Friday, 26 April 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Mercury Bay coastal protection work to start in New Year

Work on the backstop wall at Brophy's Beach in Whitianga is likely to start in March subject to resource consents being issued for the construction.

The work was proposed to start before Christmas, but working through the notified consent process and supplying additional information requested has taken longer than expected and has meant that the wall is now estimated to be completed by the end of April 2015. The new geotextile bag wall is part of planned work to help with coastal protection at Brophy's Beach as the existing rock wall was put in under emergency and is not consented and needs replacing.

"Once we receive the approved consent we can order the extra geotextile bags to start getting on with the physical work," says Acting Mercury Bay Area Office Manager Len Whittaker.  "At the same time we will put out the tender for the physical work."

This physical work entails excavating a footing. Geotextile bags filled with beach sand will then be laid to form a wall. Once the wall is completed the top of the wall will be covered with some minor dune planting work.

Construction of the Brophy's Beach backstop wall will take about 6 weeks and while work is underway some sections of Brophy's Beach reserve will be temporarily closed.

"Protecting our coast is a really important issue for the Coromandel," says Mr Whittaker.

"Coastal protection work on Cooks Beach and Buffalo Beach are also waiting for TCDC consents to be issued and once these have been gained, work should be able to start in March too," he says.

The Buffalo Beach project involves extending the rock wall by another 120m, from just past the toilets (opposite Halligan Road) to just past the Buffalo Monument.

The Cooks Beach project involves extending the recently completed private wall by a further 140m south. This will extend the protection provided by the wall, from the last house adjacent the Purangi Reserve to past the newly relocated Cooks Monument.

Building consent trends on the Coromandel

Thames Coromandel District Council said November started to see the seasonal drop in building consent applications with the last of the summer building plans getting sorted for when people traditionally come to the Coromandel to do work on their properties over the summer holiday.

October was slightly up on last year for building works up to $100,000 with people leaving things a little later this year. November's projects in this range have included everything from relocations of utilities and sheds for offices, to fireplace, carport and sleepout installations. 

There was a lift in projects in the $100,000 to $500,000 range over October and November. These included commercial work, new three and four bedroom home builds and large luxury living and dining room extensions and additions. 

A few consents were still being granted in the $650,000 to $950,000 project range, featuring large four to five bedroom homes with dens, attached garaging, in-ground pools and other architecturally-designed features.

In addition, TCDC has seen a reduction in lower-end consents since the government introduced more exemptions such as some garden sheds, cabins, sleepouts or repairs when certain specifications are met.

The decile does not make the school

Most of the schools in the central and northern parts of the Coromandel Peninsula will see a change in the funding they receive from the government due to a review of decile ratings.

The recalculation of decile ratings follows the New Zealand Census every five years and is designed to move more funding to areas considered to be financially disadvantaged.

Decile ratings range from 1 in the most socio-economically disadvantaged areas of the country to 10 in the most affluent and are further graded alphabetically.

Mercury Bay Area School’s decile rating is dropping from a low 6 to a high rating of 5, which will equate to a $24,189 funding increase in its overall operating budget of $1.5 million for 2015.

Principal John Wright says the increase is relatively insignificant overall, but if decisions were to be made about where additional funding should be spent, the priority in his view was in staffing. "It may sound like a lot, but it’s not a significant bite for us in the size of the budget. Seven years ago we went from a 4B to a 6N and lost $55,000 out of $1 million at the time, which was 5 per cent of our operational grant and was really significant.

"Our biggest investment that we have here is people, our staffing. We want kids to be known by the educator, to be nurtured and to have the best opportunity to achieve at the very best level. We’re doing that now and it won’t change. If we had any kind of additional budget, I would be putting it into staffing and making sure the kids have the programmes they need."

Mr Wright says parents need to be cautious when judging a school based on deciles as it was not a reflection of the quality of education, but the affluence of the community that a school drew its students from.

"How does a parent know what is a good school? How do they know if one year group of students is struggling? All that decile ratings are is a big fat broad brush that really has no significance on the quality of learning, the support of the parents and the quality of the kids.

"What we do know is that there is a difference in the youngies who come to a decile 1, 2 and 3 school because they are socio-economically more needy than 4 to 10 schools, but I also know there are fabulous schools achieving in deciles 2 to 3 and poor outcomes for those at the top end.

"Parents need to be quite cautious about it. Often parents perceive the quality of the schools on deciles, but it’s based on census data that’s about the number of bedrooms in a house, the number of toilets in a house and the income of the parents. That’s an indicator of affluence."

