Sunday, 23 September 2018

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Mercury Bay resident one of three recipients of 2014 Community Service Awards

Graeme Wood, Steve Hart and Jane Poutu are the recipients of our 2014 Community Service Awards, held every two years.

"This is a special occasion," said Mayor Glenn Leach, explaining why he was taking the rare step of wearing the Mayoral chains, "To recognise very special people in the Coromandel who work at making our communities better places to live, often as volunteers and with little recognition."

Fifteen people were nominated for the Community Service Awards, which was decided by Thames Coromandel District Council's Special Community Service Awards Committee made up of Deputy Mayor Peter French and Councillors Jan Bartley and Diane Connors.

Steve Hart is a Mercury Bay resident. He’s one of the founding members of the Kuaotunu Land Search and Rescue organisation and has played a critical role in the development of a highly effective search and rescue team.

Steve has been actively involved as a searcher, search manager and held the chairman's position for ten years. In this work he's made significant contributions to the Coromandel community and the welfare and lives of many individuals and their families.

He is also an honorary Fisheries Officer and a supporter of Mercury Bay Forest & Bird.

Steve was nominated for the award by Kuaotunu Land Search and Rescue.

Property values in wider Mercury Bay steady and stable

The performance of the wider Mercury Bay residential property market this year to date, compared to 2012 and 2013, makes interesting reading.

In Whitianga, 38 properties were sold in 2012, 60 in 2013 and 87 in 2014. Across the river, Cooks Beach saw the sale of 20 properties in 2012, eight in 2013 and 14 in 2014. Hahei had nine sales in 2012, four in 2013 and ten in 2014.

Matarangi had 14 sales in 2014, 41 in 2013 and 54 in 2014.

Tairua saw the sale of 24 properties in 2012, 28 in 2013 and 25 this year. In Pauanui 34 properties were sold in 2012, 65 in 2013 and 48 in 2014.

Most of the sales so far this year in Hahei, Cooks Beach, Pauanui and Matarangi were to people living in the bigger cities with the confidence to buy a holiday home, although some sales were made to existing residents who up- or down-scaled or even bought a second home to be able to accommodate their whole family for the holidays.

Matarangi had a big jump in sales in 2013 and 2014, partly because of the more realistic pricing of sections in the failed Hanover/Allied Farmers development. The development is now sold out.

Whitianga is showing that it’s benefitting both from people buying holiday homes and people moving into the area permanently. Many of the purchasers are looking towards retirement, buying now to make the move in a few years’ time. There are also working families selling up in the bigger cities and purchasing a less expensive home in Whitianga to enjoy a mortgage free lifestyle.

Tairua always had interest from a good mix of purchasers looking to live there permanently or to buy a holiday home. That trend seems to be continuing.

Property listings in the Thames Coromandel district are down almost 30 per cent on a year ago. That is reflected in the fact that it takes on average 137 weeks to sell a property in the district, almost a year down on the five year average of 185 weeks.

It’s fair to assume the general increase in activity and reduction in listings mean an increase in property values, but that’s not the case. "Residential property values are steady and stable," said Shane Rasmussen from Townshend Cullen valuers in Whitianga. "But with the Reserve Bank’s loan to value rules and increasing interest rates, most people have real difficulty to pay even for the cheaper properties coming onto the market."

Shane’s sentiment is shared across New Zealand by a number of industry experts. Shamubeel Eaqub, chief economist of the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, said last week that the Reserve Bank’s latest raise of the official cash rate was a huge mistake. House prices across New Zealand fell by 21 per cent (after an adjustment for inflation) since 2007, while prices in Auckland are up by 20 per cent.

"Policymakers really will have to address the inequality between regions," said Shane.

So, what to make from the state of the property market in the wider Mercury Bay area? If you list your house at a realistic price, it will sell - and it won’t take too long. But you won’t be able to buy a place of similar quality in Auckland (not that you necessarily want to), not even remotely. That can change, of course, but it will take political will.

The question now is - should it become an election issue?

 

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Route for Gold Rush Rally of NZ finalised

The Coromandel round of  Rally NZ (now called the Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel) takes place on Saturday 23 August and is a new addition to the national rally calendar.

On Friday 22 August, cars and crews will be on display at a pre-event rally show in Blacksmith Lane, for everyone to get up close to the cars and stars.

On Saturday morning, rally teams will depart from the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park for nine special stages covering close to 140km of competitive distance.

The nine stages are -

1- From Ernslaw 1 (11.08km) just outside of Whitianga.

2- A tour down the coastline, through the 309 Road and a race against the clock for the first service of the day back at the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park.

3- 23kms of Tapu–Coroglen, starting at the Coroglen side.

4- Another coastline tour north to Castle Rock for the next stage, starting on the forestry road back to join the 309 Road for the second half of the stage.

5-6 - Another service back at the Sports Park before a repeat of this 47 kilometre loop.

7 - A spectacular tarmac publicity stage beside Whitianga Waterways.

8 - A repeat of the 11.08km Ernslaw One test.

9 - The final stage is a second pass of the Whitianga spectator stage, along a section of Joan Gaskell Drive, to thrill the crowds before the celebrations on the finish ramp just before 5:00pm conclude the event.

