Welcome to Level 4 Lockdown 2021 – hopefully everyone is safely at home while the Coromandel waits to see how this Delta outbreak plays out.
If you need a Covid test check this link: https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/covid-19/waikato/whangamata/ and call the Whangamata Medical Centre.
To book a vaccination follow this link: https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/gps-accident-urgent-medical-care/gp/whangamata-medical-centre/
While the Coromandel is in Level 4 Lockdown your local first responder teams are still at the ready to help their community deal with any emergencies that may occur. Jo Adams, chief of the Onemana Rural Fire team, has carefully restructured his teams to protect them from possible exposure to Covid19 and to ensure the team always has people available to help. The community can support these important volunteers by not doing anything that adds risk to their day – Jo wants people to be careful around the house (and the shed) to minimise the callouts to first responders. He worries about ladders, power tools, outdoor fires/braziers etc. Basically – don’t do anything stupid and to quote Jo from an earlier interview “Be bloody careful”.
We isolate now, so when we come back together, no-one is missing.
ORRA’s 2021 AGM and 60th Anniversary
Saturday January 2nd 2021, 9.30am at Opoutere School
ORRA was founded in 1961, making 2021 our 60th Anniversary. Incredible when you think about it. It’s rare for a community group to have such a long and proud history and record of achievements.
So it’s our pleasure to invite you to the 2021 60th Anniversary AGM at 9.30am, SaturdayJanuary 2 at the Opoutere School hall. It will be very special and we will be taking a moment to celebrate the past and look forward to the future (of course, everyone’s welcome!). There’ll be a morning tea and even some bubbles and orange juice as a small celebration.
As the years go by the battle to keep Opoutere’s unique and unspoiled nature has become more important than ever. Please feel free to invite any friends and family who aren’t members yet and who would like to come along and perhaps become involved in our ongoing projects to preserve and restore this special place.
And we’d also like to thank you for all your support during this past year, and the many years before it, and look forward to seeing you at this special AGM.
Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Dotterel Watch Roster
The dotterels/tuturiwhatu are happily nesting along the length of the beach, and are safely contained by the perimeter fence on the Wharekawa Wildlife Refuge at the mouth of the estuary. However, the holiday season brings with it lots of visitors who may not understand the precious space that these birds need to feed their chicks and themselves.
Please help these hard-working little families to have a successful breeding season by signing up to do a dotterel watch session out on the spit. The roster is up on the bus shelter notice board and there are official t-shirts available to wear while you do your duty. Look inside the bus shelter for a red bag containing t-shirts, hats, and useful information and stickers to take out with you. The stickers are great to give to kids.
Base yourself on the inside of the spit next to the big DOC detour sign and divert people over the boardwalk through the dunes to the ocean beach. This allows the dotterels undisturbed access to good feeding at low tide.
Take a book, sunscreen, bug repellant and a pair of binoculars if you have them. If you have any questions feel free to call Dave Burbage (ph 027 495 7734), a local DOC volunteer who has been hard at work in the Wildlife Refuge. Dave works alongside our official DOC dotterel ranger, Stewart, maintaining the fencing, protecting the chicks from predators and educating people about the birds.
The World Famous Opoutere Regatta
No doubt you’ve all been training madly, anticipating the fierce competition that we’ve all come to expect from our neighbours and friends at the Opoutere Regatta in Bruce’s Bay. There’ll be bucket races for the smallest athletes and the usual swimming and kayaking races for the rest of us.
This year the regatta will take place on the afternoon of Sunday 3rd January with the traditional prizegiving and bbq in the Michael King Reserve in the early evening. Keep your eyes peeled for posters around the village with all the details.
Please have a good look at the evacuation plan that is pinned up on the bus shelter and on a large sign by the beach access carpark. Every summer brings the risk of a catastrophic fire in the beach reserve forest and it is important to know how to stay safe in such an event. You may have also received one in your letterbox (mine got squashed but it’s still good!) pin it up where your household can see it.
