Project news and our Sustainability & Community Resilience committee
Published on 17 November 2023
The latest from Mayor Len
There was perfect weather for the Steampunk the Thames festival. Last Saturday’s parade drew a great crowd, the Pollen Street market had a very busy day, cafes had lines out the door. Retailers were busy as well.
My wife Svargo and I attended the Victorian Masked Ball at the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre on Saturday evening where I acted as judge for the Best Dressed competition (pictured). It was a huge amount of fun and the creativity and ingenuity that people put into their costumes is truly impressive. We then danced the night away at the Gold Rush Rave at the Bella Street Pumphouse and on Sunday entered our dog Molly wearing her wings in the Punk My Pet competition at Victoria Park.
The Small Gauge Railway was running, airships and teapots were racing, there was live music, market stalls and lots of people out and about taking it all in. It was a well-run successful weekend that brought lots of visitors to Thames. Well done, Steampunk the Thames and the organising committee who worked so hard to make this happen:
Caroline Thomas; Richard Hornell; Paula Munro; Lena Fisher; Robyn Pengelly; Ross Smith; Patti Wicksteed; Frazer Murdoch. The Steampunk Markets were co-ordinated by Mem Bourke. Thank you all so much.
The worst-kept secret was made official on Monday with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announcing SH25A will reopen by Wednesday 20 December. This is about three months earlier than originally announced and will hopefully mean a successful trading summer for so many of our businesses around the district.
The timing fits in well with the reopening of our local Tapu-Coroglen Road by Friday 15 December. The staff and contractors of both Waka Kotahi and our Council deserve a big thank you from all of us for their hard work in demanding conditions.
Let’s be clear though, the mahi on our transport networks is not done and there will continue to be crews at work, sometimes with traffic management in place, on both local roads and state highways for many months to come, just to repair the cyclone damage. Let’s spare them a thought as we travel, follow the directions given, be patient and be kind.
We’re also looking longer term, to ensure our roading infrastructure can withstand future extreme weather events. Last Friday, Councillor John Morrissey and I attended the Regional Land Transport Committee workshop in Hamilton where we continue to work with our partners in the Waikato on funding and priorities for long-term investment to ensure this transport resilience. This week I met our re-elected Coromandel Member of Parliament Scott Simpson to brief him on this work, which we will be connecting up on more when the new government is formed.
Pre-Christmas opening confirmed for SH25A
On Monday this week, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency announced that State Highway 25A between Kōpū and Hikuai will re-open to traffic in time for Christmas – a full three months earlier than anticipated.
The route will re-open by 20 December 2023, reconnecting the two sides of the Coromandel in time for the summer holidays.
There will still be finishing work complete, so the bridge will open under traffic management at a reduced speed.
Getting it open in less than seven months is a huge achievement given a bridge of this type would normally take 18 to 24 months to design and construct.
Recovery works on SH25
Works began this week to stabilise the underslip at Wharekaho. Temporary works are underway to widen the road so work can proceed safely with a single lane remaining available for traffic. This operation will work under a stop/go set up.
Waka Kotahi is planning to stabilise the area with anchors and protect the base of the slip from further scouring with rock protection and aim to complete these works before the Christmas break. Similar work at Coroglen should be completed next week.
Council roading repair updates
Recovery repair works are picking up pace as we move into the construction season. We now expect the road to be reopened by 15 December, with Kelsey Construction working hard to make up for delays caused by vandalism and weather events.
Black Jack Rd, Kūaotunu
Work has started 1.7km from the junction with State Highway 25 to repair the damage from Cyclone Gabrielle and are expected to take four weeks. Kelsey Construction will return on 15 January 2024 to begin works at 2km, with that site expected to take six weeks to construct.
Every effort will be made to ensure both noise and dust are kept to a minimum
to prioritise the health, safety and well-being of neighbouring residents. Temporary Traffic Management will involve road closures up to 50 minutes at a time, with the road open for 10 minutes on the hour. We'll be doing everything possible to limit delays and will only implement 50-minute closures when necessary. Regular access to residential properties will be maintained during construction and any temporary closures will be communicated directly to residents to arrange suitable times.
New homes on the way for Thames
Work starts this week in Thames on eight new Kāinga Ora homes, to help meet the need for public housing in our district.
The two- and three-bedroom single storey homes are expected to be completed early next year.
At 110-112 Harvey Crescent 4 two-bedroom homes will replace two houses, while at adjoining sections at 736 Mount Pleasant Road and 125 Harvey Crescent 2 two-bedroom and 2 three-bedroom homes will replace two existing houses, with all four current houses built in the early 1960s.
The eight new homes are being built offsite in a factory and will be transported to the sites where they will be installed and connected to services, and have porches, decks and fencing built. They will be low maintenance, fully insulated and have double glazing, carpets and curtains, along with a fenced outdoor area and allocated off-street parking.