"We're really excited that an event of this calibre is being held in the Coromandel," said Thames Coromandel District Council mayor, Glenn Leach. "We're looking forward to hosting all the crews, as well as visitors and supporters who are coming here, for the event. This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see why the Coromandel is such an amazing place to visit and an excellent opportunity for our businesses to benefit from the influx of people coming in during the winter months.”

Some of the stages will entail road closures during racing. Public meetings are now being arranged for anyone who may be affected. TCDC, Rally organisers and Destination Coromandel will also meet separately with any local businesses that may be affected by any road closures.

The public meetings are planned for -

Monday 14th July - Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park. Time 7:00pm.

Tuesday 15th July - Tapu Hotel. Time 7:00pm.

Wednesday 16 July - Coroglen Tavern. Time 7:00pm.

Meanwhile signs advertising the road closures will also be going up in early July.

The roads in this area were last used in a national event during the 1979 Motogard Rally of New Zealand. The contrasts of the Coromandel Peninsula ranges, rolling farmland and twisting coastline will provide a spectacular backdrop for National Rallying action.

Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel Clerk of Course, Steve Foster said the Coromandel's roads will provide a fantastic location for the competition. "Competitors will know they have been in a rally at the end of this event. There is everything from technical twisting sections in the hills, to fast flowing roads in the valleys," said Mr Foster. “We’ve had fantastic support from the Thames Coromandel District council in putting this event together. The combination of some great roads, the excellent Mercury Bay Sport Park facility as event base and Whitianga as the host town are set to make the Gold Rush Rally a real highlight of this year’s rally calendar.”

Busy time for Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade

A fire in the early hours of this morning destroyed a two storey house in Mill Road, Whitianga.

The house has a Lockwood-type wooden structure second storey on top of a block work ground level. The fire started upstairs.

About 20 members of the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade responded to the call-out to the fire. When they arrived at the scene, the house was well-involved with the fire. They evacuated one person who was asleep downstairs before the fire was put out.

An inspection to determine the cause of the fire will take place later today.

About 9:00am this morning the Fire Brigade received a further call-out to a medical emergency in Whitianga.

Mercury Bay junior rugby players’ training session with the Chiefs

Keen young rugby players, aged 11 to 13, from the Mercury Bay Junior Rugby Club tackled a “super-charged” training session with the Chiefs earlier todayin Hamilton.

Chiefs players, Josh Hohneck, Pauliasi Manu, Mahonri Schwalger, Matt Symons, Charlie Ngatai and Mike Fitzgerald ran a rugby practice for the club, thanks to a PlaceMakers in-store competition.

The juniors practiced their punts and passes, and learnt tips about the game from the Chiefs first hand, at the Chiefs headquarters in Ruakura.

One of the coaches for the day, Chiefs player Charlie Ngatai, was impressed by the youngsters’ commitment at the training.

“It’s great to have some fun and spend some time with the young kids working on their skills. It’s a cool initiative by PlaceMakers and I’m not quite sure who enjoyed themselves more, us or the kids!”

The Super Rugby Skills Training day was made possible through PlaceMakers’ official Community Partnership with the Chiefs.   

Brand Engagement Manager, Maria Reinbergen, said PlaceMakers is proud to support New Zealand rugby at both a professional and grassroots level.

“No matter what the age, rugby builds excitement and camaraderie like no other sport. It’s great to see the young players learn from New Zealand’s top rugby players and everyone involved in the training session enjoying it.”

Mercury Bay junior rugby players’ training session with the Chiefs

Keen young rugby players, aged 11 to 13, from the Mercury Bay Junior Rugby Club tackled a “super-charged” training session with the Chiefs earlier todayin Hamilton.

Chiefs players, Josh Hohneck, Pauliasi Manu, Mahonri Schwalger, Matt Symons, Charlie Ngatai and Mike Fitzgerald ran a rugby practice for the club, thanks to a PlaceMakers in-store competition.

The juniors practiced their punts and passes, and learnt tips about the game from the Chiefs first hand, at the Chiefs headquarters in Ruakura.

One of the coaches for the day, Chiefs player Charlie Ngatai, was impressed by the youngsters’ commitment at the training.

“It’s great to have some fun and spend some time with the young kids working on their skills. It’s a cool initiative by PlaceMakers and I’m not quite sure who enjoyed themselves more, us or the kids!”

The Super Rugby Skills Training day was made possible through PlaceMakers’ official Community Partnership with the Chiefs.   

Brand Engagement Manager, Maria Reinbergen, said PlaceMakers is proud to support New Zealand rugby at both a professional and grassroots level.

“No matter what the age, rugby builds excitement and camaraderie like no other sport. It’s great to see the young players learn from New Zealand’s top rugby players and everyone involved in the training session enjoying it.”

The importance of Social Services in Zoe Cutfield’s life

Local artist, Zoe Cutfield will be turning 90 this year. For the past 40 years she’s called Whitianga home. Most of her time in Mercury Bay she’s been busy - getting her shop, Zoe’s Gallery (now Mosaic Gallery) off the ground, painting and creating and being a mother and wife.