Stay safe, drive carefully and we will see you on the beach.
Meri Kirihimete, Season’s Greetings, Manuia le Kirisimasi, Joyeux Noël, Fröhliche Weihnachten!
It is with much sadness that we note the passing of former resident and ORRA Life Member Bruce Collier. Bruce was a beloved and respected member of the community who made countless contributions to the people and environment of the area during his life, such as building the walkway bridging the hairpin bend opposite his house and the many benches and sitting spots dotted around Opoutere. So much so that the inlet and reserve near his former house has become known informally as “Bruce’s Bay”.
His famous yellow benches at the beach entrance carry small plaques for both Bruce and his late wife Esmae (also pictured above), and have been recently repainted up by Val and Tom Herbert. From there, with the sweeping view of the beach, it’s a wonderful place to take a moment to honour and remember them both.
ORRA sends its condolences and warmest regards to Susan and the Collier family.
New Zealand moved into Covid 19 Alert Level 2 on Wednesday 13 May and is likely to remain so over Queen’s Birthday weekend.
Daily life is reclaiming its familiar rhythms – rubbish collections are almost back to normal (see note on recycling below) and local businesses are welcoming back their long-lost clients – albeit under the latest Covid 19 Alert Level 2 restrictions. Help these businesses to recover from the lockdown by shopping locally when you can.
It’s a good time to acknowledge the essential workers in the community who did their jobs under the most challenging conditions – our elderly were looked after, supermarket shelves were stocked, the Whangamata medical centre operated as normal as well as running a CBAC (Community Based Assessment Centre) for Covid19 testing and first responder services busily rostered their teams under social distancing rules and helped out in the community where needed.
Easter and Anzac Day passed with just the locked-down locals here to mark the occasions, it has been very strange to see so many empty houses, day after day, week after week. It will be great to see familiar faces returning to Opoutere and Ohui over Queen’s Birthday weekend. By then more rain will have fallen and your water tanks will be topped up in time for the long weekend. (All rain dances appreciated.)
While all paper, cardboard and tins can be put in your recycling bin and glass in the smaller bins TCDC are restricting the plastic they are accepting. From TCDC:
“Most hard plastics have a number on the bottom in a triangle made of arrows. The number refers to the type of plastic. Typical examples of plastics 1 and 2 are milk bottles, drink bottles, food jars, personal cosmetics.
The best way to be sure of the plastic type is to LOOK FOR THE NUMBER. If the number is not 1 or 2, or if there is no number, put it in your general rubbish.
The recycle.co.nz website has good information on identifying recyclable plastics.”
Thanks to the work of a dedicated team of DOC rangers and community volunteers the Wharekawa Wildlife Refuge on the harbour spit has had a successful breeding season this summer. The spit refuge has provided a safe breeding site for many species of sea and shore birds since 1967 when it was gazetted under the Wildlife Act 1953 as a wildlife refuge.
Home to the northern NZ dotterel (the NNZD is now classified as “At Risk – recovering”) the spit also accommodates variable oystercatchers, Caspian terns, wrybills, pied stilts and southern black-backed and red-billed gulls, among others.
In the 2019/2020 breeding season DOC officers Frouk and Stewart were ably assisted by Dave Burbage, a local volunteer. They were a familiar sight all along the beach and particularly on the spit – they shared information with the public, monitored nests, checked predator traps and erected protective fencing around the spit area. Over the busy Christmas and New Year period rostered volunteers from the community protected the nesting birds from human and dog disturbance by watching the entrance to the spit at low tide.
Dogs on the beach are banned year round south of the main beach entrance (look for those yellow benches) all the way to the estuary mouth. Please obey the signs and keep this area a peaceful and safe place for the birds.
This is the only shoreline wildlife refuge on the whole Coromandel Peninsula. Let’s take care of it and the birds that call it home.
