Wednesday, 18 September 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Petition launched for New Chum application to be publicly notified

The residents group “Preserve New Chum for Everyone Inc” has launched a petition to call on Thames Coromandel District Council (TCDC) to publicly notify any existing and new applications for development adjacent to Wainuiototo/New Chum Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Towards the end of last year the owners of the land adjacent to the beach lodged an application for resource consent to build three dwellings on their land.

“Although this application is for only three houses above the beach, it should not be permitted,” said Linda Cholmondeley-Smith, spokesperson for the residents group. “If allowed, this application would be the beginning of a gradual development of the privately owned land next to this iconic beach and the end of its pristine wilderness value. In fact, one house is too many as its unique character will be eroded and its uniqueness is lost forever.

“TCDC must publicly notify the application so that everyone who loves New Chum can have their say. This is a matter of significant national interest and requires leadership, not only from local government but also from the National government and the regional authorities charged with protecting the environmental and recreational values of our area.”

New Chum for Everyone Chair, Grahame Christian said a land swap between the government and the owners of the land adjacent to the beach is the obvious route to go now. “It’s been talked about for three years and the time has come to act. We don’t want to wake up one morning and find that [New Chum’s unspoilt character] is gone forever. Some people claim that there are other areas such as New Chum on the Coromandel. This is not correct. Only New Chum can be accessed on foot.”

Green MP Catherine Delahunty, who helped launch the petition, said that many people had assumed the New Chum issue had been resolved, but as it has not, there’s a need for the community voice to be heard on protecting the values of the beach and the coastal land next to it.

TCDC said the application for resource consent is on hold while the land owners provide further information to them, including a detailed landscape plan and a more detailed visual assessment.

TCDC is treating the application as a “controlled activity,” which means they do not have an obligation to publicly notify the application. No decision on notification has been made as yet.

Pauanui to Tairua walkway closer to being built

Stage one of a cycleway and walking track enabling people to cycle or walk between Pauanui and Tairua is getting closer to being built.

In December last year, Thames Coromandel District Council awarded $56,000 to the Hikuai District Trust, a charitable trust that's spearheading the project. That same month, forestry company Rayonier guaranteed $30,000 towards the project, over the next three years. These significant donations means the Trust can proceed with the construction of the first stage of the trail.

The complete track will be 25km long and follow the banks of the scenic Tairua estuary, continuing from the end of the existing Coastal Walkway track, over a newly-constructed bridge at the Tangitarori Stream, following the estuary up near Hikuai School, down to the north-western side of the Tairua River and estuary, finally linking up with the public access way from Tairua Primary School.

“At the moment we are waiting for resource consent from Waikato Regional Council which has had our application for some weeks," said Hikuai District Trust spokesman Gary Fowler. “Regional Council required a huge amount of information and experts had provided this. An extensive ecological report was part of the application, along with support from local landowners and Iwi. Meanwhile a Regional Council staff member has walked the trail and pest control has also been introduced to the area.”

The application for stage one covers the section from the Tangitarori Stream to Duck Creek. The Trust plans to complete this section before undertaking the next section to Hikuai.

“We are lucky to have trail expert John Gaukrodger as part of the Trust’s Trail Committee,” Mr Fowler said. “John has a great deal of expertise with these projects and has been hugely helpful in getting us this far. We also want to thank both the Thames-Coromandel District Council and Rayonier Matariki for their financial support.

 “There are large outgoings needed to pay for approvals before we can start on any construction. Money is an ongoing concern and once we have something to show, fundraising will become more aggressive.

“The first job once consent is given will be a bridge over the Tangitarori Stream. This has been designed and is part of the Regional Council application. It specifically allows for small craft access underneath, something that has met with approval from local canoeists and paddle-boarders.”

The Trust is working closely with the Coromandel’s Coastal Walkways group.

First hit-out for Peninsula Area Schools First XV

For the 2014 rugby season, Mercury Bay Area School has combined their First XV with Coromandel and Manaia players to be known as the Peninsula Area Schools First XV in the Thames Valley Coulter Cup Competition. Training is on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Thursday trainings held in Whitianga one week and Coromandel the next to keep the amount of travel fair for each group of players.

