Monday, 06 July 2020


Dive Zone Dive Festival is all on

The 11th Annual Whitianga Dive Festival is all on this weekend. The event is hosted by Dive Zone Whitianga and owners Darrell and Linda Bird say this is one weekend divers, local and from around the country, shouldn’t miss.

This year is againturning out to be a great weekend of networking, competitions, challenges, a bit of partying and loads of awesome prizes that is being given away. Participants have the freedom to choose how many events they want to enter. "Do as little or as much as you want to, it’s as easy as that," Linda says.

The fun kicked off yesterday morning with an underwater photography competition. For those not into picture taking there was the great cray hunt or the spearfishing competition. Prizes for closest to the "mystery" weight for male and female crays and the New Zealand Underwater Association trophy for the biggest crayfish were up for grabs.

Last night was set aside for social networking at the Dive Zone Whitianga store in Blacksmith Lane. Shark expert Riley Elliot was present and shared a few of his thoughts.

Today all the action will be down at Whitianga’s Buffalo Beach and promises to be a great day for the family to have a picnic and enjoy the fun and games. The Mares treasure hunts on the sand for the kids and in the water for the adults will be followed by the highly competitive scuba Olympic challenge.

Tonight will see with a "Pacific Voyager" fancy dress dinner and dance at Whitianga’s Salt Restaurant and Bar.

A BBQ breakfast prize givingtomorrow morning will be time for the major prize give-aways, including the grand prize of a dive trip for two to Niue in July 2015.

Sponsorship from a great range of dive companies and organisations shows how well this local Whitianga event is regarded among the New Zealand diving fraternity. Darrell and Linda would like to acknowledge the support of Mares, Beuchat, Apollo, the New Zealand Underwater Association, Intova and Mission Kayaks.

Also on in Whitianga today is Thunder beach and the Northern Regional Flying Competition.

Police says if you speed 1km over the limit this summer you will be stopped

The Police today announced a commitment to enforce speed limits throughout summer and beyond in an effort to keep our roads safe.

The Police’s message is clear - anything over the limit is speeding

If you’re over the speed limit, even if it’s 1km, expect to be stopped.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, “Regardless of the cause of a crash, a vehicle's speed at the time of impact can be the difference between a close call or an agonising stay in hospital.

“Our message to drivers is simple: the numbers in the red circles on the side of the road are the maximum speed you can travel safely in good driving conditions.

“Police officers have the discretion to stop and ticket people driving at any speed over the limit every day of the year.”

ACC Manager of Motorist Injury Insurance Paul Gimblett said, “ACC is supporting Police with an advertising campaign calling on Kiwis not to speed.

“This is a sound investment, because we know slowing down takes a significant amount of the energy out of crashes forces.

“The faster you go, the worse your injuries will be.

“In 2012 - 2013, ACC received around 85 road injury claims a day over summer, that’s 85 families “impacted, a total of 7,500 people hurt on our roads and a huge cost to New Zealanders.

“That’s why we’re urging all Kiwis to stick to a safe speed and drive to the conditions.”

Perseverance finally pays off

Local travel agent Julie Weeden’s relationship with her 1967 V8 Ford Mustang convertible has certainly been stretched to the limit on more than one occasion during her seven years of ownership in New Zealand. In fact it’s only been over the last few months that she has had the opportunity to showcase the car around the local streets of Whitianga or enjoy a cruise around the Coromandel with the soft top convertible folded down.

After an external restoration project which took far longer than she or husband Dave originally intended, this iconic piece of American motoring history gives nothing away in terms of its past life. Like granddad’s old and original axe that has had five new handles and three new heads, this shiny rich-red Mustang (Ford 65 is the official and original colour name) is far from in original condition. In fact, from the outside, its build and paint quality is arguably better than what rolled off the assembly line almost half a century ago. Apart from retaining one original panel behind the rear seat,
the car has undergone a total strip down and rebuild, using brand new or manufactured body panels and chassis rails.

Like a lot of similar vehicle restoration projects, the amount of time and money that has been poured into this project was very much underestimated and at times there seemed to be little light at the end of what had become a very long tunnel for both Julie and Dave.

