Tuesday, 18 February 2020


Thames Coromandel District Council announced new funding opportunity

Thames Coromandel District Council has approved $20,000 per year to be invested into a Business Growth Fund programme to support innovative and forward-looking businesses intent on growing and creating jobs for the Coromandel.

"The programme was outlined and adopted in the 2012 Ten Year Plan and has been established to assist the private sector in creating new jobs on the Coromandel," said TCDC Deputy Chief Executive Ben Day.

The funding is to be used for developing new premises or expansion of existing premises and/or related infrastructure or plant that will directly lead to the creation of new jobs on the Coromandel Peninsula.

To be eligible applicants must -

  • Be active within one of the key sectors of the Coromandel's economy - tourism and tourism-related enterprises, aquaculture, manufacturing, forestry, health, education and information technology.
  • The business must either be a new business to the Thames Coromandel District or one that is not directly competing with other locally established companies.
  • Be a Small-Medium Sized Enterprise (SME) operating in a commercial environment.
  • The business owners and/or directors must be resident in New Zealand.
  • Develop and present a business case/plan, including financial viability and proof of a sound track record, the potential tangible job growth in the business, evidence as to why the funding is needed, evidence as to how the funding will add value to existing activities and evidence as to how the funding will add value to the Coromandel.

The proposals and business concepts must be consistent with New Zealand laws and regulation.

Applications are open from the 28 July - 30 September 2014 and funding decision/s will be made by the TCDC Economic Development Committee in October 2014.

Proposed District Plan hearings to start in September

Hearings on Thames Coromandel District Council’s Proposed District Plan will begin on Tuesday 16 September.

At its first meeting, the TCDC Hearings Panel is expected to sit for three days and focus on submissions relating to the whole of the plan, forestry, transport, festivals and events, airfield height and noise.

Hearings are expected to go through until the end of March 2015.

A large number of submitters, individuals and organisations, have indicated they want to speak to their submission at a hearing. Submitters will be advised when hearings are being held that relate to matters they submitted on.

The Proposed District Plan was publicly notified on 13 December 2013 with the submission period running until 14 March 2014. During the submission period 1,236 submissions were received, covering around 7,500 submission points.

The "Summary of Decisions" sought in the submissions was then notified and further submissions were called for. 

The further submission period closed on 16 June 2014 resulting in 286 further submissions, covering 2,662 further submission points.

The District Plan Hearings Panel is made up of one elected councillor (Sandra Goudie) and two external commissioners (Mark Farnsworth and Ian Munro). 

According to TCDC, the original "Summary of Decisions" contained some omissions, so there are six submissions which are now being re-notified for further submissions. 

The submission period on these six submissions opens today (Friday 25 July) and closes at 5:00pm on 8 August.

Anyone can make a further submission on these submissions.  A copy of the submissions, the “Summary of the Decisions” requested and the further submission form are on the TCDC website and also available from all TCDC’s offices.

Town v Country at Lyon Park last week Saturday

As reported by Hayden Smith

Combative dialogue and snide remarks were exchanged well before the opening whistle of last Saturday’s Town v Country rugby fixture in Whitianga. Talk was rife of a rampant City side bustling with Senior A players set to run rings around the country bumpkins, a side comprised of the young, the old, and the very old. The scene was set for a David v Goliath tussle and all that was missing from the State-of-Origin-like affair was the introduction of the skirmish by the great Ray Warren. It truly was mate v mate and few within Mercury Bay’s lengthy confines missed the exchange, the grandstands packed to capacity.

A jovial Country side took to the field with the sound of "Wagon Wheel" still ringing loudly in their ears from the tense pre-match formalities, while the City-siders looked slick in their preparations and were always going to test the Country kids across the paddock. But it was Country who struck early. After stringing together several nice phases, a rampaging Duncan Oliver stormed over the line mid-way through the first stanza to take the Country blokes to an early lead.

The boys from the big smoke hit back soon after, however, and shouts of "shut the gate fatty" could be heard echoing across Lyon Park as Whangamata import, Eli Byles finished a nice piece of work along the short side from a City scrum to draw the two sides within two points of one-another at 7-5. Star Argentinian, Pedro Scardapane was lethal off the back of the scrum for City and seemed intent on running at every opportunity, chewing metres around the base at will, and earning himself the nickname the "metre-eater."

