Friday, 07 August 2020


Inkster and Winn win Targa Bambina

Winning this year's Targa Bambina, which finished in Rotorua on Sunday, was all part of a plan for the country's top tarmac motor rally duo, Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn and their Ecolight Mitsubishi Evo 8.

Inkster, from Patumahoe near Pukekohe, and Winn, from Auckland won the 20th annual Targa New Zealand event in the South Island in November last year. But engine problems meant they failed to finish the inaugural three-day Targa North Island event from Auckland to Whitianga and on to Rotorua earlier in the year.

That event replaced the one-day Targa Bambina in February and two-day Targa Rotorua in June and this year reverted to the Targa Bambina name.

"Winning the 20th anniversary event was obviously our main goal, but having to pull out of the North Island one last year was like unfinished business,” Inkster said. “So this year we decided that our main goal would be to not only finish all the Targa events this year, but to win them as well."

The pair won the one-day Targa Sprint event in Auckland in March and led this year's Bambina event, which started in Auckland on Friday and went through Mercury Bay Fridau afternoon and Saturday morning, from start to finish.

On the way they won 18 of the 21 stages outright and finishing a comfortable four-and-three-quarter minutes in front of fellow Allcomers 4WD category member Nic de Waal and his new co-driver Tom Grooten (Subaru Impreza WRX).

Last year's winner, Leigh Hopper and new co-driver Ben Grooten, were an early threat in Hopper's Subaru Impreza WRX. But the Orewa pair were out late on Friday morning after running off the road.

They returned in a leased Mitsubishi Evo on Saturday but “just to have fun” according to Hopper. Event rules stating that you can only remain in contention for a place if you start and finish in the same car.

Despite having to do a diff change at the side of the road on Sunday morning, victory in the Metalman Classic 2WD class and fourth place overall went to Foxton driver Bevan Claridge and his co-driver Campbell Tannock from class and event stalwart Barry Kirk-Burnnand and co-driver Dave O'Carroll from Auckland in a BMW M3.

The Modern 2WD category was won by Auckland pair Simon Clark and Richard Somerville in Clark's new late model BMW M3.

This year's three-day Targa Bambina event attracted 50 starters, plus another 30 in the allied but non-competitive Targa Tour.

Today's Targa Bambina action

It was a case of “all change” behind Day 1 leaders Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn on the second day of the Targa Bambina tarmac motor rally in the Coromandel and eastern Waikato today.

For a start the weather and road conditions could hardly have been more different with bright sun and double digit temperatures replacing yesterday's cold and rain.

Despite an engine misfire which slowed them in the afternoon stages, Mitsubishi Evo pair Inkster and Winn eased away from the Subaru Impreza WRX of Nic de Waal and  Tom Grooten to arrive in Rotorua at day’s end with a lead of close to three minutes in both the Allcomers 4WD class and overall standings.

Leigh Hopper and Ben Grooten proved almost as quick in a leased Mitsubishi Evo as they were before their accident in Hopper's Subaru Impreza WRX on Friday morning, but by changing cars the pair are no longer eligible for an official placing in the event so as Hopper said at parc ferme in Whitianga last night, they “were only in it for the fun.”

Nic de Waal and Tom Grooten ended the day second overall and in the Allcomers 4WD after a day of attrition saw Jason Gill and Mark Robinson - who were second overall at the end of Day 1 - out with a gearbox problem on the first stage out of Whitianga this morning and Brian Green and Fleur Pedersen out later in the morning after. As Fleur said, “the engine (of their Mitsubishi Evo10) went bang!”

Overnight Modern 2WD class leaders, Ross and Carmel Graham were another high profile early DNF today, thanks to a clutch issue with their Holden Torana A9X V8.

With the Graham A9X on a trailer, Perth-based expat Kiwi Robert Darrington and David Abetz and their BMW E46 coupe took over the lead in the Modern 2WD class and at day’s end retained a narrow advantage over the later model BMW M3 of Simon Clark and Richard Somerville.

Clark and Somerville topped the class time sheets in three of the day's six confirmed stages, but Darrington was one of three other stage winners and finished second in three of the others.

The result was that at day's end he and Abetz retained a 26 second lead over Clark and Somerville with the other day class stage winners, Mike Lea and Grant Handley third place in class and fifth overall.

This year's Targa Bambina event continues tomorrow with stages west of Tokoroa in the morning and south and west of Rotorua in the afternoon.


TCDC not to charge fees to short term holiday home accommodation providers at this time

Thames Coromandel District Council will not this year introduce a $200 annual fee for anyone advertising to rent their home as short-term holiday accommodation.

The decision was made during Council deliberations this week to its Draft Long Term Plan (LTP) for 2015 -2025.

TCDC says they will now begin work with short-term accommodation service providers like Bachcare, Bookabach, Trademe and B&B owners to look at what methods can be used to see how the groups they represent can contribute financially to the district’s economic development activity. If voluntary solutions are not found, then the proposed fee will be put in next year's Draft Annual Plan.