Although it has taken a little while to gel as a playing group, the Peninsula team felt confident in heading into their first and only pre-season game against the Otumoetai College First XV on Saturday 3 May in Tauranga.

The game was played in great weather conditions in front of a solid crowd of supporters of both teams. Although the Peninsula team found it difficult to find their rhythm, they only trailed by a single penalty kick after 20 minutes. However, defensive lapses in the next 20 minutes saw them behind 17-0 at halftime.

The team came out really fired up and determined in the second half with winger, James Hunter crossing for a try in the corner. The conversion failed and the game slowly got out of our reach of the Peninsula team. The final score 36-5 in favour of Otumoetai.

The team took plenty of positives out of the game and is confident heading into the first round of the Coulter Cup Competition against Hauraki Plains on Saturday 10 May.

ANZAC Day in Mercury Bay

Big crowds attended the two ANZAC Day services held in Mercury Bay last Friday, 25 April. In Whitianga World War Two and Vietnam War veterans (pictured - top photo) marched as part of the dawn parade from the Mercury Bay Club to the 6:00am dawn service at Soldiers Memorial Park. Many wreaths were laid and president of the Mercury Bay RSA, Bruce Collier, read a poem about the merchant navy, an often forgotten group of people who also courageously served their country.

At Matarangi’s 11:00am service, the guest speaker was Lt Col David Harvey (pictured - bottom photo), chief of staff of the New Zealand Defence Force. He spoke about the Battle of Gallipoli and how also among the new recruits of the New Zealand Armed Forces there’s not only a sense of adventure, but a sense of duty and a willingness to serve. Next year will see the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, which lasted from 25 April 2015 to 9 January 1916.

ANZAC Day in Mercury Bay

Big crowds attended the two ANZAC Day services held in Mercury Bay last Friday, 25 April. In Whitianga World War Two and Vietnam War veterans (pictured - top photo) marched as part of the dawn parade from the Mercury Bay Club to the 6:00am dawn service at Soldiers Memorial Park. Many wreaths were laid and president of the Mercury Bay RSA, Bruce Collier, read a poem about the merchant navy, an often forgotten group of people who also courageously served their country.

At Matarangi’s 11:00am service, the guest speaker was Lt Col David Harvey (pictured - bottom photo), chief of staff of the New Zealand Defence Force. He spoke about the Battle of Gallipoli and how also among the new recruits of the New Zealand Armed Forces there’s not only a sense of adventure, but a sense of duty and a willingness to serve. Next year will see the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli, which lasted from 25 April 2015 to 9 January 1916.

Top chefs at this year’s Scallop Festival

Some of New Zealand’s best-known chefs will attend the tenth annual Whitianga Scallop Festival on 6 September this year. “The Scallop Festival committee has decided to invite only three chefs to appear on the live cooking stage of the 2014 Scallop Festival,” said Fiona Kettlewell, organiser of the event. “We’re glad that all three the chefs, Ray McVinnie, Josh Emett and Julie Biuso, have accepted the invitation.”

Ray McVinnie and Josh Emett are best known to the New Zealand public as two of the three judges on New Zealand Masterchef, but that is only part of their very impressive CV’s. Ray has a MA (Hons) degree in History and has been a professional chef and food writer for many years. He worked in the kitchens of some of Auckland’s best restaurants, including Metropole, where he was executive chef for six years. In 1992 he joined Cuisine magazine, judged best food magazine at the 2006 Gourmet Media World Festival in Cannes, where he is at the moment food editor. He was on the international jury for the Italy-based Slow Food Awards and has twice been on the panel of judges for the World Food Media Awards. Ray has won many awards throughout his career, including the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers Gastronomy Award in 2005 and the Singapore Tourism Best Singapore Travel Story Award, also in 2005. He has also had five cookery books published. He has been a New Zealand  Masterchef judge since the first series.

