Saturday, 25 May 2019


Whitianga firefighters part of special event

Hundreds of firefighters across New Zealand are well on track to raising $750,000 for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand’s (LBC’s) Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge, through some very creative fundraising and a whole lot of community spirit.

On 23 May firefighters from across the country, including six from the Whitianga Volunteer Fire brigade, will battle their way up 51 flights, or 1,103 steps of the Sky Tower wearing full firefighting kits and breathing apparatus weighing up to 25kg.

Registrations for the challenge opened in November and rapidly sold-out. 23 participants come from overseas, including Australia, the US, Germany and Chile.

More than 170 fire brigades and stations have spent countless hours not only preparing for the physical feat, but dedicating their time to raise money for LBC. They have already raised over $500,000. The funds raised go back into the community helping to support the six Kiwis diagnosed with a blood cancer or related condition every day and their families.

Pru Etcheverry, CEO of LBC says the firefighters are incredibly competitive on the climb, but also on the money they raise to support blood cancer patients.

“We are super excited at how much the firefighters have already raised. We love their enthusiasm and are deeply appreciated of their dedication and support,” says Ms Etcheverry.

The event is sponsored by SKYCITY, Auckland Airport and Tait Communications.

SKYCITY Chief Executive Nigel Morrison says SKYCITY is proud to be working with LBC on this creative and exciting event.

“Not only has this event become the pinnacle fundraising challenge for the firefighting community around New Zealand, we deliver incredible results for LBC helping them support Kiwi families in need,” says Mr Morrison, who will be competing in the challenge for the first time this year.

“The Sky Tower is an incredible structure and to see it used in this way is so inspiring. Every year we are astounded by the commitment of the firefighters and their communities to help raise money for LBC and I have no doubt that this year will be bigger and better.”

Lucky escape for kiwi

A Coromandel kiwi has been rescued from certain death by a local pig hunter today.

Kapowai local Duncan Bell was pig-hunting in a forestry block on the 309 Road when he saw something dart out in front of him. It was a kiwi being chased by a rogue pig dog. Concerned for the kiwi’s welfare, he intervened, catching the kiwi and tying the dog up to avoid further trouble.

The kiwi, nicknamed “Runner” for its antics, was handed in to Whitianga-based Department of Conservation staff, who took the bird to the vet to be checked over for internal injuries. Runner was given the all clear and was later released into the Mahakirau Forest Estate on the 309 Road. Landowners on the estate undertake pest control to help protect kiwi and other wildlife in the area.

The dog’s owner could not be located. Duncan is certain the dog was not kiwi avoidance trained. He urges other pig hunters to be responsible to make sure future kiwi deaths are avoided.

“All pig hunters should get their dogs trained to avoid kiwi, because there’s not many kiwi around and we want to keep them going for the next generation,” says Duncan.

The incident is a disturbing reminder to all dog owners that kiwi have no chance against a dog. “Runner had a really lucky escape,” says DOC Services Ranger Rebecca Gribble. “Most times a dog can catch and kill a kiwi in seconds, without its owner knowing about it, or before its owner has time to stop it.”

The Department of Conservation encourages pig hunters to get their dogs kiwi avoidance trained. The training is free and is a simple tool which teaches dogs to avoid kiwi in the bush. The next training will be held at Egans Park in Whitianga on 6 June. To book a place, call DOC on 07 867 9080.

Honesty box suspect caught on camera

Thames Coromandel District Council says the Police are hot on the trail of a man alleged to have stolen from the Council honesty box at the Whitianga Wharf boat ramp.

The box is there so people can pay boat ramp permit fees on the spot and outside Council hours.

Council Compliance Team Leader Steve Hart mounted a stealth camera targeting the box after it had been interfered with a few times recently.

Whitianga police and the TCDC compliance team would like to speak to the man in the photo in relation to incidents over the past few months at the permit honesty box.

Anyone who recognises the man in the photo should contact Whitianga Police in the first instance on 07 866 4000 or Mr Hart on 07 868 0200.

TCDC says thefts from the honesty box have prompted the installation later this week of a permanent security camera and lights at the boat ramp in order to deter future crime.

