Monday, 17 February 2020


The Mercury Bay Seaside Carnival is going green

Plans for the second Mercury Bay Seaside Carnival are underway and organisers hope the January 2015 event will be bigger and better than its successful 2014 predecessor.

Mercury Bay Area School Carnival Committee spokesperson, Sharyn Morcom said the committee was able to donate $17,000 towards the school’s new climbing wall this year - all thanks to the hard work of a small team of committed parents and community members. She said with more helpers the event could be considerably more profitable.

Sharyn said the committee’s vision is to have one major annual event to provide well needed funds for the school and eliminate the need for smaller, less profitable fundraisers. "Instead of spreading ourselves too thin with too many activities raising too little money for the school, we opted for a single big event with a bigger pay-off."

The committee is also keen to grow the carnival’s community spirit and invite other groups to get involved in the event to add new levels of interest and raise awareness of their particular cause or project.

"We want the event to have its own Whitianga flavour and we are open to suggestions from both business people and volunteer groups as to how to do this," said Sharyn. "We would like to see our volunteer and community groups all have a presence and hopefully add some colour to the event with interesting activities that will be to their benefit."

Plans are also underway to green-up the event and organisers hope to replace drinks sold in plastic bottles with bio-degradable cups that can be refilled at water stations throughout the carnival grounds. There are also plans to increase the shaded areas and add more places where carnival-goers can sit and take time out.

The event continues to be admission free and relies heavily on hot food sales to raise funds. The organisers would like to urge people to support the school food tents.

"We are planning some new delicious ideas to get people down to the event for breakfast and stay around for lunch," said Sharyn. "The food side of the carnival is really where we want to grow our earnings. We think we can make over $10,000 from food alone and we would love the locals to help us reach our target."

Last year’s menu included bacon and egg rolls, mussel fritters, shish kebabs and nachos and the food will once again be mostly prepared and served by MBAS parents.

Work on the new MBAS climbing wall is well underway and the junior school outdoor play area may be the next focus of benefit for carnival profits. School principal, John Wright says he would like to see the benefit moved between the junior, middle and senior schools each year.

"I have to say that to have a group of parents working hard to raise significant funds for our school is just wonderful," said Mr Wright. "And, speaking for the Board of Trustees, we will work alongside the Carnival Committee to make sure that whatever project is nominated to benefit from the funds raised at the Carnival, will be made to happen.

"The location of the carnival, next to the beach, makes it a perfect day out for families. It’s a unique event and I hope locals and visitors alike will make a real effort to attend next year."

The carnival committee is looking for more members and helpers, people happy to share ideas and volunteer and community groups keen to add to the atmosphere. If you want to get involved, please email Sharyn at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone her on (07) 866 4614.

The 2015 Mercury Bay Seaside Carnival will take place on 8 January from 9:00am - 3:00pm.

Peninsula First XV Coulter Cup winners

The Peninsula First XV rugby team is the Thames Valley secondary schools champions for 2014.

The team won the Coulter Cup in an action-packed final against Waihi at the Paeroa Domain 24-16 this afternoon.

It was a very even contest with the score remaining close for much of the game.

Peninsula opened the scoring with a converted try by their hooker in the first 15 minutes. Waihi countered two minutes later with a penalty. 20 minutes into the first half, Peninsula extended the lead to seven points again with a penalty goal by no 12, Jayden Tegg. Five minutes later, Waihi crossed the line for their first try, which remained unconverted. Ten minutes before half time Waihi scored a further penalty to take the lead. That didn’t last long as the Peninsula fullback crossed the line three minutes later in spectacular fashion for a second converted try. The halftime score was 17-11 to Peninsula.

Five minutes into the second half Waihi scored their second unconverted try of the game. The score remained 17-16 for most of the second half, much to the anguish of the many Peninsula supporters who made the trip to Paeroa to support the team. Three minutes from the final whistle the Peninsula blindside flanker scored the team’s third converted try.

Peninsula coach Mike Smith said after the game he is immensely proud of the boys. It was the first year Mercury Bay Area School students combined forces other with students from the northern part of the Coromandel. It meant students had to travel more than usual to train and had to work really hard to come together as a team early in the season. “The boys’ discipline and commitment is an example for others,” Mr Smith said.

