Our wrap-up: Coronation of King Charles III, project updates and more
Published on 05 May 2023
The latest from Mayor Len
It’s been a relief to hear that there’ll be an announcement next week which of the three options to rebuild SH25A (Kōpū-Hikuai Road) is going to be chosen. I’ve received assurances that procurement has already begun and that speed of construction, availability of materials, safety, resilience of the design and cost have all been factors in the choice.
Keep your eyes peeled for that announcement, which we’ll be repeating on our Council channels as soon as we can.
The NZTA/Waka Kotahi website has more information on the three options being examined, and why a temporary bypass road as some have called for, is not a viable option.
In the meantime, I know that businesses that usually rely on the steady arrival of bach owners and visitors have been deeply hurt financially by SH25A’s closure. We’ve has been doing everything in our power to assist businesses impacted by the cyclones and the drop-off in those visitor numbers. We set up the Mayoral Disaster Relief Fund and have been the conduit for the Waikato region for the government’s Business Recovery Fund. Approximately $3.8 million has been distributed in our region, almost all of it to Coromandel businesses. Another $25 million has been announced and we’ll be distrinbting this over the next fortnight once our Independent Panel signs off.
We’ve been working to have more major events like the Waka Ama Long Distance Nationals come to the district, which saw about 2000 people in Whitianga on that weekend, and looking at how we can help event organisers in the coming months and into next summer. Through our Destination Management Organisation Destination Hauraki Coromandel, we’re widely promoting nationally and internationally that our district is open for business, despite all the media attention on road closures in bad weather.
We’re also working very closely with Waka Kotahi on investment in transport links in the Coromandel to make them more resilient. That’s not just the State Highway network, but looking at important local links like The 309 Road, Tapu-Coroglen Road and water-based transport.
Tomorrow, I have the great honour of unveiling a commemorative plaque and assisting in a tree planting in Thames to mark the coronation of our new King, Charles III.
Our road to recovery
Some people have been looking for ways to stop erosion and protect their properties from the series of storms we’ve had this year.
Beaches are dynamic systems and coastal erosion is part of a natural cycle that self-repairs. Activities like building seawalls, putting in sandbags and excavating channels can make the situation worse. Dune planting is an option we encourage communities to get involved in (see below).
We know people are worried and wanting to protect their properties, but we urge you to please talk to either Our Council or Waikato Regional Council first. That’s because there might be district and regional plan rules you need to comply with, and environmental impacts you might not have considered – so even if it is within your property boundary you might still need a resource consent to do the works.
Our Council has developed Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) in conjunction with the community, to outline management opportunities for coastal adaptation resulting from sea level rise and increasing coastal hazards, the intent of which is supported by Waikato Regional Council. It is really important that we take a long-term view and work within the pathways identified in the SMPs rather than reacting and putting in structures that are not fit for purpose as they could create more issues than they resolve.
For those of you wanting to know more about the natural cycle of sand dunes:
Sand dunes can naturally recover so long as the vegetation is still intact. Historically, sand dunes wouldn’t be destroyed by large storms. Instead, they would retreat landward and then grow towards the sea again over time in a cycle. So the size of the dune would never change, only it’s position.
Sometimes one part of the cycle, such as the erosion phase, can last for many decades before switching back to accretion again. If enough space is left for a dune to retreat and recover, it could buffer against this indefinitely.
Unfortunately, development up to the edge of the beach means there’s often nowhere for the dune to retreat to, leading to it simply being lost. It’s what we call ‘coastal squeeze’.
Achievements over the last week across the our Council local roading network, on top of Monday’s storm clean-up:
- Slip removal and culvert clearing on Coville Road has been completed.
- Additional safety measures have been installed including traffic signs, sight rails and levelling across several of our storm damage sites.
- The Tapu-Coroglen Road temporary route works have begun with earthworks proposed to start next week (weather dependant).
- Remedial works for Hahei Beach Road are planned to begin within the next couple weeks.
- Further drainage clearing and jetting has been an ongoing focus across the network.
The following updates refer to key steps required to undertake the remedial works at our drop out sites across the network:
- Survey for each drop out site across the network are nearing completion. High priority sites have been completed.
- Geotechnical site assessments, ground testing and option summaries continue.
- Archaeological assessments for each drop out site have been completed identifying some areas that require further information.
- Stretched testing resources have been booked.
- Some designs for the permanent reinstatement sites near completion.
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 dune planting days across the district:
Pāuanui two-day plantathon: Friday 12 May and Saturday 13 May. See here for details.
