Monday, 21 January 2019


Community boards support WWI national memorial forest for the Coromandel

A national war memorial forest is being supported by community boards throughout the Coromandel.

This week Thames Coromandel District Council mayor, Glenn Leach has been at community board meetings to gauge support for the concept, which would be a series of forests, totalling approximately 18,500 trees to be a living, growing memorial for the sacrifice of the fallen soldiers in World War One.

It's proposed that the National WWI memorial forests would consist of five individual plantings in each Community Board area of the Thames-Coromandel District - commemorating soldiers in each year of the war and/or in each of the battles and campaigns.

It is also proposed each Community Board would lead and coordinate their part of the forest - engaging with local groups, iwi, RSA's and schools to plant and care for the plantings and the soldiers that each tree memorialises.

“It’s a fantastic idea," said Mr Leach. "Each community board needs to think about where there is at least 1.5 hectares of land on Department of Conservation, Council Reserve or QE2 land or land gifted to the public. The community boards are the glue that can link in with the schools, the local RSA’s, retirees who can actually help to make this happen."

Chris Adams, the first CEO of Tourism Coromandel (now known as Destination Coroamandel), who now runs a successful marketing tourism consultancy, approached Mr Leach several months ago with the concept.

“New Zealand is blessed with some of the largest, longest lived and most magnificent living things on earth - our iconic native trees, totara, rimu, puriri and of course kauri can grow not only to huge size, but all are capable of living for 2,000 plus years," said Mr Adams. "The oldest war memorial in the UK, All Sould College in Oxford, built in 1438, is barely one quarter of that age.  

"These iconic native trees are also in the Maori tradition ‘guardians’ of the forest and in this case also of the memory of a specific fallen soldier. A living memorial forest would therefore be a ‘guard of guardians’ to remembering these sacrifices and their stories and to the restoration and protection of the natural environment.

"This resonates in the Coromandel where many wonderful groups such as Kauri 2000 have worked and toiled over many years to help restore our magnificent forests from the ravages of mining and forestry.

"A national WW1 forest is therefore a far more permanent, enduring and generous memorial than anything man can build. It is also as far as we have been able to determine a world first. And the Coromandel is the perfect home for it.”

Last month a meeting was held with interested stakeholders, including DOC, Waikato Regional Council, Forest and Bird, Kauri 2000 and Destination Coromandel to be involved as a district working group.

The first planting is looking to be launched on ANZAC Day, 25 April 2015, with the “Gallipoli Grove,” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings. The initial planting of 100 trees will grow to a memorial forest of 2,779 native trees for each one of the fallen New Zealand soldiers of the Gallipoli campaign in 1915. There will be a three-year time period for different memorial forests to be established throughout the Coromandel to mark a different WWI campaign or battle.

The objective would be to finish all the plantings and complete the memorial forests at a ceremony on 11 November 2018 - the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

At it's meeting yesterday, Mercury Bay Community Board member, Deli Connell put her hand up to spearhead the Mercury Bay involvement in the memorial forests.

One of the Coromandel’s greatest kauris

Peter Tiki Johnston was born in Devonport on 21 June 1941, the second youngest of six children. He passed away on 28 September this year at Whitianga Continuing Care, surrounded by his wife, Ros and other close family members.

A service celebrating Peter Tiki’s life held at Crossroads Church in Whitianga on Friday 3 October was attended by more than 400 people.

Peter Tiki was one of Mercury Bay’s most prominent residents. But, as was evident from the celebration service, there was much more to him than the gentle and highly respected Ngati Hei elder most people knew him as.

Peter Tiki was a husband. He married Ros in 1967. She first spotted him playing guitar in an Orewa hangout and, in her words, "He looked a bit all right."

He also was a matua (dad) to Tanya, Toya and Peter Matai. It was said that it was Peter Matai’s birth that motivated Peter Tiki and Ros to move with their children to Whitianga to be closer to Peter Tiki’s Ngati Hei roots.

Peter Tiki was a musician, a passionate guitar and mandolin player. Peter Matai recalled how his dad once injured the middle finger of his left hand with a band saw and the pain he experienced by not having been able to play the guitar for several months. And the pain after his finger was healed, but not quite, and he couldn’t stay away from his guitar. "Looking carefully while he played, you could see him flinch," Peter Matai said.

