The View From Opoutere

Weather Alert fromTCDC

MetService has issued a heavy rain warning for the Waikato and Southern Coromandel, with up to 155mm of rain this evening through to tomorrow morning.
Large bursts up to 50mm per hour are expected, which can cause flooding in areas such as Tairua, Hikuai and Opoutere.

“The rain itself is much needed, but coupled with high tide means this can lead to isolation, due to potential flooding or road slips, for some communities,” says Garry Towler, Thames Valley Civil Defence Controller.

People travelling through low lying areas to work on Wednesday morning may encounter flooding and are cautioned to drive to the conditions and keep up-to-date with potential hazards in their area.

How to keep up-to-date with what is happening
For weather alerts and information on how to prepare for emergencies download the NZ Red Cross Hazard App.

The Red Cross Hazards app is available from:
App store for iOS devices
Google Play store for Android devices

Check our Council’s home page for news updates and alerts, follow our Facebook page and subscribe to our email newsletters and Twitter feed @OurCoromandel.

We will provide up-to-date information in the event of any emergency on all these channels.

If you don’t have a smartphone or other mobile device, or don’t use the internet, organise someone who does to call you and vice-versa. Think about elderly neighbours, family and friends who are perhaps on their own and may need support.

For State Highway roading updates, NZTA offer real time traffic and travel information emailed directly to you letting you know if there’s a significant hold up or need for caution on the State Highway you travel on. You can register your route here https://onthemove.govt.nz/

A Plea For Fire Safety

The recent devastating fire south of Whitianga has local fire chiefs pleading for extreme vigilance. The Coromandel region is tinder dry and resources are stretched dealing with the aftermath of the huge fire that tore through homes and bush – 21 hotspots remain and fire crews are still on site to prevent the fire restarting.

This means that our local fire fighters might not be immediately available and are already exhausted and stressed from their experience at the Whitianga fire. Chief of the Onemana Rural Fire Force Jo Adams described the speed and heat of the fire as “absolutely terrifying”.

Jo would like to stress to our community how extreme the current fire risk is: everything is very dry, the local crews are already committed to the Whitianga situation and most importantly attending fire crews cannot rely on water in domestic tanks being available to use in the fire appliances as many tanks are already running low. Even candles and gas bbqs pose a risk in this instance, please exercise great caution and keep an eye on any open flame.

If you see anything that concerns you don’t hesitate to call Jo Adams on 0274493034.

 

TOTAL FIRE BAN EXTENDED

From TCDC:

In the interests of public safety, and due to the ‘very dry’ conditions prevailing at this time with no significant rain forecast in the foreseeable future, the undersigned Rural Fire Authorities extend the ‘Total Fire Ban’ until further notice.

The Fire Ban covers all lands within the Thames-Coromandel & Hauraki District Council areas including Department of Conservation Lands and the Forest areas owned by Ernslaw One, Matariki Forests and CFG NZ Company Ltd.

The ‘Fire Ban’ includes land clearing fires, rubbish fires, beach fires, domestic fireworks, sky lanterns, braziers, open top non-type approved incinerators, traditional cooking and hangi fires.

The Fire Ban does not include gas fuelled cookers or gas fuelled BBQs in a public place or on private land providing weather conditions are favourable, they are operated by an adult and they are used in a safe considerate manner.

The Fire Ban does not include the following ‘open air fires’ on private land providing weather conditions are favourable, they are operated by an adult in a safe considerate manner and extinguished before being left unattended:

Pre-approved solid fuelled BBQ constructed of non-combustible materials, with a chimney and spark arrestor.
Pre-approved outside fire place constructed of non-combustible materials with chimney and spark arrestor.
Pre-approved pizza oven constructed of non-combustible materials with chimney and spark arrestor.
Within TCDC Urban areas compliant Open Fires and Pizza ovens that meet the requirements in schedule 1 of the TCDC Fires in the Open Bylaw.
Fire Authorities may consider fire permit applications for ‘cooking & hangi fires’ for Community and Cultural events on private land, however each application will be considered on its merits. For enquiries contact your local Council or Department of Conservation Office.

Special Note:

Pursuant to Section 43 of the Forest and Rural Fires Act 1977 any person lighting a fire in the ‘open air’ is liable for all suppression costs should the fire escape. A fire permit does not indemnify the permit holder from any liability for costs or damages caused by the fire.

District Fire Officers wish to thank all residents and visitors to the area for their patience and understanding.

