Friday, 26 April 2019


New approach from TCDC to development contributions

New government legislation means Thames Coromandel District Council now has a new approach to development contributions.

TCDC is no longer collecting development contributions toward new infrastructure projects for harbour facilities, solid waste, libraries, swimming pools, airfields or cemeteries. This is part of an amended draft Development Contributions Policy.

If adopted by Council, the new policy will not take effect until 1 July 2015. Public consultation will begin in March 2015 at the same time as TCDC's Long Term Plan consultation.

Although the government changed its development contributions legislation for new projects, projects already underway will continue to be funded from development contributions.

The new legislation requires a small change to the process. Development contributions will now be calculated on the charges that apply at the time a consent is lodged, not granted.

The legislation now includes provisions allowing for private developer agreements.

TCDC's current Development Contributions Policy already allows for these, but the Local Government Act 2002 now includes some specific requirements about the content of these agreements and the process that must be followed.

Either councils or developers can propose agreements and, if a council does not wish to enter into an agreement, it must provide a written response setting out reasons for this.Development contributions are collected on new developments to cover the cost of the things that have to be built or otherwise provided to supply services to new developments on the Coromandel.

The concept is that existing ratepayers shouldn't have to pay for infrastructure needed for new developments and that it's fairer if those costs are covered by the new development that needs it.

Serious concerns raised at Cathedral Coast Walkway meeting in Hahei last weekend

On my count, more than 140 people attended the public meeting last week Saturday at the Hahei Community Centre about the proposed Cathedral Coast Walkway. When I arrived at the meeting, I thought it would from a reporting perspective fairly standard - just say what happened.

But it became soon clear to me that I would have to write something closer to an opinion piece than a report. And I won’t be honest if I say that I left the meeting unperturbed.

Things started off with Thames Coromandel District Council Great Walks project manager Garry Towler and Department of Conservation "track builder" John Gaukrodger giving an overview of where things are at.

They said the proposed walkway is planned from Hot Water Beach to Ferry Landing with stages 1A and 1B to kick off as soon as external funding of $3.2 million has been secured. The two stages will, in essence, link the blowhole at the Te Pupuha Recreation Reserve (just south of Hahei) with Cathedral Cove and Cathedral Cove with the Purangi Estuary. The route has been surveyed and included in the costs are six cantilevered structures to be placed, according to the information sheet handed out to all those who attended the meeting, "… along some of the most breath-taking viewing spots along the walk."

They also said a pay and display parking facility will be constructed on the old wastewater treatment plant at Pa Road (the residential street in Hahei giving access to the current walkway to the Te Pupuha Recreation reserve) before December 2015 and negotiations are underway for a pay and display parking facility centrally located on private land off Lees Road (the road leading to the Purangi Estuary).

A track will be built from the Lees Road car park to link in with the existing Cathedral Cove track. The last part of stage 1B of the proposed walk will be on a track that will follow Lees Road to the Stella Evered Memorial Park adjacent to the Purangi Estuary. The Lees Road car park will be sealed and so will Lees Road up to the car park.

The proposed Cathedral Coast Walkway will ultimately be part of the Coromandel Great Walks which, according to the information sheet, "… will eventually link the whole [Thames Coromandel] district through a variety of great walks around the coastline and across the spine of the Coromandel."

Garry said that he hoped the meeting would conclude with a few people putting their hands up to be part of a working group that would help them to work through the issues the community may have.

Following this introduction the floor was opened for questions and two things became clear to me. The first is that no one questions the benefit of a Great Walks project for Mercury Bay and the Coromandel as a whole. But, and that is the second thing, there is great doubt that Hahei is the right place for the first walk to be constructed.

Everyone was in agreement that the proposed walkway will bring greater numbers of visitors to Hahei, an area that is already stretched to the limit during summer.

A number of Pa Road residents expressed concerns about tourists choosing not to park in the new pay and display car park at the old wastewater treatment plant, potentially making access to their own properties more difficult. A comment from Gary that proper signage and road markings may address the issue didn’t wash, with one Pa Road resident saying that such measures will force her family and friends to park in the pay and display car park instead of in front of her property.

The Lees Road residents are also concerned about the effect of increased traffic to and from the Stella Evered Memorial Park. According to John, the track along the road will be built such a distance away that the road can be widened, but Gary said widening isn’t on the cards at the moment.

