Saturday, 23 February 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Update on Brophys Beach seawall

The proposed Brophy’s Beach seawall design is presently being peer reviewed by the Water Research Laboratory at the University of New South Wales for its appropriateness. 

Waikato Regional Council (who’s responsible for issuing the resource consent to construct the geotextile wall) anticipates that the university will report to them during the course of next week, at which stage their processing officer will be in the position to complete a draft recommendation on the resource consent for review by an external independent commissioner. That is on the assumption there are no further information requirements. 

Depending on the outcome of this process, Thames Coromandel District Council should be aware of the contents of the draft recommendation by mid-November.

It is unclear when construction on the wall will commence. Members of the Whitianga Coastal Erosion Steering Group aren’t happy with the current state of affairs.

TCDCs biosolid composter in Whitianga to be turned off

Operations at the biosolid composter in Whitianga will cease in November while Thames Coromandel District Council take time to look at how they can improve the composter’s financial viability. A decision will be made by April 2015 as to whether to reinstate operations or decommission the plant.

The composter, which mixes green waste with biosolids (mainly from the Whitianga Wastewater Treatment Plant) was set up to produce Aa grade compost.

"While the composter has shown good operational results and is producing grade Aa compost, which we've been using on our Council parks and reserves, we now need to do a more in-depth assessment on its cost benefits," said TCDC Infrastructure Manager Bruce Hinson.

“As part of our 2015-2025 Long-Term-Planning, we've been reviewing the viability of the Composter, and commissioned an independent report to assess the cost benefits. The report was presented to Council's Infrastructure Committee this week. The report says there's no significant financial benefit to retain the composting operation and it's cheaper to send biosolids to landfill rather than compost.

"The original 2007 Business Case said the Composter would save money by taking biosolids out of landfill and turning it into compost. It assumed that landfill costs would increase and the fact is, this just hasn't happened. The amount of compost the plant is producing, while being used on our parks and reserves, right now doesn't financially justify its on-going operation costs.

"It's costing us more to produce compost from the Biosolid Composter than what we can buy it for commercially.”

TCDC Mayor Glenn Leach said, "The prudent thing to do is to stop the Composter now and re-evaluate its viability to see if there is financial benefit for us to turn it back on. We need to get some definite figures around the volume and costs for producing the compost, as well as understanding more fully the financial implications if we decide to turn it back on or decommission the Composter."

TCDC's Infrastructure Committee resolved at its meeting this week that staff should now come back to the committee by April next year with detailed figures on compost volumes, along with a decommissioning plan for the composter and possible options for re-use of the Whitianga site. It also recommended TCDC's Audit Committee consider any future financial risk to ratepayers.

Missing Pauanui person

Police are concerned for the safety of Glenn David McLean who left Pauanui on Tuesday 28 October 2014.

Glenn McLean is believed to be travelling in a black 2006 Range Rover station wagon, registration DNK812 and possibly heading to Auckland. Glenn is a 71 year old male Caucasian, approximately 177 - 180cm in height, of medium build with thin grey/brown short curly hair.

He was last seen wearing a white coloured polo shirt, a black polar fleece jumper, blue jeans, black coloured leather slip-on shoes and a silver diver's watch. Anyone who may have seen Glenn or know his present whereabouts are asked to urgently contact the Police.

New subdivision application for New Chum Beach

A new application to subdivide land at New Chum Beach (Wainuiototo Bay, Whangapoua) has just been lodged with Thames Coromandel District Council.

The new application has been made by Ross and Deidre Mear and is for the exact same piece of land on which a previous application was lodged in January 2014 by Coastal Land Trust Holdings. The application by Coastal Land Trust Holdings, which is a separate identity, is currently on hold due to further information being sought from the applicant. It has been made aware that a new application has been lodged.

The latest application by Ross and Deidre Mear is for a four lot subdivision, all 15 hectares in size, together with a fifth "beach conservation lot," 1.2hectares in size. The beach lot is proposed as a conservation area allowing for public access along the beach.

It's also proposed that a charitable trust known as the "Wainuiototo Beach Conservation Trust" be formed, to own and manage this beach lot. The application says that the trust would be made up of two representatives of the owners of Lots 1 - 4 and three Community representatives drawn from TCDC, Waikato Regional Council, the Department of Conservation and local iwi.

The four proposed residential lots allows for four house sites (up to 236m2 each with garages) and five accessory buildings up to 100m2. Vehicle access to the proposed new residential lots would be through the existing farm track running from Te Punga Station. The remaining land (approximately 55ha) would be retired from active farming and established with either existing indigenous vegetation or allowed to regenerate naturally. There would be some areas where landscape planting would be introduced to screen building sites and vehicle access ways from off-site public viewpoints.

