Tuesday, 25 June 2019


Storm may cause surface flooding

The easterly winds have arrived on the Coromandel and the weather event is expected to last over five or six high tides.

What does thismean?

More than anything, it means you need to be very careful when driving. If you don't need to drive around on the east coast of the Coromandel after dinner tonight, don't. Play safe and enjoy a night in. Make sure you're ready for any possible power cuts due to debris hitting power lines.

The wind is likely to batter the east coast the most and in some places push the water past spring tide levels. The west coast of the Peninsula is not expected to have the same degree of wind-caused water levels, but may get close.

Waves are likely to remain higher than normal right through until Friday and at high tides that typically means some of the low lying coastal areas will get surface flooding.

It is being called "a sustained easterly wind event" because it's not a storm. Technically, the storm is away from the country, but the low pressure is causing the wind and that's the bit we're going to feel more than anything.

High tide times for Mercury Bay are as follows:
Tuesday 14:49
Wednesday 03:00 and 15:44
Thursday 03:55 and 16:40                               

If life or property is in danger dial 111.

If the weather is causing you or your neighbourhood any issues, please contact Thames Coromandel District Council’s customer service line on 07 868 0200. This is manned 24/7.

Click here for our Whitianga weather forecast.

Tenth Scallop Festival shaping up to be the best one yet

Most of the arrangements are in place for the tenth Whitianga Scallop Festival on 6 September this year.

Testimony to the popularity of the festival on the New Zealand seafood events calendar is the fact that many of last year’s performers have committed to appear this year again. There’s Coral Pitcher, Tim Armstrong, The Great Brain Robbers, Ed Jackson and, of course, the larger than life Vegas Brown and his band.

Kara Gordon wasn’t part of last year’s festival, but will be on stage this year. He’s no stranger to Mercury Bay, regularly performing at Whitianga Hotel and other venues around the area. He’s called all sorts of things at his gigs - musical genius, part man - part guitar, even a mystic performing straight from his soul. Simply put, he’s very good.

The Best Dressed Competition is back, but on its own stage this year. Get your friends and family to get with you into the spirit of things and stand a chance to win a prize package made up of holiday accommodation from Bachcare, a bar fridge from The Warehouse, |scenic tours from Ocean Leopard Tours and Cathedral Cove Kayaks, petrol and coffee vouchers from Z and The French Fig and a Lost Spring All Day package.

Also back is the Vote and Win Competition with accommodation from Hot water Beach Holiday Park, a BBQ from The Warehouse, petrol and coffee vouchers from Z and The French Fig, a scenic tour from the Glass Bottom Boat and a Lost Spring All Day package up for grabs.

New is the Cathedral Cove Macadamias "Nominate your Choice" Competition. Help Cathedral Cove Macadamias decide what dish they should cook in their quest to win the Best Stall Competition for a tenth year in a row (yes, they’re unbeaten). You can nominate one of three dishes - spicy macadamia scallop and fish balls, macadamia garlic butter scallops and chili macadamia crumbed scallops. Go to www.scallopfestival.co.nz/thefestival/competitions to nominate your favourite and be in to win two nights’ accommodation at Flaxmill Bay Cottages the weekend of the festival, two adult passes to the festival, complimentary scallop dishes from Cathedral Cove Macadamias and complimentary wine from Mills Reef and Tohu Wines. You can nominate your favourite right now.

Outside the festival grounds, the Best Dressed Shop Window Competition will again be on, but, unlike other years, the winner will only be chosen the week after the festival. Morning tea for the winning business owner and their staff are up for grabs. And there’s a slight rumour, which may soon be confirmed, that Guggemusik, the very popular Swiss-style carnival band from Auckland, will be roaming the Whitianga streets, just to ensure everyone remains in Scallop Festival-mode on the day of the festival.

Many favourite stall holders are back as well, including community groups like the Whitianga Coastguard, Hot Water Beach Surf Life Saving, the Mercury Bay Game Fishing Club, the Whitianga Lions, Mercury Bay Area School and the Mercury Bay Squash Club.

And don’t forget, this year there will be three top chefs on the live cooking stage – do the names Ray McVinnie, Josh Emett and Julie Biuso ring any bells?

With sponsorship from Boundary Road Brewery, New World Whitianga, Aggreko, Salt Restaurant and Bar, Powerco and Mills Reef and support from 100% Whitianga, Pub Charity, Destination Coromandel and The Lost Spring, the tenth anniversary of the Scallop festival will be truly memorable.

Ticket sales are way up on last year. Don’t miss out! You can get your tickets from Dive Zone in Blacksmith Lane Whitianga or online at www.scallopfestival.co.nz or www.eventfinder.co.nz.