Mercury Bay Area School at decile five will educate five students next year from Great Barrier Island, who are zoned to attend the highly-sought after schools of Epsom Girls’ Grammar and Auckland Grammar in Auckland.

"I think our culture of the school suits the Barrier kids really well. They are zoned to go to these Auckland schools, but culturally that doesn’t work for them," says Mr Wright.

Tairua School has no change at a decile rating of 7 and will see no change in funding. Whenuakite School has dropped from 8 to 7, Coroglen School will drop from 6 to 5 while Hikuai School drops from 9 to 8.

For the smaller schools in Coromandel Town and Manaia, the decile rating changes are going to have a relatively big impact. Manaia School, which has a role of 110 students, will experience a $21,699 drop in Government funding from $77,114 to $55,415 next year despite its rating remaining at 2.

Coromandel Area School will get an increase of $22,691 in Government funding from $52,113 this year to $74,804 next year. Its decile rating remains at 3.

This is because schools are classified within each decile, so for example a school with a "Step A" classification at decile 1 gets $905.81 per pupil whereas a school with "Step C" classification at the same decile gets $731.30.

Te Rerenga School is the only school in the Mercury Bay, Tairua and Pauanui areas that experienced a rise in it’s decile rating, from 5 to 7. Whilst this means the school will lose $3,206 in funding, Principal Anna Yates says the school is fortunate to have a supportive school community and an influx of bach owners that make up for shortfalls with fundraising opportunities over summer time and public holidays.

"It doesn’t have huge implications for us because we will continue to do what we do every year. We haven’t decided yet whether we’re going to have fundraising or just adjust our budget accordingly. For us as a small rural school, we’re fortunate because of our excellent community support. If we decide to go down the fundraising route, it’s not difficult for us to achieve."

The school has a role of 65 which has grown in recent years. It draws students from Whitianga and Coromandel. "I see this as positive, healthy community growth and it shows there are families in the area having children that reach school age," says Mrs Yates.

Whitianga Police Report for the period 1 December 2014 to 8 December 2014

GENERAL

There have been a few thefts around town this week and I would like to remind everyone to secure their property as best they can so that it is harder for criminals to steal your stuff.

During past summers a common theft has been fishing gear stolen from boats when it has been left outside in the boat overnight. Please take a few minutes when you get home to lock expensive fishing gear away.

Any information that would help deter criminals in our area would be greatly appreciated. So if you think you see someone trying to sell stolen property please call us. 

With Christmas just about here, Police advice is that you buy presents you can afford so that so that you can still pay essential bills and also that avoiding excessive alcohol consumption will help keep you out of trouble.

ARRESTS

3rd - 1 x 24yr old local man for Theft.

OCCURRENCES

No domestic incidents attended last week.

On the 2nd a toy-poodle dog named, "Benji" was believed stolen from a Pacific Place address and the owners would greatly appreciate any assistance getting it back.

A wallet was stolen from a Captain Cook Road address at Cooks Beach during a party on the 6th, while on the 7th two pairs of binoculars were stolen from a campervan parked in the main Hot Water Beach car park.

A wheel was also stolen from a ute parked near the Coroglen Tavern overnight on the 8th.  

TRAFFIC

No crashes reported this week.

Another week during which no drunk drivers were apprehended, please don't be the first person in our area to get a new infringement notice for driving drunk.

Main Whitianga channel to be shifted

The main navigation channel opposite the Whitianga Marina will be shifted east during tomorrow and Friday, 11 and 12 December.

Mat Collicott, the Whitianga harbourmaster, said the process will involve relocating 20 swing moorings. During the move, both the existing and the new channel will be impeded by moorings as they are shifted around the area.

Boaties are requested to stop when approaching the barge conducting the operations and to await the harbourmaster vessel that will pilot them through the area. Please follow directly astern of the harbourmaster vessel. The harbourmaster vessel will be standing by on VHF 78 and telephone 0274 762 651.

Boaties should refrain from using the section of the main channel where the work will be conducted during the hours of restricted visibility on the night of 11 December.

Any vessel needing to transit the main channel during this time is advised to use a powerful floodlight to detect any moorings that may still remain in the channel.  If any moorings are left in this area they will be covered in reflective tape giving a good spotlight target.

 

Bluff Road closed

An overhanging bluff about 350 meters from the Matarangi end of Bluff Road has become a high safety risk for vehicles and pedestrians.

Those who use the road as a link between Kuaotunu and Matarangi will need to use an alternative route. The road was closed yesterday and Thames Coromandel District Council said signage will be in place by the end of the week at the latest.

Barricades went in yesterday to prevent any potential injury should any part of the overhang collapse.

