Sunday, 09 August 2020


Prize giving at the Mercury Bay Boating Club

Mercury Bay Boating Club held its annual prize giving on Saturday 17 May. The evening was well attended and everyone had a good time.

The following club members were recognised for their achievements -

John Jackman (third place in the Bay Series and winner of Toby’s Mug for the Cuvier Island race).

Mike Phear (Winner of the Bay Series Trophy).

Tate Lidgard (Winner of the Ross Family Shield for the most improved sailor).

Alexander Nielsen (Winner of the Junior Skipper Trophy).

Floyd Ross (Winner of the Dingy Race Cup for Under 16 Boys).

Ian Hogg (Winner of the Multihull Line Honours Shield).

Belinda Wallace (Winner of the Polar Bear Trophy - Winter Series).

Carol Boswell (Winner of the Steinlager Series).

Russell Chaney (Winner of the Millennium Trophy - New Years Day Race)

Tim Johnston – Club Commodore (Winner of Trailer Sailor Line Honours Cup, the Overall Line Honours Shield and the Flaxmill Bay Trophy).

Matt Algie (Winner of the Beiby Barometer - Singled Handed Race).

TCDC building meeting will benefit everyone

Thames Coromandel District Council will hold a builders stakeholders meeting on Thursday 22 May in the Supper Room of the Whitianga Town Hall.

According to John Kardas, Building Manager of TCDC, the meeting will benefit everyone with an interest in the property industry, not only builders and DIYers.

“The list of exempt works that doesn’t require a building consent has changed. Property owners who want to put a new window in a wall wouldn’t now need a building consent to get the work done,” said John. “And they wouldn’t have to use a licenced builder. They can do the job themselves. But, if they decide to do it and Council doesn’t know about it, are they just creating some problems down the road for themselves? Would a future purchaser of their property be concerned about the quality of the work they did themselves?

“That’s the sort of thing we’ll address at the meeting.

“Another thing we’ll talk about is that we’ve created a new range of forms that will make it easier for people to determine if they’ll need a consent to do something or not. Basically, if they’re unsure, they just have to ask. We’ll tell them if they have to do anything and we’ll be happy to put their request and our answer on our file for the property. That may help to give future purchasers of the property peace of mind they wouldn’t otherwise have had.”

The meeting will start at 3:30pm and is expected to last two hours. There will be ample time for questions.

Hopper and Kirkpatrick complete Targa trifecta

Orewa pair Leigh Hopper and Simon Kirkpatrick completed a winning trifecta in this year's Targa North Island tarmac motor rally which ended in Rotorua on Sunday - despite a quick detour through a farmer's paddock early in the first stage on the final day.

"It cost us 30 seconds, but we managed to pull that back through the next three stages then picked up another minute this afternoon," said Subaru ace Hopper who with co-driver Kirkpatrick dominated the new three-day Auckland-Whitianga-Rotorua event, winning it outright as well as winning the Allcomers 4WD class.

"This year has been about having the right tools and we've really got the car going well now, particularly between 100 and 200 kays (km/h) where it's really got some boogie!”

Hopper won his first Targa event, Targa Rotorua, with son Gray co-driving, in 2011, then his second - with Simon Kirkpatrick reading the notes - in 2013.

This year the two previous two-day events, Targa Bambina from Auckland to Whitianga and Targa Rotorua, were combined into one three-day Targa North Island which started just south of Auckland on Friday - but Hooper made sure the result remained the same. In the same Subaru Impreza WRX that won the 2011 and 2013 Rotorua events, he and Kirkpatrick won 12 of the 17 stages outright, finishing the event almost two minutes clear of eventual runners-up Jason Gill and Mark Robinson (Mitsubishi Evo) from Auckland and close to nine minutes ahead of third placed Dunedin pair Martin Dippie and Jona Grant (Porsche GT3).

As well as claiming overall victory Hopper, and Kirkpatrick also won the Allcomers 4WD class from Gill and Robinson, and fellow Aucklanders David Rogers and Aidan Kelly (Mitsubishi Evo).