During the 2019/2020 breeding season the Wharekawa Wildlife Refuge had 13 nesting pairs and successfully fledged 16 chicks.
“From 46 sites throughout the Coromandel Peninsula, 227 breeding pairs were monitored this season. 213 chicks fledged giving a productivity value of 0.94 (Productivity = Fledgling numbers divided by Pair numbers). Productivity is considered effective if the value of 0.5 or higher is achieved for at least 3 consecutive years (Dowding & Davis, cited in Bryant, 2013).
2014/2015 through to 2019/2020 seasons have exceeded the necessary 0.5 rate. 2017/2018 was only just below the effective productivity value with 0.49 due largely to the major storm that occurred in January 2018.”
For results for all the monitored beaches around the Coromandel have a look at Results 2020.
There’s an exciting new program focused on adaptive management of coastal forestry buffers being trialled in the Opoutere dunes in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and local iwi, with support from the community.
Selected sites in the coastal forest reserve have been identified for low-impact trial plantings of several species of native seedlings. The knowledge gained will help to improve biodiversity in the ecosystems around coastal forestry blocks.
Some planting has already taken place at Ohui where members of the community stepped up with gumboots and spades to get several circular plots planted out. A recent visit by the trust’s scientists showed surprisingly good survival rates over the very dry summer (titoki planted in sand were doing very well).
Further planting will take place during 2020 at two small sites in the beach reserve forest – TTT are keen for members of the community to come along and help out with the planting. They do mention that the plants may end up looking a bit ratty and sad – don’t be alarmed, this is all part of the test!
This time last year Opoutere was jumping – boats putted about the harbour, the beach was busy, the carpark was packed with freedom campers and the supermarket was thronging with locals and visitors all clamouring for last-minute supplies.
2020 finds Opoutere so quiet it’s perfectly normal to see white-faced herons strolling down the middle of the road.
This year there are police checkpoints around the Coromandel turning away people heading to their holiday homes and locals are keeping an eye on empty properties to make sure there are no surprise arrivals midway through the national lockdown.
Thames Coromandel District Council have sent out multiple emails imploring people to stay in isolation and not attempt a late-night dash to their bach. It increases the risk of community spread and threatens the capacity of local health services. The message is clear – wherever you started the lockdown is where you should stay until it’s over.
TCDC’s Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler explains the various stages of human response during a crisis event like the one we are all in at the moment.
“The graph (above) is an internationally acclaimed picture of what happens to us before, during and after a disaster,” says our Civil Defence Controller Garry Towler. “While modelled on crises such as 9-11, major cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes, it is very relevant for us today in the COVID-19 emergency as it has a wide impact on all of us.”
See the section below “Phases of a disaster”, for the full explanation.
“Right now, we’re in the honeymoon phase and over the next few weeks we’ll be heading into the disillusionment phase, the most important phase in terms of how we look after ourselves, families and friends,” says Mr Towler.
Phase 1: The pre-disaster phase –characterised by fear and uncertainty. The specific reactions a community experiences depend on the type of disaster. Disasters with no warning can cause feelings of vulnerability and lack of security; fears of future, unpredicted tragedies; and a sense of loss of control or the loss of the ability to protect yourself and your family. On the other hand, disasters with warning can cause guilt or self-blame for failure to heed the warnings. The pre-disaster phase may be as short as hours, or even minutes, such as during a terrorist attack, or it may be as long as several months, such as during a hurricane season.
Phase 2: Impact phase – characterised by a range of intense emotional reactions. As with the pre-disaster phase, the specific reactions also depend on the type of disaster that is occurring. Slow, low-threat disasters have psychological effects that are different from those of rapid, dangerous disasters. As a result, these reactions can range from shock to overt panic. Initial confusion and disbelief typically are followed by a focus on self-preservation and family protection. The impact phase is usually the shortest of the six phases of disaster.
Phase 3: Heroic phase – characterised by a high level of activity with a low level of productivity. During this phase, there is a sense of altruism, and many community members exhibit adrenaline-induced rescue behaviour. As a result, risk assessment may be impaired. The heroic phase often passes quickly into phase 4.