Check out our website http://www.tcdc.govt.nz/fire and follow us on Facebook for regular updates and further information.

 

Merry Christmas! Here’s the latest…

pohumain2Summer has arrived with the red blossom on the pohutukawas, dig out your togs, clean off the bbq and get ready for a terrific holiday season.

It’s peak season here on the Coromandel, please take care on the Opoutere roads during this busy time – take care around cyclists and pedestrians and watch your speed as you travel around the village.

Fire Ban

The total fire ban over the Coromandel district takes effect on December 20 2016.

The Total Fire Ban will be in effect over the summer or later, if conditions warrant.

Until then, the fire risk is still high so a permit will be required to light most fires in the open. If you see an out of control fire, call the New Zealand Fire Service on 111.

This means no charcoal bbqs, braziers, beach fires, fire pits – basically anything with an open flame, even fireworks (hello, you New Year’s Eve party animals!)

If you see an out of control fire you need to call the NZ Fire Service on 111.

Fire permits are not required for gas-fuelled barbeques, portable gas cookers/stoves, in a public place or on private land providing they are used in a safe, considerate manner and attended by an adult.

Be warned: the local Rural Volunteer Fire Force chief Jo Adams has a very keen nose and will sniff out your romantic beach bonfire – this will not end well for you!

 

Dotterel Watch

The dotterels have been taking great care of their nests and soon the dotterel chicks will be ready to fledge. Dogs and their humans are the biggest threat these little birds face, please stay away from the nesting areas at this important time of year. Just the sight of a dog at 100m distance will frighten a dotterel away from their nest. Research has shown that the birds are reasonably habituated to people but dogs absolutely terrify them.

The Thames Coromandel District Council has strict dog control bylaws that forbid – year round- dogs on the Wharekawa Spit. This is the southern area of Opoutere beach that contains the Wharekawa Wildlife Refuge, home to many threatened and endangered birds. (Check out our bird page for some excellent avian info). Refer to the map in the carpark which explains the dog control bylaws for Opoutere Beach.

It’s fun to take an hour or two to volunteer on Dotterel Watch, the roster will be on the bus shelter on Opoutere Road. You will be stationed on the estuary side of the spit during low tide to protect the dotterels as they feed. It’s a good chance to quietly observe the oystercatchers and dotterels as they show their chicks how to feed and you are doing your bit to protect the birds from disturbance and harassment.

Our local Department of Conservation Dotterel ranger is Frouk Miller, if you have any concerns you can contact her on fmiller@doc.govt.nz.

 

Opoutere Ratepayers & Residents Association AGM 2017

Come along to catch up on local and regional news.

When: Monday 2nd January, 9.30am

Where: Opoutere School Hall

 

The Opoutere Regatta

One of the holiday season’s social highlights, the annual Opoutere Regatta shouldn’t be missed.

Here are the details from the organisers:

Dear Opoutere residents/rate-payers and holiday makers,

The annual Opoutere Regatta is coming up again, so mark your calendars.

Plan is 4 January 2017 (with 5 January 2017 as our rain day).

We’ll kick off at 1pm, as we need to plan around the high tide.
First up is the famous bucket race for the 5 and unders.
Then it will be on to the various age and gender swimming and kayak races.
Finishing up with the famous carnage of the family kayak relay.

Jo Adams and the Onemana Fire Brigade will run their brilliant BBQ on the Reserve at 5pm. Its fundraising for their very worthy volunteer fire service. So turn up at 5pm with your rug and beverages, for their mussel fritters, burgers and snags.

Please feel free to send this email on to anyone you know who is staying down at Opoutere on the 4th. And start crossing your fingers for fine weather.

See you all there!

 

TSUNAMI CONCERNS

The recent earthquakes caused a tsunami alert to be issued for our area, low-lying properties were evacuated and everyone’s tsunami preparedness came under the spotlight. Many people simply jumped in their cars and bolted to high ground with only the gas in their car tank and the pjs on their backs. This summer take the time to organise a survival kit for your property and a “go-bag” that you can quickly grab if you need  to evacuate.

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WhitiangaTsunami Information Open Day

Coastal and tsunami scientists working on this project will be at the Open Day to meet with the public to talk about the latest research into the possible threat of tsunami to the region. Emergency Management staff members will also on-hand to provide information on what to do if a tsunami hit.