"We've had on-going discussions with short-term accommodation booking providers as well as during the consultation period for the Draft LTP," says deputy mayor Peter French. "One option they put to us was establishing a stakeholders working group to look at this issue, along with other issues around the tourism sector.

"We'd like to investigate this and so the next step will be our Economic Development Committee making contact with these organisations," says Mr French.  "We are also signalling though, that our Council is also committed to looking at some form of rating contribution from this sector towards economic development, starting in the 2016-2017 financial year."

The proposal to charge the annual $200 fee was set out in TCDC’s Draft LTP that went out for public consultation earlier this year. It targeted residences and small bed and breakfast (B&B) operators who are letting their properties commercially on a short-term basis. It applied to approximately 1,400 homes and would not affect anyone who was providing accommodation to friends and family for free.

In the Draft LTP consultation document TCDC signalled there would be an $8 decrease in everyone's Uniform Annual General Charge (UAGC) to pay for economic development activity if the $200 fee was introduced. This will now not occur for 2016-2017 and the status quo will remain.

TCDC says their Economic Development activity goes towards their economic development programme which includes walkways, cycleways and events that attract visitors. Economic development is strongly orientated towards supporting the tourism sector and short-stay accommodation providers that are direct beneficiaries of this.

TCDC says other district councils around the country, including Rotorua, Queenstown Lakes and Marlborough already rate short-term holiday accommodation providers using a tourism and economic development charge.

During the Draft LTP consultation Council received 391 submissions on the short-term holiday home accommodation proposal with 309 opposed, 77 in favour and 7 neutral.

Meanwhile during deliberations, Council agreed to proceed with a proposal that properties with four or more bedrooms for hire be reclassified as commercial properties. These properties will be assessed as commercial for the purpose of economic development and wastewater.

Whitianga firefighters part of special event

Hundreds of firefighters across New Zealand are well on track to raising $750,000 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand’s (LBC’s) Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge, through some very creative fundraising and a whole lot of community spirit.

On 23 May firefighters from across the country, including six from the Whitianga Volunteer Fire brigade, will battle their way up 51 flights, or 1,103 steps of the Sky Tower wearing full firefighting kits and breathing apparatus weighing up to 25kg.

Registrations for the challenge opened in November and rapidly sold-out. 23 participants come from overseas, including Australia, the US, Germany and Chile.

More than 170 fire brigades and stations have spent countless hours not only preparing for the physical feat, but dedicating their time to raise money for LBC. They have already raised over $500,000. The funds raised go back into the community helping to support the six Kiwis diagnosed with a blood cancer or related condition every day and their families.

Pru Etcheverry, CEO of LBC says the firefighters are incredibly competitive on the climb, but also on the money they raise to support blood cancer patients.

“We are super excited at how much the firefighters have already raised. We love their enthusiasm and are deeply appreciated of their dedication and support,” says Ms Etcheverry.

The event is sponsored by SKYCITY, Auckland Airport and Tait Communications.

SKYCITY Chief Executive Nigel Morrison says SKYCITY is proud to be working with LBC on this creative and exciting event.

“Not only has this event become the pinnacle fundraising challenge for the firefighting community around New Zealand, we deliver incredible results for LBC helping them support Kiwi families in need,” says Mr Morrison, who will be competing in the challenge for the first time this year.

“The Sky Tower is an incredible structure and to see it used in this way is so inspiring. Every year we are astounded by the commitment of the firefighters and their communities to help raise money for LBC and I have no doubt that this year will be bigger and better.”

Lucky escape for kiwi

A Coromandel kiwi has been rescued from certain death by a local pig hunter today.

Kapowai local Duncan Bell was pig-hunting in a forestry block on the 309 Road when he saw something dart out in front of him. It was a kiwi being chased by a rogue pig dog. Concerned for the kiwi’s welfare, he intervened, catching the kiwi and tying the dog up to avoid further trouble.

The kiwi, nicknamed “Runner” for its antics, was handed in to Whitianga-based Department of Conservation staff, who took the bird to the vet to be checked over for internal injuries. Runner was given the all clear and was later released into the Mahakirau Forest Estate on the 309 Road. Landowners on the estate undertake pest control to help protect kiwi and other wildlife in the area.

The dog’s owner could not be located. Duncan is certain the dog was not kiwi avoidance trained. He urges other pig hunters to be responsible to make sure future kiwi deaths are avoided.

“All pig hunters should get their dogs trained to avoid kiwi, because there’s not many kiwi around and we want to keep them going for the next generation,” says Duncan.

The incident is a disturbing reminder to all dog owners that kiwi have no chance against a dog. “Runner had a really lucky escape,” says DOC Services Ranger Rebecca Gribble. “Most times a dog can catch and kill a kiwi in seconds, without its owner knowing about it, or before its owner has time to stop it.”