Coromandel Peninsula communities called to fight kauri dieback

The inaugural meetings of the new Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum will be held on the last weekend in August. This forum has been established to enable locals to take action in their own communities to combat kauri dieback disease and foster the health of kauri throughout the Coromandel Peninsula.

Local organisations and concerned individuals are being invited to join the forum and work out practical ways to protect kauri in their own communities, complementing the reach and resources of the national Kauri Dieback Management Programme.

Interim forum chair Vivienne McLean said forum meetings will be held to share knowledge and resources and keep everyone up to date with the latest research and strategies coming out of the national programme.

“The disease is here, and there is no known cure, but if we act now and work together we can limit its spread. Community-based effort will be the key to protecting our kauri,” she said. “We are hoping to get a wide cross-section attending, in particular iwi, tourism operators and accommodation providers, tramping clubs, hunters, farmers, schools, Scouts, service clubs, nurseries, pest and weed control contractors, multi-sports event organisers. Everyone has a part to play in protecting our kauri.”

The inaugural meetings are open to anyone with an interest in protecting Coromandel kauri. Each meeting will include an update on the situation on the Coromandel Peninsula, national initiatives and the latest research into this deadly disease, as well as workshops where people will identify what is needed to protect their local kauri and who can help in their community.

The Whitianga meeting will be held on Sunday 31 August in the Whitianga Town Hall from 2:00pm to 5:00pm.

Anyone interested in attending please RSVP to Kauri 2000 by Thursday 28 August  - phone 07 866 0468 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your contact details.

Aerial poison drops completed on Great Mercury Island

The final of two aerial bait applications required to remove rats and feral cats from Ahuahu Great Mercury Island have been safely and successfully completed.

The Department of Conservation (DOC) and the owners of Great Mercury Island, Sir Michael Fay and David Richwhite are working together to eradicate pests from Great Mercury to make the island a pest free sanctuary for native wildlife.

The partnership to eradicate pests from Great Mercury was formed to reduce the threat of rats on Great Mercury spreading to the six neighbouring islands in the Mercury Group that are all pest free nature reserves.

According to DOC and the island’s owners, removing the rats and feral cats from Great Mercury will also benefit the island’s ecosystems and create a pest free sanctuary for threatened native wildlife that can be developed as a show case for conservation that the public can enjoy. The public have been welcomed to come ashore on the island since 1977.

Removing the rats and feral cats from the island involved precisely targeted aerial applications of bait using specially designed buckets carried by helicopter. The helicopter pilots used satellite navigation (GPS) technology to ensure the bait is spread only where intended.

This year marks 50 years since the first New Zealand island was made pest free. Ruapuke/ Maria Island, in the Noises Island Group north of Rangitoto, was declared pest free in 1964 after the successful removal of Norway rats.

Removing pests from islands has been essential in protecting native wildlife from extinction. While Ruapuke/Maria Island was being made pest free, rats reached Taukihepa/Big South Cape Island near Stewart Island. The rats on Taukihepa/Big South Cape Island wiped out the last populations of bush wren and short-tailed bat, causing the extinction of these species.   

DOC has used aerial applications of bait to safely and successfully remove pests from more than 60 islands throughout New Zealand. These include Hauturu, Tiritiri Matangi, Motuihe, Rangitoto and Motutapu in the Hauraki Gulf. 

Closer to Coromandel Ohinau and Cuvier islands and four of the Mercury Islands have been cleared of pests. Now Great Mercury is on its way to becoming officially pest free.  

Joe Davis of Ngāti Hei, said successfully completing the aerial bait applications on Ahuahu Great Mercury is great news. “It marks a major step towards making the island a pest free sanctuary for our native wildlife.”

Great Mercury is a significant place for Maori throughout New Zealand. “Our oral history tells of Ahuahu as the place where all the great voyaging waka, carrying the first people to settle in New Zealand, made their first landing in Aotearoa,” said Joe.     

“Ahuahu is important both spiritually and culturally in terms of whakapapa and spiritual belonging. Oral history also records Ahuahu as a place where Kupe taught the captains of the waka how to sail between Aotearoa and the islands of the Pacific.  

