Our wrap-up: Stay up to date with our Council news this week
Published on 26 May 2023
The latest from Mayor Len
It’s not every week when as Mayor I get a good view of the potential for where things can go both in the short-term and further out, but this has been one of those weeks.
On Wednesday Minister Michael Wood came for one of his regular visits to the district – he’s begun to clock up some serious time here and is getting familiar with our landscape and our economic and social context. It’s to our great benefit that he is both Transport Minister and Cyclone Recover Minister for the Coromandel (and Auckland), so he’s got direct channels into the government agency that has significant levers to shape our collective destiny here.
Together we started in Thames and drove the entire Coromandel loop for an “on-the-ground” perspective on the condition of our State Highway network, and the difficulties faced by our district’s businesses and communities in the wake of Cyclones Hale and Gabrielle. We stopped off in Coromandel Town, Whitianga and Tairua talking to local business operators (see our below for more information) before heading back to Thames via Waihi.
The closure of SH25A has already had a significant impact on our local economy. There will be ongoing challenges for many businesses between now and the early part of next year. It’s an awful thing, but a reality. We want to pull every available lever to access whatever assistance we can get for those most severely affected.
I was encouraged by the Minister’s commitment to look at some tailored support to affected businesses. It was very evident from our road trip that there are very different needs around the district in individual communities, so a broad-brush approach will not work as well. These are hardworking, resilient people, and it’s been tough for them trying to survive two years of Covid and now this. Anything we can do to help, we will. Anything that the Minister can do speed up delivery of the bridge, he will do that as well. There is sunshine ahead, we just have to get through this together.
The good thing is that active collaboration with Waka Kotahi/NZTA is strengthening and there is funding flowing through to this partnership as part of the budget relief package. I’ll also pursue funding through my role on the Waikato Regional Transport Committee, so that the Coromandel continues to be front of mind and top of budget allocations.
So that’s the immediate future. Today I had a glimpse of what the more distant future could hold for us. I saw this at the Thames War Memorial Civic Centre where a collective called Te Matarau – The Māori Tech Association – was hosting the inaugural E-Pā Wars | Ko Māui Hangaru ki Hauraki. Te Matarau (www.tematarau.tech) is a collective of Māori innovators working in the tech sector. It attracted about 130 students from about six local schools and used gaming as an introduction to pathways in the tech sector. Representatives from Microsoft, Datacom, Weta and others were in attendance – high-powered Māori in the crucial high-tech sector who are role models not just for our rangatahi but for all of us. Te Matarau Chair, Elle Archer, is from the Thames area and so they chose our town to host this event because they want to raise digital involvement outside our big population centres.
Elle told me the E-Pā Wars kaupapa is to inspire curiosity and involvement in the tech sector, to raise the involvement of Māori in this growing area to improve digital outcomes for Māori, who lag behind others in our country.
For me it was also inspirational in terms of the potential for economic development in our district, not just in terms of the growing gaming industry, but applications for movie making and animation.
Road to Recovery
Read more here
Business Impact Survey
We are asking businesses to fill in our latest business impact survey. The information provided will allows us to present an accurate overview of the on-going affects of this year’s storms – and measure how businesses are managing since Cyclone Gabrielle.
By completing this survey you will help us strongly advocate for the needs of our local businesses and industries.
NEMA's Cyclone Recovery Unit weekly update
The Government continues to work closely with regions, including ours, affected by recent weather events and our recovery efforts. See the latest summaries from the Ministry for Primary Industries, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and the Ministry of Transport/Waka Kotahi.
Emergency Mobile Alert
The Nationwide test of Emergency Mobile Alert is happening on Sunday 28 May, between 6pm and 7pm.
The alert will be broadcast from cell towers across New Zealand to all capable mobile phones. So, you don’t need to download an app or subscribe to a service to receive it.
Find out more
Fund established to support sport & physical activity in our district
In response to the severe weather events that have impacted the Thames-Coromandel area this year, our Council, Sport Waikato, and Sport NZ have joined forces to provide funding and support for the recovery and rebuilding of physical activity opportunities in our region.
To address the challenges faced by the Coromandel community, the Thames-Coromandel Disaster Relief Fund for Play, Active Recreation and Sport has been established. Organisations and groups in our district can now apply to access a share of $60,000 of funding provided by both Sport New Zealand and our Council’s Mayoral Disaster Relief Fund.
Whangapoua Wharf has been partially closed for safety reasons following the discovery of some structural issues during a scheduled inspection.
Additional site investigation works will be carried out with contractors early next week (week commencing 29 May) on a low tide, to determine the best way to repair the structure.
Formal inspections take place every three years. The last formal inspection carried out by a structural engineer was 2020. The 2020 inspection and visual evidence led the wharf piles to be graded as a 1 – Very Good Condition on the IIMM (International Infrastructure Management) scale. That was the highest possible rating achievable.
There are two piles that appear compromised. The main supporting pile is infested with Toredo worm in a spot not easily seen from the shore, so it was not picked until now. The outer pile is redundant. It is also rotted out following an infestation of Toredo worm. Toredo worm can cause tunnels within wood within 16 weeks of the infestation and destroy structures within a year.
Kennedy Bay Road
Our Council contractors are starting a block retaining wall project on Kennedy Bay Road this week, approximately 6km east of Driving Creek Road.
Works will be taking place between 7am and 7pm, Mondays to Saturdays, and are expected to be finished on 25 August (weather depending).
During this time, speeds will be restricted and traffic will operate under stop/go management.
Emergency services will be given priority through the work site.
Tapu-Coroglen Rd remains CLOSED. Location is 10km from Tapu.
