Wednesday, 18 September 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Increased wind risk for Peninsula

A severe weather warning of strong winds for the Coromandel Peninsula and eastern Waikato, on the inland side of the Kaimai Ranges, has now been issued by MetService.

The Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group said this emphasises the need for people to take care due to the wild weather.

East to northeast winds in those areas are expected to gust to 120 kilometres an hour from this afternoon until tomorrow morning.

“People should take this wind advice into account when moving around and also secure any items that could be blown away,” said Waikato Civil Defence programme manager Greg Ryan.

Mr Ryan also said that, as expected, heavy rain was affecting many parts of the wider region and this is expected to continue through till tomorrow.

“The heaviest downpours are due across the Coromandel Peninsula, accompanied by those gale east to northeast winds, from this afternoon.”

At the latest update, up to 100 millimetres had fallen on the Peninsula and MetService now expects another 100mm to 150mm. This is in line with earlier expectations, but rainfall intensities could be higher than initially forecasted, particularly tonight.

Mr Ryan said the rain across the region had been patchy so far and there were no significant problems reported due to the weather. “But people do need to be aware that these conditions are expected to persist for another day or two and that there remains the potential for flooding and slips, along with road closures and power outages.

“We ask people to report any such problems to their local council or electricity supplier. Take particular care on the roads and be aware of the potential for hazardous driving conditions.”

Heavy rain forecasted for Coromandel

Waikato Civil Defence Emergency Management Group and the Waikato Regional Council flood management team are urging Coromandel residents to be cautious for the next few days with heavy rain forecast from today through to Wednesday. Strong winds are also possible during this period.

Between 150 and 200 mm of rain is expected from midday today until midnight Wednesday, according to the Metservice. As much as 20-25 mm per hour is possible.

Heavy rain can lead to slips, roads becoming greasy, surface flooding and rising waterways.

The Waikato CDEM Group, working alongside the Waikato Regional Council flood management team, is monitoring the situation.

Group controller Lee Hazlewood is urging people to take the forecast into account with their travel plans and other activities.

“Take care on the roads. People should also stay up to date with weather and road closure information.”

Civil defence also suggested people check drains and gutters and clear away any autumn fall of leaves.

Supporting Leah Gubb to go, well, somewhere

The New Zealand Secondary Schools Girls Under 16 Football Team won’t be travelling to Thailand next month anymore. According to Carl Gubb, the father of Leah Gubb -Mercury Bay Football’s only representative in the team, the parents of all the team members weren’t comfortable with the tour going ahead while Thailand is in a state of political instability. The team was scheduled to play two games against the Thailand Girls Under 16 Football Team and two club games.

The New Zealand team will still be travelling this year, still in July or in October, depending on the speed with which new arrangements can be put in place, to either Japan, Europe or Canada.

Leah is only one of three Waikato Bay of Plenty girls who made the team of eighteen players. It was a long road to get there. She first had to qualify to attend a Federation Training Centre for players from the Waikato Bay of Plenty region. Thereafter she was chosen to attend one of three National Training Centres. Only 120 girls from across New Zealand were invited to these National Training Centres. From those 120 girls, the New Zealand team was chosen.

The next goal for Leah in her football career is to be chosen for the New Zealand Girls Under 17 Team. As she’s still Under 15, and assuming she’ll make the Secondary Schools Under 16 Team next year again, she may well have experience of four international games when she tries out for the Under 17 team.

The Mercury Bay Football Club is fully supportive of Leah’s efforts to play international football.

They will be holding a fundraiser to help with her expenses on 15 June with a live screening of the international England v Italy football game at Whitianga’s Monkey House Theatre in Coghill Street. Tickets cost $10 per adult and $5 per child and include coffee, hot chocolate and croissants. Tickets are available from the Mercury Bay Area School office.

Three Whitianga residents among those on the Coromandel who received New Zealand citizenship yesterday

Ten Coromandel residents were officially granted New Zealand citizenship in a Mayoral ceremony in Thames yesterday. Three of the new New Zealand citizens, Ian Ross, Aihua Jiang and Alejandra Bermeo Martinez, are from Whitianga

The ten newest citizens originally came from Mexico, South Africa, China, Singapore and the United Kingdom. In addition to Whitianga, they now live in Thames and Whangamata. 

Coroglen sale yards to become public reserve

Plans are well underway to ensure the site of the old Coroglen sale yards remain available for public use. Thames Coromandel District Council has already secured two parcels of land both sides of State Highway 25 that was part of the sale yards (in size just under half a hectare). A working committee, made up of community members, TCDC staff and members of the Mercury Bay Community Board, has been set up to look at ways the land can be developed.

"Due to its special place in Coromandel's history, we talked to Wrightsons, who used to own the sale yards, about the possibility of transferring the land back to the community. We know this area has always been the heart of the Coroglen community,” said Thames Coromandel District Council mayor Glenn Leach.

TCDC made $95,000 available in its draft annual plan for development of the land. A concept development plan is available for viewing at The Coroglen Tavern and members of the public are welcome to provide their comments to TCDC. The concept plan makes provision for preservation of some of the stock pens and the sale yard’s lunch and administration huts, signage explaining the history of the sale yards, car parking, picnic and BBQ areas, walking tracks and easy access to the Waiwawa river.

An idea has also been floated for a potential footbridge across the Waiwawa River (next to the one-lane vehicle bridge), but no funding for that has been allocated from any source and the New Zealand Transport Agency will have to be approached for their consent.