Rogers and Aidan lost time when they went off on the same stage Hopper and Kirkpatrick did early on Sunday morning, bending a rear suspension arm, but after the damage was repaired Rogers was able to retain third place in the Allcomers 4WD class despite the late advances of visiting Australian pair Gary Morgan and Tash Oakden (Subaru Legacy) and gravel rally stalwarts Brian Green and Fleur Pedersen (Mitsubishi Evo).

Like Hopper and Kirkpatrick, last year's six-day Targa New Zealand event winners, Martin Dippie and Jona Grant, were never headed in their class, Modern 2WD, the pair topping the time sheets in 11 of the 17 stages to finish the event just under two minutes ahead of fellow Porsche pair Richard Krogh and Glenn Sharratt from New Plymouth with Perth-based Kiwi Robert Darrington and co-driver Dave Abetz enjoying their best run in recent events to finish third in class in their BMW M3.

New Plymouth husband-and-wife Ross and Carmel Graham also enjoyed a near perfect run on their way to a popular victory in the Metalman Classic 2WD class. Despite their being at least six other combinations capable of matching their pace - as evidenced by the fact that there were five different stage winners - the Grahams started strongly and were as consistent as they were quick. "We came here thinking that we would do OK but winning is still pretty special," said Ross.

Also enjoying his best finish in a Targa event so far, was BMW 325i driver Rex McDonald who with co-driver Daniel Prince finished second in the Metalman Classic 2WD standings.

The pair topped the class time sheets in two stages and ended up just over two-and-half-minutes behind the Grahams and just over a minute up on category young gun Carl Kirk-Burnnand and his co-driver Sam Gordon in a similar BMW with husband-and-wife Tony and Jo Butler fourth in their V8-engined Cheetah convertible and long-time class pace-setters Barry Kirk-Burnnand (Carl's father) and co-driver Dave O'Carroll fifth in their BMW M3.

Former rally and circuit racer Greg Goudie and son Michael from north Auckland were one of the other stage winning duos in the Metalman Classic 2WD class in their newly-built Mk 1 Ford Escort BDA, but were never in overall class contention after an electrical issue forced them to sit out several stages on the first day.

Competitors covered over 450 kms of closed special stages and 830 kms of touring stage during the new event with 100 starting and the majority finishing.

Their were some high-profile casualties though, including Clark Proctor and Sue O'Neill (Nissan GT-R35) out with a broken gearbox, former Targa Rotorua winners Glenn Inkster and Spencer Winn, out with engine problems, while three stages on Saturday had to be canceled after the Paul Lampp/Graham Pedler Ford Escort hit and brought down a power pole early in the Hobbiton stage west of Matamata.

And after their usual giant-killing performances on the first and second days, Fiat Abarth 1000 pair Mike Lowe and Phil Sutton tumbled down the time sheets in the Metalman 2WD class on Sunday when they were forced to change engines half way through the final day.

The next event on the 2014 Targa calendar is the 20th annual six-day Targa New Zealand which starts in Christchurch on Monday 27 October and ends in Queenstown on Saturday 1 November.

Event drama doesnt stop Hopper extending his Targa lead

In a second day full of event drama Subaru ace Leigh Hopper and co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick remained on top of the Targa North Island leaderboard, the Orewa pair arriving in Rotorua with a minute and-a-half lead over Auckland Mitsubishi pair Jason Gill and Mark Robinson and a further three minute advantage over Modern 2WD class pace-setter Martin Dippie and his co-driver Jona Grant in Dippie's Porsche GT3.

The big story on the second day of the new three-day North Island event, however, was the forced cancellation of three stages. The field was halted before it went into Special Stage 11, the 38.53km Hobbiton stage between Cambridge and Matamata, so that an Ambulance could respond to a 111 call unrelated to the event.

Then just after the stage was finally started, Paul Lampp lost control of his Ford Escort and hit a power pole.