Buoyed by the promise of free beer, Kieran Ramage was a juggernaut for the Country boys and was always followed closely by brother Dan, together delivering valuable go-forward for boys in the alternate strip. The hard work in the engine room eventually payed off with a well-worked piece down the sideline seeing Rewi Gemmell galloping away from the City defence and, despite an unrivalled effort to chase down his opposite, debutant Osman Emer was unable to stop the Hahei speedster scoring the second try for Country.

Unwilling to rest on their laurels, Country continued to fight doggedly in defence, but it wasn’t enough to stem the heavy-hitting Town side, with Thames Valley squad member, Eden McLean bringing his side within a whisker of the lead. It was blow-for-blow football, with the lead poised to change hands at any given moment.

The half time whistle also saw a change in referee, with club custodian Chris Costello taking the helm. After laying down the law, and promising a flowing game of rugby, the opening exchanges of the second half had players wondering if Cossy had indeed forgotten his whistle, with one period of play threatening to run the entire quarter. What the wonderful turnout of players from a bygone era saw was a great spectacle, though the lack of whistle blowing had many blue in the face and gasping for air leading into oranges after the third quarter.

Scores were more or less locked up prior to the commencement of the final quarter and friendships were put on hold for a further 20 minutes, as friends became enemies and the battle entered its final hour. A scuffle between compatriots Beau Hamilton and Cody Muir ended the same way as the score at that time sat, with a slender, though deserved, lead to Country.

While a late try from Schwinky Charles narrowed the gap for City, the final nail was slammed into the proverbial coffin in the dying stages with Country celebrity Cody Hamilton crossing the chalk in overtime and taking the Country side to a deserved victory, 33-22.

Special mention must go to Mike Hamilton, who took to the field to join his three sons in battle for Country despite approaching retirement age at an alarming rate. Goodness knows how he survived the tussle without a cup of tea, though rumours are beginning to surface that he did indeed enjoy a dose of his favoured brew at halftime.

Thanks must go the all those that helped make the day a great success. And to those supporters who turned up to watch the healthy exchange, a further thank you. I’m sure all involved look forward to next years’ confrontation.

Major Event Fund recipients announced

Recipients of the 2014 first round of Thames Coromandel District Council’s Major Events Fund have been announced.

The following events have been allocated sponsorship -

Leadfoot Festival - $40,000. This is a unique weekend in Hahei bringing together a mix of classic cars, vintage motorcycles and motorsports legends.

Thunderbeach - $5,000. This is a three day Motorcycle Rally based out of Mercury Bay.

Tairua Wet ‘n Wild - $5,000. This is two days wet and wild jetski action on Tairua Harbour.

Thames Festival of Mindsports - This is a weekend of sports that challenge the mind including sudoku, chess, dungeons and dragons and much more ($5,000 from the second round of funding).

There will be another funding round later this year. For more details, see the TCDC Major Events Fund webpage.

The decision was made by the TCDC Economic Development Committee.

"The committee has made decisions on events that have the most potential to grow economic returns to the district, over time, and those most closely aligned to the intent and criteria of our event strategy," said TCDC Mayor Glenn Leach. "It was a tough series of decisions to make."

Kyla McLeans book about ZK MBA released

Kyla McLean’s book about ZK-MBA, the VANS RV12 aeroplane Mercury Bay Area School built during 2012 and 2013, has today been released. Kyla is a Year 12 student at MBAS.

“It’s a coffee table book, 74 pages with seven chapters,” said Kyla. “Early on in the building of the plane Mr Bosson [MBAS teacher in charge of the aeroplane build] asked me if I would like to do a book about the project. I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“I was involved in the yearly MBAS magazine from when I was nine years old. It was great fun to put the book together.”

For the two years the project was ongoing, Kyla often visited the “building site,” talked almost every week to some of the students who worked on the project and had fortnightly catch-ups with Karlos Bosson.