Three MBAS students and their teacher

For the first time high school surfers will have three opportunities to prove that they belong in the Coromandel surfing team. Previously one qualifying event was held. The first competition this year took place two weekends ago in Whangamata where students from Mercury Bay Area School placed well in most of the events.

We caught up with three of the school’s six competitive surfers and teacher Jamie Hutt, who took responsibility for the students’ endeavours on the Coromandel surfing scene and who’s somewhat attached to his surfboard himself. It was an enlightening discussion.

Jack Lockhart, an Under 16 competitor, started surfing only three years ago and he’s completely hooked. In fact, a while ago he took three weeks off school and went to Bali with Timu Malbacher, another MBAS competitive surfer, and his family. "All we did was surfing," Jack said. "That was totally awesome." Asking him what his life ambition is, he didn’t hesitate to say, "I want to become a pro surfer." And then, after a few moments of thought, he said something quite profound, "Surfing is my life. Whenever I come out of the water, I’m a better person than when I went in."

Atawhai Charteris is also competing in the Under 16 category. He started surfing when he was seven years old. He also would like to become a pro surfer and, like Jack, is a deep thinker about his passion for the waves. "I’m beyond the point of no return. I live and breathe surfing. It’s who I am, it’s what defines me."

Competing in the Under 14 category, James Scott is the youngest of the trio we spoke to. He also started surfing when he was seven years old. He’s no less eloquent than Jack and Atawhai. "First step is to get to the New Zealand National Championships. And then nothing is going to stop me to turn pro. The water is my home," he said. James has already had the privilege to surf at some of the world’s best spots, including Rincon in California and Bell’s Beach in Australia.

Asking the three surfers if they would like their future wives to be surfers too, the answers were, surprisingly, varied.

James was fairly adamant that his future soul mate will have to love the waves as much as he does. Jack thought it will be better for him to have someone who’s happy to sit on the beach and take photos of him in the water. Atawhai was more contemplative. "It will be good if she can surf, but ultimately she has to be happy. And then I’ll be happy."

That left Jamie who, it turned out, is a global surfer - Europe, Indonesia, South America and Australia. "And wherever I go, I drag my surfboard, my skateboard and my spear gun with me," he said. And then he hastily added, "And my wife too, of course."

Asking Jamie if he thinks surfing has potential as a sport at MBAS, he didn’t hesitate to say yes. "We have some really good surfers here. If we keep on supporting and developing them, some champions are going to come out of the school."

The second Coromandel Secondary Schools surfing competition will be held on 20 August in Mercury Bay (either Hot Water Beach or Whangapoua). The third competition will take place at Waihi Beach on 10 August.

If your dog lives with you in Thames Coromandel District and is three months old or more, then you must register it. If your dog currently registered then it's time to update his or her registration for 2014-15.

TCDC will know which dogs are up-to-date with their registrations as their records are updated when dog registration is paid and by the colour of the tag they're wearing - so make sure you've paid up and your dog is proudly wearing the new tag.

All dogs (some exemptions apply) must also be micro chipped if they were registered after July 2006.

The registration tag belongs to the dog, not the owner. So if you sell or give away your dog, the tag must go with it as proof of registration. Replacement tags are available free of charge.

Any dogs not registered may be seized by dog control officers and owners may receive a $300 fine. TCDC has zero tolerance for unregistered dogs as the registration fee contributes towards the costs for managing dog control in the district.

Dog registration notices have been sent to owners and are due for payment by 31 July.

To get details on the cost to register your dog and how to pay either online, by post or at TCDC offices, go to www.tcdc.govt.nz/dogs.

Funding round for community grants now open

Thames Coromandel District Council’s 2014/2015 funding round for Community Grants is now open. Community grants help local organisations pay for specific projects or maintenance of facilities that benefit the local community, support not-for-profit community organisations which have a positive impact on the community and recognise, support and enhance volunteer effort in the community.

Last year the Community Boards allocated an amount of $129,750 from the Community Grant Fund among those that applied for funding in 2013/2014.

Some of the recipients from the 2013/14 round were the Coromandel Flying Club for a helipad, The Friends of Te Whanganui-A-Hei Marine Reserve Trust to provide the “Experiencing Marine Reserves” programme, Matariki Ki Tairua Trust to assist with establishment costs and consents for the He Waka Tuturu, Totally Thames Inc for the Wearable Arts Festival and the Whangamata Gymnastics Club to purchase new floor mats. 

For more information and to download the guidelines and application forms, see http://www.tcdc.govt.nz/communitygrants.

Applications close 5pm on Friday 1 August 2014.

Never a dull moment

Whitianga Coastguard has had many highlights the past five years, including getting a new big boat and the opening of an extended shed with a training room and a state of the art incident room (the envy of many other units around the country). And this Sunday 6 July another milestone will be celebrated with the launch of "Endeavour," the unit’s brand new Naiad 4.8m rigid inflatable boat.

