News of Thames Coromandel region
Welcome to my second column bringing you news and information from Waikato Regional Council. The month started with some good news as WRC Chair, Pamela Storey and I were appointed to the Minister’s Recovery Advisory Group which will meet monthly with Minister Wood, TCDC, Waka Kotahi, local Iwi and various community representatives. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there.
As you are all aware our towns are hurting. Tairua is no different with a noticeable downturn in visitors, resulting in retail stores, cafés and restaurants reducing their hours, rental properties being advertised as there are minimal Air B and bookings, tenants are moving away for work and our petrol stations are receiving less than half their normal business. We had our first Advisory Group meeting last Thursday, and upon asking to have the fix and access treated as two separate options with the temporary access as urgent, I was told this is not possible as it is too complicated because of the geology of the area and risk to workers of increased vehicle traffic over a temporary access while they are working on a long-term fix.
Petition circulating: When I asked if DOC or Iwi were taking part in an investigation into temporary access, the representatives both responded they are both engaged in the long-term solution. There is currently a petition circulating and I encourage everyone to get behind this and make our voices heard as to how incredibly important it is to livelihoods that access is reinstated as soon as possible, and all options investigated including outside contractors’ input and expertise.
The group was informed that the Tapu- Coroglen Road would be open with stop/go by the end of May and fully open by Christmas, and there is an investigation into the possibility of using coastal freight as a long-term solution to some of our roading reliability challenges.
On a positive note, I attended a Site update of the Kopu Marine Precinct last week and it is great to see the progress of this project and the future benefits and support it will bring for our Aquaculture Industry, Marine Service businesses as well as all-tide access for recreational fishers and boaties. Following on from this, we had a presentation in Regional Council from TCDC councillor, Peter Revell on an application for funds from our Regional Development Fund to help support the project. I am happy to report that with the support from most of the councillors present, I was able to secure a vote to fund a grant of $565000 towards the project. This Regional Development Fund has also approved a grant of $ 2 million towards the Sugarloaf development (wharf upgrade). In closing, please keep an eye out for your neighbours, support your local businesses and promote any community events as far and wide as you can.