Local government's future, plus weather and SH25A updates
Published on 06 October 2023
The latest from Mayor Len
The upcoming election has brought about another week of uncertainty, with many decisions affecting local councils hanging in the balance.
Take Three Waters: under the new legislation, ten water entities have been created. We find ourselves in Entity B, representing the Waikato Region encompassing the 11 councils within the Waikato Regional Council boundaries. Will this arrangement change post-election? If it does, and we revert to the pre-Three Waters status quo, we face the challenge of securing funding for water infrastructure while preserving local decision-making authority and flexibility.
How do we fund water infrastructure equitably, across the whole district, without creating an unaffordable burden on a small ratepayer base trying to fund a large region that has more than its share of hits from weather events? The impending investments in stormwater alone poses a significant financial strain on both current and future ratepayers, made worse by sharp increases in interest rates and inflation. There's a looming risk of postponing critical infrastructure projects or replacements, potentially leading to infrastructure failures when they are most needed.
These challenges are at the forefront of our discussions with the Waikato Mayoral Forum and our combined Iwi Leaders. Our next meeting is scheduled for October 19, where we'll explore potential frameworks to present to our councils and communities for further deliberation, assuming the current legislation is repealed.
Our council has actively participated in the Future for Local Government discussions following the release of the Independent Panel report earlier this year. A conference was held in Wellington in September 17 and 18, attended by Mayors, Chief Executives, and Councillors.
Several noteworthy recommendations have been made, for elected officials to report back to their respective communities. Some key areas have been identified for potential change:
• Establishment of a Minister for Local Government within the cabinet, recognising the value and significance of local government.
• Creation of a dedicated Ministry for Local Government, rather than treating it as an afterthought within the Department of Internal Affairs.
• Imposing rates on government-owned land and buildings, which currently do not contribute to the costs borne by ratepayers despite the services provided by councils.
• Redirecting GST collected on rates back to councils, rather than retaining it within the government's coffers.
• Devolving funding responsibilities, as most councils rely on frequent government funding requests, especially during crises and extreme weather events. The government should adopt a high-trust model, allocate funds to councils, and empower local decision-makers with their invaluable local knowledge.
The last point is of paramount importance for all councils. Without adequate funding, we struggle to deliver the essential services and amenities that our communities require. The current model is widely seen as unsustainable for the majority of councils, necessitating changes within this sector. As this conversation progresses, the pressure on the government to act will intensify.
El Niño has officially arrived
A majority of NIWA’s criteria for classifying an El Niño event were met during September.
There’s around a 100 percent chance of El Niño continuing during October-December and over a 95 percent chance that it will persist through summer. There’s a 75 percent chance for the continuation of El Niño conditions through autumn 2024.
Winds are expected to be stronger than normal across most of the country, with periods of potentially damaging winds.
Temperatures are most likely to be above average in the east of both islands. They're equally likely to be near average or above average in all other regions.
The country will likely be exposed to dramatic temperature swings. Spells of unseasonable warmth from Australian air masses will likely be followed up by sharply colder southerlies, with little middle ground.
Rainfall is most likely to be below normal in the north and east of the North Island and above normal in the west of the South Island. Rainfall is about equally likely to be near normal or below normal in all other regions. There is likely to be prolonged dry spells to the north and east of both islands.
Putting a damper on wildfire risk
Warmer weather will drive grass and vegetation to quickly grow and then dry out, providing ideal fuel for wildfires.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) says 99 per cent of wildfires are caused by people and we can all play our part to prevent them.
• Keep grass short and green.
• Move highly flammable plants and materials well away from buildings, plant fire resistant species.
• Clear gutters and areas around decks of dead leaves and other debris.
• Keep driveways and access to properties clear (4mx4m) so emergency services can enter.
• Keep your address number or RAPID number visible.
• Have a plan of action for you and your family in the event of a wildfire.
Click here to find out more about protecting your home.
Reduce your risk
If you’re planning a fire outdoors, check with FENZ if you need a permit and for any bans in place.