It all started when Julie first laid eyes on the traditional long nose and short boot 289 cu inch (4.7 litre) muscle car when she met up with its owner in Australia - an old friend who had used the car on a regular basis for several years and was thinking about selling. As Julie was living and working in Australia at the time, she took the plunge, purchased the Mustang and continued to drive it trouble free for a further three years.

On planning their shift to New Zealand and assuming moving the car across the ditch would be hassle free, Julie and Dave shipped the Mustang off to New Zealand in 2007. On arrival and contrary to what they believed they had been told prior to shipping, the car was required by law to undergo an invasive and very detailed roadworthiness inspection before being registered and allowed to be driven on New Zealand roads. Unfortunately, under close examination, it was discovered some of the last 47 years had not been overly kind to the Mustang and it failed the compliance inspection in some of the major structural areas of its main frame and chassis.

Enter Bruce Haye from Ace Panel & Paint, the local restoration expert, who in 2008 was given the job of stripping the Mustang completely and rebuilding it to the demanding standards set by the authorities in New Zealand. "After every structural repair was carried out, or before in some cases, we were required to get sign off from government approved certification inspectors before moving to the next piece of the puzzle," says Bruce.

"And because the car had undergone a right hand drive conversion in Australia, we even had to change the existing left hand drive windscreen wiper sweep before compliance was finally signed off and that required new firewall panel fabrication."

Bruce has a photo album of before, during and after shots which details the amount of work that has gone into the project and underlines his true expertise in this line of work.

So what’s next on the to-do list for the owner? "There’s still the interior to tidy up, but that can wait just a little longer," says Julie. "With summer on the way it’s time to stop, take a breath and simply enjoy Mustang ownership and that means getting it out of the garage and on the open road a lot more."

And are there any words of wisdom and advice she can pass onto others looking to get into a similar vehicle restoration project? "You need to keep your sense of humour, the original budget you set will never be enough and before you purchase what you think may be a suitable vehicle, go and see somebody like Bruce at Ace Panel & Paint," answers Julie.

"He will take all the emotion away and tell you the true reality of what lies ahead of you. It can be extremely frustrating at times, but at the end of the day it’s a pretty awesome feeling when it’s all finished and the completed product exceeds your expectations."

Whitianga Police Report for Monday 17 November to Monday 24 November


This time of year there are various work places or other groups celebrating the end of year with a with a few drinks and with new drink driving laws coming into force on 1 December people need to plan how they are going to get home safely.

The new drink driving levels are nearly half what they were for adult drivers in that they have reduced from 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath to 250, meaning a couple of drinks may well put you over the limit.

Police advice is that there is no valid reason to get behind the wheel drunk and obvious options to get home safely are to have a sober driver, take a taxi or walk home with friends.

All penalties aside, the main reason for this reduction in drink driving levels is that drunk drivers kill and injure people on our roads and we want that to stop.   


20th - 1 x 22yr old local woman for Dangerous driving.

23rd - 1 x 30yr old local man for Breach of the Peace.


Four domestic incidents attended last week.

On the 17th a child was assaulted at a Coroglen address and our detectives are carrying out the investigation into this incident, while on the 20th a father and daughter were involved in an altercation after a dangerous driving incident involving other family members at a Hahei address.

Then on the 21st a couple from a Carina Way address were arguing about a night out and Police were called to calm the situation while on the 23rd a Police Safety Order was served on a man after he argued with his partner on Albert Street.

On the 18th a Toyota Surf vehicle was stolen from a Cook Drive address and later found burnt out on the Kopu-Hikuai Road.

An Indecent Act incident occurred at a Pipi Dune address on the 19th and our enquiries are continuing to locate a named suspect.

We separated two groups after a fight on Blacksmith Lane after the licensed premises had closed on the 22nd and a residential address on Poplar Street was burgled on the 24th and stored property was searched through.


No drunk drivers apprehended this week.

An 18yr old local man has been charged with Careless Driving after single vehicle crash on Moewai Road on the 14th. Excessive speed was a factor and the two occupants were lucky to walk from the wreckage.