“We welcome making Ahuahu pest free, enabling the native wildlife to thrive.  It’s a vital step towards reviving the mauri of the island.”    

Peter Corson, the DOC ranger managing the work to make Great Mercury pest free said, “Having safely and successfully completed the aerial bait applications, after two years of meticulous planning, we now need to ensure we keep Great Mercury free of pests. 

“From now on everyone travelling by boat to the Great Mercury needs to make sure they’re not carrying any stowaway rats, mice or cats.

“The message is simple. Check your boats and gear for stowaway pests, tell everyone Ahuahu Great Mercury Island has been cleared of pests and we need to keep it that way.”

Update on the turf issues at the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park

According to Thames Coromandel District Council, the first stage of the growing of turf at the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park has been completed. They are now looking at a cost effective maintenance program which will incorporate on-going drainage work for the future.

An independent turf advisor with the NZ Turf Institute has prepared a report looking at how to best manage the fields. The report will be presented to the Mercury Bay Community Board at an upcoming meeting.

According to the report, it's very common for all newly established turf to take up to a year to settle in and drain effectively. While there is drainage installed at the Sport Park fields, additional remedies are needed to allow water to filter through to the drainage system in place. The report will give the Community Board recommendations on the best way to manage this.

The available options include -

  • Ground probe aeration (air probes into the soil to help drainage).
  • Verti-draining (another kind of probe which goes into the upper soil to provide drainage).
  • Hollow core tyning (a common process on golf courses which uses a "plug" type system).
  • Sand slit draining (where a groove is cut in the ground and filled with a sand carpet over the top).

Low cost options can be approved by the Community Board, while any substantial work will be subject to TCDC's budget processes. Work will be undertaken in summer when the weather is better and will be managed around any summer sport programmes booked in at the Sport Park.

TCDC said that since the facility opened there has been -

  • A Whitianga Junior Tennis Open.
  • A Community Fun Day on 23 May where rugby, rugby league, netball and football held tournaments and games.
  • Various community groups, including Hot Water Beach Surf Lifesaving, the Fire Service, St John Ambulance, Whitianga Social Services and the Police, attended. There were also stalls and activities for the kids, including face painting and a climbing wall.
  • TCDC also said that netball, rugby, rugby league and football continue to use the Sport Park when the fields and facilities they require are available.

Upcoming events that will make use of the Sport Park include -

  • Rally NZ will use the facility as its headquarters and pit area on 23 August.
  • The Sport Park will be the registration area for the K2 cycle race on 14 November.
  • Whitianga touch rugby will be held at the Sport Park on Wednesdays during school term 4 this year and school term term 1 next year.
  • Summer netball will be played at the facility during term 4.

"We also have on-going interest from codes outside of the Coromandel who are interested in using the facility and the fields, including Auckland Rugby League," said TCDC’s Sport Park coordinator, Sue Costello.

"We are working to market the facilities and this area for team training camps, regional tournaments and events.

"We thank all the codes for supporting the Sport Park and everyone's patience and understanding during the turf embedding process in our first year of operation."

But I have to finish

John Booker, New Zealand’s bathtub racing champion, and his wife, Chrissie Reilly are back from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island in Canada where John participated in the Great International World Championship Bathtub Race. Being part of the 62km endurance race that took place on Sunday 27 July surpassed all John’s expectations. It also made him think about doing a similar thing in Mercury Bay.

"We felt very much at home in Nanaimo," said John. "Although much bigger than Whitianga, the people are just as friendly and hospitable.

"The Thursday morning before the race, I was picked up from our hotel by Jamie Garcia, a fanatical bathtub racer, who offered me the use of one of his old bathtub boats. I saw photos of the boat beforehand and knew that it was going to need a lot of love. Jamie allowed me to use his workshop to work on the boat. He was very helpful.

"While I was slaving away the Thursday, Chrissie was, of course, doing sightseeing and shopping. That evening we attended the race’s sponsors evening and realised two things - the race is a really big thing in Nanaimo, they have a week-long marine festival around it, and it was a big thing having us there. Everyone referred to us as ‘the Kiwis.’ And everyone told me I’ll get the trophy for the competitor that came from the furthest afield, but I have to finish the race.