Some outdoor equipment and machinery can generate heat and sparks. Check the rules and learn how to reduce your risk. Visit checkitsalright.nz/reduce-your-risk
Tapu-Coroglen road update
A word from our contractors, Kelsey Construction, who started work on three repair sites this week:
"We know the road has continued to be used since January, but the road is now closed and will be impassable due to large excavations.
We had people moving the new road signs and site fences to try get through.
We will be getting the road open ASAP. Thank you for your support and patience."
See the latest on our Council roads at www.tcdc.govt.nz/roads
Click here to read our latest Road to Recovery update.
The latest on SH25A from Waka Kotahi NZTA
It's beginning to look like a bridge.
Progress continues at the Taparahi bridge site with the forming of the piers and abutments beginning to showcase how the bridge will look.
The bridge comprises four structural supports: two piers and two abutments. The team completed the second pier, Pier C, last week and is focused on the completion of Pier B this week.
The next critical component is the delivery of the bridge beams (steel girders). There are 15 bridge beams which are being manufactured offsite in Napier.
SH25 and SH25A maintenance and recovery work
Day-to-day state highway road maintenance activities continue around the Coromandel in a clockwise direction from Thames.
Pre-seal repairs are currently underway on the SH25 loop ahead of the upcoming renewals programme – which can be either road rebuilding, resealing or resurfacing.
Drainage and vegetation clearance is underway on SH25A, while chip seal activity kicked off on SH26 this week, heading towards Kōpū and then continuing on SH25A.
Click here to read the full Coromandel update.
If there's something you'd like to know more about, you can email email@example.com.
Site visits by Coromandel-Colville Community Board
This week members of our Coromandel-Colville Community Board (CCCB) and Council staff took their community networking session to the road with a tour of Eastern Coromandel-Colville to touch base with local community groups.
The day started with a visit to Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Harataunga (school). Board members met with Olivia McLeod for Eke Paihikara mo te Whakapapa Project.
The project is encouraging tamariki to build skills and confidence through their paihikara (bike). After a tour of the bike facilities, including a bike storage shed partially funded by our Council, the Board checked out the bike trail and a new Shredder Bike rack and trailer, that will allow local children to cycle safely further afield.
Next stop was Tuateawa to meet with the members of Habitat Tuateawa, a local volunteer group actively involved in weed control on behalf of the community. Board members heard about the group’s fire plan, as well as issues with maintaining the local boat ramp, and trying to contain the rapid spread of asparagus fern and wild ginger so that natives can recover.
At Little Bay, the group took a stretch and saw the new toilet featuring a colourful ocean mural by former Coromandel-based artist Rebekah Pearson, before heading to Port Charles for a meet up with the Moehau Environment Group (MEG). Volunteers from the group shared a presentation on the progress they are making with predator control throughout the area, and also some initiatives underway to help native birds, including the little blue penguin.
In the new year the CCCB will be touring the western coast of the Ward.
See when your next local Community Board is meeting at www.tcdc.govt.nz/meetings.
Have your say on our Significance and Engagement Policy
How does our Council determine when a particular issue, proposal, asset, decision or activity should have community input in the form of feedback or engagement?
Our Significance and Engagement Policy helps us guide the appropriate types of community engagement to support robust decision-making. It sets out how and when we engage with you on Council decisions, and also lists our key strategic assets.
We’ve reviewed the policy and are proposing some improvements that we’d like your feedback on, including the process of deciding how important an issue is.
To read more about the changes we're proposing, and to make your submission, visit tcdc.govt.nz/significance
Public transport research
We understand that connecting our communities is vital for our region’s wellbeing.
As part of our recovery work, our Council is currently running a survey on a potential Connector service between Coromandel Town and Thames.
Click here to fill in the survey online.
We understand there are other areas who also have transport needs, and conversations about wider district public transport service are being held with Waikato Regional Council. We will then run a district-wide survey.