Scheduled flight service into Whitianga from next week

Whitianga Airfield is poised to become a major economic driver in the greater Mercury Bay area with the announcement of a twice daily flight service direct to Auckland and once daily to Great Barrier Island and Tauranga, increasing on demand.

From 1 December, passengers will be able to fly on Sunair 7:00am daily to Ardmore Airport south of Auckland and return at 3:30pm. The 20 minute journey brings the commute from central Auckland to Whitianga to just one hour. Flights are priced at $120 one way for adults and $90 for children 16 and under.

Baggage allowance on the aircraft is 15kg per person and $2 per kg extra. Children under four count as part of the baggage allowance, unless they weigh more than 20kg, when a child seat must be purchased at $90. Animals must travel in a cage and if dogs exceed 20kg, then the equivalent of a child’s fare must also be paid.

Passengers at Ardmore can park for free at Sunair’s secure parking facility, while those arriving from Whitianga who do not have vehicles can choose to either rent a car from the airport or take a $5 regular shuttle to the nearby Papakura train hub, says Sunair pilot Ryan Bergman.

The company is in talks with local shuttle service Go Kiwi to provide transport to those passengers flying into Whitianga to the central business district and the outlying beaches, including Hot Water Beach and Matarangi.

The launch of the daily flight service comes just a month before the opening right next door to Sunair’s Whitianga Airfield offices of a brand new café called The Departure Lounge. The café will be open for coffees, alcoholic drinks, takeout and dine-in food options and will feature a deck overlooking the airfield for passengers and café patrons to relax on.

At the other end of the journey in Ardmore, passengers can also enjoy a café facility with a large sun deck overlooking part of the airport. Ryan says Ardmore Airport has excellent facilities and, most importantly, an "island atmosphere."

Sunair has 16 aircraft with six based at Ardmore and is the largest New Zealand-owned airline outside of Air New Zealand.

Ryan was in Whitianga last week meeting with key businesses to promote the service and to secure potential package deals within the leisure market, which he says the company is targeting foremost.

"We have been planning the expansion for the past couple of months. Whitianga is going to be awesome for us. It is not only going to link people from Auckland with the east coast of the Coromandel, but will also link people from Tauranga and allow for an overnight stay at the Mount and then there’s Great Barrier Island where there are families with students attending Mercury Bay Area School.

"Previously Sunair customers had to have a minimum of two people in order for us to fly, but not anymore. We will fly all year round and we will never say no to a booking.

"The growth potential is massive. With our fleet we can move up to 500 people between Auckland and Whitianga on Boxing Day and the same number from Auckland to Great Barrier Island, but we’ll fly through winter too. This is an all-weather service, provided that it is possible to get into Whitianga."

Thames Coromandel District Council mayor Glenn Leach was buoyed by the news of the new service when contacted by The Informer this week. "This is absolutely fantastic news for the Coromandel. We’re really looking forward to welcoming more people who may come and visit us through using this service and I want to thank Sunair for their commitment to our area," he said.

The Departure Lounge owner Amy Sammons says friends had questioned her decision to open a café out of town and the announcement of a new daily service was exciting. The café will be open from 8:00am to 8:00pm and will have an aviation theme with old propellers and quirky features.

"It’s been so quiet and dead out at the airfield and for us it is so neat to breathe some life into it. We will be catering to day trippers and domestic pilots and there’s a hole in the market for food between 2:30pm and 5:30pm, which is what we’re trying to tap into. We’ll be serving a lot of local produce including locally baked bread and take out sandwiches, which will be perfect for the Sunair passengers."

Sunair will fly its standard fleet of Aztec 6-seat twin engine aircraft and Cessna 172 4-seat aircraft to Whitianga. "This gives us good flexibility on loadings and also a nice and comfortable fleet for our customers," says Ryan.

For bookings and inquiries phone the company on 0800 SUNAIR or talk to a local travel agent.

Warbirds adventure flights coming to Whitianga

The Mercury Bay Aero Club in conjunction with NZ Warbirds is staging a “rides day” at Whitianga Airport on Saturday 3 January 2015 (or in the case of rain on the Saturday, Sunday 4 January 2015).