A further four houses are also planned for 820-822 Mount Pleasant Road, and a single house at 302 MacKay Street, with work for these houses expected to start on site early next year with completion by the middle of 2024.
Darren Toy, Regional Director Bay of Plenty for Kāinga Ora says the houses will be welcomed by those most in need of a place to call home.
“With 81 whānau on the Housing Register in Thames-Coromandel, there is a real need for these houses and it’s great to see work starting, with quick completion of these first eight homes early next year through the innovative use of offsite manufacturing.
“By making better use of our existing land we can replace old houses built over 60 years ago on large high-maintenance sections, with more warm, modern homes which are better suited to how whānau live today.
“These are the start of a pipeline of new public housing for Thames, with 38 houses currently either underway or in early planning stages.”
Kāinga Ora currently has 208 public housing homes in our district.
For more information visit letstalk.kaingaora.govt.nz/thames
Sustainability and Community Resilience Committee meeting
Sustainability and Community Resilience Committee meeting
Our Council’s newest committee, the Sustainability and Community Resilience Committee, got off to a flying start on Thursday with a positive meeting addressing key issues such as:
- moving towards electrifying our Council’s transport fleet
- the recovery plan for the district, emphasising the need to build recovery into the everyday work of Council
- pilot trials of sustainable business opportunities in seaweed cultivation going on in Thames and Coromandel Harbour
- Cadet positions coming up in council to help young people into employment
- funding a three-month trial of transport between Coromandel Town and Thames over the summer months.
To read more about the above topics go to the agenda or watch the meeting online on our webpage tcdc.govt.nz/sustainabilityresilience.
The committee’s purpose is to develop, monitor and review Council’s plans and strategies relevant to sustainability and the four wellbeings – social, economic, environmental and cultural.
Councillor Robyn Sinclair is the Chair of the Committee, Cllr Rekha Percival is Deputy Chair, and the elected members are Cllrs John Morrissey, Martin Rodley and Deli Connell (Cllr Connell attended online)
Meetings will take place quarterly, moving around the district. The next one in February 2024 will be in Whangamatā. And in true sustainability mode – members will all bring a plate of food they’ve cooked or baked.
Kōpū Marine Servicing and Business Precinct
“A new sense of optimism that we haven’t seen for 11 months” has been created by the Kōpū project, Mayor Len Salt told a group of elected members, business and community leaders visiting the site this week.
The Mayor described his excitement about the project as it nears the final six months of construction, with the new wharf, commercial slipway and recreational boat ramp due to open in May 2024. “It will tie in with the really good work that’s happening in getting roading up and running. I can’t wait to see where we go next,” Mayor Len said.
“Last week we reached a pivot point and turned a corner. Talking to the business community, retailers have been down in the dumps, but this project is a game changer.”
Urban Solutions is overseeing construction under Council direction, with contractors Fulton Hogan, Land + Sea Civil and Heron Construction carrying out the work. Local sub-contractors are being used as much as possible throughout the build.
Fulton Hogan will return in early 2024 to complete the carpark surface, King Street paving and Quay St entrance widening. When it’s finished, the facility will consist of:
- an 80m long commercial wharf and floating pontoon enabling in-water marine servicing and vessel loading
- an expanded, unsealed haul-out area
- an upgraded, concrete reinforced slipway; and
- a public boat ramp and car park.
There is the potential for up to 100 jobs to be created longer term, once the build is complete.
Pine tree felling planned for Ōpoutere Beach Recreation Reserve
A section of the Department of Conservation’s Ōpoutere Beach Recreation Reserve will be temporarily closed for the felling of more than 350 pine trees.
The pine trees are up to 30 metres tall and are mostly wilding pines that have spread from trees originally planted as windbreaks.
The death and decay of the trees has created a hazard to people walking through the reserve, through falling branches, as well as contributing to the fire risk at the site.
DOC’s Hauraki Operations Manager Avi Holzapfel says the condition of the trees stems from a deliberate and unpermitted poisoning incident.
The closure of the reserve will commence on 20 November, with the felling project estimated to take three weeks.
While the work is being undertaken, part of the reserve will be closed to the public. This will include the currently closed area at the southern end of the reserve, the main DOC track to the beach, and the northern side of the main track where some pines also need to be felled.
It is anticipated at this stage the track closure will be in place for 10 working days. The track may be reopened earlier if it is safe to do so.
Avi says DOC has consistently warned of the fire risk in the reserve, where there is a fire ban and fires, barbecue and fireworks should not be used.
DOC supports Fire and Emergency NZ’s advice which urges all residents and households in Ōpoutere to have a fire escape plan.