A comment from one of the attendees that a few walks maybe should be built at other locations in order for the existing issues in Hahei to be sorted out first was met with enthusiastic applause.

When Garry was asked what he would do if it became very clear that the Hahei Community doesn’t want the proposed walkway, at least not in the immediate future, he said he’ll be happy to ask the Mercury Bay Community Board to consider recommending to Council that the Hahei ratepayers hold a referendum on the issue. However, he said, if external funding is to be obtained next year (from the likes of the Lotteries Commission), an application has to be lodged before the end of this year and work on that will have to continue.

This is why I left the meeting perturbed - answering more questions, Garry said planning the Cathedral Coast Walkway started more than a year ago and to date about $100,000 has been spent (not clarifying if that incudes staff time or not). Now I think the project - not the Great Walks as such, but the proposed stages 1A and 1B - is in real danger of falling over. It seems as if a working group will be formed, and good on the people from Hahei for participating in that, made up of representatives from Lees Road, Pa Road, Hahei Beach Road, the Hahei Business Association, the Hahei Ratepayers Association, Hahei absentee ratepayers and Coastal Walkways. But those representatives will put their constituents’ views forward. And if what was raised at the meeting is an indication of those views, then the plan to build car parks at the old wastewater treatment plant and Lees Road to cope with the extra influx of people the proposed walkway is going to bring, isn’t going to cut the mustard.

The meeting last Saturday really should have been held a year ago and the $100,000 spent so far would have gone a long way, thinking out loud, in the planning (and even construction) of a walkway from the Purangi Estuary to Ferry Landing or from Ferry Landing to Wharekaho or, maybe a bit more ambitious, from Wharekaho to Kuaotunu to Matarangi to Whangapoua or New Chums Beach.

A lesson is to be learned here. We need the Great Walks in Mercury Bay, we absolutely do. The idea is great and the benefits will be enormous, but talk to the affected ratepayers first. Make sure everyone is singing from the same song sheet. And the great idea, which we absolutely need, will absolutely happen.

Information session on Graham's Creek flood protection works to be held this weekend

An information session will be held by staff from Thames Coromandel District Council and Waikato Regional Council in the Tairua Hall annex between 10:00am and 1:00pm this Saturday 6 December about the proposed Graham’s Creek flood protection works due to be carried out by the two councils. WRC’s Thames Coromandel constituency councillor Clyde Graf will also be in attendance for the three hours and will stay on for an extra 30 minutes to discuss any issues people may have.

The event comes after TCDC last month approved an extra $300,000 to extend the bridge on the Manaia Road causeway, which will be an important element of flood mitigation work at Graham’s Creek.

The funding will come from Tairua's stormwater depreciation reserves and a loan. The extension by 16 metres will help keep the road open during flooding and allow floodwaters to drain more easily when combined with floodway improvement works to be done by WRC.

For many years, property owners in the Graham’s Creek catchment, which is upstream of the Manaia Road causeway, have experienced flooding.

To address the problem both TCDC and WRC have been working with the community to find a workable solution. TCDC set aside $620,000 in its 2014-2015 Annual Plan towards upgrading the Manaia Road causeway bridge. WRC set aside $600,000 in its 2014-2015 Annual Plan towards floodway improvement works around Graham's Creek, which include stopbanks, re-contouring the floodplain to form a floodway and creek channel works.

Both pieces of work need to be done in tandem for a successful outcome.

In June 2014 a joint working group was set up to help refine and finalise the work programme. Made up of affected residents, elected members, as well as staff from both TCDC and WRC, the group held four separate workshops and came up with a preferred solution which included a two-way causeway bridge (rather than a one-lane as previously indicated). 

Construction of the WRC flood mitigation measures and the construction of the bridge are due to start in the middle of next year once resource consents are obtained.

New Freedom Camping Bylaw in effect

Thames Coromandel District Council says they welcome campers to the Coromandel, but as of midday yesterday their new Freedom Camping Bylaw is in place and will be enforced district wide.

TCDC has undertaken a review of their bylaw and the adopted 2014 bylaw states all freedom campers must be in a certified self-contained vehicle. If anyone is camping in their car, a tent, or in a vehicle that doesn't have a certified self-contained toilet on board, they still need to be going to either a commercial or DOC campsite.