Investigations will need to be undertaken to figure out the best way to solve the problem and how much the options will cost ratepayers.

Once investigations are complete, options will be put before Thames Coromandel District Councillors for a decision on the best way forward. TCDC said they’ll be working as quickly as possible to collect all the information Council will need to make an informed decision.

In the meantime, Bluff Road is closed until further notice.

Proposed Cathedral Coast Walkway Stakeholders Working Group to meet this week

The Stakeholders Working Group for the proposed Cathedral Cove Walkway will meet for the first time Thursday this week to discuss immediate issues that need to be addressed around Hahei over Christmas and New Year.

Sixteen nominations were received and 14 people have so far agreed to be part of the working group. This follows a public meeting held at Hahei on Saturday 29 November providing an update on the walkway.

The members of the Stakeholders Working Group are -

  • Phil Costello and Peter Hawley representing Coastal Walkways Trust.
  • Graham Harsant representing Hahei Rural Landowners.
  • Ian Chalmers representing absentee ratepayers.
  • Peter Harrison representing the Hahei Business Association.
  • Brian Keucke and Wendy Lawrence representing Hahei  Beach Resident and Ratepayers Association.
  • Alistair Sims and Michael Wilkinson representing Lees Rd residents.
  • Sheree Webster representing Hot Water Beach.
  • Jeremy Lomas representing Pa Rd residents.
  • Bill Stead representing Grange Rd residents.

Thames Coromandel District Council is still waiting for two other nominees to confirm their participation in the group ahead of the meeting this week.

"We want to thank everyone once again for attending the public meeting," says Garry Towler, TCDC's project manager for the proposed Cathedral Coast Walkway. "The membership is reflective of all the different stakeholders in the proposed walk, with the first stage being planned from the Blow Hole at Hahei through to the Purangi Estuary.”

Also on the agenda for the first meeting will be discussion on the terms of reference for the group and setting up a regular meeting schedule.

Arts strategy planned for the Coromandel

Connecting and promoting Coromandel artists will be the focus of a workshop being developed for early next year and will lead into work on an arts strategy for the Coromandel.

Thames Coromandel District Council Chief Executive David Hammond invited Creative Waikato Chief Executive Sarah Nathan to meet last week to discuss opportunities and stronger promotion of local Coromandel artists.

This comes as Creative Waikato released its Creative Facilities Plan last week, which focused on the development of arts facilities around the Waikato.

"On the Coromandel we are really lucky to have community and public artwork throughout our District, created by some very talented local artists," says Mr Hammond.

"Ms Nathan also informed me that there are two real art hotspots in the Waikato - the Coromandel and Raglan - and Creative Waikato understands the need to capitalise on this so we can better support our local artists and also develop arts tourism.”

Creative Waikato is now planning a workshop on the Coromandel for early 2015 to meet with arts groups from around the Thames Coromandel District to discuss how it can help support and develop an arts strategy for the Coromandel.

“The timing is very good as we've also been approached by the Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust asking for Council support on an arts strategy," says Mr Hammond. "An arts strategy will get arts communities together, co-ordinating and figuring out the best way we can support them as well as providing economic opportunities.”

The Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust will approach and work with other Arts groups around the Coromandel, including representatives from Tairua, Pauanui and Whangamata, the Coromandel Arts Tour and the Thames Society of Arts to investigate the best way to start developing an overarching arts strategy for the entire Coromandel.

“The recommendation has been that right now the Mercury Bay Art Escape Trust starts by making a submission to our upcoming Long-Term Plan when it opens in early 2015," says Mr Hammond. "This is to ensure we can allocate staff resource and funding to help formulate an official policy, working with all the arts groups around the district. Any Arts Strategy needs to be developed from within the community.”

Thames Coromandel District Councillor Diane Connors will be leading the development of an Arts Strategy with support from TCDC’s Economic Development Programme Manager Ben Dunbar-Smith and Community Development Officer Marlene Perry.

“My focus is on ensuring Council has some over-arching strategy to support a wide variety of arts in the Coromandel," says Ms Connors.

"I strongly believe that creativity adds to the quality of life - whether you participate or share the experience of it. We have such a wealth of talent living in our communities, including some internationally renowned artists, from singer/songwriters to sculptors, painters, potters, actors, dancers and body artists. I want us to not only acknowledge what we have, but nurture it, celebrate it and showcase it.

"There are both economic and social benefits to a vibrant arts sector and I envisage that an Arts Strategy will help council to identify how we can strengthen and support the arts on the Coromandel Peninsula. My passion is to encourage more events and encourage more outdoor art pieces.”

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