The Department of Conservation encourages pig hunters to get their dogs kiwi avoidance trained. The training is free and is a simple tool which teaches dogs to avoid kiwi in the bush. The next training will be held at Egans Park in Whitianga on 6 June. To book a place, call DOC on 07 867 9080.

Honesty box suspect caught on camera

Thames Coromandel District Council says the Police are hot on the trail of a man alleged to have stolen from the Council honesty box at the Whitianga Wharf boat ramp.

The box is there so people can pay boat ramp permit fees on the spot and outside Council hours.

Council Compliance Team Leader Steve Hart mounted a stealth camera targeting the box after it had been interfered with a few times recently.

Whitianga police and the TCDC compliance team would like to speak to the man in the photo in relation to incidents over the past few months at the permit honesty box.

Anyone who recognises the man in the photo should contact Whitianga Police in the first instance on 07 866 4000 or Mr Hart on 07 868 0200.

TCDC says thefts from the honesty box have prompted the installation later this week of a permanent security camera and lights at the boat ramp in order to deter future crime.

"Boat ramp, wharf and pay and display car park fees generate tens of thousands of dollars annually in Mercury Bay alone," says Council's Mercury Bay Area Manager Sam Marshall.

"This is money that goes into maintaining and upgrading assets. So, when somebody steals this money or when people don't pay their fair share of fees for using such facilities, they're not stealing from Council, they're stealing from ratepayers.”

Whitianga Police Report for the period 4 May to 11 May 2015


An incident on Thursday night highlights the difficulties a taxi service faces when dealing with people who have consumed too much alcohol.

Police advice is that obviously a person has consumed far too much alcohol when they start abusing the person giving them a ride home and they should stop drinking well before they turn into an idiot.

We have a couple of enquiries at the moment targeting nominated suspects for recent burglaries and unlawful taking of motor vehicles.

If anyone has information they think could assist us please let us know so that we can prevent offending in our area.   


6th - 1 x 51yr old Tairua woman for Assault.


No domestic incidents attended this week.

On the 6th an offender gained entry to a vacant property on Centennial Drive by forcing a door lock, however there was nothing to steal in the property.

On the 7th a taxi driver was assaulted and abused by a drunk passenger. No injuries resulted and the offender was very remorseful when he sobered up.

A building site was targeted on Titartari Road, Hahei on the 8th with the offender stealing a Rheem gas water heater and attempting to steal 30 6m lengths of timber. Enquiries are continuing in relation to a nominated suspect.

Also on the 8th an offender attempted to unlawfully take a Suzuki car from SH25, Coroglen with damage caused to the steering column.


No drunk drivers apprehended this week.

We attended a serious motor vehicle crash on Hahei Beach Road on the 8th where two women were airlifted to Waikato Hospital with serious injuries.

Initial enquiries indicate that the offending driver was travelling on the incorrect side of the road.

New Chums Beach hearing suspended for two months

Thames Coromandel District Council confirmed this week that hearings into an application for a subdivision at New Chums Beach (Wainuiototo Bay) have now been suspended for up to two months.

TCDC was late last Friday notified by the applicant's lawyers that there was a last-minute disagreement from one of the co-owners of the site relating to access arrangements to the beach and requested that the application be suspended.

The application, made by Ross and Deidre Mear is for a four-lot subdivision, all 15 hectares in size along with a 15m wide esplanade strip allowing for public access along the beach. Mr and Mrs Mear own a 50 per cent share in the property with another separate family trust owning the other half.

Public hearings were to run for the whole of this week. A total of 187 submissions had been received with over 80 submitters requesting to be heard by a panel of three independent RMA commissioners.

"Our staff spent last weekend letting all the submitters know about this last-minute request," says David Hammond, Chief Executive for TCDC. "We know that some people were travelling great distances to speak in person and acknowledge the inconvenience and frustration in delays."

On Monday morning this week at the hearing venue in Thames, the Commissioners met with the applicant's lawyer Ian Cowper, TCDC staff and several submitters who turned up to be heard.

Mr Cowper, told the Commissioners that the current dispute between the two title holders had no bearing on any other separate applications at New Chum.

Following discussions with all parties, the Commissioners agreed to suspend the hearing and give the applicants up to two months to resolve the situation.

"This also allows for time to submit an amended application and depending on the extent of the changes to the original application, Council would also need to consider the possibility of re-notifying the application," says Mr Hammond. "In the meantime our Council will be passing on all related costs for the hearings so far to the applicants."

Through their lawyer, the applicants have also apologised to everyone who has been inconvenienced by the delay, especially the submitters and the Commissioners.


Latest business rest of site

Doug Russell Plumbing

"Do you need a plumber in the Whitianga/Mercury Bay area? Call Doug Russell Plumbing for a prompt response and competitive prices.


Will you be voting to legalise the recreational use of cannabis in the upcoming general election/referendum?

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.