In 2007 Zoe suffered from bad health and with no family members residing locally, Yvette Simpson, Whitianga Social Services’ support worker for the elderly, entered the picture. This story is an example of the tremendous work Yvette does with many of the older people in our community.

One of Zoe’s friends alerted Social Services that she wasn’t in a good state. Yvette paid Zoe a visit and found a lady in desperate need of a knee operation, but stuck on the hospital waiting list. Yvette immediately arranged for Zoe, who’s also a diabetic, to access a disability allowance and other entitlements and advocated for her to move up the waiting list. It worked and soon Zoe underwent the first of four successful knee operations. Yvette stayed in touch with Zoe after the operations, ensuring she was able to stay well at home.

In 2009, two years after Yvette first became involved in Zoe’s life, Zoe’s knee was playing up again and Yvette arranged some physiotherapy. That was followed with a really bad episode of shingles behind the eyes, forcing Zoe to spend time in Whitianga Continuing Care. After six weeks in Continuing Care, Zoe was ready to go home and Yvette made sure she had all the support she needed to be safe and well-looked after.

In 2011 Zoe had a bad fall. Yvette arranged for an occupational therapist to assist Zoe through her recovery. It was also a lonely time for Zoe and Yvette asked the Mercury Bay Lionesses what they could do to help. As a result, a local Lioness started to visit Zoe every Monday afternoon. These visits are still continuing, the Lioness and Zoe using the time to paint together.

In 2012 Zoe suffered an episode related to her diabetes. Yvette initially responded by regularly checking that Zoe would take her insulin. She later involved a specialist diabetic nurse and introduced Zoe to the Mercury Bay Health Support Group.

Last year Yvette arranged through the formal DHB funded Needs Assessment Service a home help person to visit Zoe every morning and afternoon to assist her with her medication and personal care needs.

And in between, Yvette was, and still is, happy to arrange grocery shopping for Zoe, to arrange for the plumber or electrician to come out to Zoe’s place when needed, to take Zoe to the dentist, doctor and optometrists and to help Zoe look after Jimmy, her cat.

In Zoe’s words, "I very, very much like having Yvette around."

Zoe is one of many older members of our community Yvette looks after. "I know I make a difference to these people’s lives," said Yvette. "Seeing Zoe at nearly 90-years-old still challenging herself to create fabulously unique art pieces is so inspiring, it makes my heart sing."

Older people needing support, advice or information, or those concerned about an older person, are welcome to contact Whitianga Social Services at
2 Cook Drive or telephone 866 4476.

Weve lost another metre

Another storm and we’ve lost another metre of the foreshore at Whitianga’s Buffalo Beach. The new rock wall is doing its job - at least the toilets are still there. The dunes planted with indigenous vegetation towards Mother Brown’s Creek are also doing their job. No erosion there. But the area between the wall and the dunes is a problem - and a big one at that. Another storm or two and the Buffalo Memorial (just past the new rock wall) may be in real danger. The pohutukawa in front of the memorial is already, some say, past the point of being saved.

So, on Wednesday last week, as soon as I became aware of the damage last week’s storm caused to Buffalo Beach, I wrote to Waikato Regional Council, Thames Coromandel District Council, the Coastal Erosion Steering Group, central government and concerned residents to find out what can be done and, more importantly, when.

Here’s a summary of what I’ve been told.

Concerned resident, Jo Fearn is of the view the new rock wall caused erosion at the Buffalo Memorial and north of that to accelerate. She ideally would like to see the entire beach protected with a dune planting programme, but accepts drastic action, in the form of an extension to the wall, is necessary.

Coastal Erosion Steering Group member, John Evans would like to see work on an extension to the wall to start tomorrow. Thinking further ahead,
he would like to see a test groyne being installed to see if that will assist with rebuilding of the beach over the longer term.

Waikato Regional Councillor for the Coromandel, Clyde Graf is of the view some money WRC committed to find a long term solution should be directed into physical work.

Coromandel Member of Parliament, Scott Simpson said one thing is certain - any solution will be ugly and expensive.

That’s a feeling shared by TCDC. The new rock wall was very expensive and there isn’t funding available for an extension. They appreciate the urgency of the matter, however, and a late item will be tabled at the upcoming Council meeting on 25 June to discuss possible funding for a 150m extension to the wall and fast-tracking of the work. If funding is approved and there aren’t any hold-ups in the resource consent process, work on an extension, which will take two to three months to complete, can start this year still.

TCDC has also scheduled for August/September this year another dune planting of about 150m south towards the Buffalo Memorial.

Distilling all the replies I received, I think it’s possible that by the end of this year or early next year another 300m of Buffalo Beach will be protected - rock 150m northwards, dune planting 150m southwards. Which still leaves a bit in the middle.

So, I wonder - why can’t the dune planting programme be extended, all the way south to where the extension to the rock wall will end? I don’t know much about coastal science - if things like wave-impact will allow more dunes to be planted, but I think it’s a question worth asking. As I think it will be worth going to Thames on 25 June - to hear if the new rock wall will, in fact, be extended.

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