"I remember I said to Jamie at some point that I want to finish the race in the top ten of the standard engine class. He replied ominously, ‘If you finish.’

"Chrissie was great on the Friday. She didn’t have overalls there, so she wrapped herself in bubble wrap and painted the boat. Once that was done, I could fit my Volvo Penta sponsored Hidea 8hp engine to the boat. While I worked on the engine, Chrissie went to hire a vehicle, primarily to tow the boat in the Nanaimo Marine Festival Parade the next day. I expected her to come back with a SUV or something. Not a chance. She organised a complimentary upgrade to a huge GMC 2,500 double cab, it was the only vehicle with a ‘hitch,’ just to tow a small bathtub boat. It was a sight to behold. I was happy to let Chrissie also do all the driving, wrong side of the road and all.

"The parade through the Nanaimo main streets was massive, at least six blocks long with almost all 35 bathtub boats that entered the race, many floats, marching bands and a rock band on the back of a truck. And heaps of people lining the streets.

"After the parade we had to take the boat for a technical inspection, to make sure I didn’t tamper with the engine and all the safety equipment I needed was on board. The race organisers are very safety conscious, if you finish without your whistle and torch, you’re disqualified.

"The Saturday afternoon I took the boat out to sea for the first time. It was a huge learning curve. Just to get into the tub was a mission. The boats all have deep keels to survive in the ocean. That means you have to get them moving, or they sink. So, I had to start the engine, put one leg in the boat, put the engine in gear, hop along the boat and jump in when it had enough speed to carry my bodyweight.

"The Saturday evening was amazing. We had a rooftop dinner with a few selected guests and watched the best fireworks display we had ever seen.

"Sunday morning first thing was roll call and a compulsory safety briefing. The mayor of Nanaimo, whom I first met at the sponsors evening on the Thursday, took roll call and of course had to say the furthest afield trophy is mine, but I have to finish. As if I haven’t heard that before.

"I also met my support boat crew at the briefing. Each bathtub boat must have a support boat. What happened with me was that this retired chap, Gordon, heard a Kiwi was going to participate in the race. His daughter lives in Christchurch. So he basically told his neighbour, Scotty, who owns a boat, they’re going to be my support team. And they were just awesome.

"The race was something else. It was very choppy at the start with 35 bathtub boats milling around. It was actually a calm day and once the field started to spread out, I was going quite well. But about halfway my engine cut out. I had to get out or the boat was going to go down like a rock. Fortunately my support boat was close by and picked me up. I manage to restart the engine just about when the tub was full of water. I then had to bucket the water out before I could get back in. I lost about four places with all that going on, but fortunately picked up a few on my way to the finish.

"The finish was also a bit of an experience. I pulled up on shore so fast that I tumbled forward out of the boat, head first onto the sand. Then I had to run more than 100m and up a gangplank to a stage where I had to ring a bell. After 90 minutes in a bathtub, the running was no joke. But ringing that bell was important, as it meant that I finished.

"I ultimately came eighth in my class and 19th overall. And I did win that trophy for competitor that came from the furthest afield."

Looking forward, John would like to go back to Nanaimo, maybe with three or four other Whitianga bathtubbers and maybe even shipping a container with their own boats to Canada. "We can always leave the boats there for whoever represents New Zealand next," he said.

John also thinks Whitianga can host its own bathtub racing endurance event. "Five times around a circuit of, say, 10km past Buffalo Beach, Cooks Beach and Simpsons Beach will make for some spectacular racing and viewing. And of course there will have to be a sprint finish and the ringing of a bell on a stage," he said.

"And if we can combine the race with something like the Dive Zone Dive Festival at the end of November, we may just end up having our own marine festival. Who knows we may even be able to pull off a parade down Albert Street."

Darrell Bird from Dive Zone in Whitianga said they are keen to work with John to see where his idea may lead. Asking Glenn Leach, Thames Coromandel District Council mayor what he thought about John’s idea, he said, "We would absolutely be interested in supporting an event like this. We'll get our team to start discussing with John how this opportunity can come about and to look at how we can support this. We also have a Major Event Fund and this has the potential to be an iconic event to bring more people to the Coromandel."