Phase 4: Honeymoon phase – characterised by a dramatic shift in emotion. During the honeymoon phase, disaster assistance is readily available. Community bonding occurs. Optimism exists that everything will return to normal quickly. As a result, numerous opportunities are available for providers and organisations to establish and build rapport with affected people and groups, and for them to build relationships with stakeholders. The honeymoon phase typically lasts only a few weeks.
Phase 5: Disillusionment phase – is a stark contrast to the honeymoon phase. During the disillusionment phase, communities and individuals realise the limits of disaster assistance. As optimism turns to discouragement and stress continues to take a toll, negative reactions, such as physical exhaustion or substance use, may begin to surface. The increasing gap between need and assistance leads to feelings of abandonment. Especially as the larger community returns to business as usual, there may be an increased demand for services, as individuals and communities become ready to accept support. The disillusionment phase can last months and even years. It is often extended by one or more trigger events, usually including the anniversary of the disaster.
Phase 6: Reconstruction phase – characterised by an overall feeling of recovery. Individuals and communities begin to assume responsibility for rebuilding their lives, and people adjust to a new “normal” while continuing to grieve losses. The reconstruction phase often begins around the anniversary of the disaster and may continue for some time beyond that. Following catastrophic events, the reconstruction phase may last for years.
A set of tools for coping with the effects of COVID-19 and the Alert Level 4 lock down on our mental health has been released. Getting Through Together is an online resource divided into subjects such as parenting and whānau, workplace wellbeing, te ao Māori and identity and culture, and offers articles, tips, questionnaires, activities and games delivered in a range of formats. Phone numbers for services such as Lifeline and Healthline can also be found on the site.
“If you, or any members of your family and friends are struggling with emotions or feeling the pressure of the sudden change to life, then talk about it don’t hold it in and let it build up,” says our Mayor Sandra Goudie. “We are in isolation, but we are not isolated.”
Your local services are also able to offer with support such as shoppers, food parcels, hospital travel assistance and more:
“We are very pleased to have the first CBAC up and running on the East Coast,” says our Civil Defence Controller, Garry Towler. “I encourage all residents on the South Eastern Ward (Whangamata, Onemana, Opoutere, Hikuai, Tairua, Pauanui and surrounds) who are concerned or anxious that they may have COVID-19, to go along and have a chat, then they can take you in for further assessment.”
Whangamata – Memorial Hall, 326 Port Road (pictured below):
All GPs can offer COVID-19 assessments too as well as the following primary care organisations who are offering extended hours:
Te Korowai Hauora o Hauraki Thames:
8.30am to 4.30pm Monday to Sunday
210 Richmond Rd
Ph: 07 868 0033
Ph: 0508 835 676
The lovely people at Civil Defence Waikato have shared their favourite HCB recipe:
“We’ve got the recipe you’ve been waiting for! Maria from The River Kitchen has kindly supplied us with her egg-stra special hot cross buns recipe. A perfect activity for you and your ‘bubble’ to make in your nest this Easter! Maria like many of us is in lockdown and finding more time to bake, and enjoy being at home more than usual, her advice is that ‘self retreat is a treat’. So fill your home up with the smell of these scrummy buns this Easter. Hop to it!🤤🐣🐇
Here are the ingredients:
Get all your ingredients ready to go first.
Place the milk and butter into a pot and melt gently. Take off the heat. Be patient and let it cool to lukewarm. Then add the yeast and stir. Put the pot lid on and let it stand for 10 minutes.
Mix the dried fruits together and add boiling water to cover. Leave to the side.
Mix the dry ingredients together, the flour sugar and spices in a large bowl. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir carefully. Once mixed turn out onto a clean bench.
Squeeze out the dried fruit mix reserving the liquid to reduce later as the glaze.