Coromandel Town landmark celebrated in style
We had a great turnout this week to celebrate the 150th year of our Council’s Coromandel Town building at 355 Kapanga Road – including a ‘Pastor’ in jandals, a Town Crier and two elegantly costumed Community Board members.
The day began with a warm welcome to the community from Community Board Chair Gavin Jeffcoat, before Peter Sephton from Boom & Bust Heritage Tours shared some of the amazing history behind this building, which once housed the town’s post office, courthouse and police station. Before the Karaka Bridge was built, the stream was prone to flooding, forcing intrepid locals to wade through water to collect their mail.
Mayor Len Salt donned his mayoral chains to unveil the new 150th commemoration plaque, and a short prayer of blessing was given by John Gaffkin-Cowan before the ceremony closed. Guests were treated to a delicious afternoon tea served inside the building’s former courthouse room.
Thank you to everyone who helped out on the day, those who dressed in costume to add a sense of occasion, and everyone who came along to help us celebrate this beautiful heritage landmark.
Summer water testing
Waikato Regional Council has recently kicked off their coastal recreational water quality monitoring programme.
Their environmental scientists regularly test popular coastal spots over the busy summer months. They check whether bacteria levels are safe for beachgoers to enjoy activities such as swimming and surfing. The testing spots include a range of beaches in the Coromandel.
Waikato Regional Council then shares this data with Land Air Water Aotearoa (LAWA) and public health officials. LAWA's Can I Swim Here? page lets you check a spot's water quality at the time of sampling before you head out. You can find it here.
Chorus increases network resilience with MEOW
Internet and phone connection provider Chorus is ensuring they are prepared for future weather events with their new self-contained mobile exchanges, placing one in the North Island and one in the South Island.
Each Mobile Exchange on Wheels (MEOW) can support up to 25,000 fibre connections, roughly equivalent to the size of the Chorus exchange in Gisborne.
The units are bespoke, robust, and designed to deploy in the event of a partial or total outage of a fibre exchange and will serve any fibre connection. They can be run by UPS batteries alongside backup generators.
Below you can watch a video about the MEOWs:
Chorus are also looking at their general network resilience in the context of climate change, undertaking detailed assessments of flooding and sea level rise risks as part of this analysis. Significant investment is planned to increase levels of resilience.
Voice calling for rural communities
With new technology, Chorus now have increased options with more flexibility and functionality than traditional phone lines. These include mobile, Wi-Fi calling and more.
Hahei Village Carpark signage
The Hahei Business Association and our Council are administering a new project to erect signage at the Hahei Village entry carpark.
The carpark has 480 spaces and although the Cathedral Cove track is closed we anticipate high usage through the summer season, especially with SH25A now re-opening before Christmas. It also provides an opportunity to promote local activities and services to visitors and support our tourism operators. New fences for signage have been built for the project.
At this stage there's room for 25 businesses on each fence (one fence at the bus stop and information shelter end of the car park and one at the Pa Road pedestrian exit end).
The signs need to all be the same size,1000mm high and 600mm wide printed on ACM sign board. Your sign design and production is up to you. The rate per sign is $300 per year (Oct 1st-Sept 30th). Payment for 2023/24 season will be requested towards the end of January 2024. Contact Phil Ander at firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest and secure your spot in this popular destination.
Quarterly economic update for the Coromandel
Data released this week by Infometrics showed that economic momentum in our district eased further, with provisional growth estimates falling from an 2.5 per cent in the year to June 2023, to 0.8 per cent in the year to September 2023. Severe weather events earlier in the year continue to impact the region’s tourism related sectors, and significant pressures remain in the agricultural sector.
- Employment grew 1.7 per cent in the September quarter, keeping annual growth relatively steady from June.
- The health care industry led the September quarter’s growth, while admin and support, accommodation and food services, and retail trade jobs all declined notably.
- The average annual employment rate rose 0.2 percentage points from June to 3.6 percent, as unemployment trends upwards nationally.
- Jobs in agriculture, forestry, and fishing have also eased in over the year to September, concentrated in dairy cattle farming, and sheep and beef.
- The ANZ commodity price index showed dairy prices declining 19 per cent per annum in the September quarter, which will shave off an estimated $7.9m from the region's 2023/24 season dairy payout, compared to the previous season.
- Guest nights fell 2.5 per cent in the September quarter, dragging annual growth to 8.7 per cent.
- Consumer spending totalled $132m in the September 2023 quarter, down $5m from the September 2022 quarter. A reduced flow of tourism, in addition to persistent cost-of-living challenges, has dragged annual consumer spending growth into the negatives for the first time in several years.
- Weather event damage kept the housing market suppressed, despite improvements nationally.
- House sale declines worsened to 22 per cent in the September quarter, whereas house sales grew 7.2 per cent nationally.
- House prices continued to decline faster than across the country, although the average house value in Thames-Coromandel is still among the highest in the country.
