There has been a lot of correspondence these past few days and visits to our office over the death and consequent actions following the death of the sperm whale beached on Matapoua Beach, Saturday, 22 October.
The Informer has permission from the authors of the two letters following. They might help readers to be more informed as to the different view points. Editor
Letter sent to Operations Manager of DoC (Department of Conservation)
Dear Mr Kelly,
As the Department of Conservation was jointly responsible for the decision on how the whale’s body should be treated and disposed of, I would like you to answer the same questions, from DOC’s point of view:
Was it necessary to bring the body of the whale 12 kms from Matapaua
to Wharekaho? What was the reasoning behind this decision and was it made after due consideration by appropriately authorised people at DOC and Ngati Hei?
Were any knowledgeable persons consulted about the feasibility of dragging the 40 tonne whale up the beach at Wharekaho and burying it in an area where leachates from the rotting carcass would possibly pollute the nearby stream and beach which is much used by residents and visitors?
Why were marine mammal experts not allowed to examine the whale to determine cause of death? Surely DOC can appreciate the importance of this.
The important dotterel breeding area at that part of the beach would have been seriously affected by all of the activity surrounding the operation. Was this taken into account in the decision to relocate the whale’s body to this part of Wharekaho? Why was the local dotterel expert not allowed to assess the impact on the birds and their significant nesting area, despite other people being on the beach at this time?
What was the total (approximate) cost of this operation to DOC including the hours spent there over at least 4 days by several members of your staff? (Please don’t make me invoke the Official Information Act to get this information!). What other important DoC projects will be even more cash-strapped as a result?
Your staff were friendly and “informative,” but much of the information they confidently gave proved to be incorrect (for instance that there would be just one more attempt to drag the whale off the beach to a burial site in front of the Ngati Hei marae before it would be taken out to sea and disposed of there).
What was going on?
I regret to say that local public opinion is strongly negative about DOC’s involvement in this whole operation. “Embarrassing” was a word I heard used more than once.
I look forward to hearing from you with answers to these questions.
Helen Vivian Actionemail@example.com
My letter to Mayor Len Salt who advised he had forwarded the relevant details to both DOC and Ngati Hei. Adrienne Cole-Ewen
Beach Closed - Decomposing Whale.
Dear Mayor Len, Anger and disbelief is rife on the beach right now and I am being inundated with requests for answers regarding the sperm whale currently being dismembered on the beach. Claudia Pentner - our Dotterel lady of over a decade was refused access to check the nests and new chicks after the site had been compromised the day the whale was towed ashore. DOC had no idea where the nests were and the protective fencing was ripped down and diggers driven thru. Claudia was there, on site, but was denied access to show iwi and the digger drivers where the nests with chicks were. An unnecessarily upsetting situation. Kate James, research scientist and head of Project Jonah was refused access. Kate is recognised internationally as a world authority on whales. For the benefit of this sacred dead whale, should she not have been the first person consulted to work with iwi on behalf of the species? Was it death from natural causes? Death from illness? Death from a belly full of plastic? Death from a ship strike? An extremely relevant opportunity lost. Whales are one of the most loved, respected and revered species on the planet, and specifically so here on the Coromandel. The dismay and anger at the incompetence of those in charge of trying to drag it up the beach with equipment that was totally insufficient for the job, was loud and clear. Why was this magnificent sperm whale not taken out to sea and left to the life cycle that nature intended? Who signed off on the deal to deliver it from Matapaua to Simpsons Beach, 12 kilometres away? Yes, there is value to iwi, but the costs involved are significant. In particular, the three diggers on the beach; the biggest digger is costed out at $150.00 per hour and it has been there for 5 days now, together with two smaller ones. Add to that, we are banned from approaching or taking photographs. The southern end of the beach is open only to iwi and our beach is closed for swimming. Our residents want to know:- Who is responsible for approving the costs of this exercise? Who is covering the costs involved? Sometimes electing to educate and involve, rather than exclude and ban, can gain understanding and support for a unique event such as this, instead of the anger currently being generated. Not all iwi were in support of what was happening, but were not prepared to go public as they had been told not to communicate or make any public statements - an extremely uncomfortable situation for those involved. I look forward to your response Len. Your Maori heritage along with your community commitment will no doubt generate a very balanced response. Kind regards, Adrienne Cole-Ewen.
Wharekaho & Simpsons Beach Ratepayers Assn.
More on Potholes
I refer to the letter in last week’s Informer ( October 18th) Issue 1024 penned by Wayne Hill.
I am in total agreement on the contents of his letter, and after discussing it with a few friends and
Whitianga residents, we agreed his words reminded us of the Meatloaf hit, ‘You took the words right out of my mouth.’ Let’s hope our new Mayor read it .
On a different issue, I discovered last week, our MP for Coromandel, Scott Simpson, was in a cross party delegation sent to Rwanda to attend a ‘Gender Equality Conference’. In a time of huge government overspending, I shudder to think how much this whole junket cost. Call me naïve, but isn’t there a tool called Video Conferencing (used extensively in Covid lockdown) that could have sufficed ?
I hasten to add I am totally for Gender Equality in the workplace, and everywhere else, and am
somewhat surprised we don’t have the answers in New Zealand.
50 Leeward Drive, Whitianga 02041248002
Council spraying poison
Is anyone else concerned with the amount of poisonous chemicals the council (Thames-Coromandel District Council) is spraying on our reserves prior to replanting?
The contractors have been indiscriminately spraying up into head high pohutukawas, akeakes and coprosmas, particularly on the reserves by Chief Ruihanas rock and north end of Rings beach.
These areas were thriving with established native trees, bees, insects and skinks. We now have barren wastelands with weeds re-establishing between the plantings.
I've sent photos to council, their response was to send in the contractor to cut out the dead pohutukawas, stating it was necessary to eradicate the maram grass.
The council's reserves team appalls me with their ignorance. Kikuyu and marram grass cannot tolerate any shade and will die out under cover of the very trees the council has poisoned. The pohutukawas growing in the latest sprayed area where the fresias grow each spring, are now starting to die.
Our pohutukawas are under threat from erosion, development, and myrtle rust. The dead trees in the photos are all chest to head high pohutukawas.
This spraying has to stop. The councilhey has not responded to my request for information on what chemical is being sprayed.
Council and EW say they're protecting our native species and foreshore by banning dogs and locking up our bay from any gathering of kaimoana, yet they continue to spray poison on our foreshore.
This letter is sent to The Informer to try and get some helpful response and correct action.
I have emailed the council three times, 16 August, 20 September, regarding the poisoning of our trees. I received a ridiculous response twice and no response the third time. We have lived here for forty plus years. I attach photos of this situation. Kind regards Lee Barraclough firstname.lastname@example.org> Kuaotunu Image- Poison spray at Kuaotunu