Lampp and co-driver Graham Pedler were uninjured, but with time needed to repair the pole the decision was made to cancel that stage and the two others that immediately followed it, the 17.33 km Richmond Downs north of Matamata, and the repeat of the 38.53km Hobbiton.

That meant the field had a longer than normal lunch and sercvice break at the Hobbiton Movie Set before heading west for the final 34km stage of the day at Waotu near Awapuni.

Class-wise the only big change was the loss of Allcomers 4WD day one stage winner Glenn Inkster and co-driver Spencer Winn with engine issues in their Mitsubishi Evo.

The pair finished a close second to Hopper and Kirkpatrick in the first stage of the day - the 12.17km run along State Highway 25 between Whenuakite and Tairua - then won the second only to be slowed and finally stopped by their engine issues in the third.

"Something has gone wrong but what that is we still don't really," said Inkster. "We had to change a head gasket last night and in the first two stages this morning we had a couple of repeats of the misfire we had on Stage 5 yesterday but each time it cleared itself and it didn't really effect our times.

"In the third stage this morning though it got really bad, to the point where towards the end it lost so much power we wondered whether we would get to the end. We did, but then it just stopped and wouldn't start again."

As well as leading overall after the second day, Hopper and Kirkpatrick also lead Gill and Robinson and another Mitsubishi Evo driving Auckland pair, David Rogers and Aidan Kelly, in the Allcomers 4WD class standings.

The other class leaders at the end of the first day also had good second days, Porsche GT3 pair Martin Dippie and Jona Grant from Dunedin remaining in charge in Modern 2WD and Ross and Carmel Graham (Holden Torana A9X) from New Plymouth maintaining their advantage over fellow husband and wife pair, Tony and Jo Butler (Cheetah V8) in Metalman Classic 2WD.

Barry Kirk-Burnnand and Dave O'Carroll have been the dominant players in Metalman Classic 2WD for several years, but this weekend the BMW M3 pair from Auckland  have found themselves battling for third place with Barry's BMW 325i-mounted son Carl and his co-driver, Sam Gordon, and the similar car of fellow Aucklanders Rex McDonald and Daniel Prince. 

Kirk-Burnnand Senior and O'Carroll finished the first day in second place in class behind the Grahams but today the pair slipped back to fifth in class behind the Grahams, the Butlers and the McDonald/Prince and Carl Kirk-Burnnand/Gordon 325i BMW four-doors.

Also making a big impression was long-time north-Auckland race and rally driver Greg Goudie and son Michael in Greg's freshly finished Mk 1 BDA Escort. Though the car was finished days before the event, the Goudies proved immediately competitive and this morning they were second quickest through the new Pumpkin Hill stage before beating Tony and Jo Butler by two seconds and the Grahams by three to claim a breakthrough class win in the second stage. 

Behind Dippie and Grant and Krogh and Sharratt in Modern 2WD, a day-long battle also waged between the late-model BMW 3-series coupes of Perth-based Kiwi Rob Barrington and co-driver Dave Abetz and Thames driver Gary Murphy and James Bell and the smaller but no less impressive BMW MINIs of James Kirkpatrick and Ben Forest (second  to Dippie and Grant through Pumpkin Hill) and Targa regulars Barry Hare and David Mallin (fifth through Pumpkin Hill).

The event continues tomorrow (Sunday) with a further seven stages in and around Rotorua.

Day one of the Targa North Island Rally

Subaru ace Leigh Hopper and co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick head the field in both the Allcomers 4WD and overall categories after the first day of competition in this year's three-day Targa North Island tarmac motor rally. The Orewa pair won three of the day's six completed stages and take a 28 second lead in both categories over Auckland Mitsubishi Evo pair Jason Gill and Mark Robinson, with Patumahoe's Glenn Inkster and his co-driver Spencer Winn a further 43 seconds back in their Mitsubishi Evo.

"Yeah it's been a great day," said Hopper at day's end in Whitianga. "The car's hasn't missed a beat. The driver has been a bit on the edge at times, but nothing too hairy because the co-driver has been keeping him honest!"