Peter Tiki was a historian, not only most knowledgeable in all things Ngati Hei, but also many things Maori and many things New Zealand. And, indeed, Peter Tiki was a member of Ngati Hei - staunchly proud of his heritage and certain of the place of his iwi in the future of Mercury Bay and the greater Coromandel-Hauraki area. He was the Ngati Hei claims manager in the Hauraki iwi collective Treaty settlement negotiations. As Thames Coromandel District Council Mayor, Glenn Leach said at the celebration service, "It’s a shame that Peter Tiki’s signature won’t be on the final agreement, but his presence will be in the detail."

And then there was Peter Tiki, the man of faith. With Ros he was actively involved in his church. And with her, he travelled to the ends of the earth to show compassion and kindness to many less fortunate. And in the process they made many friends, from many races and creeds, many who spent over the years time with them at their place just north of Wharekaho.

It was also at the celebration service said that Peter Tiki was a measured man, he would take his time to work out a solution to a problem, or a compromise where one was needed. But when he did, it was detailed and it was good. And he never gossiped and he never judged those who differed from him.

And, it was said, Peter Tiki, a surveyor and engineer in his working life, didn’t just build physical roads, but he also built roads between people, showing the many he came in contact with how tolerance, reasonableness and understanding were the way to ensure peace and peace of mind.

And at the celebration service, inevitably, many stories were told. There was Peter Tiki’s love for porridge with raisins in it - and his losing battle to persuade his grandchildren to like the raisins too. There was his love for red cars because, as he told grandson Emanuel, they go faster than other cars. There was the story of Peter Tiki taking his guitar to Israel, entertaining a group of people touring together for almost two weeks on end. And there also was his ability to cook the perfect hangi. And maybe the best of all - there was Ros telling about the family coming to Whitianga and moving into a one bedroom bach with a long drop in the back yard. The foundations of the long drop walls became suspect and one day, with Ros’s mum visiting and Peter Tiki on the long drop, Ros pushed the walls over. And, of course, hilarity ensued.

Many of those who spoke on Friday shared verses and quotes, all of them summing up the essence of one of the Coromandel’s greatest kauris - a man who had many friends, a man deeply loved and respected, a man leaving a legacy all should aspire to.

But maybe two verses stood out.

The one by Mr Leach, quoting Kipling -

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much,

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And - which is more - you’ll be a Man, my son!

And the other by Peter Matai, in his words, "For the last time having the last word when talking to Matua" -

Dad, you’re a class act to follow

But, I know, the show must go on…

It’s just, death is a hard fact to swallow,

That - and to accept now my counsellor’s gone.

I remember your words,

But more importantly their weight.

Your size ten shoes now unfilled,

Acutely aware my feet measure just eight.

Help steady my steps, still unskilled.

Haere, haere, haere atu ra.

Rest in peace my best man.

Tairua-Pauanui walkway gets Community Board funding

A walkway/cycleway connecting Tairua and Pauanui has been granted $6,300 out of the Tairua-Pauanui Community Board's discretionary fund.

The Board approved funding at its meeting yesterday..

The Pauanui Tairua Trail will run along the coastal margin of the Tairua estuary between Pauanui and Tairua and has been developed by the Hikuai District Trust. The money from the Community Board's discretionary fund will help build 450m of the walkway on the marginal strip of land administered by Thames Coromandel District Council, adjacent to the campground.

The $6,300 will help pay towards the construction of the trail and doesn’t include labour and equipment costs.

“The amount of volunteer work that’s gone on through the community is phenomenal," said Tairua-Pauanui Community Board hairman, Bob Renton. "Through tradespeople providing equipment to just general volunteer participation, it's just fantastic. Some people in our community have been putting in eight hours a day to help get the track built.”

Whitianga chef in top five of Best NZ Ora King Dish Awards

Piko piko, edible sand, wasabi and seafood foam, lime and fennel custard and roast maple seed quinoa are just some of the more unusual ingredients in the 2014 Ōra King Awards finalist dishes. 

The finalists for the awards have been announced with the participation of regional restaurants a key feature in the second year of the Ōra’s. Finalists in the Best New Zealand Ōra King Dish category include two from the Bay of Plenty, one from  the Coromandel and one from Queenstown.  

The annual Ōra King Awards (the Ōra’s) recognise outstanding contributions from chefs working with Ōra King - New Zealand King Salmon’s premium foodservice brand produced exclusively for fine dining restaurants in New Zealand and overseas.

