Monday, 20 May 2019


Update on Cyclone Pam

Metservice said this morning Tropical Cyclone Pam is expected to remain east of New Zealand, but parts of the North Island are likely to be affected by severe weather on Monday and Tuesday, especially Gisborne, northern Hawkes Bay and the eastern ranges of the Bay of Plenty.

For Northland, northern Auckland and the Coromandel Peninsula, Metservice said, “There is moderate confidence that rain could become heavy overnight Sunday and during Monday and southeast gales could become severe. Southeasterlies are expected to turn southwest as the low tracks further south late Monday and early Tuesday and there is also a low risk of severe southwest gales on Tuesday.”

In the diagram with this report the best forecast positions are indicated by the red line, while the surrounding grey envelope gives an idea of the spread in the tracks the cyclone could take. 

Metservice pointed out, however, that adverse weather associated with the cyclone may spread much wider than this envelope of tracks. 

Whitianga is expected to experience cloudy periods and a few showers with easterlies tomorrow. On Sunday we are expected to see rain overnight and a strengthening southeast and on Monday heavy rain and gale southeasterlies.

LIMs indicate strong housing demand says TCDC

Thames Coromandel District Council says the demand for housing is up on the Coromandel - as indicated by the record number of requests they’ve received for Land Information Memoranda (LIMs) for February.

LIM requests come from people who are interested in buying properties.

And builders and building supply shops can expect to be kept busy over the winter months.

"We also see a spike generally six months after this data in building and resource consent applications,” says Christine Harrison, Land Information Officer TCDC. "Those who buy a home are often prepared to spend additional money on renovations or do-up plans."

LIMs on properties contain information about things such as potential erosion, contamination, flooding, structural requirements, where the street water pipes and waste water pipes run, rates details, consents and zoning.

“In February, we had 164 LIM requests, in February 2014 we had 108 and in February 2013 we had 125,” says Christine.

TCDC says January is normally their busiest month for LIM requests, but this February has been the highest number they've had in any month since February 2006 - before the Global Financial Crisis and the recession in New Zealand - when there were 165.

March looks to be tracking the same.

There was a dip in LIM requests in August and September last year, before the General Election.

"We think people were sitting tight until after the election," says Ms Harrison.

MP seeks local input for broadband on the Coromandel

Coromandel Member of Parliament Scott Simpson is calling on local authorities to make their case to bring Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) to Thames, Whitianga, Katikati, Waihi, Te Aroha and Paeroa.

The Government has launched the next step in its $2 billion fibre investment with a Registration of Interest document seeking input from local councils and technology providers on why their town should get UFB and RBI (Rural Broadband Initiative).

“Better access to faster broadband is something that’s raised with me often as the local MP. This is our chance to get directly involved and show why we need UFB in Thames, Whitianga, Katikati,  Waihi,  Te Aroha and Paeroa  and how we would support broadband extensions in our community,” says Mr Simpson

“Over the coming weeks I want to hear from council and local providers about their ideas on how we could support the roll out and uptake of better services in our district."

Mr Simpson says the benefits of bringing UFB/RBI to Thames, Whitianga, Katikati, Waihi, Te Aroha and Paeroa were exponential.

“Digital connectivity is a key part of growing our local economy. Ensuring our local businesses, schools, homes and health care providers have access to fast and reliable broadband means more opportunities for our community."

The Government is investing an additional $152 million to $210 million to lift the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme coverage from 75 percent to 80 percent of New Zealanders. 

It is also investing $100 million to expand the Rural Broadband programme and $50 million to improve mobile coverage in black spot areas along main highways and in popular tourist destinations.

Cyclone Pam may bring some heavy rain

Tropical Cyclone Pam is expected to remain to the east of New Zealand, but some rain and wind starting late Sunday are expected on the Coromandel.

MetService has issued a severe weather outlook for the Coromandel saying, “There is a low confidence that rain could become heavy late Sunday and southeast gales could become severe. However, the confidence increases to moderate on Monday, for both warning amounts of heavy rain in these areas and also severe gales. Southeasterlies are expected to turn southwest as the low tracks further south on Monday and there is also a risk of severe southwest gales.”

Gary Talbot, Thames Valley Emergency Operations Manager, says, "Cyclones can cause panic, the best way to combat this is to be prepared and don't take risks.

"Check your property for loose items like trampolines and garden furniture and tie them down, make sure you have plenty of fresh water available and keep up to date with weather forecasts."

Fleeing couple apprehended by Police

Waikato Police say a man and a woman will have plenty of time to consider their actions after their car that was used to flee officers attempting to stop them was halted with the aid of road spikes on the Coromandel Peninsula this afternoon.

Senior Sergeant Andrew O'Reilly of the Waikato District Command Centre said the incident began when an officer tried to conduct a routine stop of a vehicle on the 309 Road near Whitianga that had been linked to a petrol drive-off.

"The driver of the car has refused to stop and instead fled south towards Tairua on SH25 resulting in a pursuit managed by the Northern Communications Centre being initiated.

"Road spikes were successfully deployed on SH25A leading to the car coming to a halt.

"The 27-year-old male passenger who was wanted on warrants to arrest was apprehended at the scene, while the 17-year-old female driver fled on foot but was tracked by a Police dog and handler a short time later."

Mr O'Reilly said the female driver had also been wanted by Police and she was treated at Thames Hospital for minor injuries unrelated to the pursuit.

"The pair are currently being interviewed by Police in relation to this and earlier matters and will have plenty of time to consider the wisdom of their option taking before appearing in the Hamilton District Court tomorrow.