"Due to the significant public interest in this land we want to see this application go out for formal public notification," said Thames Coromandel District Council mayor, Glenn Leach. "My understanding is that the applicants are very much in favour of this too.

"Our stance continues to be protecting and preserving third party interests. We want New Chum to continue to be somewhere anyone can visit, while still protecting its special and unique character.

"We've had no discussions with the new applicant about the formation of a Trust. What I'd like to see though is a natural buffer zone between the development and the beach, running the full length of the beach, along with the establishment of some public toilets and a walkway in the vicinity."

The applicant has requested that the application be publicly notified and this will likely occur before the end of the year.

Learn about some of the coastal and nature walks in the area.

Two NZ Navy ships tomorrow in Mercury Bay

Tomorrow for a short time both the New Zealand Navy Protector Class Offshore Patrol Vessels will be in Mercury Bay.

We have spoken to Graham McLean, captain of the HMNZS Wellington - which is at the moment in the Bay. They are busy putting the ship through her paces to be ready for duty in the Southern Ocean towards the end of the year. “We are basically just conducting tests,” Captain Mclean said. “We will be in and out of Mercury Bay the next two weeks, so people may just get used to us in the background.”

Captain McLean also said Mercury Bay off the Whitianga coast is a great place for navigation training. The ship will also be undergoing tests off the Mercury Islands.

The HMNZS Otago will briefly pop into Mercury Bay tomorrow to pick up a Customs official to clear her crew into New Zealand as the ship has been working up in the Pacific Islands for a period of time. Once the formalities have been completed, the ship will continue to the Devonport Naval Base, where she will overnight.

“It’s pure coincidence that both sister ships will be in Mercury Bay tomorrow,” Captain McLean said.

KSAR’s most recent rescue mission

A missing tramper who was rescued last week, thanks to the efforts of member Search and Rescue groups from throughout the Waikato - including two teams from Kuaotunu Search and Rescue, was in the same treacherous area of bush where an English tourist lost his life eight years ago.

But a week after this dramatic rescue, the local volunteer group is still on the hunt for a secure base for their vital work.

Kuaotunu SAR’s Steve Hart said the missing man made the right move by staying where he was rather than trying to hike his way out, in what he describes described as "horrendous" terrain - some of the worst on the Peninsula."

"In 2006 we were in the same area for six days with over a 100 searchers and two Iroqouis helicopters looking for an English backpacker, he took a fatal fall off a waterfall. If he had sat down and waited it would have been a different outcome," Steve said.

The Kuaotunu SAR group has undertaken lifesaving work in rugged terrain around the Coromandel for a decade now and last week’s rescue, led by the Thames Land Search and Rescue and the Waikato Police SAR Squad, of a 59-year-old man in the Kauearanga Valley area was around the 70th rescue for the group. They maintained an all-night and day radio watch with the teams searching the Rangihau Valley, plotting their movements on maps and relaying messages back to the search base at Thames.

The Pukekohe man is understood to have gone to look at old kauri dams on Monday last week and was reported missing by his wife the following day after failing to return.

Kuaotunu SAR teams entered from the Rangihau Ranges side of the Peninsula early on Tuesday evening and searched until 1:00pm Wednesday before the lost man was spotted first by observers in a helicopter, followed by the deployment of search teams to confirm the sighting and then a rescue. By this time the teams were narrowing in on this location, said Steve, who also said it was fortunate the man had not ventured too far.

"That country in there would be some of the worst country you would want to be searching in, it’s dog country, it’s horrendous."

Steve said it was a common and serious mistake when lost people tried to hike their way out rather than staying where they are once they realise they are lost. "It was good in this case because the man hadn’t gone too far. A lot of people, and hunters tend to be the worst, just keep going and that’s one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It’s better to sit down and get some cover."

The local community may be able to help the local volunteer group in identifying a suitable, secure base they can store their rescue trailer and other equipment.

They use part of the old Fire Station in Whitianga at the moment, but their lease will expire in just two months. The building is owned by Thames Coromandel District Council.

The group recently entered into an agreement with the Whitianga Scouts to look at long term options to build a new community facility on TCDC land near the Whitianga Bike Park, but this option requires consenting, funding and a lease - so it may be several years away.

"It is pretty serious for us," said Steve. "We’ve got a lot of gear and haven’t found any alternatives yet. We’ve got our fingers crossed that we can work something out with TCDC, but we understand the position Council is in - they need to get a return for ratepayers and so have had to advertise the old Fire Station as a whole building."

