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Letters to the Editor

Cathedral Cove – more needed to open it up again

A follow up to Pauline Stewart’s “Cathedral Cove” article in The Informer November 7, 2023

Cathedral Cove - 88 acres of coastline Reserve was donated to all the people of New Zealand by Vaughn and Dawn Harsant on the condition that it would never be used for commercial gain and would benefit all Kiwi’s in perpetuity. A gift from someone who believed nature’s treasures should be shared by all (previously in The Informer).

How does someone own something like Cathedral Cove? In short, no one does own the actual structure of the Cathedral shaped rock, but the 88 acres along the beach front and surrounding hills were purchased by Vaughn’s father in 1915 from Robert Wigmore who had purchased it in the 1870’s. The land had been abandoned and unoccupied since 1818 when Ngapui came and almost wiped out the Ngati Hei people. The few who were left fled to other parts of their land in Mercury Bay. Robert Wigmore purchased the land for its agreed monetary value.

Vaughn Harsant was the unofficial Mayor of Hahei with his leading of the building of the village and the way he led local planning. He knew that Cathedral Cove was the jewel in the Hahei crown and his generosity to us all draws over 200,000 visitors both local and international every year. This is very much the backbone of our tourist industry and a major support to many local businesses near and far.

Sadly, this summer, there will be no visitors walking over the hill from Hahei to Cathedral Cove, making the short tramp to the beach to access one of the Coromandel’s most outstanding features. A treasure we share with the people of the world. That more effort has not been made to get the track open is devastating for our local tourist industry and has a ‘roll-on’ effect on us all as more local business’s will possibly fail.

The Harsant family descendants are still very much a part of the Mercury Bay history. One of the older members of the Harsant family passed away recently.

HARSANT, Ann Compton. Passed away peacefully, with her family by her side, on Tuesday, 7 November 2023, aged 89 years. Much loved wife of the late Charles Harsant and dearly loved mother and mother-in-law of Annette and Craig Brown, Graham and Liz Harsant, Elizabeth and Andrew Cornish. Ann was an English girl from Norwich who found love in Hahei whilst travelling NZ in 1959. She married Charles Harsant and came to live in Hahei, which was very remote then. A dramatic change from nursing in London. However, she embraced country and family life though never losing her links to her homeland.

Ady Cole-Ewen



What fantastic news that the repairs to SH25A will be completed three months early and that the Coromandel will be open for business by Christmas. Congratulations to all those involved in bringing about this early result.

Perhaps DOC will now take a “can do” attitude and mimic this success by adopting a similar approach to opening up safe access to Cathedral Cove instead of finding excuses not to do so.

Ian Collinson



I would like to convey a HUGE thank you to all the people involved in getting our Kopu Hikuai road repaired so quickly and efficiently. We are so grateful to all the workers from the top to the bottom including our mayor who has ensured that work has continued 24/7 on this project.

We personally are EXTREMELY grateful but probably speak for all those who live at Mercury Bay South. We all so look forward to making the trip on the road and bridge after December 20th. Yipppeeee!!


Elizabeth Nicholls


Is each household ready for climate change droughts? especially since” October weather (is) pushing 2023 to (be the) hottest year ever!”. A simple way of providing an emergency back up water supply is to put a U.V resistant plastic tank under any house guttering down pipe. Standing contents are self-cleaning.

There are other reasons for this back up, except for capital outlay, filling is free. As the town supply is dependent on electricity, any outage to the long reticulation from Karapiro leaves us bereft at the taps and toilet. If help in a drought is a council supplied water (milk) tanker it has somewhere to leave its load. In a shortage irrigation is available for the garden.

By putting the tank on a baser that lifts its floor to the height of the kitchen taps a hose connection to any garden tap will liven the house system if the community valve is closed.

Plastic tanks etc, come in different costs and volumes. Can we be unprepared if we accept the extreme events of climate change.

Yours sincerely

Peter. H. Wood


When will the MADNESS Stop?

Why do we need resource consent to reclaim the beachfront when it is already ours?

Ever since Cyclone Bola, there has been millions wasted on band aid fixes by so called experts, consultants, Environment Waikato and others benefitting from their own decisions, when the answer has been staring them in the face, with the property next to the Tarapatiki Bridge. If they had followed his example instead of bankrupting him and built a stop bank around Brophys Beach at the same height, we wouldn't have lost half the reserve or had those ugly sandbags which have solved nothing. Also, if the Council had let the houses between Tarapatiki and Mother Browns Creek build a proper stop bank, the job would have been done at a fraction of the wasted money on band aids.

This needs to be done ASAP. Only then will we get rid of the bad publicity and negative effects on the town every time we get a storm.

It would be nice to know how much has been wasted so far over the years, with the problem getting worse. Isn't it about time Scott Simpson really got in behind the problem & got the National Party in behind and doing something extremely positive with the results being something to be proud of, instead of the shambles we have witnessed so far. After all, they got elected to get rid of the red tape and use some commonsense. (Maybe even use some of the leftover money available from the new bridge build.)