"Boat ramp, wharf and pay and display car park fees generate tens of thousands of dollars annually in Mercury Bay alone," says Council's Mercury Bay Area Manager Sam Marshall.

"This is money that goes into maintaining and upgrading assets. So, when somebody steals this money or when people don't pay their fair share of fees for using such facilities, they're not stealing from Council, they're stealing from ratepayers.”

Whitianga Police Report for the period 4 May to 11 May 2015


An incident on Thursday night highlights the difficulties a taxi service faces when dealing with people who have consumed too much alcohol.

Police advice is that obviously a person has consumed far too much alcohol when they start abusing the person giving them a ride home and they should stop drinking well before they turn into an idiot.

We have a couple of enquiries at the moment targeting nominated suspects for recent burglaries and unlawful taking of motor vehicles.

If anyone has information they think could assist us please let us know so that we can prevent offending in our area.   


6th - 1 x 51yr old Tairua woman for Assault.


No domestic incidents attended this week.

On the 6th an offender gained entry to a vacant property on Centennial Drive by forcing a door lock, however there was nothing to steal in the property.

On the 7th a taxi driver was assaulted and abused by a drunk passenger. No injuries resulted and the offender was very remorseful when he sobered up.

A building site was targeted on Titartari Road, Hahei on the 8th with the offender stealing a Rheem gas water heater and attempting to steal 30 6m lengths of timber. Enquiries are continuing in relation to a nominated suspect.

Also on the 8th an offender attempted to unlawfully take a Suzuki car from SH25, Coroglen with damage caused to the steering column.


No drunk drivers apprehended this week.

We attended a serious motor vehicle crash on Hahei Beach Road on the 8th where two women were airlifted to Waikato Hospital with serious injuries.

Initial enquiries indicate that the offending driver was travelling on the incorrect side of the road.

New Chums Beach hearing suspended for two months

Thames Coromandel District Council confirmed this week that hearings into an application for a subdivision at New Chums Beach (Wainuiototo Bay) have now been suspended for up to two months.

TCDC was late last Friday notified by the applicant's lawyers that there was a last-minute disagreement from one of the co-owners of the site relating to access arrangements to the beach and requested that the application be suspended.

The application, made by Ross and Deidre Mear is for a four-lot subdivision, all 15 hectares in size along with a 15m wide esplanade strip allowing for public access along the beach. Mr and Mrs Mear own a 50 per cent share in the property with another separate family trust owning the other half.

Public hearings were to run for the whole of this week. A total of 187 submissions had been received with over 80 submitters requesting to be heard by a panel of three independent RMA commissioners.

"Our staff spent last weekend letting all the submitters know about this last-minute request," says David Hammond, Chief Executive for TCDC. "We know that some people were travelling great distances to speak in person and acknowledge the inconvenience and frustration in delays."

On Monday morning this week at the hearing venue in Thames, the Commissioners met with the applicant's lawyer Ian Cowper, TCDC staff and several submitters who turned up to be heard.

Mr Cowper, told the Commissioners that the current dispute between the two title holders had no bearing on any other separate applications at New Chum.

Following discussions with all parties, the Commissioners agreed to suspend the hearing and give the applicants up to two months to resolve the situation.

"This also allows for time to submit an amended application and depending on the extent of the changes to the original application, Council would also need to consider the possibility of re-notifying the application," says Mr Hammond. "In the meantime our Council will be passing on all related costs for the hearings so far to the applicants."

Through their lawyer, the applicants have also apologised to everyone who has been inconvenienced by the delay, especially the submitters and the Commissioners.

Whitianga Police Report for Monday 27 April to Monday 4 May 2015


Most of us would have seen the St John Ambulance advertisements on Buffalo Beach Road and Joan Gaskell Drive asking for volunteers.

A slightly different way to grab attention when they are seeking volunteers and hopefully it might encourage anyone who has been thinking about helping St Johns Ambulance to just give them a go.

Most of the volunteer groups in our area are in need of more members to share the load and they are all open to anyone considering joining them to come and have a look at what they do for the community.