Saturday 28 January 2017
Time: 9:30am to 3:30pm

Whitianga Town Hall
24 Monk Street, Whitianga 3510

Coromandel Communities Guide to Emergencies

When a natural disaster hits, you may need to take care of yourself for up to seven (7) days before help can arrive.

A Community Response Plan has been developed to ensure there are measures in place to help the community look after itself.

The plan is designed to:

Help you to understand the hazards that exist in your community,
Let you know what level of risk these hazards pose to your community,
Help you to know what you can do to prepareyourself, and those who depend on you, to survive through an emergency, and
Ensure you know the warning signals to evacuate, and where to evacuate.
You can find the plans for Onemana, Opoutere, Pauanui, Tairua and Whangamata on our website. Plans are in the process of being developed for other communities and will be added to the website as the mapping has been done. In the meantime see the tsunami hazard mapping Civil Defence Waikato has made available here.

 

 

 

 

Labour Weekend Update

New TCDC Dog Control Bylaws

There are changes to the previous dog control rules that ensure greater protection for Opoutere’s birdlife.

To reflect the significance of the Wharekawa Wildlife Refuge on the sand spit at the entrance to the Wharekawa Harbour dogs are now prohibited from this area year-round. For the rest of Opoutere beach dogs must be on leads year-round.

However, dogs can still be exercised and play off-lead in the forest which runs for many kilometres along the length of the beach and has well established trails. This area is described in the bylaw as “Opoutere bush north”.

Opoutere beach is now designated an area of Outstanding Natural Feature & Landscape under both the Waikato Regional Policy Statement and the Thames Coromandel District Plan, the whole of the Opoutere estuary and surrounding beach areas is of Ecological Significance. One of the reasons for these important designations is the need to recognise and protect Opoutere’s unique birdlife and its relatively undeveloped character. Dogs are the greatest threat that our endangered and threatened birdlife faces.

From the Biological Conservation Journal:

“The northern New Zealand dotterel Charadrius obscurus aquilonius is an endangered shorebird, and it is thought that human disturbance may decrease its nesting success. We made three types of approach to nests (walking, running or leading a dog).

Leading a dog caused the greatest disruption of incubation, while responses to walking and running approaches did not diff􏰀er significantly. Distraction display intensity appeared to be unrelated to approach type. There was evidence of habituation to humans on busy beaches. Our results provide the first experimental evidence that shorebirds perceive dogs as posing more of a threat than humans on foot, and that their subsequent avoidance response is greater. We recommend that human activity, particularly the walking of dogs, should be limited near nesting sites.”

The new bylaw states:

Opoutere Beach – entire beach excluding southern end as indicated by signs – ON LEASH

Opoutere Beach south – Sandspit and Wharekawa Estuary and south end bush, south from the point at which the car park bridge crosses the stream and the southernmost beach access but excluding the loop track (loop track on leash) as indicated by signs – PROHIBITED

Opoutere bush north – the area north from the point at which the car park bridge crosses the stream and the southernmost beach access as indicated by signs – OFF LEASH

It’s important to note that these changes can also be seen in other Coromandel areas where birdlife needs protection from dogs.

TCDC have committed to patrolling the beach and enforcing these new bylaws, if you have any concerns or questions please follow this link to the TCDC website for all the bylaw details.

The dog control officer can always be reached by phoning TCDC on 07 8680200 at anytime.summary-dogonbeach594x244

 

Weedbusting Working Bee

It’s time for another attack on the elaeagnus that is smothering the native forest below the Maungaruawahine summit.

Join us in the bush on the Sunday of Labour Weekend (23 October) between 1-4pm with a chainsaw or loppers, sturdy boots, gloves, safety glasses and earmuffs if you have them. It’s a challenging area so only the sure of foot should venture up there.

Park in the cemetery paddock next to 405 Opoutere Rd and follow the sound of chainsaws up into the forest, Chris Woudenberg will place pink cones in the bush to mark the trail but there will be plenty of us around to show you what to do and where to go.

Bring a couple of cold beverages for the chilly bin and we will celebrate the working bee with hot sausages and a drink afterwards.

Please call Chris with any questions, 021 418119.

See you there!

Wharekawa Catchment Care Group AGM 2016

Labour Weekend 2016
Saturday October 22nd 10.30 am

at
Opoutere Community Hall
All Welcome

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.” (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina)

Too true! As the days get longer and warmer our attention turns outwards once more – to the garden, the beach, the forest, the community.

POLITICAL PROJECTS

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Local Government Elections are held every three years, on Saturday 8th October 2016 you have the opportunity to choose who makes decisions on your behalf.