Add the dried fruits to the spiced mixture on the bench and nicely blend and knead the mixture together. Takes about 10 minutes. Add a little flour if you need to.
Place back in the bowl and loosley glad wrap or place a tea towel on top. Leave it to rise until double in size. Depending on how warm your house is, this can take some time, patience is needed again.
Now for the fun part. Divide the dough into about 12 -16 balls. Roll carefully and place on to a tray for the oven. Leave the buns to rise again until double in size.
While all that is going on, place the left-over liquid from the mixed fruits in a pot and reduce to a syrup. Don’t leave it unattended. It won’t take long either.
Make up the mix to go on top. I use half cup of flour and about the same in water to make the mix (almost the consistency of pva glue, old school i know!)
Turn the oven on to 180 degrees and let it warm up.
To make the crosses, place the wet flour mixture into a piping bag, baking paper cone or a zip lock bag with the tip cut off and then the design is up to you.
Place in the oven and cook for 16-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Once out of the oven let them cool slightly, by this time everyone in your home will smell them and want to get one as soon as they can. but, let them cool and brush the glaze on before they all disappear!
Boil the jug for hot water on the fruit but you can use a microwave if you like.
I used a tablespoon, wooden spoon, knife, jug, little bowl, big bowl and a baking tray to make this recipe. Baking paper is also useful along with a zip lock bag for the crosses.
I’m kind of heavy handed with the spices and fruit when it comes to my hot cross buns. You could try adding a few chocolate chips if you like!?
Get the family to help, this is a great activity to do with your kids. Plus it doesn’t matter how they turn out, your house will smell devine and you made them; homemade always tastes better!
Happy baking your stay at home ‘designer’ buns!😆🤤🐇
Maria from The River Kitchen xxx
As we are learning, things change very quickly at the moment.
Despite the very best efforts of our volunteer Fire Chief, Jo Adams, Opoutere no longer has access to grocery deliveries from Whangamata New World OR water deliveries.
We understand that intense demand has placed these services under stress and there isn’t the capacity to deliver food or water to Opoutere.
Thanks to Jo and his team for helping out at the supermarket which is still open as an essential service – albeit with different opening hours and new operating procedures.
New World has implemented certain rules to keep their customers safe at this time. You will notice a restriction on numbers of customers allowed in at any one time, reduced staff numbers, contactless payment and there will be some stock restrictions as well. Don’t forget to take a list, send one family member at a time and “shop normal” by buying only what you need.
Please visit the New World website to see how shopping works during the Alert Level 4 period.
*Thanks again, Jo, for going out of your way to help the community.*
Our local council has been proactive with video messages from the mayor, Sandra Goudie, lists of changes to local services, how the Level 4 lockdown affects our area and ways to support local businesses.
By signing up to the council email newsletter you get the latest news directly to your inbox. Click here to go to the TCDC page to sign up.
DUE TO GOVERNMENT DIRECTIVES THERE ARE MAJOR CHANGES TO COUNCIL RUBBISH COLLECTIONS TO MINIMISE HUMAN CONTACT AND THE SPREAD OF COVID-19.
Starting from next week, Monday 30 March, your kerbside refuse collection will need to be placed in your recycling wheelie bin and will be collected fortnightly.
THE FORTNIGHTLY COLLECTION WILL BE ON YOUR NORMAL RECYCLING DAY IN YOUR NORMAL RECYCLING WEEK.
**FOR OPOUTERE THIS WILL START ON OUR NORMAL “WEEK 1” CYCLE, MEANING OUR BINS WILL BE EMPTIED EVERY FORTNIGHT STARTING MONDAY APRIL 6. TCDC has stated we will not get a collection on Monday March 30.
In addition to the offer of firewood for anyone who is in need Jo Adams is also able to arrange for water to be delivered if your tanks are running low.
Please call Jo on 0274 493 034. (Thanks Jo, this is amazing).
