have criminals stealing their earnings. If you see anyone acting suspicious in shops please let the staff know so that thefts can be prevented and the pressure is too hot for criminals.

Welcome to everyone visiting our area and we hope that you all have an enjoyable stay.

Usually when people interact with the Police during their holidays it is due to the theft of their property, vehicle crashes, they have been assaulted or their behaviour is unacceptable.

You can prevent thefts by securing property as much as possible, while traffic crashes can be reduced by ensuring your vehicle is in good condition and that you are well rested and not under the influence of alcohol and drugs when driving. Alcohol and drugs are major factors when attending assaults and disorder, so reduced consumption of alcohol and having nothing to do with illicit drugs will help prevent you becoming a victim.

ARRESTS

20th - 1 x 22yr old local woman for Assaulting a Child and Dangerous Driving.

OCCURRENCES

Three domestic incidents attended last week.

On the 15th a separated couple at a 309 Road address required Police to keep the peace while they sorted out property, while on the 20th a father and adult daughter were arguing at a Cook Drive address and direct advice was given. Then on the 21st separated couple who were arguing and called Police to calm the situation.

On the 15th farm fence wires were cut at a SH25 Whenuakite property and thankfully no stock got onto the road, while on the 16th a couple entered a Monk Street shop and stole property. The store owner managed to recover some items, but they thieves decamped with a pouch of costume jewellery.

A store workers handbag was stolen from the storeroom at an Albert Street address on the 19th and later recovered without the money.    

On the 21st offenders attempted to break into a car at a Springbok Avenue address without success.

TRAFFIC

On the 19th the driver of a ute crashed into a van on Kennedy Bay Road and failed to stop. Our enquiries are continuing with the registered owner.

Two drunk drivers apprehended this week.

18th - 1 x 26yr old local man 364/250.

19th - 1 x 34yr old Clevedon man 592/250.

New SH25 SH2 roundabout completed

Holidaymakers will be amongst the first to use a $3.5million roundabout that’s set to improve safety on the way to some of the North Island’s summer hot spots.

The New Zealand Transport Agency says the roundabout, which replaces the T-intersection where State Highway 25 (SH25) to Thames meets State Highway 2 (SH2), was completed this month - just in time for the Christmas holiday traffic travelling between Coromandel, Auckland and the Bay of Plenty.

NZTA’s Waikato journey manager, Liam Ryan, says the new roundabout will improve safety at the site by creating a safer way to move traffic.

“More than 24,000 vehicles a day pass through this site each day during peak holiday times and in the past people coming from the Coromandel on SH25 and then onto SH2 to Auckland had a difficult time safely turning right,” he says.

This roundabout significantly improves that tough turn and allows traffic to pass through safely, reducing the crash risk.”  

Mr Ryan says that while the roundabout would also improve congestion on the approach from Thames, people should still plan ahead for delays during peak times.

“People travelling on SH2 towards Auckland may experience some delays during peak times, especially after Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when people are returning home from their holidays on the Coromandel Peninsula,” he says.

“In the past they were given a free run, but northbound SH2 traffic will give way to traffic coming from SH25 as they pass through the roundabout.

“People travelling on SH25 from the Coromandel will notice a real difference as they will safely be able to get onto SH2 without waiting in the heat for a gap in traffic.”

The Transport Agency has released maps that provide a nationwide snapshot of highway traffic routes, dates and times where traffic congestion is expected to be particularly heavy during the 2014/2015 Christmas- New Year holiday period.

Mr Ryan says the maps will help motorists plan ahead and avoid travelling during the times congestion is predicted to be heaviest.

 “My advice is to plan to avoid peak traffic where you can and give yourself enough time to take plenty of rest or sightseeing breaks along the way,” he says.  

 It’s your holiday after all, so why not make the journey an enjoyable part of it with stops along the way – you can’t beat an ice-cream from a dairy on a hot day.”

Fair hearing for mining submitters says TCDC

Thames Coromandel District Council says submitters on Thames-Coromandel's Proposed District Plan rules regarding mining were given plenty of opportunity to express themselves at this week's hearings in Thames.

Mark Farnsworth, Chair of the Hearings Panel, warmly encouraged submitters to relax and express the views of their organisations or those they represented, recognising that the formality of the occasion could cause nerves in presenters.

"Our aim," he said, speaking for the Hearings Panel, "Is to have everyone leave the day feeling that they've had a fair hearing, and we're going out of our way to do that. We want to be as fair and balanced as possible."

An attentive and respectful audience listened to professional and quality presentations from industry and community groups as they discussed their submissions.

TCDC also said the Hearings Panel, which, in addition to Mr Farnsworth, includes Ian Munro and Councillor Tony Fox - all qualified commissioners - used thoughtful questions to draw submitters out further to understand their points more thoroughly.

Presenters over the last two days included Newmont Waihi Gold, Coromandel Watchdog, HG Leach, Alastair Brickell, Penny Taylor, Clive Monds, Hauraki Prospectors Association, Betty Williams, Suzanne Williams for Nga Kaitiaki, Greenspot Guardians and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Sewerage scheme debt sparks possible more than five per cent rates increase

A possible average district rate rise of 5.5 per cent was tabled at a Thames Coromandel District Council workshop this week, as it looks at dealing with a $31 million debt relating to the Eastern Seaboard sewerage schemes which were completed in 2009.

