Friday, 07 August 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Two Mercury Bay events to benefit from Major Events Fund

Six events from around the Coromandel, two of them in Mercury Bay, will benefit from an extra $120,000 over the next two years thanks to the latest round of the Thames Coromandel District Council Major Events Sponsorship Programme.

For the first time since the 2013 Events Strategy was adopted by TCDC, their Economic Development Committee has had the opportunity to invest in major events longer than one year because funding was secured in the TCDC 2015 Long Term Plan.

"This gives event organisers more certainty to grow their events and to attract more corporate and community sponsorship because of Council's longer-term support," says TCDC's Deputy Chief Executive Benjamin Day.

"There were 14 applications for major events sponsorship and it's unfortunate that we can't fund everything. While we may not be able to provide financial support to all events, we do help out in other areas with concessions, licences and permits, as well as promotion and marketing, which our Regional Tourism Operator Destination Coromandel also supports."

Grants to the following events have this week been approved -

The Illume Festival of Lights will receive $25,000 over the next two years, $15,000 in 2015-2016 and $10,000 2016-2017, subject to a performance measure being achieved at the 2016 event. The Illume Festival has run for the past two years and is a free, family friendly event held in the first week of the July school holidays in Coromandel Town. Festival highlights include a night market, a street light parade, fireworks, live music, lanterns and entertainment for children. 

Brits on the Beach had $24,435 approved for the next two years, $12,000 in 2015-2016 and $10,000 in 2016-2017, subject to a 15 per cent increase in participation in 2016. Celebrating all things British, this event runs from Thursday 8 October - Sunday 11 October in Whangamata, showcasing British cars, motorbikes, music and food.  

Steam Punk the Thames will receive $15,000 in 2015-2016 and $10,000 in 2016-2017, subject to a performance measure being achieved in the 2015 event. Held on November 13 - 15 2015, Steam Punk the Thames is a new festival which will have an array of public Steam Punk art on display, a Steam Punk circus, street carnival and freak show. This is a free event. 

Thunder Beach successfully obtained $10,000 for 2015-2016 and $7,000 in 2016-2017, subject to hitting 1000 riders in 2015. This is a Motorcycle New Zealand bikers' rally where riders tour the Coromandel loop, overnighting in Whitianga. Last year up to 300 riders participated in the event, which is gaining in popularity.

The Mindsports Festival will receive $15,000 in 2015-2016 and $10,000 in 2016-2017, subject to a 15 per cent increase in participation in its 2016 event. Now running for two years, the Mindsports Festival based out of Thames is an enticing week full of games and activities for all ages, celebrating New Zealand's love and interest in a large range of board and card games alike. Next year's event is planned for June.

The Rising Can Beer festival will receive $4000 in 2015-2016, subject to further detail being provided by the event organisers to Council staff. Hot Water Brewing Company out of Whenuakite makes its own craft beer and this event will provide the opportunity to enjoy good food, good music and canned beer. The event will take place on Saturday 21 November.

A second round of the Major Events Sponsorship will open in September 2015.

Coromandel could become heritage region

The Coromandel Peninsula could become the first heritage region in the country.

"We have an opportunity now to seriously consider how we can preserve, enhance and recognise what is special and unique about the Coromandel," says Thames Coromandel District Council mayor Glenn Leach.

"This includes the Peninsula’s superb natural environment, its vibrant communities and the associated heritage and cultures of the region - so our grandchildren and great-grandchildren can experience social prosperity with a guarantee of future enjoyment of the Coromandel that we are lucky to have now."

A feasibility report released this week proposes the Peninsula could benefit from becoming an International Union of Conservation in Nature (IUCN) Category V protected landscape that covers both natural areas and communities of the Coromandel.

Other examples of protected landscapes are in Australia, Scotland, Japan, Spain and the Lakes District in the United Kingdom, but there are none specifically in New Zealand.

The feasibility report written by Miles Media, one of the largest destination focused marketing agencies in the world, was presented at a round table discussion to representatives from TCDC, central government, iwi, Waikato Regional Council and the Department of Conservation on Monday.

“This is an opportunity to preserve and keep sustainable what is so special about our district - while putting some real, tangible value on it," says Mr Leach. "A Coromandel Heritage Region can be a reality. It’s something we can see, touch and experience. And it's an experience that's good for the soul."