Find out more at tcdc.govt.nz/transportresearch
Spending down in last six months
Figures just released by Marketview on visitor spending in Thames-Coromandel District make for sobering reading.
Total spending in March to August 2023 is down 12.5 percent on the same period last year, at $94 million.
Tairua was particularly badly affected with spending down 30 percent.
Whitianga’s spend was down 20 percent and Colville-Coromandel Town was down 13 percent.
Both the number of transactions plus the average spend in each transaction is down, with tourism, hospitality and the retail trade particularly badly affected.
The only bright spots on the horizon are that spending by international visitors rose by 6.3% and food and beverage spending went up 1 percent.
Help us advocate for business recovery
Our Business Sentiment survey is now open for local businesses.
It’s a chance for you to tell us how weather events have affected your business activity, sales volumes and employee numbers over the last eight months.
The purpose of this quarterly survey is to collect evidence to support the need for continued central and regional government support for our region.
By completing this survey, you will help us continue to strongly advocate for the needs of our business communities.
You can complete the survey here.
Voting in this year's General Election is open until Election Day, Saturday 14 October.
Click here to find your nearest local voting place, including accessibility information.
See the key information you need to vote.
You can enrol, check or update your details at any voting place when you go to vote. You can vote at any voting place in the country. There is also an option to vote from overseas.
Information about where and when to vote, and who you can vote for, can be found at vote.nz, or by calling 0800 36 76 56. It will also be included in your EasyVote pack. If you are voting at a voting place, take your EasyVote card with you. It will make voting easier.
For more information about enrolling and voting visit vote.nz, or free call 0800 36 76 56.
Calling local artists
A reminder that Chorus and our Council have an opportunity for artists to showcase their talents with the Cabinet Art Programme. Cabinets are painted to become works of art in the street, often telling stories about local communities.
Ten cabinets have been chosen for painting across the Coromandel and artists are encouraged to submit their designs.
Send your design to firstname.lastname@example.org
by this Sunday, 8 October. Selected artists will be paid
for materials used and their time.
Image: 'Iridescence' by Charlotte Buskin.
Open Studios Coromandel Arts Tour
Coromandel is famous for its creative people. Come and meet some of them in October as part of the Coromandel Open Studios Arts Tour.
Every year, on the first two weekends of October, nearly 40 artists from in and around Coromandel Town, open their studios for you to visit. The free self-guided tour allows visitors to get a free behind-the scenes peek into the creative world of our artistic community.
The tour has its first weekend on October 7 and 8. It then continues on October 14 and 15. All of the artists have been working hard to produce work to show at their homes or in collective spaces.
Check out the exhibition at Hauraki House from Friday, October 7, and pick up a guide to plan your tour or just look out for the flags marking the locations of artists’ studios. You can also download a guide on coromandelartstour.co.nz.
Find out about more arts events happening as part of Creative Coromandel's Spring ArtBeat Festival.
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 enter here.
Click here to find out more.
Parks and Facilities Officer
We are looking for a Parks and Facilities officer to join our council. In this role you will be part of a great team that oversees the operation, maintenance, improvement and management of Council parks, reserves, sports fields, and walkways in the beautiful Coromandel. You will have responsibility for supervising Council contractors, working with local iwi to achieve effective co-management of environmental resources and providing quality service and advice to all stakeholders. Click here to find out more.
Water Services Operations Lead
As Water Services Operations Lead, you'll report to our Water Services Manager and take on a variety of challenging responsibilities. Your focus will be on ensuring that outcomes and service levels meet the required standards and comply with regulations.
Your technical knowledge on three waters treatment and reticulation operations will be highly valuable as you provide guidance to various stakeholders. Click here to find out more.
Utilities Engineer – 3 Waters
Get ready for a busy and varied role that will keep you on your toes! We're seeking someone who thrives under pressure, good budget management, and possesses strong contract management experience. As part of our team, you'll play a pivotal role in ensuring the smooth functioning of our water services engineering operations, making a real impact on the communities we serve. Click here to find out more.
Click here to see the full list of our current vacancies.