The two-day workshop held for elected members was in preparation for TCDC’s Draft Long Term Plan (2015 - 2025). The projected 5.5% average district rates increase was presented as a first cut to elected members as they wrestle with how to deal with debt from the sewerage schemes and peripheral works. These plants in Whangamata, Tairua-Pauanui and Whitianga, cost in excess of $93 million.

"It was the belief of Council in the early 2000s that future developers would pay at least 66 per cent of that cost and that growth would take off in the Coromandel at a fast rate," says Thames-Coromandel Chief Executive David Hammond.  "The developers didn't come and instead we were all hit by the recession.

"Someone has to pick up the mounting unpaid bill and that now amounts to a 3.5% rate rise in itself to deal with this one issue. It should have been addressed in 2008/2009."

TCDC staff will now be looking at ways to lessen the projected rates increase, after also receiving input from all the Community Boards at the workshop on priority projects and level of service for each ward over the next ten years.

A final figure on the average district rate will be presented to elected members early next year.

Meanwhile TCDC's base position has been helped by its reduction of rates, which hit a remarkable 6% decrease in 2012/2013 from what was charged in 2010/2011. This has allowed TCDC to have a lower starting base to cope with future pressures and shocks, including dealing with the present debt on the sewerage plants.

"We knew that the servicing the debt of the sewerage plants would be coming down the track and so we've been preparing our finances to ensure we are in a better shape to face it," says TCDC Mayor Glenn Leach. 

"We have the responsibility to pick this up and deal with it. We will take this on the chin but also look at how we can be flexible so that at some point in the future when there is growth in some areas, we can review this.

"Council and staff have done so much work over the last four years to bring out-of-control debt and rates back under strong management. We've had a reduction in rates. Without the sewerage plant issue, we would have been on target to deliver a rise of less than 2% again.

"We've been able to make significant reductions in our operating expenditure and we've also reported the best level of customer service ever. Now is the time to deal with the Treatment Plants and I'm grateful that we can do it with some confidence."

The Three Wastewater Treatment Plants were completed by 2009 to deal with future growth and peak summer population. TCDC has completed more up-to-date modelling and testing that shows some parts of Tairua-Pauanui and Whitianga plants are near capacity over peak summer. With some fine tuning of these plants capacity can be optimised.

The challenge is anticipated future growth. Based on 2015 projections, the indication all three the plants won't reach capacity within their asset life. So if future population growth doesn't materialise as projected, it means TCDC’s additional capacity loan isn't repaid.

New Chums subdivision application to be publicly notified

Thames Coromandel District Council announced today an application to subdivide land at New Chums Beach (Wainuiototo Bay, Whangapoua) will go out for public notification on Friday 16 January 2015.

The application was submitted to Council in October 2014. During this time the TCDC Planning Team requested further information from the applicants, which has delayed processing. This information has now been provided.

“While we had hoped to publicly notify pre-Christmas, with Council offices closing over Christmas and people away for the summer holidays, we feel it is more appropriate to notify in January when we we have a full quota of staff to deal with submissions coming in," says TCDC Planning Manager Michael Jones.

The applicants have agreed to the notification of their application in January and the notification period will run for 20 working days, so will close on Friday 13 February.

The new application for subdivision at New Chums has been made by Ross and Deidre Mear and is on the same piece of land on which a previous application was lodged in January 2014 by Coastal Land Trust Holdings. The application by Coastal Land Trust Holdings, which is a separate identity, is currently on hold due to further information being sought from the applicant.

The latest application is for a four lot subdivision, all approximately 15 hectares in size, together with a fifth "beach conservation lot," of 1.2 hectares. The beach lot is proposed as a conservation area allowing for public access along the beach.

Whitianga Police Report for the period 8 December 2014 to 15 December 2014

GENERAL

With all our visitors about to enjoy their holidays in our area, it is an ideal opportunity to get to know your neighbours, especially holiday home owners who don't get to enjoy their properties as much as they would like.

This week we had a family leave their holiday home insecure by mistake when they returned to work and thankfully their neighbour knew them well enough to contact them and secure the property.

Good neighbours will gladly keep a lookout over the properties around them and by alerting Police to any issues they can help prevent crime in our area.    

Unfortunately there are criminals out there that will take any opportunity that presents to steal your stuff, so while enjoying outdoor activities please consider the security of your possessions.

If you see anyone acting suspiciously please take the time to note their description and any vehicle details, including the registration. 

ARRESTS

No arrests this week.

OCCURRENCES

Two domestic incidents attended last week.

On the 13th a separated couple were arguing over property at a Centennial Drive address and sound advice was given.

While on the 14th a mother and daughter called Police for assistance when their arguing started to get out of hand at a Dawn Avenue, Hahei address and they were advised to stay away from each other’s homes.

On the 9th a HTC1 cell phone was stolen from a bag left unattended while the owner enjoyed a dip in a hot pool at Hot Water Beach.

We attended an incident of Disorder in the early hours of the 13th

Also in the early hours of the 13th a 38yr old local man was reported missing and Kuaotunu Search and Rescue carried out a search in the Waitaia area in atrocious conditions. He was located safe and well.

As always we greatly appreciate KSAR's volunteers for their assistance. 

TRAFFIC

On the 14th a 17yr old local man crashed into the car in front of him and then left the scene without exchanging details. The victim later tracked him down and Police will issue him the appropriate infringement tickets.

On the 13th a 29yr old local man was apprehended driving drunk (624/250) and he can expect a significant fine and disqualification when he explains his actions in Court.    

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