Opitio Bay: Saturday 10 June. See here for details.
With more to come. Stay up to date by following Coast Care Waikato on Facebook here.
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.
It's Road Safety Week 15-21 May and our Council are part of the Fatigue Campaign launching across the East Waikato.
We'll be running small pop-up fatigue stops in conjunction with More FM from 8-26 May. You can also book a free driver refresher course for your business or organisation.
Fatigue is a danger for us all, we all get tired at various times during the day depending on what is going on in our lives.
After recent weather events many of us are driving longer distances with delays en route, and driving is a very complex activity.
This is your opportunity to think about what you do to realise you are fatigued. What are your fatigue signs? What can you do to help with fatigue? Simple actions like packing a water bottle and snacks can help.
Our road safety partners and the NZ Police will also be focusing on fatigue across the East Waikato and running their own fatigue stops. You may be given an official fatigue campaign drink bottle.
Join our local two hour pop-up events to find out more:
- Monday 8 May – Thames, Rhodes Park from 9-11am
- Thursday 11 May – Coromandel Town, Woollams Ave carpark (outside the Playcentre) from 10am-12am
- Tuesday 23 May – Whitianga, Sports Complex carpark at Moewai Park from 10am-12am
Your business or organisation can also book a free driver refresher course which includes the fatigue campaign. Call us on 07 868 0200 to find out more and make a booking.
What's on in the Coromandel?
Pestival '23 this Saturday 6 May at Driving Creek, Coromandel Town.
The Driving Creek Conservation Park team and Moehau Environment Group have joined forces to bring you this free event. It is open to everyone interested in conservation and offers the chance to network and get inspired. There will be talks from some of New Zealand's leading environmental scientists and local experts. With exhibits, stalls, children's activities and guided tours throughout the day, it will be a fun and educational event for the whole family.
Find out more, including other upcoming events here.
Kōpū Marine Servicing and Business Precinct
The work to build a commercial wharf and floating pontoon, an expanded haul-out, an upgraded slipway, and a public boat ramp and car park is progressing well.
This week’s update:
- The rock revetment is about 40 per cent complete.
- A 20mx6m wharf pontoon and 1mx6mx2.4m ramp pontoon have been cast in Whangārei.
- Fabrication of the precast concrete unispan for the wharf deck and headsticks has begun.
The steel sheet piling for a temporary cofferdam is being prepared, ready to build the recreational boat ramp. The cofferdam for the boat ramp will be put in place first, then the crane will be redeployed to install the first wharf piles.
You can find out more about this project here.
Earthworks were completed this week in preparation for the dune planting event 12-13 May (weather dependent). Thank you to Storm Contracting for the great work in preparing a nice clean slate for the native sand-binding plants to do their job and begin the recovery process, building the shoreline buffer seaward.
Cooks Beach accessways
Today, Friday 5 May work will be carried out to reinstate the Cooks Beach accessways, providing better access to the beach (weather permitting). See maps below for location details:
Whitianga path alignment change
Realignment work is scheduled for Friday 12 May with the new path operational from Monday 15 May (weather dependent) for the pedestrian/cycle path running alongside State Highway 25 in Whitianga approaching Joan Gaskell Drive, behind the Mobil petrol station.
The path crosses land owned by Whitianga Waterways Ltd, they are realigning the path at their cost to allow development of the site behind the petrol station.
The new path alignment will link the path on Reweti Drive with the existing path next to SH25. Pedestrians and cyclists should take care in the vicinity as construction vehicles will be operating.
South Highway Whitianga, dust issue
We’ve been working to resolve a number of factors surrounding the issue of dust raised by commercial activity, with several options being considered. We expect to be able to report details to the Mercury Bay Community Board at their June meeting at which time we will provide an update for our customers.
Waka Kotahi State Highway updates
Waka Kotahi/NZTA is scheduling some SH25 closures for various bits of work:
Kūaotunu – Monday 8 May to Thursday 11 May overnight closures from 8pm to 11pm and midnight to 5am. From Waitaia Rd to north end of Wharekaho.
Kereta Hill (south of Manaia) – Sunday 14 May to Tuesday 16 May overnight closures from 8pm to 11pm and midnight to 5am. From 1090 Thames Coast Rd (flat bit just before hill) to 713 Manaia Rd (Ohoni Stream Bridge).
The Moana Anu Anu Bridge (also known as the Wentworth River Bridge) on the outskirts of Whangamatā will be closed 7am-5pm Wednesday 17 May and Friday 9 June.