For Thames-Coromandel District Council elections, the electors vote for the Mayor, the councillor(s) in their Ward and Community Board members in their Community Board area.

In the Thames-Coromandel District, we operate a first-past-the-post electoral system, which means that a local government candidate needs to get the majority of the votes to win a place at the Council or Community Board.

Follow this link to the TCDC website to find out who the candidates are.

Follow this link to find out if you are eligible to vote.

Any burning questions about the elections? Call the Electoral Office, phone 0800 922 822.

 

BIRDY PROJECTS – The Great Kereru Count 2016

kereru / NZ wood pigeon / kukupa

kereru / NZ wood pigeon / kukupa

The Great Kereru Count is an annual citizen science project and the more people who participate, the better the understanding we will get on how kererū are doing across the country. Over a number of years, scientists from Victoria University of Wellington and Lincoln University will use data from the Great Kererū Count and build a more accurate picture of kererū numbers, distribution as well as key kererū behaviors. This will help us understand how best to protect kererū. 

The humble kererū is one of New Zealand’s most valuable assets when it comes to our native forests. Long before humans came to this country, kererū have been undertaking the largest plant restoration project the country has ever seen. Kererū are the only bird left in New Zealand that are able to swallow and disperse the seeds from our largest native trees such as tawa, taraire, pūriri and matai. Kererū can live for 21+ years and are essential for native bush regeneration. Their disappearance would be a disaster for our native forests.

The 2016 count is coming up on the 16th of September, for 10 days let’s note down our beautiful Opoutere kereru and get the population on the map. Follow this link for details and how to get involved.

 

WEEDY PROJECTS

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Keep your eyes peeled for details of a Labour Weekend working bee in the elaeagnus patch behind the Youth Hostel, Chris Woudenberg reports huge progress made at the last working bee in June. Thanks to everyone who came along and thrashed about happily in the forest, especially to the tough types who appear at every single working bee, ehara koe i a ia!

Once finalised details will be emailed, posted on notices and will be updated here on the website.

RUBBISHY PROJECTS

new-rts-hours

Please note that the Whangamata Refuse Transfer Station has changed its opening hours to reflect the need for earlier opening hours rather than later closing hours on Sundays.

Not sure what you’re allowed to take to the RTS? Follow this link to get all the info you need.

Wild Weather Closes Roads

From the latest road information for the Coromandel:

The king high tide is at 10am this morning, please DO NOT drive through flood waters. Here is the latest roading update:
Road closures:
SH25 Tairua township to SH25/SH25a intersection closed due to flooding (Hikuai Flats)
Hikuai Settlement Rd closed.
SH25a Kopu – Hikuai Closed due to slip between Kirikiri Valley Road and Puketui Road
SH25 Wade Road to the 309 closed (309 Road is open)
SH2 North of Katikati closed due to flooding
Tapu-Coroglen closed due to slip
Kennedy Bay Roads closed due to slip.
Reports are SH25 Opoutere open but surface water south Opoutere School 4inches deep.
Extreme caution required surface flooding on many roads.
Rivers:
Karangahape River high 14.924m – river levels now dropping
Kauaeranga River high 8.675m – river levels dropping.
Tairua River high peaked at 5.0m currently at 4.7m – highest level in 3 years.
Extreme caution please stay clear of swollen rivers.
School Closures
• Hikuai School
• Opoutere School
• Waihi Beach School

TCDC Warns of Tree Harvesting

Please take note of the following warning from the Thames Coromandel District Council:

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An area in the hills north-west of Whangamata is now being logged and we need people to stay clear of the pine forest area between Watts Road and Dalton Road – for their own safety.

If you ride your bike, walk your dog, hunt or run in this area, please use an alternative route for about the next four months while tree harvesting is taking place.

Signs have been placed on Pa Road, Watts Rd and Dalton Rd to let you know that access to this area is temporarily restricted so you don’t get hit by a logging truck or a falling tree. The restriction is in place 24/7 while the logging is taking place.

Banners, felled logs and gates will be blocking road access so for your own safety please don’t cross these.

The tree harvesting is being managed by Matariki Forests, which is asking that people pay attention to the signs and follow the instructions on them, to stay out of the risk zone.

For any inquiries contact Rayonier Matariki Forests on 07 927 2400 or via their website http://www.matarikiforests.co.nz

Our Council leases the land from the Crown and we’ve contracted Matiriki Forests to carry out the harvesting.