Last year's Targa New Zealand event winners Martin Dippie and Jona Grant from Dunedin dominated the Modern 2WD category, topping the time sheets in all six stages to take a minute-and-a-half advantage over fellow Porsche pair Richard Krogh and Glenn Sharratt into the second day of competition on the Coromandel Peninsula and into the Waikato.

Husband and wife Ross and Carmel Graham (Holden Torana A9X V8) caused an upset, meanwhile, in the Metalman Classic 2WD class by turning the tables on long-time class pace-setters, Barry Kirk-Burnnand and Dave O'Carroll (BMW M3), and Barry's son Carl and his co-driver Sam Gordon (BMW 325i). The Grahams claimed their first class scalp in the day's first stage, Koheroa east of Pukekohe, and went on to top the class time sheets in three of the other stages and equal the time set by the winners of a fourth, another husband and wife pairing, Tony and Jo Butler in their Holden-based Cheetah V8.

Event stalwart Clark Proctor and his co-driver, Sue O'Neill, had a day to forget in Proctor's hi-tech Nissan GT-R35, being slowed by a blown intercooler hose in the second stage then struggling with handling issues later on.

Targa newcomers Ian Power and Shamus Kay had a good start to their day, setting the third quickest Metalman Classic 2WD time through the first stage in their BMW 320i only to overshoot a corner at the end of the second stage and end up in a ditch, where they were joined a few minutes later by the Nissan Skyline of Greg and Jackson Fowles.

The Targa North Island event has been organised with the support of sponsors Ecolight, Federal Motorsport Tyres, Global Security, Gull, Instra Corporation,  Kids In Cars, Metalman, NZ Classic Car Magazine, Race Brakes, TeamTalk, TrackIt, VTNZ and Woolrest Biomag.

Destination Coromandel to take over management of Whitianga iSITE

A new model for visitor information centres (VIC) was announced early last year by Thames Coromandel District Council which would see the Thames and Whitianga centres coming under the governance of Destination Coromandel. The changes were due to commence 1 July 2015, however with a change in direction by the Mercury Bay Business Association, the hand-over for the Whitianga i-SITE Visitor Centre was moved forward to the 1 July 2014.

Former chairman John Sandford said "Destination Coromandel was in full support of the new direction which was seen as a pragmatic approach that will benefit the Coromandel going forward.

The Mercury Bay Business Association said handing over the Whitianga i-SITE to Destination Coromandel is a positive move that will ensure the i-SITE staff and visitor services have a secure future in Mercury Bay, as well as tapping into a wider network of marketing opportunities that their membership could not sustain long term.

Destination Coromandel is working alongside the Mercury Bay Business Association to ensure a smooth transition for both the MBBA and the Information Centre. Destination Coromandel is committed to taking all existing staff on board.

From a Destination Coromandel perspective, Manager Hadley Dryden says "The visitor centre complements the marketing arm of Destination Coromandel and allows us to deliver “The Coromandel good for your soul” message at ground level. We see this as a very exciting time for both Destination Coromandel and the Coromandel, in helping us work towards our vision of becoming New Zealand's number one rated visitor destination in our key markets - and providing a visitor experience that is good for your soul.”

The touching story of Luana Tupou

First Luana Tupou, the newly appointed site manager at Z Whitianga, tells you her family call her "Spare Parts." Initially you may think that’s a touch rude, but then she tells you her twin sister, Arna, calls her "Lifesaver." And then it all starts to make sense.

Early in 2011 Arna was diagnosed with aggressive forms of lymphoma and leukaemia. Her doctor told her chemotherapy had to start immediately or she would only have a few weeks more to live. "We were 38-years-old then," said Luana. "I remember thinking to myself, ‘We’re too young for something like this to happen to one of us.
And it should be me. Arna has kids, I don’t.’ Arna and her family lived in Tauranga at that time and I was in Hamilton.

"Our family really stood by Arna during her illness. Five of us, mum, our older sister, Arna’s husband, her father in law and me, shaved all our hair and took turns to stay with her in hospital. I even got a job as orderly at the hospital so I could be as close to Arna as possible."