The five finalists for Best Ōra King Dish in New Zealand are -

  • Ben Batterbury - True South Dining Room, The Rees Hotel Queenstown for sous vide Ōra King salmon, swede and kumara pickled ginger purée, roast maple seed quinoa, apple lime fluid gel, pickled radish, smoked fishcake, enoki mushrooms.
  • Chetan Pangam - One80, Copthorne Hotel Wellington for Ōra King salmon gravalax, blow torched miso belly, compressed cucumber, edible sand, beetroot fluid gel, dill mustard crème fraiche and crispy salmon skin.
  • Simon Green - Halo restaurant at Trinity Wharf Tauranga for cured Ōra King salmon with white bean purée, pistachio and almond granola and wasabi and seafood foam.
  • Stephen Barry - Mount Bistro, Mount Maunganui for steamed cutlet of Ōra King salmon encased in smoked salmon mousse with honey, balsamic and blackcurrant jus, radical kumara, baby fennel, lime and fennel custard and potato crisp.
  • Sam Goslin - The Lost Spring, Whitianga for “Kaimoana Ora Kaimoana Aroha” (live seafood, love seafood) comprising horopito, seasoned seared Ōra King salmon served with crunchy piko piko, kina velouté and watakirihi pesto.

There were 70 entries in the Best New Zealand Ōra King Dish category.

The criteria for the best dish awards include appealing and polished presentation, thoughtful flavour combinations, well executed technique and the entrant’s participation in the social media campaign devised around the awards. This year diner reviews of stand-out dishes were also incorporated in the awards.

New faces at Mercury Bay Recreation Trust

There are some new faces at the Mercury Bay Recreation Trust.

Deli Connell and Bill McLean, who are also Mercury Bay Community Board members, have come on board with Mr McLean taking over chairmanship from Doug Bourne, who has decided to step down.

Other new members are Gary Fitzsimons, a tourism and transport operator with two sports-mad boys, Kiri Moore, a local businesswoman who enjoys multi-sport events, Wayne Malcolm, a Mercury Bay resident for nine years with a strong involvement in the building industry and Mike Brown a retired consulting engineer based in Whitianga.

"We're looking forward to being actively involved in the promotion and development of the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park," said Mr McLean.  "We're already embracing the work and wanting to encourage relationships with all sport and recreation groups."

The Mercury Bay Recreation Trust is an incorporated society which was established in 2011 to promote and develop the Mercury Bay Sports Park and recreation opportunities in the Mercury Bay. Its main objective is to foster relationships with sports and recreation groups and apply for external funding for various aspects of the park that will not be funded by Thames Coromandel District Council.

The Trust is also closely linked to working with the Mercury Bay Multi-Sport Park coordinator, Sue Costello. Sue's role is to liaise directly with the codes and coordinate bookings and events at the Park.

"Right now we're working on developing a sponsorship policy for the Sports Park as well as prioritising projects that need funding and then seeking funding opportunities for these," said Mr McLean.

The Trust's most recent funding success has been for trestle tables and chairs, three drinking fountains, rugby and football goal posts and a fully equipped kitchen with fridge and mobile barbeque. An application to a funding agency for further rugby goal posts has been submitted recently and the Trust is also working on obtaining quotes for lights in the car park, turf area and netball courts.

"Next on the agenda is investigating options for a temporary function room which can accommodate the needs of the codes in the short-term," said Mr McLean.

Pauanui amenity building underway

Construction of the Pauanui amenity building which will house the Community Library, i-SITE and a community meeting room is underway.

With only ten weeks before Christmas the plan is to get the building closed in. Final completion and landscaping will be done by March 2015.

"We are looking to Easter at this stage for an official opening, but that will depend on the plan coming together," said Garry Towler, Whangamata Area Manager.

The location for the purpose built GJ Gardner building is in the middle of the Pauanui CBD.

Consumer NZ reveals most trusted cars

According to the latest car reliability survey by Consumer NZ of their 11,209 members, Skoda owners are a satisfied bunch, with 95 percent of the respondents saying they would buy the same make again.

Once regarded as a laughing stock of European brands, the Czech car has had a major uplift in quality and popularity since being taken over by Volkswagen.  People should not have been surprised to see it come so high on the list, but they definitely would not have been surprised to see so many Japanese makers there.

The most reliable models from the survey were the Honda Civic, CRV and Jazz, Hyundai i30, Kia Rio, Mazda 2 and 3, Mitsubishi ASX and Lancer, Nissan Tiida, Suzuki Swift and the Toyota Corolla, Prius and Yaris.

Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Suzuki makes again scored highly. The makes were all given an “above average” reliability rating by their owners.

As well as rating cars for their reliability, respondents also provided satisfaction ratings and stated whether they would buy the car again. Skoda scored the highest in both these categories.

 Questions about vehicle models saw the Toyota Hi Ace came out on top. Ninety-three percent of those who reviewed the van said they were satisfied or very satisfied and all said they would buy the same model again.

Other car models that did well for satisfaction were Toyota Prius, Kia Cerato, Mazda CX-7, Suzuki Sx4  and Hyundai Getz - all were given a “satisfied or very satisfied” rating by their owners.

Those models with the least satisfied owners were Holden Captiva, Nissan Murano, BMW 1 Series, Nissan Primera and Volkswagen Passat.

Respondents were asked about the problems they’d had with their vehicles and heading the list was electrical faults.

Thirty-six percent of 4-wheel-drives had at least one problem compared with 31 percent of 2-wheel-drives.

Diesel-powered vehicles were slightly less reliable than petrol vehicles - 38 percent of diesels and 32 percent of petrol vehicles had at least one problem. Used imports were slightly less reliable than NZ-new used cars.

10 most likely cars to be bought again -

Skoda, Honda, Lexus, Mazda, Toyota, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, Subaru and Volvo.

10 models least likely to be bought again -

Renault, Daihatsu, Holden, Peugeot, Land Rover, Citroen, Mini, Jeep, Ford and Volkswagen.

One week left to apply for major event funding

Thames Coromandel District Council is now accepting applications for sponsorship in round two of their Major Event Fund. A total of $45,000 has been made available.

The Major Events Fund is for events that have potential to become iconic Coromandel events.

Last year's recipients included illume, the Coromandel Winter Festival of Light, which received $50,000. The event team purchased $27,018 worth of lights, fittings and projectors to guarantee longevity of future festivals. A survey of the Coromandel Business Association showed an average of 58.33% increase in turnover compared to the previous July - even though the festival was held during one of the worst winter storms ever experienced on the Coromandel. Accommodation providers including Bookabach and Bachcare had increased bach rentals in Coromandel, Matarangi, Kuaotunu and Whangapoua. Publicity was high with two promotional stories in the NZ Herald Saturday features magazine, reaching over 100,000 readers nationwide. With local media support as well, attendees came from Whitianga, Thames, Whangamata, Auckland, and Hamilton.

Another success from the first round was the Thames Mind Sports Festival, which received $12,500 in the first round. That event also received a high national profile and forward bookings from national groups ahead of the Queen's Birthday weekend event next year.

This year's funding round resulted in allocations to the Leadfoot Festival, Thunderbeach, Thames Festival of Mind Sports and Tairua Wet n Wild, all unique local events.

TCDC is looking for events that will attract international, national and regional media profile and will attract people to the Coromandel to visit. Their new economic development head, Garry Towler said the Leadfoot Festival is a good example of this. "We are investing in an event that will promote the Coromandel on the world stage, not because of the fame of the organisers," he said.

"Major event funding is just that, funding for events that are big enough to get that level of exposure and whose organisers are also attracting external partnership funding," Mr Towler explained. "If there is an opportunity we can provide initial seed funding to assist we will certainly look at it, but definitely not to bank roll.

"Event Fund recipients are required to provide a full report proving their return on our investment."

There are also other opportunities for event funding from TCDC. "We are no longer the one stop soft touch," said Mr Towler, "But at a local level and through Area Office staff and their Community Boards we will help any organisation as partners to make their event as successful as possible. For example, from local community and event grants last month, the Steam Punk Circus event received $5,000 with another thousand going to the Arts Society for workshops during the Steam Punk Festival, Thames Fast 25s received $2,500, Surf 2 Firth received $3,000, Tairua Wet n' Wild received $2,500, $8,000 was given toward the Tairua and Pauanui fireworks display - and there were many more."

The Major Event fund is the fund for projects that can take the Coromandel to new heights in unique ways. Events do not need to be run on council property - for example, the Thames Mind Sports Festival includes private venues such as local businesses. Funding is also not given to cover wages or honorariums (payments for professional services that are offered for nominal charge). This means that the Major Event fund is not the one to apply to if you simply want to offset the cost of volunteer services.

Applications for round two close on 15 October.



Have you made any New Year's resolutions for 2019?

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.