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Letters to the Editor

Facts please! - Spat farm

Dirk Seiling’s letter entitled “Spat Farm-facts please” (Issue 1039 January 31 2022) is only partially factually correct. Using the Opotiki mussel farm as an example when comparing the effects of storms on mussel infrastructure is very misleading. The Opotiki farm is 8.5 km from shore and in depths ranging from 40 to 75 metres over the site. The proposed Ohinau Aquaculture operation at Whauwhau is at a depth of around 15 metres and just 1.6 kilometres from the pristine beaches bordering the area. As most seafaring folk are aware, wave action is much more pronounced in shallow water especially close to shore, so it can be expected that breakages during storms and cyclones, and the resulting environmental damage will be much greater around the Whauwhau operation.

As far as Dirk’s assertion that biodiversity created by the spat gathering structure will outweigh any negative environmental effects, one only had to attend the environment court hearings held here in Whitianga to hear expert witness testimony about the myriad threats to the surrounding area, including possible degradation of our Hahei marine reserve. In fact, one of the restrictive conditions put on the proposed infrastructure is that new ropes have to be used each time the spat lines are transported back to this side of the peninsula in order to keep out unwanted marine pests that are present in the mussel farms on the other side. I believe that is about seven hundred kilometres of synthetic rope which, when tested in the hearings, shed many tiny particles of micro plastics when it was run through the hands. One can only imagine the effect of a 5 metre cyclone swell charging its way through the ropes.

So, the biodiversity created by the proposed spat venture may bring a few more fish to nibble on the structures for fishing people to catch, but at what cost to the environment? Let’s hope the cost of new ropes will deter the proponents of this controversial scheme.

Ross Liggins


The Coromandel Peninsula

The lack of policy that is a threat to our river systems

When travelling to the Coromandel Peninsula for the first time in the 80’s, I was impressed with the standard of the rivers and stormwater systems being so well maintained.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said today as the neglect from Regional Council and District Council to maintain the systems are paramount in all areas of the Peninsula.

Starting at Thames the Waihou River is so polluted that this huge river, which goes all the way south of Te Aroha, has silt deposits causing major problems. The Waihou River levels are so extreme that a Te Aroha farmer was cut off from his land by the recent storms (Reported in Hauraki Herald Friday 3 February 2023).

Regional Council and District Council have no plans to mitigate effects of silt build up in waterways partly because of the crazy Coastal Policy not including hard options, groynes and flood gates in their plans.

Back to the region’s rivers and storm water systems. Tairua has significant issues with the harbour so silted up that the boating channel is threatened with closure. The river is so silted up with sand and debris that even with minor rain events the Hikuai is flooded causing road closures.

Finally, looking at the same issues in Whitianga - its harbour and stormwater outlets. Like the Tairua harbour, the Whitianga harbour experiences the same silt build up and their boating channel is threatened. During the 1990’s dredging was carried out in both the Tairua and Whitianga harbours but was discontinued for lack of funding or change of policy.

As for the rivers and stormwater systems emanating from the Whitianga harbour, with no maintenance being carried out the systems are clogged up with silt, logs and debris.

I am sorry to be so negative in this report but with Climate Change already with us in our region we need to protect our environment wherever we can.

Noel S Hewlett


Leave trees where they fall

I suspect that after the next storm or two, there will be at least four of the Pohutukawa trees on the Buffalo Beach foreshore that will have their roots undermined to the extent that they will topple on to the beach. Two of these are immediately north of the HMS Buffalo Memorial and the other two are immediately north of the Mercury Bay Boating Club.

I am not going to argue the merits or otherwise of the Thames Coromandel District Council decision to “let nature take its course.” However, when the inevitable happens, I would plead that the Council persists with the policy of “letting nature take its course” and LEAVE TREES WHERE THEY FALL!!! DON’T cut them up and remove them!

If the trees are left where they fall, they will almost certainly survive, as long as some of their root system remains rooted in the bank above them. Eventually, they will start to grow upwards again, giving us an interesting tree to look at. In the meantime, the fallen trees will act as groynes, protecting the adjacent beach and allowing the sand to build up again. For the trees just north of the HMS Buffalo Memorial, that may well result in the protection of the walkway at that site. That would probably be a better option than extending the rock wall at that site.

I base my predictions on what happened to the beach at the Matarangi Spit. Over the last two years, several of the pines on the ocean side of the spit toppled on to the sand as their roots were undermined. After the first group fell over, the Council removed the fallen trees, the erosion continued unabated and the Golf Club lost a significant amount of land and one of their greens. When the second lot of trees toppled, they were left in place. The beach has built up again and the erosion of the beach immediately north of the fallen trees has slowed significantly.

I will await the outcome with interest.

Kevin Pringle


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