After a few cycles of chemo, Arna was given more bad news - the treatment wasn’t working. She was told her only option was a bone marrow transplant (also known as a stem cell transplant) from a perfect match. "As a twin sister, I was thought to be the obvious choice," continued Luana. "But the doctors wanted to be absolutely sure. The risk of Arna’s body rejecting the transplant had to be eliminated as much as possible. We were three siblings who were tested. I cleaned up on my act a bit, no smoking and drinking, and when the news came that I was a perfect match, I was ecstatic. It was one of the best days of my life.

"The transplant process was very tough on Arna. The doctors had to kill all her diseased blood cells. That could only be done with more heavy doses of chemo and full body radiation. The day of the transplant I had to lie down for 13 hours with all these tubes coming in and out of my body filtering out my healthy red blood cells. Arna later told me when they started to feed my healthy cells into her body, it felt like she was given magic juice.

"The treatment certainly worked as Arna was sent home ten days later. And a bit more than a year after that the doctors gave her the all clear."

Luana moved to Whitianga the beginning of last year and she loves it here. She tries to get to Arna and her family in Tauranga as much as possible. "Arna’s illness was very tough on us all," she said. "But in the end it all worked out well. For me every day is now a good day, knowing my twin sister is OK and that she can be with her husband and kids."

The Targa Rally coming to Mercury Bay this weekend

Two-time Targa Rotorua event winner Leigh Hopper and co-driver Simon Kirkpatrick head a diverse 100-strong line-up of competitors and cars for the new three-day Targa North Island tarmac motor rally this weekend. The Auckland-Whitianga-Rotorua event starts at in the Bombay Hills at 8.35am on Friday and ends in Rotorua on Sunday 18 May at 4.10pm. In-between, the 74 competition and 26 associated Targa Tour cars will cover 457kms of closed special stages and 840 kms of touring kilometres.

Having enjoyed the extra stage time and challenge of last year's two-and-a-half-day Targa Rotorua event, Hopper said he thinks a three-day event is the perfect build-up for the six-day “main event” in the South Island later this year. "With three days you've got the intensity of the shorter sprint events, but the strategy in terms of having to pace yourself and keep on top of the car is important when you are racing over five or six days."

Without the detailed corner-to-corner pace notes of a typical gravel event, a Targa rally places a far greater onus on the driver to be able to “read” the road, a skill Hopper prides himself in and believes is one of the cornerstones of the on-going appeal of local Targa events.

The weekend’s rally will also see the motorsport event debut of TV sports show The Crowd Goes Wild reporter/presenters Hayley Holt and Chris Key who will join the concurrent, but non-competitive, Targa Tour in their show's promo vehicle, an Isuzu D-Max double-cab ute. "This is one of the most exciting things I have done in a long time," said confirmed petrolhead Holt. "I've always wanted to do a Targa and though I'd love to do it in a competition car, the Tour is probably the best place for Chris and I to start."

Set to again provide a different perspective on the event's tight and twisty hill stages is top New Zealand drifter Cam Vernon who impressed competitors and spectators alike with his extreme sideways skills on the last Targa Bambina event. This time Vernon will drift his newly acquired 6.7 litre V8-engined Nissan S15 through four stages, the Coromandel one from just outside Coromandel township to Te Rerenga on Friday, the Pumpkin Hill and Whiritoa stages south of Whitianga on Saturday morning and the Hamurana stage which skirts the northern side of Lake Rotorua on Sunday.

The rally has been organised with the support of sponsors Ecolight, Federal motorsport tyres, Global Security, Gull, Instra Corporation, Kids In Cars, Metalman, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, TeamTalk, TrackIt, VTNZ and Woolrest Biomag.

The rally will arrive in Whitianga on Friday afternoon where the vehicles will be serviced at the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park in Moewai Park. The Lee Street car park will be the overnight Parc Ferme where the rally vehicles will arrive from 5:00pm. The Targa Tour vehicles will arrive in Lee Street from 4:30pm for a charity car wash until 6:00pm.


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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.