Whangamata Ratepayers Association
P.O. Box 62, Whangamata 3643
Newsletter Autumn 2019
Prior to our AGM in February I canvassed ratepayers and residents to join or re-join the association, as we really need critical mass in membership if we are to have an influence in the town. I’m pleased to advise that while it needs to continue, membership is on the increase, and 5 new members have joined the committee.
Your new committee comprises some experienced members and some new blood. Re-elected were Brian Grant, John Spencer, Tim Hart, Mike Jeffcoat, Karin Spencer and myself, while newly elected members are Brian Airey, Dale McKenzie, Marie-Louise Norberg, Sue Priest, and Sue Smith. Sue Smith has been elected to the joint Secretary/Treasurer role, and will be a great help to me going forward I am sure.
At our first meeting, after a “getting to know you” session, we agreed as a committee that while we will continue to focus on the several important issues facing the town below, the committee in particular will concentrate on growing membership in advance of the local body elections coming up later this year, to ensure our mandate demands aspiring councillors (both TCDC and Waikato Regional Council) listen to the important matters we will raise on behalf of Whangamata.
As I write this newsletter, we formally represent around 450 residents and ratepayers, and engage with a further 2,000 through newsletters, web site and Facebook. For us to have the attention of elected and aspiring councilors this year, we need to grow that number. At the recent AGM I asked attendees to commit to each approaching 3 friends and/or neighbours in an effort to increase our membership numbers, and we are seeing the result of that effort already. Can I ask each of you please; do the same thing? If we want to achieve a better long-term outcome around mangrove, stormwater, and power management in Whangamata, we need to continue to convince appropriate parties that we have the numbers.
As mentioned, the main areas of concern for us at present are:
As I have said previously, we’re all sick of hearing talk about mangrove management. The debacle that was Waikato Regional Council’s failed attempt at managing the mangroves is coming to a close, the new legislation before parliament giving TCDC control of future mangrove management has been hijacked by the Green and left influences on the select committee, and we now deem it to be unworkable.
TCDC ratepayers have paid >$1.5m on mangrove management, 50% of which has come from Whangamata ratepayers. This is a tremendous waste of money, given the poor outcomes achieved, and the very real risk of mangrove regeneration across the recently cleared areas.
Several recent reports have highlighted the need to control the mangroves to ensure the best possible long-term outcome for the harbour, while no impact on birdlife has been identified, notwithstanding the significant financial investment into reports on the issue.
This association is determined to assist the Harbour Care Group to ensure Whangamata is treated no differently that any other area in New Zealand on this matter; something that would be a refreshing change!
As a result of pressure from various sources including this association, an area-wide report on the state of stormwater infrastructure in Whangamata is due to be presented to TCDC about now. It’s imperative that we, as representatives of the town’s ratepayers, hold TCDC to account to act on the report. While it is almost certain that such action will take a long time and a great deal of investment, it is unacceptable for a town of 4,000 permanent (and many more “weekender”) residents and a summer population pushing 40,000 to not have sufficient and appropriate stormwater infrastructure so that private properties are not inundated and roads impassable during severe weather events.
It is somewhat understandable that only around half the rates collected in Whangamata are spent here, but this matter will require an increased amount of our rates to be re-invested back into the town; much better than subsidising a “regional” swimming pool facility in Thames!
Powerco have upped their game over the last year and as a result we have experienced fewer and shorter power outages. The stand-by battery (to supply the commercial area in an outage) is due to be installed later this year, but Whangamata remains vulnerable with only a single high-voltage power feed, and recent testing bringing the capacity of the proposed battery installation into question. We continue to work behind the scenes to convince Powerco that the long-term investment of a second high-voltage feed is not negotiable; it won’t be easy, but it needs to be done.
In the meantime see the Powerco Ap online at https://www.powerco.co.nz/about-us/our-app/ ;if every household in Whangamata used this simple application and advised Powerco every time a power outage occurred, not only would issues be fixed more quickly, but we strongly believe this
Hopefully the items above show you that the Whangamata Ratepayers Association has a job to do, and while we are determined to do it, the more residents and ratepayers who join the association, the stronger our voice. For a measly $10 per annum, you can help by giving us credibility (by way of increased membership representation) in discussions with the various organisations we interact with; please follow the link below, and help us look after this great town.
Find us on Facebook or follow the link to our new website and join us:
We’re all so lucky to be able to enjoy New Zealand’s “Best Beach”, lets make sure that title remains valid!
15th April 2019