Police appealing for assistance in 1080 blackmail threat

The police are appealing for information in relation to a threat to contaminate infant and other formula in an apparent protest over the use of 1080 poison in pest control.

The police are also appealing for the person, or group, responsible for the threat to make themselves known in order to resolve the matter.

Anonymous letters were received by Federated Farmers and Fonterra in November 2014, accompanied by small packages of milk powder which subsequently tested positive for the presence of a concentrated form of 1080.

The letters threatened to contaminate infant and other formula with 1080 unless New Zealand stopped using 1080 for pest control by the end of March 2015.

The letter writer threatened to disclose the threat publicly if the government did not meet this demand by this time.

The matter was referred to the police and a full investigation has been underway since November.

An Auckland-based investigation team - Operation Concord - involving up to 36 staff at different times, has been working closely with the industry and the Ministry for Primary Industries to identify those responsible.

"Whilst there is a possibility that this threat is a hoax, we must treat the threat seriously and a priority investigation is underway," says Police Deputy Commissioner (National Operations) Mike Clement. 

"We therefore encourage the letter writer to come forward to the police.  The letter writer may not have really considered the implications of their actions when this communication was drafted.  Now is the time to put this right by picking up the phone and calling us. 

"At present a large number of resources are being directed to this multi-faceted investigation, which involves a number of specialist groups and support agencies.

"We are pursuing a number of lines of inquiry, and are also at the point where the public's help is being sought. 

"If anyone has any information which might assist  the police then we want to hear from you.

"You might be aware of someone who has strong views on the 1080 issue and made threats or has discussed how to access supplies of 1080.

"Even if you are unsure whether this information will be helpful we still want you to contact the enquiry team so they can make that assessment."

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the inquiry team on 0800 723 665 or email them at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Alternatively information can always be disclosed anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Monday last day to submit on legal highs policy

Thames Coromandel District Council says it's a tough job, trying to come up with some kind of guidance for the Ministry of Health to use when issuing licenses to retailers who want to sell psychoactive products (used to make legal highs) on the Coromandel.

TCDC can't ban them, but they do get a chance to give the Ministry some guidance about where all Coromandel ratepayers and locals think they can and can't be sold on the Peninsula.

TCDC have drafted a policy regarding the issue. The policy went out for public consultation a ffew eeks ago. This coming Monday is the last day submissions about the policy can be lodged.

TCDC says they really would appreciate people taking a look at the policy and give them some feedback on what they're thinking of recommending.

They've recommended in the draft policy to restrict psychoactive product retailers to certain areas within the main Coromandel towns (for example, not too close to places like schools, places of worship and community facilities, as well as other premises that have a licence to sell psychoactive products).

TCDC wants to impress on people that they won’t be issuing licenses to sell psychoactive products, but rather, the Ministry of Health's Licensing Authority will be doing that. Their job is to make sure that the Licensing Authority has the best possible information on the location of retail premises when issuing licences.

In Mercury Bay and Tairua-Pauanui the only potential retail premises of psychoactive products are in Whitianga along the eastern end of Campbell Street (where the Post Shop and the Police Station are situated), the shops on the western side of Albert Street (from Tides Café to Flippers Takeaways) and a few premises in the middle of Monk Street.

International rugby in Whitianga next week

Next Wednesday 11 March will see two international rugby contests in Whitianga when the Mercury Bay Area School Development and First XV teams take on Shawnigan Lake School from British Columbia in Canada.

MBAS has a rich history with Shawnigan Lake that can be traced back to an advertisement the Canadian school placed in a New Zealand newspaper in 1983, looking for schools willing to play rugby against them. Ron Morgan, then teacher at MBAS and now curator of the Mercury Bay Museum, was the first out of the whole of New Zealand to reply.

Arrangements were made and in 1984 a representative team from Shawnigan Lake school visited Whitianga for the first time and played one game against the MBAS First XV. That was the first time a rugby team from MBAS played in an international encounter. The game, and Shawnigan Lake’s entire visit to Whitianga, was a major success and led to a close relationship developing between the two schools.

The Canadian School visited Mercury Bay several times more in the years that followed, most recently last year when their Girls rugby team played against the MBAS Girls team.

In 1985 the MBAS First XV toured British Columbia. They played five games and won three and lost two. One of their losses was against Shawnigan Lake, 25-0.

Throughout the years several MBAS rugby players and other students won scholarships to attend Shawnigan Lake School. Among them were Chris Costello from Mercury Bay Rugby and Sports Club fame and Eloise Blackwell, who played rugby for the New Zealand Black Ferns in 2011 and 2012.

Through the relationship between MBAS and Shawnigan Lake, a number of other Canadian schools toured Mercury Bay over the years. In 2006 it was the turn of Saint George School. On that particular tour the Saint George First XV was coached by Bud Patel, who was a player for Shawnigan Lake in that first game against MBAS in 1984.

In 2013 Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School toured Mercury Bay. Their First XV was coached by Walter Van-Halst, who, like Bud Patel, played for Shawnigan Lake when they first visited Whitianga in 1984.

Thinking back to the time he spent at Shawnigan Lake, Chris Costello remembers that a rugby game was a big event. "Everybody turned up," he says. "The atmosphere was unbelievable."

It’s been a while since a Shawnigan Lake boys team has played against MBAS. It’s a big event, a continuation of a relationship that was born more than 30 years ago. It’s really an event where everyone should turn up and where the atmosphere should be unbelievable.

Both games next week Wednesday will be played at Lyon Park in Albert Street, Whitianga. The Development team game will kick off at 4:30pm and the two First XV teams will take to the field at 6:00pm.



Should Thames-Coromandel District Council sign the Local Government Leaders' Declaration on Climate Change?

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.