Good to go away, but better to come home

On his recent trip to Europe, Mercury Bay Area School principal, John Wright didn’t just market the school to the international student community, he also took some time to email some of his personal impressions of his journey to his staff at the school.

For Mr Wright it was important to share his thoughts with his staff as his trip wasn’t just to meet student placement agencies and attend education fairs, but also an opportunity to better understand where MBAS’s international students come from.

These are some of the impressions Mr Wright shared with his staff.

"A lot of Europeans smoke. It was quite overwhelming, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Italy. Everywhere I went. And cigarette butts were everywhere. There were no receptacles, so people just threw their butts down. I couldn’t help to wonder how all the smoking would impact on the productivity of those countries. All the hours puffing away, instead of working. And of course the health consequences. A lot of money must be spent on the treatment of smoking-related diseases.

"The German cities are full of graffiti. It’s more like street art, though. Not messy, but certainly not something I’m used to.

"There’s a big focus on renewable energy, especially Germany. I would travel through areas similar to the Hauraki Plains and see hectares and hectares of solar panels with sheep grazing under them. In the cities too, the roofs of buildings are covered in solar panels. It wasn’t as obvious in the Scandinavian countries as they don’t have as much sun.

"In Switzerland I was impressed with their focus on recycling. Virtually all the supermarkets are recycling centres. There are these holes in the wall into which you can drop everything you don’t have use for, glass, plastic, clothes, batteries, you name it. I actually think there’s an opportunity for MBAS to establish a battery recycling centre in Whitianga. It’s something I would like to investigate more.

"Something that made a huge impact on me is the number of homeless people on the streets, especially in the Scandinavian countries and Italy. I asked around and these people are mostly refugees from Eastern Europe and Africa. In Italy the plight of these people really contribute to a country that tells two stories. The grandeur of the Roman times are visible everywhere. But the Italian people are in despair. Their bleak economic and social outlook is tangible. They still struggle with large numbers of unemployment. The 20th century was tough for them and I don’t think they’ve really recovered. I got the idea they don’t really know who they are anymore.

"Coming home I had this overwhelming sense of appreciation of where we live. Yes, there are things we can adopt or do better. But it’s a privilege to have no graffiti in Whitianga. It’s a privilege to have a sense of security. It’s a privilege to have an identity and a sense of belonging. It’s a privilege to be part of a community where there’s a future and where there’s no reason for anyone not to have hope.

"Yes, it was good to go away. It clearly had a purpose and was a successful trip. But it was better to come home."

Whitianga JP awarded QSM in Queens Birthday Honours List

Whitianga JP, Walter Russell was presented with a Queen’s Service medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List released this morning.

Mr Russell was bestowed the honour for his service to the New Zealand Fire Service. He has been a member of the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade for the past 30 years.

Volunteer service is part and parcel of Mr Russell’s life. He was involved in Land Search and Rescue for more than 50 years, was a member of the Order of St John during its early days in Whitianga and was, when there was only one police officer covering the northern Coromandel, a member of the Civil Defence Police. He is at the moment chairman of the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust.

Asking Mr Russell what he thought of his Queen’s Service Medal, he said , “It’s very humbling and a great honour, but that’s not why I made myself available for volunteer service. I enjoy serving the community and will continue doing that until I really can’t anymore. I’m certainly not going to hang up my boots now.”

Mercury Bay Netball awarded centre status

A few years ago a few Mercury Bay mums contemplated the netball future of their daughters and their friends. Junior Netball was going great in Mercury Bay - we were full to capacity at the Mercury Bay Area School netball courts. But as soon as girls turned 13, they had to travel to Thames to play on Wednesday nights. To play representative netball required an even bigger effort as training involved an extra trip to Thames each week. Handfuls of girls gave up netball.

We shifted our games to the netball courts at the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park last year already. The Sport Park is an outstanding facility and allowed us to apply to become a netball centre. By becoming a netball centre, we could create a local competition, engage teenage girls from our community back into the sport and even trial and select Mercury Bay reprentative teams. We worked hard to fulfil all the requirements for our application. In the final stages of our application the Netball Waikato zone merged with the Netball Bay of Plenty zone to form a new Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty Zone (NWBOP). During this merger, there was some restructuring within Netball New Zealand and in the process our application to become a netball centre was forgotten about.

After a meeting with NWBOP the wheels were once again in motion and two weeks ago we received the call we have been waiting for... yes Mercury Bay Netball has become the 26th netball centre of NWBOP and the 86th Netball New Zealand centre.

Our season started the beginning of May. More than 200 netballers have registered and have been put into teams. We have Junior Netball on Saturday mornings, including a new programme endorsed by Netball New Zealand to ease five to seven-year-olds into the game. On a Wednesday evening, we have five high school teams and six senior ladies teams playing Senior Netball, including the MBAS Senior A team and a team travelling from Coromandel Town each week.

Two weekends ago girls trialled for representative teams with Year 6, 7 and 8 players being named and during the coming week our Under 15 team will be named.

Our teenagers have started to come back to play and to coach and umpire our junior players. Through netball wonderful role models for our community are appearing.

We have purchased and put up our own temporary lights at the netball courts at the Sport Park in order for us to run our Wednesday night senior competition. Our next challenge is permanent lighting and to have a pavilion at the courts for netball. We are working with Sue Costello from Thames Coromandel District Council to see how we can achieve funding for this.

From June our representative teams will travel away every second Sunday to compete with the best in their age groups all around the Waikato region and in their brand new netball uniforms they will proudly represent Mercury Bay.

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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.