Hahei Holiday Resort sold

The Hahei Holiday Resort has been purchased by a group of New Zealand-based investors who intend to continue to take it forward as a holiday resort.

The resort, which comprises 6.79 hectares of land and buildings immediately behind the beach at Hahei, has been purchased for $13.25 million.

Marketed by John Bedford and Warren Hutt of CBRE, the sale of the property is now unconditional, with settlement due to occur on 1 October 2015.

Vaughan Magnusson, spokesperson for the purchasers and a long-term investor in the Opoutere campground on the Coromandel, says,  “We have been involved in Opoutere for ten years and wanted to invest in another holiday location. When the Hahei Holiday Resort came up for sale, we thought, ‘Let’s have a crack at it.’ Hahei beach is spectacular and its proximity to the surrounding attractions of Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach is excellent. 

“Our vision for Hahei is for it to continue to be run as a great Kiwi family holiday resort. We want people to enjoy the camping they have loved here for years and to encourage people to see that there’s more to the resort than camping - there are villas, studios and apartments here too, so you don’t have to be in a tent to enjoy Hahei. And we are hopeful that the staff will come along with us on the journey.

“Most importantly, we want to ensure that customers know that all bookings made to date will be honoured and that we are open for business as usual. In fact, I would encourage anyone looking to book to do so quickly, to make sure they don’t miss out.”

Spokesperson for the vendors, Ian Carter, says that it is great news for the Carter-Harsant family that the resort, which has operated as a successful family-owned holiday and tourist business for more than 50 years, will keep operating into the future.

“Our family feels truly privileged to have run such a special resort for so long and we know how strongly connected people are to this wonderful place. We love the resort, so although we are sad to hand it over after 50 years of ownership and investment, we are pleased that it will continue to move forward as a resort. Carrying on the Kiwi camping legacy at Hahei is good news for campers, the Hahei community and tourism on the Coromandel Peninsula.”

John Bedford of CBRE says that the purchasers had been consistent throughout the process in building on the future potential of the resort. “After receiving interest from nearly 100 serious parties from New Zealand and overseas, the resort is going to continue in Kiwi hands. The purchasers have always been looking to continue to run it as a holiday resort and add value to this offering. Its end use was a key factor for the Carter-Harsant family.”

October to be Save Kiwi Month

Kiwis need our help. Unmanaged kiwi populations are estimated to be declining at a rate of 2 per cent per annum. Without management, we lose around 27 kiwi each week. To keep them alive for future generations, we need to act now.

Save Kiwi Month starts on 1 October and the inaugural national fundraising initiative, the Great Kiwi Morning Tea, is being held on Friday 16 October. 

You can do your bit to help our precious kiwi. Just get together with family, friends, colleagues, neighbours or complete strangers and hold a classic Kiwi morning tea.  Splurge on Kiwi classics like lamingtons, caramel slices, sausage rolls, lolly cake and asparagus rolls and ask your guests to make a donation towards saving our national treasure. Just $100 is enough to save one kiwi by controlling predators across its habitat for an entire year.

Visit www.kiwisforkiwi.org and click on the Great Kiwi Morning Tea icon to register and receive your pack which contains instructions for a successful event, sample invite, promotional materials, recipes and a fun Kiwi Quiz.

Register now and put the date in your diary.

Invitation to help with dune planting in Whitianga

Thames Coromandel District Council would like to invite everyone to a dune planting day at the central section of Whitianga’s Buffalo Beach on Saturday 5 September. From 9:00am, wet or fine, bring gloves and spade. This will be the third year of the Buffalo Beach dune restoration project, which has helped replenish 170m of dune so far.

In the previous two years 10,000  native sand-binding plants and grass species, including spinifex and knobby club rush, which have excellent sand-binding qualities, have been planted by volunteers and is one of the measures TCDC is working on to help restore and protect sand dunes that can help to prevent further coastal erosion in the Whitianga area.

The coastal planting day initiative is a joint project between TCDC and Waikato Regional Council to manage and protect the Coromandel's coastline.

The Whitianga Lions Club is kindly supplying water and a sausage sizzle for volunteers participating in the dune planting day.

The sections that have been worked on in the previous two years are now well established. TCDC says plants are spreading across the dunes and the good thing about using native plant species is they help retain the sand dunes’ natural profile.