"We needed a second boat small enough to go up the Whitianga and Purangi estuaries and across the Whangapoua Bar and also to do work close to shore," said Stuart Brown, Whitianga Coastguard president.

"We are really grateful towards John Masters for managing the project to obtain Endeavour and main sponsors Trillian Trust, Pub Charity, Trust Waikato and Sky City Hamilton.

"We’ll also make the boat available to people who don’t have their own boats and who need practical experience to get day skipper and VHF radio licences. After all, we’re her to ensure people are safe on the water."

Whitianga Coastguard was formed in 1969 and was known as Whitianga Marine Radio. It was initially just a radio service for commercial vessels, which was later extended to include local recreational boats. The unit became affiliated with New Zealand Coastguard in 1992.

The unit today boasts four radio operators and 20 rescue vessel volunteers. Six of the crew are qualified skippers and three are trained in incident management. "We have three new rescue vessel crew starting very soon, but we’re always looking for more radio operators and volunteers," said Stuart.

Stuart, who owns Longshore Marine in Whitianga with his wife Diana, joined the unit three and a half years ago. "I did a VHF and day skipper course and Alan Jackson [a long time Whitianga local] asked me if I wanted to join the Coastguard. We were relatively new in town and I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer. I enjoy fishing and being on the water, so it wasn’t a hard decision.

"We train regularly, at least every second week, and you come to know the other members of the unit really well. There’s a great camaraderie among us.
A few weeks ago we had a pizza night at the shed, watching the All Blacks’ first test against England. It’s pretty awesome to do things like that with people who have the same interests as you do."

Whitianga Coastguard’s two major fundraising activities every year are the sale of New Zealand Coastguard Summer Lottery tickets and the Scallop Festival. "The Scallop Festival is a big event for us. We sell scallops, mussels and oysters in all shapes and forms and normally raise more than $6,000.
It’s great fun, but hard work," said Stuart

"I remember in 2011, the Friday afternoon before the Scallop Festival, I was part of the crew that responded to a call-out to a boat with fuel issues at the very top of the Coromandel. It took us nine and a half hours to get there and back. We missed the All Blacks v Japan World Cup Game that night,
but, good for us, we didn’t have to prep for the Scallop Festival the following day. I tell you what, never a dull moment with the Coastguard."

Whitianga Coastguard will have an open day from 11:00am this Sunday where everyone will be welcome to look around their shed and meet their crew and radio operators. Endeavour will be launched at 2:30pm.

Thames Coromandel District Council is now taking applications for the 2014/2015 rates rebate year.

The TCDC Tairua-Pauanui office is holding two rates rebates clinics for anyone needing help applying or processing their rates rebate applications. The application form  can be downloaded from here or can be picked up from any of the TCDC offices. The closing date for applications is 30 June 2015.

The Rates Rebates Clinics are on -

Thursday 14 August 2014
9:30 am - 11:30 am
Pauanui Library

Thursday,14 August 2014
1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Tairua Library, 2 Manaia Road

The Rates Rebate Scheme was established in 1973 to provide assistance to low-income homeowners on the cost of their rates. The Government increased the rates rebate thresholds for the 2014/15 rating year following a review that was recently completed.

The following changes came into effect from 1 July 2014 -

Maximum rebate has increased from $595 to $605.

Income threshold has increased from $23,870 to $24,250.

The additional income allowance for dependants will remain at $500 per dependant.

This means the income threshold for a full rates rebate for the 2014/15 year is $24,250 and is increased by $500 for each dependant in the household.

Although a ratepayer's income might exceed the income threshold, a rates rebate could still be available, depending on the rates amount and number of dependants.

Rates increase for Coromandel property owners

The Thames Coromandel District average property rate will increase by a projected 2.21% for this coming financial year (2014/2015).

This is less than what was forecast in Thames Coromandel District Council’s draft 2014/2015 Annual Plan, which was a projected increase of 2.6%

"I want to thank all the staff and our financial team who have worked hard to keep the rates increase to a minimum for our ratepayers, given that there's a lot of big ticket projects we're investing in, like the Coromandel Harbour and Coromandel Great Walks," said Mayor Glenn Leach.

"Development contributions have also been less than we hoped for, which means that the interest on the loans for some of our additional capacity infrastructure, like the three wastewater treatment plants, is being  passed on to our current ratepayers in the short term.

"We have been able to make some savings in other ways, through cost efficiencies in our operational expenditure and also reducing next year's capital expenditure budget by $4 million.”

Mercury Bay rates on a property with a value of $400,000 will increase from $2,521 to $2,561and in Tairua-Pauanui it will increase from $2,527 to $2,567.



Do you support the teachers of New Zealand taking industrial action to achieve better pay and working conditions?

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.