"We are freedom-camping friendly, but need to balance this with protecting our environment. Our special environment is why people want to come here in the first place," says TCDC mayor Glenn Leach.

As part of the new bylaw, TCDC also needed to look at areas where it is considered necessary to restrict freedom camping. The Community Boards around the Thames Coromandel district finalised areas that are prohibited and restricted for reasons under the Freedom Camping Act. Within these restricted areas there are some designated areas which will allow freedom camping, but with limitations on numbers of vehicles and limits to how many days.

TCDC says they are also working with the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association on developing a "Camping Pack" which will be sold in i-Sites from mid-December. The packs will have all the information needed for a safe and happy trip to the Coromandel, as well as a few added extras such as a TCDC rubbish bag, postcards of the Coromandel and a drink bottle.

Whitianga Police Report for Monday 24 November to Monday 1 December 2014


It was good to see no drunk drivers were apprehended this week and that the checks we did showed people were either not drinking alcohol or they had a sober driver. 

The White Ribbon Pledge, "I promise never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence towards women," in a civilised society is something that should be routine for all, but unfortunately in our day to day business we come across men who assault their partners.

If you're in a relationship where your partner is abusing you, let us know so we can get you out, it is never OK to stay in a violent relationship.

In the last few weeks we have seen a couple of dogs left in vehicles on days that were far too hot for the dogs to be left unattended.  With fine weather approaching, please consider the safety of your dogs when coming into town as it only takes a short time for them to become over-heated.

From the SPCA NZ website, “On a hot day, the temperature inside your car can reach 39°C in 10 minutes. Even in the shade with the windows down, the temperature can rise to a deadly 49°C in 30 minutes. Your dog’s natural cooling process is ineffective in these conditions.


No arrests this week.


One domestic incident attended last week.

On the 28th a young couple requested assistance to separate prior to the situation getting out of hand.

Also on the 28th a vehicle in Corokia Place Matarangi was broken into and a Garmin GPS unit was stolen.

On the 24th a residential home in Poplar Street was burgled and the offender searched property stored at the address. Our enquiries are continuing.

On the 29th a residential address in Robinson Road was burgled and it is believed the offenders were disturbed and exited the address when the owner returned home.


No crashes reported this week.

A lot of people enjoyed the Thunder Beach event over the weekend and it was pleasing to see riders were abiding by the rules and had come to Whitianga to enjoy themselves.

Dive Zone Dive Festival is all on

The 11th Annual Whitianga Dive Festival is all on this weekend. The event is hosted by Dive Zone Whitianga and owners Darrell and Linda Bird say this is one weekend divers, local and from around the country, shouldn’t miss.

This year is againturning out to be a great weekend of networking, competitions, challenges, a bit of partying and loads of awesome prizes that is being given away. Participants have the freedom to choose how many events they want to enter. "Do as little or as much as you want to, it’s as easy as that," Linda says.

The fun kicked off yesterday morning with an underwater photography competition. For those not into picture taking there was the great cray hunt or the spearfishing competition. Prizes for closest to the "mystery" weight for male and female crays and the New Zealand Underwater Association trophy for the biggest crayfish were up for grabs.

Last night was set aside for social networking at the Dive Zone Whitianga store in Blacksmith Lane. Shark expert Riley Elliot was present and shared a few of his thoughts.

Today all the action will be down at Whitianga’s Buffalo Beach and promises to be a great day for the family to have a picnic and enjoy the fun and games. The Mares treasure hunts on the sand for the kids and in the water for the adults will be followed by the highly competitive scuba Olympic challenge.

Tonight will see with a "Pacific Voyager" fancy dress dinner and dance at Whitianga’s Salt Restaurant and Bar.

A BBQ breakfast prize givingtomorrow morning will be time for the major prize give-aways, including the grand prize of a dive trip for two to Niue in July 2015.

Sponsorship from a great range of dive companies and organisations shows how well this local Whitianga event is regarded among the New Zealand diving fraternity. Darrell and Linda would like to acknowledge the support of Mares, Beuchat, Apollo, the New Zealand Underwater Association, Intova and Mission Kayaks.

Also on in Whitianga today is Thunder beach and the Northern Regional Flying Competition.

Police says if you speed 1km over the limit this summer you will be stopped

The Police today announced a commitment to enforce speed limits throughout summer and beyond in an effort to keep our roads safe.