Whitianga Police Report for the period 3 August to 10 August 2015

GENERAL

If bank cards are stolen or lost, Police advice is that you immediately report the theft or loss to your bank so that they can put a hold on the cards or cancel them. The sooner your bank is advised, the less opportunity the offender will have to use them unlawfully.       

ARRESTS

No arrests this week.

OCCURRENCES

Two domestic incidents attended this week.

On the 4th a couple at The Fairway in Matarangi were arguing over relationship problems and the Police were called to calm the situation.

While on the 7th a couple arguing at a SH25, Whitianga address were referred to support agencies.

On the 4th a window was damaged at a Rangihau Road address. The offender cut a small circle out of a garage window, however no entry was gained.

A wallet was stolen from a car parked at a Catherine Crescent address on the 6th.

TRAFFIC

One drunk driver apprehended this week. On the 8th a 38 year old local woman recorded a result of 828/250.

Increase in property rates for some Bed and Breakfasts

Bed and Breakfast properties throughout the Coromandel Peninsula have this week received their rates assessments for the forthcoming year.

The Bed & Breakfast Association New Zealand says it is staggered to learn from some members in the Coromandel region that Thames Coromandel District Council has imposed commercial rates on their properties with no prior warning or communication.

In March 2015 all properties falling into the category of short-stay accommodation providers received a letter from Council “consulting on proposals” that could affect them, as set out in the TCDC Long Term Plan. One of these proposals was to affect properties offering four or more rooms as they would be reclassified as industrial and commercial for the purpose of assessing rates.

The Bed & Breakfast Association New Zealand says now it would appear that Council has gone ahead and imposed additional rates with no further discussion with those parties most affected.

The association says the flow-on effects from TCDC’s actions are likely to have a negative impact on the Peninsula rather than anything positive. There are less than 30 properties that fall into this category and some of these will close (or reduce the number of rooms they have available) as a direct result of the rate increase, so it is clear Council is not going to reap much in the way of financial reward.  

The association says it is a pointless and futile action only serving the purpose of allowing the Council to say it has acted on claims made by the Motel Association but it has done so without review and consideration of the facts or the full impact of their decision.

TCDC says their decision to move Coromandel Bed and Breakfast accommodation businesses with four or more rooms from residential to commercial rating was highly publicised before and after  Long Term Plan decisions and is to provide better fairness and equity across the board to ratepayers.

TCDC says they have not only advertised in all local and regional newspapers, radio and through their own communication channels and social media, but also were in touch directly with Bed and Breakfast providers who could be affected by the proposal.

While 26 Bed and Breakfast accommodation businesses were affected by the change to a commercial rate, not all had a higher rates bill this year. Those who previously were paying rates on multiple-use units became a single commercial unit with this change and, in one case, their total rates dropped by around $3,000.

Updated valuations have also affected some Bed and Breakfast businesses who have a higher improvement value on their buildings - especially luxury lodges and premises.

"Bed and Breakfast operators with four or more bedrooms are operating as commercial businesses and should be charged a commercial operations rate," says TCDC Mayor Glenn Leach. "We've been signalling this for a long time. We've been signalling this direction for some time, going back to our Draft Annual Plan consultation in 2012 and until more recently, in our Draft Long Term Plan this year.

"We need to make sure people are being rated fairly across the board and for a long time there's been a disparity with Bed and Breakfasts operators paying a residential rate when they receive more financial benefit. Private residents have been picking up the tab for them.”

Pinky's the People's Favourite at Top Shop Awards

The best shops from across the Central North Island, from Taranaki to the East Coast, have been named at the Retail NZ Top Shop Awards ceremony in Hamilton last night, with Pinky’s Bargains of Whitianga taking out the hotly contested People’s Choice award.

"The Retail NZ Top Shop awards are a fantastic occasion to celebrate all those who have achieved excellence in retail across a broad range of categories, including electronics, fashion and food and beverage. Our awards recognise the best in retail across all formats including national chains, independent single-stores and omnichannel retailers”, Retail NZ Chief Executive Mark Johnston said. 

"I want to congratulate all the finalists and winners, but especially Pinky’s Bargains of Whitianga, which won the People’s Choice award, receiving the most votes from the public through an app and the Retail NZ website. I want to offer them special congratulations for being much loved by customers and providing a fantastic shopping experience."

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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.