Steve said the group is willing to pay a moderate lease and so far has nothing lined up.

The group has recently lost some experienced members who were forced to leave the Peninsula for work, but another four recruits has come on board, keeping membership consistent at around 30.

Helping their work in recent years has been the use of GPS technology in smart phones and better cell phone coverage, which has made the group’s work more of a "‘rescue"’ focus. Another great technological development is the use of trackers, similar to what is used in kiwi monitoring, for people with dementia who are known to wander from their homes. This can be organised by families of patients, through the patient’s own GP.

New artists join Mercury Bay Art Escape Open Studio Tour

The Mercury Bay Art Escape is pleased to welcome twelve new members to their Open Studio Tour for 2015.  These artists, using various mediums including weaving, photography, prints, drawing, sculpture, wood and painting, add youth and diversity to an already talented group of accomplished member artists in the Mercury Bay area.

A new medium to the MBAE is Harakeke weaving from Raewyn Hildreth, a new resident to Whitianga. There is also photographer Sam Bruce, whose technique involves shooting solely on film with minimal post processing after. His images create a social commentary focusing on man’s interference in our land and exploring the rougher side to life.

Other new Whitianga members include Bernadette Ballantyne, Charlotte Giblin, Ian Calloway, all painters and Ellen Jackson who works with natural pigments, graphite, oil and ceramics.

Natasha Courtney presents a variety of fine woodwork creations produced in her Hahei home workshop. Items include armchairs, desks, stools and finely crafted boxes. Another new Hahei resident, Becs Wood features drawings produced mainly with ballpoint pen and pencil and painting abstract kiwi designs on surfboards.

Also from Hahei, Martinus Sarangapany produces prints, illustrations and paintings.

An addition to the Cooks Beach artist membership is Anna Kitchingman, who has a distinct cubism painting style, generally landscapes that feature the stunning Coromandel Peninsula and the Southern Lakes.

The new line-up is complete with Reina Cottier, a painter from Tairua and Colin Verner a sculptor who joins Lutz Gaebler at the Try Fluke Studio in Kuaotunu.

These new artists complement the existing talented members of the MBAE in 2015 with a total of 46 exhibiting in the very popular Open Studio Tour which is held over the first two weekends in March each year.

The Open Studio Tour weekends kicks off with an opening event and “Taste of the Tour” showcase exhibition at Hot Waves Café on Friday 6 March 2015.

The new look MBAE Guide, that outlines full artist details, the Trust's exhibitions and events and identifies supporters and sponsors will be available early December.

Full details are available at www.mercurybayartescape.com.

New artists join Mercury Bay Art Escape Open Studio Tour

The Mercury Bay Art Escape is pleased to welcome twelve new members to their Open Studio Tour for 2015.  These artists, using various mediums including weaving, photography, prints, drawing, sculpture, wood and painting, add youth and diversity to an already talented group of accomplished member artists in the Mercury Bay area.

A new medium to the MBAE is Harakeke weaving from Raewyn Hildreth, a new resident to Whitianga. There is also photographer Sam Bruce, whose technique involves shooting solely on film with minimal post processing after. His images create a social commentary focusing on man’s interference in our land and exploring the rougher side to life.

Other new Whitianga members include Bernadette Ballantyne, Charlotte Giblin, Ian Calloway, all painters and Ellen Jackson who works with natural pigments, graphite, oil and ceramics.

Natasha Courtney presents a variety of fine woodwork creations produced in her Hahei home workshop. Items include armchairs, desks, stools and finely crafted boxes. Another new Hahei resident, Becs Wood features drawings produced mainly with ballpoint pen and pencil and painting abstract kiwi designs on surfboards.

Also from Hahei, Martinus Sarangapany produces prints, illustrations and paintings.

An addition to the Cooks Beach artist membership is Anna Kitchingman, who has a distinct cubism painting style, generally landscapes that feature the stunning Coromandel Peninsula and the Southern Lakes.

The new line-up is complete with Reina Cottier, a painter from Tairua and Colin Verner a sculptor who joins Lutz Gaebler at the Try Fluke Studio in Kuaotunu.

These new artists complement the existing talented members of the MBAE in 2015 with a total of 46 exhibiting in the very popular Open Studio Tour which is held over the first two weekends in March each year.

The Open Studio Tour weekends kicks off with an opening event and “Taste of the Tour” showcase exhibition at Hot Waves Café on Friday 6 March 2015.

The new look MBAE Guide, that outlines full artist details, the Trust's exhibitions and events and identifies supporters and sponsors will be available early December.

Full details are available at www.mercurybayartescape.com.

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