The first four chapters of the book, titled "The Plane Project," deal with the students and community mentors who were involved in the project, the following two chapters recall what happened in each of the two years of the project and the last chapter acknowledges all the people and businesses that supported the project.

Kyla didn’t just write the book, she also did the layout and most of the negotiations with the printers.

Asking her what her overwhelming impression of the project was, she didn’t hesitate to say the generosity and dedication of Jim Evans, the driving force behind the project and the idea of a permanent aviation programme at MBAS. “Jim is a gentleman,” said Kyla. “He’s soft spoken, but he gets things done. I’ve learnt a lot from him.”

The first print run of the book is 200 copies. 30 of the copies will go to all the people who were involved in the project. The rest can be purchased at a cost of $30 each. Please enquire from The Informer’s offices if you would like to buy one of the copies. All the profits from the sale of the book will go to the Mercury Bay Student Aviation Trust, the new joint venture trust between MBAS and the Mercury Bay Aero Club.

Kyla is now mentoring a Year 7 student in putting together a book for the restoration of the Taylor Coot amphibian plane MBAS students are involved in at the moment.

Kyla’s involvement in the ZK-MBA project will never be forgotten. There was a proposal and it was unanimously carried - the plane (ZK-MBA) from now forevermore will be known as “Skyla.”

Do unto others

Mercury Bay’s Bill Smith, the “Clydesdale Man,” passed, but his legacy will live on.

On 10 July Mercury Bay lost one of its local icons. Bill Smith was born on 4 July 1929. He spent the last 30 years of his life on his farm, the 900 acre Twin Oaks Riding Ranch, between Whitianga and Kuaotunu.

Bill’s farewell on 15 July in the Whitianga Town Hall was a celebration of an extraordinary life, the life of someone who never realised he actually was larger than life.

Bill was one of 12 children. He grew up in Otorohanga and Tauranga and even in the early days had a twinkle in his eyes and a cheeky grin that meant he was up to some mischief. He was the one who tried to put the egg back into the hen or tied strings to bumblebees and tin cans to the cat’s tail.

He was tall and lanky and grew into a very good boxer, ultimately becoming the Waikato welterweight champion. Virtually every opponent he encountered in the boxing ring walked away with a broken nose. Bill quit boxing after the father of an opponent asked him to please not hurt his son too much.

As a young adult, Bill and his first wife, Frances moved to a remote sheep farm outside Wanganui. That’s where his love of deer and horses started to take shape. The next move was to a dairy farm at Gordonton, where Bill met Janice, his second wife. A total romantic, Bill courted Janice by taking her to the wrestling show "On the Mat." Occasionally he gave her a bunch of flowers, made up of the abundance of the farm - ragwort, gorse and naked ladies were favourites.

Bill established an Arabian stud farm at Gordonton and his pet deer, Bambi, was well known in the community.

Next stop for Bill, Janice and their family was a sheep farm at Glen Murray north of Huntly. After six years, Bill decided it was time to pursue his dream of establishing a horse trekking business and living near the beach. That’s when the family arrived in Mercury Bay.

A few years after their arrival on the farm between Whitianga and Kuaotunu, Bill got hold of and raised a baby deer, as he had done in the past. The pet deer lived with the horses that were part of Bill’s horse trekking business and for two years she was an attraction (or maybe a distraction) for passing motorists.

"For many years deer weren't allowed on the Coromandel," remembered Andrea Smith, one of Bill’s daughters. "One day some government department turned up and said our pet deer had to go. Bill said that wasn’t going to happen. The government people made all kinds of threats. Bill just said none of the threats were going to happen and the deer wasn’t going anywhere. Not long and that same government department arrived with a permit to farm deer. Because Bill stood his ground, our pet deer was safe."

A deer fence was put up and that made Bill think that it was a big fence for a single pet deer, so he started farming deer more seriously.

In 1993, Bill went to Martinborough and purchased two Clydesdale horses and a wagon for purposes of taking tourists around Whitianga on the wagon during the peak holiday season. The venture was a great success and gave Bill his nickname, the "Clydesdale Man."

Bill and his horses showed people the sights of Whitianga until 2010, when town became too busy for horses and a wagon to have safe passage.