Josh grew up on a farm outside Hamilton. His passion for food was spurred by the fact that he was encouraged to cook something rather than to complain when he was, typical boy, always hungry. After school he decided to pursue his love for food instead of a desk job. He trained at
the Waikato Polytechnic and then spent 18 months in the early 1990’s working in the kitchen of Cin Cin on Quay, at that time the jewel in Auckland’s food scene crown. The next few years Josh spent in London, Melbourne and France before going back to London where he joined Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea. In 2001, Josh was selected as part of the team to launch Gordon Ramsay at Claridge’s. That was followed with him being asked to become head chef of the re-opened Savoy Grill. In 2004 The Savoy Grill was awarded with its first ever Michelin star. In 2006 Josh crossed the Atlantic to initially oversee operations at Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC in New York City and later-on at Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood.

Gordon Ramsay at The London NYC was awarded two Michelin stars within ten months’ of Josh’s arrival. Gordon Ramsay at The London West Hollywood was later awarded one Michelin star. In 2010 Josh opened Gordon Ramsay’s first two restaurants in Australia, in Melbourne, and appeared as guest chef on both Australia Masterchef and the first series of New Zealand Masterchef. That led to Josh being asked to join New Zealand Masterchef as judge permanently from series two. Josh moved back to New Zealand in 2012 and now owns or co-owns restaurants in Auckland
and Queenstown. He released his first cookbook, “Cut,” late last year, reflecting his zero-waste policy.

Food is Julie Biuso’s life. She began her career at the Cordon Bleu School of Cookery in London, became the principal of the Cordon Bleu Cookery School in New Zealand and went on to own her cooking school. Later-on she shifted gears to pursue a career in food journalism. Her career to date includes regular appearances on breakfast television, 15 food books, five Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, a Montana Book Award, a Goodman Fielder Wattie Book Award and a Gold Ladle in the World Food Media Awards. In 2011 she was made an Ambassador for Le Cordon Bleu (NZ). According to Fiona, the lineup of Scallop Festival chefs will, once again, be complimented by outstanding entertainment, great food, wine and beer stalls and the familiar vote-and-win and bestdressed competitions.

Tickets for the Festival will go on sale to the general public on 6 May through www.scallopfestival. co.nz and www.eventfinder.co.nz. Outlets where tickets can be bought in person will later be announced. Tickets cost $45 each.

Businesses uneasy with proposed increases in concession fees

Some businesses operating on parks and reserves owned or administered by Thames Coromandel District Council’s aren’t happy with the proposed increases in concession fees in TCDC’s draft 2014/2015 annual plan. According to TCDC, the increases are necessary to reflect the actual cost of administering a concession.

Darrell Bird from Dive Zone in Whitianga said the increases are excessive. “We have to apply for quite a few concessions to really just walk across the beaches and beach front areas in the Mercury Bay area. If Council adopts the annual plan as it’s drafted, our fees will jump from $1,000 per year to $2,500. That’s on top of a whole heap of other fees we now have to pay to other government agencies and regulatory bodies. It’s the tourism operators that will be hardest hit by the increase in fees. Some of them may be forced out of business. I hope Council will rethink the whole thing.”

Nina Hammond, owner of the iconic yellow Nina’s coffee caravan parked at Brophy’s Beach during summer, agrees with Darrell. “My fees will increase from $300 per year to $900. I’ll have to sell a lot of extra coffees to make up for that.” The Mercury Bay, Tairua-Pauanui and Whangamata Community Boards all made submissions against the proposed fee increases.

Some of the unhappy business owners spoke against the fee increases at the annual plan hearing that took place in Whitianga on Monday, 28 April.

Who knows where baking a carrot cake may lead to

Caleb Carter was last year a student at Mercury Bay Area School. During the holidays he helped to make pizzas at Luke’s Kitchen in Kuaotunu. This year he decided to take some time out and while he tried to figure out what to do with his life, he worked at Whitianga café, The French Fig. One of his first jobs at the café was to bake a carrot cake from a recipe owner, Erin Coats gave him. According to Erin a man came in, bought a slice of Caleb’s cake, bought a second slice and then asked if he could meet the “baker of the cake.”

As it turned out, the man was well-connected and the next moment Caleb had an offer to join the team at renowned Auckland restaurant, Baduzzi as apprentice chef. Caleb is now working at Baduzzi and will start his apprenticeship next month. All going to plan, he’ll be a fully qualified chef in a few years - and the world will be his oyster. And it all happened because he baked a carrot cake. Pictured is Caleb (left) with Baduzzi head chef Glenn File in the restuarant’s kitchen.

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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.