Thames MSD Service Centre closed for building repairs
A note that the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) service centre on Pollen St in Thames is currently closed for urgent building repairs. The building suffered damage in this year's weather events and is currently being assessed.
More information and timeframes will be made available by MSD as soon as possible. The office will be re-opening once these issues have been resolved.
Your dog’s mess is your responsibility
Our district rules state you must pick up after your dog. It's to keep our district clean and hygienic.
You can find poo bag dispensers in many of our most-used dog walking areas, but it is always best to take a few with you just in case.
- Remember to always pick up after your pooch.
- Always carry a waste bag, just in case!
Know your dog rules and want to be in to win a $100 prezzy card?
Take our short quiz and learn more at tcdc.govt.nz/leadtheway.
Learn how to record oral history
Join Sue Berman, the Oral History Curator from Auckland Libraries for an exciting workshop opportunity at the Treasury in Thames – Recording Oral History.
Bring along your ideas and over the day you will explore:
• What is an oral history?
• The value of oral history.
• Project design.
• Interview skills and practice.
• Getting the best sound recording.
• What happens after the interview?
Ministry of Culture and Heritage have a funding round for oral history, which closes in April. Those who have attended Sue’s training can add this to their application. Sue is able to support people's applications and Auckland Library/The Treasury can act as a repository for recordings. Click here for more information on this fund.
When: Monday 4 December, 2023
Time: 10am- 3pm
Where: The Treasury Research Centre and Archive, 705 Queen Street, Thames.
Cost: $10 per person.
Spaces are limited - please email email@example.com with 'Oral History Workshop Booking' in the subject line. You can book in person at The Treasury, or phone 07 868 8827. Registration closes Wednesday 29 November at 5pm. Tea and coffee provided (please bring along your own lunch).
For more on oral history, you can watch this series: Ngako: The Collections Talk.
Community Waka Ama in Whangamatā
Whangamatā Community Marae Committee Te Whānau Waka Ama o Whangamatā are offering free community Waka Ama for the next four weeks. It's open to all ages and abilities and is a chance for the community to come together to experience Waka Ama.
It will be held on Mondays from 13 November, from 5-6pm followed by a free BBQ. Lifejackets and paddles are provided. Bring a towel, warm clothes and wear clothing you don't mind getting a little wet. Meet at the Waka Site, Beach
Road, next to the Marina. Click here to see a map of the location.
These sessions are free, through support from our Council's Mayoral Relief Social Recovery Fund for community events and wellbeing initiatives: tcdc.govt.nz/socialrecovery
The Arts Foundation opens nominations for Springboard Programme
The Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi's Springboard programme aims to kickstart arts careers for artists at a formative stage of their career. The artist must show potential to develop a sustainable career and practise in the arts.
- The award must have major impact on the artist to carry out working as an artist for a year.
- The artist could be in their final year of formal education ready to develop a practice, or have developed a practice independent of any formal teaching institution.
- They will show potential to develop their careers either as independent artists or within a creative community.
- The artist needs to show commitment and intent for a career.
Springboard nominations are open now, and close at Midnight on Friday 15 December.
Local photographer Karen Moffatt-McLeod is running a photography competition for youth aged 17 and under living on the Coromandel.
Entry is free and the winners will be shown at a local exhibition. Plus, there are prizes to be won.
The themes are 'Portrait' and 'Street / My Community'. Entries close on Thursday 30 November.
Take some creative photos with your phone or camera, choose your favourite, and click here to enter.
This competition is supported by our Council through Creative NZ Creative Communities Scheme.
Join the Whangamatā Surf Life Saving Club
Surf life saving is an opportunity to enhance your fitness, learn amazing water skills and work with a great bunch of people while giving back to the community.
Whangamatā Surf Life Saving Club are recruiting for their next intake of Surf Lifeguards and Patrol Support candidates. Their team of instructors are ready to get you prepared for the January exam.
Citizens Advice Bureau call for volunteers
Citizens Advice Bureau in Thames is looking for people to join our team of volunteers. Volunteers usually work once a week or a fortnight depending on their other commitments. Currently we are open three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am-1pm.
We’re looking for more volunteers to enable us to open Monday to Friday, and hopefully to extend our hours.
There are no specific requirements for the job, as full training is provided.
If you're interested, please call into their office at 301D Queen Street, Thames. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07 868 8405.
Opportunities at our Council
At our Council, we ensure work-life balance is not just a dream but a reality. We offer an array of staff benefits including flexible work arrangements, relocation allowance, free parking, sick leave on commencement of employment and more. We are currently looking for:
If you are interested in working for us and there are currently no vacancies that fit your skillset and knowledge, please let us know by completing an expression of interest application via the link below.
Click here for more information, or to apply.
Adoptable dog of the week
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