Joining a volunteer group is an excellent way to meet new people and learn new skills while assisting your community.

This week our area has been targeted by burglars and I remind everyone out there to make it as hard as possible for people to steal your property.

Bank money at the earliest opportunity and lock valuables away.


27th - 1 x 21yr old local man for 3 x Warrants to Arrest and Breaching Bail Conditions.

1st - 1 x 65yr old local man for Cultivates and Possession of Cannabis.

3rd - 1 x 21yr old local man for Theft Ex-shop.


One domestic incident attended this week.

On the 2nd we attended a domestic incident on Cook Drive where the family contacted Police to remove a family member who had been drinking before the situation got out of hand.

On the 27th we attended a Threatening Behaviour incident on Catherine Crescent where a father was looking for his daughter at the wrong address and offended the occupants.

On the 28th a residential address in South Highway was burgled with alcohol and tinned food stolen, while of the 30th tools were stolen from a commercial premises on the other end of South Highway.

Also on the 30th a residential shed was broken into on Cook Drive and a chainsaw and bicycle were stolen.

On the 1st as per the arrest above a local man was apprehended stealing from a Joan Gaskell Drive premises, while also that day an offender attempted to break into a residential property on Joan Gaskell Drive without gaining entry. A business property on Mill Road was burgled on the 1st with money and alcohol stolen.


No drunk drivers apprehended this week and only a minor crash attended on State Highway 25 near Mill Creek Road on the 3rd where the driver pulled to far to the left of the road and slipped down the bank.

New footbridge at Hot Water Beach

A new footbridge has just been installed providing access from the Taiwawe car park (Bull Paddock) down to the Hot Water Beach cafes and shops.

The footbridge connects the Pa track access down to Hot Water Beach. It also means pedestrians don't have to cross the road to get over the existing bridge (over the Taiwawe Stream) and then cross back once they are over it.

The new bridge is 17 metres long and weighs about 5 tonnes. In the next few weeks we'll be building access footpaths on both sides of the bridge. On the northern side it will link to the existing car park and footpath and on to the Pa track to the beach. On the southern side it will link to the existing footpath and adjacent reserve area and on to the cafes and main car park.

The project was undertaken by Bridge It Ltd and cost $51,000.

Police saying more about fatal shooting incident in Thames

The incident in Thames yesterday where a man was fatally shot by the Police is generating a lot of interest around the Coromandel Peninsula.

The Police has issued a statement saying they are continuing their inquiries into the circumstances that resulted in the Police Negotiation team and Police Armed Offenders Squad being deployed.

As they develop a clearer picture of the events of the day, they would like to clarify that an initial media release describing the man as being “in custody” was incorrect.

The Police says this was a mistaken belief at the time based on initial information.

They confirm that the dead man was not in custody at the time of the shooting. The dead man is Vaughan William John Te Moananui, 33, of Thames. The Police were initially called to an address in Kopu in response to a call for assistance about midday yesterday.

While at Kopu, later that afternoon, the Police were informed that Mr Te Moananui was at another address in Thames.

The Armed Offenders Squad redeployed to that address and as they approached, found Mr Te Moananui.

The Police says he was called upon to surrender, however he presented a firearm at them, at which point he was shot. Despite the Police instantly undertaking CPR, he was pronounced dead at Thames Hospital a short time later.

The post mortem has been completed in Auckland and the cause of death will be determined by the Coroner.

A number of investigators from across the Waikato have been called across to Thames to assist with the scene examination, area enquiries and the investigation.

Inquiries are focusing on the activities of Mr Te Moananui yesterday and the preceding weeks.

The Police would like anyone who interacted with Mr Te Moananui recently, or saw any of the events from Saturday to please make contact with the Operation STROBE team at the Thames Police Station, Phone 07 867 9600.

Information can also be provided anonymously through the organisation Crimestoppers, phone 0800 555 111. Four investigations into this matter will run concurrently, including investigations commenced by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the Coroner. District Commander Superintendent Bruce Bird says the incident was tragic for all involved.



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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.