"Bill taught us many things," said Andrea. "Good manners - he always wore his cowboy hat, but immediately took it off when inside, how to light a fire properly, how to ride a horse - his favourite saying was, ‘The horse will always buck straight,’ how to drive, how to box, the importance of a good, strong handshake and to always do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Bill is one of those people who achieved every single thing in life he wanted to achieve."

In addition to the more than 200 people who attended Bill’s farewell, Facebook reaction on his passing like "A fantastic, caring man," "A sweet, lovely gentleman," "A true gentleman," "A legend past, but not forgotten," "A legendary part of what this community is," "An awesome, awesome man" and
"A hard man to forget, he brought many happy memories to one and all," is testament to the level of respect Bill enjoyed in the Mercury Bay community.

After Bill’s farewell, Phil Nielsen, well-known bagpiper from Kuaotunu, led a procession of Bill’s hearse and 11 horses and their riders around the Whitianga CBD. In a way it was a community doing unto Bill as he had done unto them.

Entries for 2014 ANZ Flying Start businesss competition now open

Do you have a business idea that can do with some cash and specialist advice, or do you want to grow your business and a bit of money and help will come in handy? If so, why not consider entering the 2014 ANZ Flying Start business competition?

If your business or idea is geared for growth and can make a positive contribution to the local, national or global economy, you may just be successful.

To enter, you’ll have to submit a business plan in the template provided at www.business.govt.nz/business-plan-competition. If you make it through to stage two, you’ll need to submit a more detailed plan. The five entrants with the best detailed business plans will then be invited to Wellington to pitch their business or idea to a panel of experts.

Up for grabs is a prize package comprising of $30,000 cash, $5,000 worth of marketing advice, $5,000 worth of advertising in the NZBusiness Magazine and $5,000 worth of legal advice.

Coromandel MP, Scott Simpson is encouraging small businesses around the Peninsula to have a go at the competition. “We have many innovative businesses on the Coromandel and I want to see them grow.  Growing businesses mean more jobs. More jobs mean sustainable communities. And that’s good for our entire region,” he said.

Entries are open now and will close at 5:00pm on 12 August.

Good progress towards a permanent aviation programme at MBAS

The restoration of ZK-ECL, the Taylor Coot amphibian plane donated to the Mercury Bay Student Aviation Trust, a new trust established between Mercury Bay Area School and the Mercury Bay Aero Club, is going well. It’s the second aviation project students from MBAS are involved in. The first was the building of a new VANS RV12 aeroplane, which was completed last year.

"We have eight students involved in the restoration of the Coot," said Jim Evans, the driving force behind the aviation activities at MBAS and one of six members of the Mercury Bay community who act as mentors in the Coot restoration. "Two of the students have been involved in the building of the RV12. They both told me they would like to pursue a career in the aviation industry.

"The Coot itself isn’t in too bad a shape. We’ve stripped out the fuselage and are busy repairing damaged bits and pieces. We’ve also identified places where we can strengthen the plane and are busy manufacturing the components we need to achieve that.

"We haven’t looked at the engine or the instruments yet, but suspect a really good clean-up will go a long way in getting it all working again. I hope that we’ll have the plane back in the air by the middle of next year."

The restoration is overseen by Karlos Bosson, a teacher at MBAS. Karlos was also the teacher responsible for the building of the RV12.

According to Jim, the plan is for the trust to apply for some grant funding and also to sell the Coot once it’s restored and to use the money to either purchase another RV12 MBAS students can build or subsidise MBAS students who would like to learn to fly.

Good news in this regard is that the RV12 the school built last year has now been leased by the Mercury Bay Aero Club and will be made available for flying lessons and general flying by members of the club.

"I’m really glad the RV12 is going to stay in Mercury Bay," said Jim. "All the students who are now working on the Coot have already had a bit of training in the RV12 and there are certainly a few pilots among them.

"Our aim is to get the trust to such a point where an aviation programme can permanently become part of what MBAS can offer its students. I’m pretty sure we’re going to be able to achieve that."


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Did TCDC do the right thing to make Whitianga subject to a total watering ban during the busy summer holiday season?

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.