The formation of a new, much larger slip above the existing under slip on the Tapu-Coroglen Road has caused work on a temporary diversion around the under slip to be put on hold for safety reasons.
There are concerns that further excavation to create a temporary diversion route may cause this new slip to collapse onto the road.
Additional geotechnical investigations are being completed in the next week with a view to re-designing the temporary works if possible. These will also inform the design of the permanent works for repair that are now being reviewed to see if they can be brought forward to permanently reopen the road ahead of the anticipated date of December 2023. In the interim, the Tapu-Coroglen Road will remain closed on either side of the slip zone until further notice.
We would like to remind motorists to obey the signage and barriers preventing vehicles driving through this closed section of the Tapu-Coroglen Road. The risks of slips and/or collapse are real and may occur without warning.
Our Council road and resealing work
Although extensive works are ongoing with the recent storm events, we still need to finish our Council’s road and resurfacing programme to keep up with maintenance on our local roads and ensure the longevity of our network:
- The Esplanade, Whitianga - Wednesday 31 May
- St Patricks Row, Whangamatā - Thursday 1 June
No further works are planned for this season.
Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency State Highway updates
A bridge was selected as it will reconnect the Coromandel Peninsula communities in the shortest time possible, it’s the safest and most resilient option, and work can continue throughout winter.
Watch the video of Jo Wilton, their Regional Infrastructure Delivery Manager, explaining why.
Waka Kotahi is assessing SH25 for temporary speed limits and other safety improvements that might be needed while SH25A remains closed.
Safety engineers will be completing a SH25 drive-over this week, inspecting all of SH25, to assess what safety work is needed and where to propose temporary speed changes that are expected to be in place in June.
In the meantime, Waka Kotahi’s priorities include:
SH25 Ruamahunga Bay –The rockfill embankment (sea wall) is expected to be completed, all going to plan with fine weather, in late May.
SH25 McBeth-Opoutere under slip – Further rain is impacting this site. It should be on track to be fully reopened in June.
SH25 Wilson’s Bay – fixing and stabilising the bank and clearing the drain.
Manaia to Te Kouma Road – Road surface repairs are needed due to slip damage, work will take place from this Sunday 21 May, for three nights. A full road closure will be in place from 8pm to 5am each night, with 1 hour between 11pm and 12am (midnight) to allow for vehicles to pass through the site.
Kūaotunu hill to north of Simpsons Beach – there are multiple underslip sites, impacted culverts and retaining wall failures to be addressed. Geotechnical investigations continue in this area and from Monday 22 May drilling will start between Kūaotunu and Wharekaho.
South of Whenuakite – Where a 30kmh zone is in place, this site is often damaged and the summer storms have further impacted the surface and drainage. Work completed to date includes removal of a huge amount of slash and debris, realigning the banks of the stream, and reconstructing the road shoulder and banks above the stream. Currently work continues on reconstructing drainage systems, the road pavement and surface.
Pumpkin Hill, north of Tairua – there are multiple under slips being stabilised, monitored and drainage solutions have been put in place. Geotechnical investigations began on Monday 22 May.
SH25 Whiritoa Hill under slip (south of Whangamatā) – site investigations completed, drainage solutions in place while designers confirm repairs. Site regularly visited and photographed for monitoring.
SH25 Moana Anu Bridge (also known as the Wentworth River Bridge) will be closed to all traffic (including cyclists and pedestrians) from 7am to 5pm on Friday 9 June, for essential maintenance work. Motorists travelling between Waihi and Tairua on State Highway 25 (SH25) will be detoured through Whangamatā during this time.
Shoreline Management Prioritisation Project
The Shoreline Management Prioritisation Project Team completed their second meeting 16 and 17 May which was a series of site visits around the Coromandel. Next steps are to review the site visits and start the prioritisation work at their next meeting on Tuesday 30 May.
More on SMP
We need your help in caring for our Coast
In the successive storms we’ve had recently, sand dunes have done their job, acting as a sacrificial barrier between the ocean and the land. We need volunteers to help with upcoming planting days across the district. Find out more here or check out the video below to find out why we still need to complete our planting programme to allow dune growth and repair of the damage done by the storms.
What's on in the Coromandel?
Join our Tairua Library for a monthly meet-up with tutor Betty-May Mason. They cover topics in te reo Māori and tikanga Māori. This group meets weekly on Thursdays.
Please note, the Whitianga Run Fest for 2023 scheduled for this weekend has been cancelled.
Are you local government material? Start your career at Council
We're looking for people with ability and passion to create sustainable change in our community. As one of the largest employers in our district, we offer a diverse range of career opportunities.
Why choose Thames-Coromandel?
The Coromandel offers breathtaking scenery, golden beaches and remarkable rainforests. Our district offers a peaceful, restorative atmosphere with plenty of opportunities for adventure. Our district is only 90 minutes from the big cities: Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton, close enough for a regular commute, but far enough for a complete change of pace. That sets our district apart.
Senior Emergency Management Officer: We are one of the most active Civil Defence and Emergency Management Districts in New Zealand and in this role, you will be ensuring Council and our communities are well informed, capable, resilient, and ready to respond to declared and undeclared emergencies and Civil Defence responses.
Process Development & Improvement Business Partner: Working across multiple teams within Council, this role will be reviewing the current processes, identifying and implementing improvements while taking into account security, operational and organisation reputational risks.
Health & Safety Coordinator: In this role you will be working closely with teams across Council to achieve excellence in H&S risk and hazard management, increasing worker engagement in H&S and promoting excellence in H&S practices across the Council.
See more here
Dogs looking for new homes
We have two dogs available for adoption:
1. He loves cuddles and knows some basic commands.
2. A very sweet fun-loving dog that wants to be with people.