For anyone who missed out on a flight experience at the Warbirds and Wheels Event held in Whitianga in January 2014, some of the genuine Warbirds from Ardmore will be back in for a visit on 3 and 4 January 2015, weather permitting. This is not an Airshow but an opportunity for anyone interested to take a flight in a genuine World War II Aircraft.

Pre-bookings are essential to ensure the appearance of the Spitfire and the P40-Kittyhawk.

Warbirds Limited is certified under CAA Part 115 (rules to conduct adventure aviation flights).  To the public, this ensures flights are authorised in strict compliance with NZ Civil Aviation Rules.

There is no entry fee to the airport.  Please pre-book flights directly with NZ Warbirds.  For further information visit or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In addition to the Warbird rides, flights will also be available in helicopters, Cessna’s and possibly classic Tiger Moths.

Opening act for Summer Concert announced

The duo of Simon Claxton and David Shanhun have been confirmed as the opening act of the 2015 Whitianga Summer Concert on Anniversary Sunday featuring international acts Heart, Foreigner and Three Dog Night.

Simon and David met after being impressed with each other’s performances at an “open mic” night in 2010.  Since then they have worked closely with each other and both feature heavily on each other’s upcoming solo albums.

Simon hails from Christchurch, where he honed his talent singing harmonies with family and later picking up the guitar and songwriting. Having previously represented New Zealand as a dancer, he carries through his brilliant sense of rhythm and melody into his songwriting.

David released his first album “Dreamer” in 2011 after winning studio time at Tsunami Sound Studios in Levin. This gave him the confidence to pursue music professionally and he has since been nominated for the Pat McMinn Rising Star Award (2011) and twice for the NZCM Horizon Award (2011 and 2013). His single “I Believe in You” reached number two on the New Zealand iTunes Country Charts in July this year.

Flood mitigation work in Tairua

Thames Coromandel District Council has approved an extra $300,000 to extend the bridge on the Manaia Road causeway which will be an important element of flood mitigation work at Graham’s Creek in Tairua.

The funding, signed off yesterday, will come from Tairua's stormwater depreciation reserves and a loan. The extension by 16 metres will help keep the road open during flooding and allow floodwaters to drain more easily when combined with floodway improvement works to be done by Waikato Regional Council.

For many years, property owners in the Graham’s Creek catchment, which is upstream of the Manaia Road causeway, have experienced flooding.

To address the problem both TCDC and WRC have been working with the community to find a workable solution. TCDC set aside $620,000 in their 2014-2015 Annual Plan towards upgrading the Manaia Rd causeway bridge. WRC has set aside $600,000 in its 2014-2015 Annual Plan towards floodway improvement works around Graham's Creek, which include stopbanks, re-contouring the floodplain to form a floodway and creek channel works.

Both pieces of work need to be done in tandem for a successful outcome.

In June 2014 a joint working group was set up to help refine and finalise the work programme. Made up of affected residents, elected members as well as staff from both TCDC and WRC, the group held four separate workshops and came up with a preferred solution, which included a two-way causeway bridge (rather than a one-lane as previously indicated). 

"It's good to see we are finally coming to a conclusion and from a bridge perspective we can deliver what the Tairua and wider community are wanting," said TCDC mayor Glenn Leach. "I want to thank the Working Group for their commitment and involvement to helping to make this happen."

Thames Coromandel regional councillor Clyde Graf says,  "The decision aligns with the Graham’s Creek working party’s wishes and is a key milestone in determining the scope of the works being carried out by us in the area.

“The new bridge design will complement the wide-ranging measures being undertaken by the regional council upstream of the current bridge. The combined effect of both our works will provide significant flood risk relief.”

TCDC has worked with WRC to set up  an information day at the Tairua Hall Annex on Saturday 6 December from 10am - 1pm to give property owners in the area the opportunity to talk to staff about what is planned.

Construction of the regional council flood mitigation work and construction of the new bridge is due to start in the middle of next year once resource consents are obtained for both projects.


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