As the weeks go by we will all need some help, please don’t hesitate to leave a message HERE. This is totally confidential and someone will get in touch within the day to chat about what you need.
Keep an eye on neighbours, and take care of yourself and your family.
We are all in this together.
At the moment things are pretty unsettled and unsettling. We are all facing uncertainty about so many things – our health, our financial security, perhaps our family situations. It is normal to feel anxious and a bit out of sorts, these are unprecedented events in our lives.
In times of sudden change it’s good to start with the basics. If you want to understand more about COVID-19/Coronavirus the best website to visit is the official New Zealand Government page: https://covid19.govt.nz. It has simple explanations of the alert level system and what this means for us all. It explains how to keep yourself safe and how to ask for help (financial, medical, social).
From 11.59pm Wednesday 25 March our country goes to COVID-19 Alert Level 4.
This is when our lives really change for a while and when we need to step up as friends, neighbours and community members.
We are very lucky to be in a quiet corner of the world at the moment, so let’s help each other to stay well and happy through the coming months.
It is important to follow the official advice on public health and social measures that need to be taken to contain the spread of the disease.
The Ministry of Health has a great website with useful links to information about the disease itself, prevention and what to do if you have been exposed.
Importantly, here is the Healthline number 0800 358 5453. This is a free, 24hr service that provides advice and information for any Covid-19 concerns you may have.
Another source of good information is the World Health Organisation https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
From the NZ government website:
“Reach out to your usual supports – family and whānau, friends and workmates. Sharing how we feel and offering support to others is important.
We also recommend sticking to a routine such as having regular mealtimes, bedtimes and exercising.
If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.
Spend time in places that feel safe and comfortable as much as possible.
Tell yourself that how you are feeling is a normal reaction and will pass – it’s nothing to be afraid of.
Keep active – doing usual leisure activities and seeing friends can improve general wellbeing and help distract from distressing feelings.”
Jo Adams, the Onemana Rural Fireforce Chief, has been busy working the phones and lining up some really helpful resources for the Opoutere community. We are very grateful for his advocacy and practical planning on our behalf.
Supermarkets are an “essential business” and will be remaining open. There’s no panic around food and household supplies!
The New World supermarket in Whangamata have been contacted by Jo and have proposed a grocery delivery service to customers in Opoutere. This will help reduce pressure on the supermarket staff who will be enforcing a one-in-one-out rule and will reduce the risk of infection for everyone. The plan involves ordering online as you normally would and the team will get the groceries out to Opoutere. It is important to prevent any contact with delivery staff – so stay indoors and wave gratefully when the goodies arrive!
Follow this link to the New World online shopping page.
We will let you know if any of these details change. Thank you, Neville and the team at Whangamata!
With the cooperation of local forestry Jo is sourcing some large pine trees to be split up and distributed to anyone in need. We will let you know how to access this wood once it has been split and stockpiled. If you can help with the wood processing please give Jo a call on 027 449 3034.
Jo is carefully managing his volunteer fire-fighting teams to keep them safe and able to respond as they normally would to any fire or first aid emergencies.
If you would like to be involved with the Onemana Voluntary Rural Fire Force give Jo a call on 027 449 3034.
If you’ve got some extra fruit or vegetables that you can’t eat please think about popping a notice on the bus shelter noticeboard with your phone number. (You might get a jar of preserves or marmalade in return.)
There’s a notice on the bus shelter that you can write your number on if you need ANYTHING. Or you can leave us a message HERE and we will email you back within the day.
After what seems like months of dry weather Opoutere has finally had a few hours of solid rain. The air is clear and the whole place has been washed clean. Hallelujah!
No doubt you have all been out to thump the side of your water tanks and are relishing the thought of that wonderful fresh rain in there. However, we need to keep up the rain dances as we are still in an extreme fire risk situation. Sorry, to be a downer!
Yay for rain, pray for more.
Here’s an update from the 2019/2020 dotterel breeding season. (With special thanks to Dave Burbage for circulating this great news to the community):