Read more from Waka Kotahi/NZ Transport Agency here.
Kauaeranga Valley closed for cyclone repair work
Kauaeranga Valley in Thames will be closed for the month of May 2023 for urgent storm repair work, with plans to re-open at the beginning of June (weather dependent). The Department of Conservation administered road will be closed just past the Visitor Centre, which will remain open as will Kahikatea campsite. Everything else is closed.
You can find the full list of closed camps, walking and biking tracks on the DOC website here link. This includes biking and walking tracks and trails.
DOC will be allowing camping at Kahikatea during the closure period which is normally only for self-contained vehicles. People camping there will need to use the 24-hour toilets in the Visitor Centre car park.
Creative Coromandel update
The latest newsletter from Creative Coromandel includes an update on the Creative Communities Scheme funding round, changes to their website, interview with Tairua artist Reina Cottier and a snapshot of events coming up around our district.
Rural School visits back in full swing
Seven tertiary students from around Aotearoa New Zealand, will travel to school's around the Coromandel on the Monday 8 May for Hauora Taiwhenua’s first rural school’s visit of 2023.
This volunteer-led programme will visit seven schools and two healthcare providers in the rural towns of Ngatea, Thames, Paeroa, Te Aroha, Waihi, Coromandel, Whitianga and Whangamatā before returning to Auckland on Friday 12 May.
Lalit Raikwar, a 5th Year Medicine student at Otago University, Thames High School graduate and volunteer for the 2022 Coromandel region trip, said, “It was a huge privilege to have the opportunity to return to the rural schools I attended and to give back to the communities that helped shape who I am today".
The Rural Health Careers Promotion programme is crucial to Hauora Taiwhenua’s efforts to address New Zealand's chronic lack of rural health professionals, particularly acute in the rural region of the Coromandel.
Hauora Taiwhenua CE, Dr Grant Davidson stated, “It will surprise no one that the workforce crisis in general practice throughout New Zealand is worsening. In fact, we in the rural health sector have stopped calling it a crisis and are referring to it as an emergency”.
Through hands-on experience with medical and dental equipment, these interactive workshops are an excellent way to engage and inspire secondary school children to consider the various health disciplines available through tertiary education. The programme is also a practical way for tertiary health students to give back, with many being from rural backgrounds sharing their real-life experiences.
Coming to the Coromandel provides a particularly unique opportunity for the volunteers on this trip, with all the Coromandel schools closing at one point due to Cyclone Gabrielle. Visiting the Coromandel with this programme, whilst this region is still in recovery from the cyclone offers the chance for this programme to encourage rural students to be a part of the health workforce of the future. A career that we know is vital to the ongoing health and wellbeing of these often-isolated communities.
Lalit summed up her experience, describing how “there was a continuous feeling of fulfilment as you interacted with and inspired the next generation of healthcare workers. Above all, there was a feeling of Aroha as you were immersed into each rural community”.
For more information, contact Hauora Taiwhenua’s rural health careers coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 breath-taking 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.
Water Services Field Rep: Reporting to the Water Services Manager, this Whangamata-based position administers and monitors the performance of the Three Waters Operations and Maintenance Contract and other three waters services as appropriate.
Process Development and Improvement Business Partner: You will be working across multiple teams within Council reviewing the current processes, identifying and implementing improvements while taking into account security, operational and organisation reputational risks. With the support and coaching of a skilled and experienced team, this is an opportunity to make a real impact within and across the organisation.
See more here.
Dogs looking for new homes
We have two dogs available for adoption:
- 12-month old male pup (pictured left), neat, playful nature, but gentle as well.
- An adorable brindle female (pictured right) around 2 years old, who has a quiet gentle temperament, extremely patient, loves a pat and affection.
Council and Community Board updates
Our Mercury Bay Community Board met this week and our Thames Community Board will meet on Wednesday 10 May at 10am. We will have highlights for you next Friday.
Due to lack of business the Coromandel-Colville, Whangamatā and Tairua-Pāuanui Community Board meetings have been cancelled.
Rubbish and recycling changes ahead
Household kerbside collections are changing from 1 September 2023.
- Instead of blue bags you’ll get a new 140-litre wheelie bin for rubbish which’ll be collected fortnightly.
- You’ll also get a new 25-litre bin for food scraps which’ll be collected weekly.
- Recycling will be collected fortnightly from your glass crates and mixed recycling wheelie bin.
- All Council Refuse Transfer Stations will be open seven days a week.