The Police’s message is clear - anything over the limit is speeding

If you’re over the speed limit, even if it’s 1km, expect to be stopped.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said, “Regardless of the cause of a crash, a vehicle's speed at the time of impact can be the difference between a close call or an agonising stay in hospital.

“Our message to drivers is simple: the numbers in the red circles on the side of the road are the maximum speed you can travel safely in good driving conditions.

“Police officers have the discretion to stop and ticket people driving at any speed over the limit every day of the year.”

ACC Manager of Motorist Injury Insurance Paul Gimblett said, “ACC is supporting Police with an advertising campaign calling on Kiwis not to speed.

“This is a sound investment, because we know slowing down takes a significant amount of the energy out of crashes forces.

“The faster you go, the worse your injuries will be.

“In 2012 - 2013, ACC received around 85 road injury claims a day over summer, that’s 85 families “impacted, a total of 7,500 people hurt on our roads and a huge cost to New Zealanders.

“That’s why we’re urging all Kiwis to stick to a safe speed and drive to the conditions.”

Perseverance finally pays off

Local travel agent Julie Weeden’s relationship with her 1967 V8 Ford Mustang convertible has certainly been stretched to the limit on more than one occasion during her seven years of ownership in New Zealand. In fact it’s only been over the last few months that she has had the opportunity to showcase the car around the local streets of Whitianga or enjoy a cruise around the Coromandel with the soft top convertible folded down.

After an external restoration project which took far longer than she or husband Dave originally intended, this iconic piece of American motoring history gives nothing away in terms of its past life. Like granddad’s old and original axe that has had five new handles and three new heads, this shiny rich-red Mustang (Ford 65 is the official and original colour name) is far from in original condition. In fact, from the outside, its build and paint quality is arguably better than what rolled off the assembly line almost half a century ago. Apart from retaining one original panel behind the rear seat,
the car has undergone a total strip down and rebuild, using brand new or manufactured body panels and chassis rails.

Like a lot of similar vehicle restoration projects, the amount of time and money that has been poured into this project was very much underestimated and at times there seemed to be little light at the end of what had become a very long tunnel for both Julie and Dave.

It all started when Julie first laid eyes on the traditional long nose and short boot 289 cu inch (4.7 litre) muscle car when she met up with its owner in Australia - an old friend who had used the car on a regular basis for several years and was thinking about selling. As Julie was living and working in Australia at the time, she took the plunge, purchased the Mustang and continued to drive it trouble free for a further three years.

On planning their shift to New Zealand and assuming moving the car across the ditch would be hassle free, Julie and Dave shipped the Mustang off to New Zealand in 2007. On arrival and contrary to what they believed they had been told prior to shipping, the car was required by law to undergo an invasive and very detailed roadworthiness inspection before being registered and allowed to be driven on New Zealand roads. Unfortunately, under close examination, it was discovered some of the last 47 years had not been overly kind to the Mustang and it failed the compliance inspection in some of the major structural areas of its main frame and chassis.

Enter Bruce Haye from Ace Panel & Paint, the local restoration expert, who in 2008 was given the job of stripping the Mustang completely and rebuilding it to the demanding standards set by the authorities in New Zealand. "After every structural repair was carried out, or before in some cases, we were required to get sign off from government approved certification inspectors before moving to the next piece of the puzzle," says Bruce.

"And because the car had undergone a right hand drive conversion in Australia, we even had to change the existing left hand drive windscreen wiper sweep before compliance was finally signed off and that required new firewall panel fabrication."

Bruce has a photo album of before, during and after shots which details the amount of work that has gone into the project and underlines his true expertise in this line of work.

So what’s next on the to-do list for the owner? "There’s still the interior to tidy up, but that can wait just a little longer," says Julie. "With summer on the way it’s time to stop, take a breath and simply enjoy Mustang ownership and that means getting it out of the garage and on the open road a lot more."

And are there any words of wisdom and advice she can pass onto others looking to get into a similar vehicle restoration project? "You need to keep your sense of humour, the original budget you set will never be enough and before you purchase what you think may be a suitable vehicle, go and see somebody like Bruce at Ace Panel & Paint," answers Julie.

"He will take all the emotion away and tell you the true reality of what lies ahead of you. It can be extremely frustrating at times, but at the end of the day it’s a pretty awesome feeling when it’s all finished and the completed product exceeds your expectations."



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.