Now who would have thought - combine a bathtub with a city in Canada and you have the potential for a new major event in Mercury Bay.

Peninsula First XV through to Coulter Cup Final

The Peninsula First XV rugby team secured a spot in the final of the 2014 Thames Valley Rugby Union First XV Coulter Cup competition by beating the Paeroa College First XV team last week Saturday in Whitianga.

The Coromandel boys (made of players from Mercury Bay Area School, Coromandel Town and Manaia) had a hefty breeze from behind in the first half, scoring four tries with two conversions from second-five Jayden Tegg. Paeroa was unable put any points on the board during the first half. The halftime score, 24-0.

The going was much tougher for the Peninsula team the second half playing into the wind. Paeroa scored first with an unconverted try, which was soon after answered with an unconverted try by the Coromandel boys.

The final score, 29-5.

For the Peninsula team captain JJ Parr (halfback) scored two tries and Ricky Cressey-Hamilton, Marcus Save and Pukengia Moanaroa one each.

Coach Mike Smith is impressed with the way the team came together as a unit during the season. “It’s the first season the boys played as a combined team from the northern Coromandel,” he said. “Training was more difficult with more travelling, but I’m amazed at the way the team gelled. There are a number of Year 13 boys in the team and their maturity definitely showed.

“It’s a well-disciplined team and if they win the final, I’ll be the first to say that they deserve it.”

Waihi College beat Thames High School in Waihi on Saturday to secure the other final spot. The final will be played at the Paeroa Domain this Saturday 16 August. The kick-off time is to be confirmed.

Kauri 2000 to celebrate planting of 40,000 kauri

The Kauri 2000 Trust will be celebrating the achievement of having planted 40,000 kauri on the Coromandel Peninsula since 1999 on 20 August. The trust’s founder, Cliff Heraud, said that the success of the trust has gone far beyond what he ever imagined. “My dream in 1999 was to plant 2000 trees as a living commemoration to greet the new millennium. To be reaching this milestone of getting 40,000 kauri in the ground, forming new kauri forests on the Peninsula, is wonderful.” 

The trust’s chair, Alison Henry, said, “The trustees, past and present, are to be congratulated for the professional manner in which the trust was set up and continues to operate. It’s a significant commitment - every year the trust selects and prepares planting sites, orders the kauri seedlings and ensures the trees we have planted in previous years are well-maintained. Most of our planting is done on public land administered by the Department of Conservation, with whom the trust has a signed Memorandum of Agreement, or on council reserves.”

Mrs Henry also recognised the support Kauri 2000 enjoys from people from all walks of life and throughout New Zealand, from hard-working and willing volunteers to supporters who generously donate funds to support the trust’s work. “Particularly special thanks are due to our long term benefactors Gayle and Charlie Pancerzewski. Their support has been a critical factor in reaching our 40,000th milestone, as has the support of our keystone sponsor BNZ Markets,” she said. “Every year the BNZ team heads into the hills with spades in hand and all these relationships have become very strong over the years.”

Students from Mercury Bay Area School, Coromandel Area School, Paeroa’s Miller Avenue School, Tairua School and local language schools are also planting their own kauri forests for the future. "It is truly heartening to be part of this community of kauri lovers who support what the trust is doing in so many different ways,” Mrs Henry said.

The trust has taken a leading role in establishing the Coromandel Kauri Dieback Forum, a network of local organisations and concerned individuals who will work in a practical way to protect kauri in their own communities, complementing the reach and resources of the national Kauri Dieback Management Programme. The inaugural meetings of the forum are being held on 30 and 31 August in Whangamata, Thames, Coromandel Town and Whitianga.

The Kauri 2000 trustees are proud to be reaching the 40,000 milestone. “To have 40,000 young kauri growing on our Peninsula deserves a celebration,” Mrs Henry said. On 20 August the trustees will be joined by trust founder Cliff Heraud, patron Dame Cath Tizard, Associate Minister for Conservation Nicky Wagner and a number of supporters and volunteers for a ceremonial planting of young kauri trees in Coromandel town near one of Kauri 2000’s largest planting sites. The trust now has a new milestone of 50,000 kauri in its sights.


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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.