Buffalo Beach will never be able to be put back as it was more than 30 years ago with just using grasses and sandbags.

So, isn't it time it was left up to the locals to come up with a solution, rather than rely on failed experts? With a bit of combined imagination, it could be beautiful and more user-friendly than ever. If we keep letting the "experts" have their say, the Boating Club will be at Coroglen and we will all be living in the hills!

Food For Thought,

Peter McGillan



Congratulations on a great paper. I realise you have a North Coromandel focus and there’s never much if anything about Whangamata, but I still love picking up a copy every week from Tango’s. You always manage to go much deeper than the sports results or the local garden club. So often local papers like yours are afraid to go there in case you offend some locals. Not you guys. A refreshing read and one I look forward to every week. Well done.

Shaun Fay


People pushing a barrow on bottom trawling

The headline “This Must Not Happen”, as the lead front page story in the 14th Nov issue of Informer certainly attracted one’s attention. I fully imagined a life and death situation. Until I read on. Only then did I realise the author was pushing her barrow once again, the subject almost on a par with the 1080 argument!

Firstly-Trawling is not the bottom wrecking destructive form of fishing portrayed by the recreational lobby, but a very sustainably appropriate method to feed the world’s population-a commitment NZ makes via UNCLOS-the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Huge advances have been made with the help of technology, to limit harm, but with nearly every industry imaginable, some pain or not entirely desirable method of production is often unavoidable. It is not generally the end of the world though.

Can someone please explain why harrowing the ocean floor, (stirring up sediment) couldn’t be seen to be breathing new life into the area? We do exactly that when gardening or farming to improve soils and pastures. Why is it that the ocean floor is treated with almost reverence, remembering millennia ago, NZ emerged from the ocean? Or is it so treated when recreational fishers pursuing their hobby, accidentally lose possibly tons of lead sinkers, hooks and nylon into the sea annually?

Secondly- Anyone having a vessel moored at Westhaven, will be well aware of a black residue covering their boats, from tyre and fuel emissions attributable to the Auckland Harbour Bridge traffic, much of which also pollutes the surrounding sea. Need I also mention runoff from the entire city and coastal environs, and sewage. (latterly in huge quantities)

Thirdly-Given that 10 years has elapsed since the initial Marine Spatial Plan was first mooted, and 7 years since it produced it’s recommendations, do the stakeholder group truly believe trawling has decimated the area, as they would have us believe?

Seems to me, trawling is the easiest so-called problem to address, even if banning it probably won’t make a blind bit of difference.

In summary, I don’t go looking for arguments, and I don’t particularly want to be writing letters to the paper, but sometimes the need to refute and portray a different viewpoint requires it, and yet-

“There is none so blind as those that will not see” and I won’t hold my breath that anything will change, or that our younger generation won’t continue to be thrown into a mental frenzy by zealots, who never apologise when their predictions fail to materialise. More’s the pity.

Gail Morgan

Te Rerenga


Well done to all involved with the new Taparahi Bridge on Highway 25A. They said it could not be done. You have done an incredible job under extreme conditions, in record time. We all thank you so much.

This project should be used to illustrate things can be done, where there is a will, there is a way.

As a new boy in town, I relocated here in the eye of the storm, late January, this year. I have followed the local issues with interest and very much look forward to the informer on Tuesday to keep us up with the play; outstanding Newspaper.

So, while the new Bridge is almost finished, other damage, far less complicated, appears to be going nowhere, fast.

1)I refer to the “Shark Bite” damage to the waterfront footpath on Buffalo Beach. (this is TCDC not Waka Kotahi) I read the notice advising 6 to 9 months of red tape before the repair is even started. Unbelievable!

This is a very simple repair. Extend the existing rock breakwater, backfill the damage, reinstate the footpath, sprinkle some grass seed around, job done. A bridge has been built before this easy repair is even started. A classic example of why things take so long and cost so much.

2)I refer to the Mercury Bay Boat Club, another simple repair, currently an eyesore of rubbish. (Also TCDC, not Waka Kotahi) Build a rock breakwater, same as Buffalo Beach, backfill the damage, sprinkle some grass seed around. Re- pile the Boat club, rebuild the deck, job done. (On the original site.) Not sure if the story to relocate the club to Dundas Street is fact, or fantasy, this would be nothing short of madness. The current location of the club is perfect. To locate the club in a dangerous tidal estuary is madness. Another classic example of why things take so long and cost so much. A bridge has been built before this easy repair is even started.

3) I refer to the Pools of Snot at Cooks Beach. Another perfect example of how not to get things done. After waiting over a year and spending thousands on expensive consultants the net result appears to be nothing, total waste of money. It appears the local Cooks Beach Boys (CBB) I would suggest over a BBQ and a few beers, have the best solution, put some Grass Carp in the ponds, job done. I would suggest this project should be put in the hands of the local school who could do a far better job, no cost. Another example of why things take so long, and cost so much.

Happy to help on any of these projects, no cost.

Douglas Anderson

Whitianga (Doug’s email can be provided from The Informer)


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