Kiwi remedy gives hope for Opito Bay pohutukawa

Source: Far North District Council

A unique organic product created by a New Zealand plant and soil nutritionist may have saved four Opito Bay pōhutukawa trees illegally poisoned late last year. 

In November, an arborist contracted by the Far North District Council, confirmed that holes had been drilled into the root systems of four ailing pōhutukawa on a reserve at Opito Bay near Kerikeri. The 15-metre trees were losing foliage and the arborist predicted they would die. Several dead branches were removed for safety reasons. 

Just four months after the attack, the much-loved, beach-side, shade trees are displaying strong signs of life with new leaves and shoots sprouting from limbs previously thought to be dead. 

The dramatic reversal is due to technology developed by Phillip Walesby, owner of the Scriptfert Group. The Bay of Islands resident says he immediately thought his products would help the Opito Bay trees after reading news reports about their poisoning. 

“I went out to Opito Bay to look at the damage. After talking to locals, I was put in touch with the Far North District Council and was contacted by the arborist. I offered my help and agreed to donate the product if they supplied the labour to apply it.”

The first phase of the treatment saw a soil acidity regulator applied around the base of the trees. Then, two weeks later, the Scriptfert product was sprayed onto the foliage of the 50-year-old pōhutukawa. 

Mr Walesby says it was the first time the compound had been applied to pōhutukawa trees. “I’m really impressed at how well they have responded with leaf colour and new growth. Even the tree most badly affected by the poison is showing strong signs of returning to health with multiple new shoots sprouting in a very short timeframe. ”

General Manager – Infrastructure and Asset Management, Andy Finch, says Opito Bay residents were understandably outraged someone had attacked the four trees last year. “These trees were planted by locals and are much-valued for the shade they provide on one of Kerikeri’s few swimming beaches. Unfortunately, someone decided that their needs were more important than anyone else. We are very grateful to Phillip and thrilled his treatment has provided new hope for these trees.” 

Mr Finch says the Council has improved surveillance at the reserve and is asking local residents to be vigilant for suspicious activity.  “All trees on public reserves are protected by the Reserves Act and the Resource Management Act.  We will prosecute anyone caught damaging the trees on this reserve or other reserves in the District.

Anyone with information that may help identify those responsible for poisoning the Opito Bay trees should contact Kerikeri Police on (09) 407 9211, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. 

MIL OSI

Road sealing work begins

Source: Far North District Council

Five unsealed roads in the Far North will collectively receive $1 million of improvements under a seal extension programme funded entirely by ratepayers.

Normally, new road sealing is undertaken with funding assistance from the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA). However, NZTA applies very strict criteria to this funding and many unsealed roads fail to reach the threshold for assistance. 

The Council voted to spend $1 million a year of its own funds over the next 10 years on road seal extensions when it adopted its Long Term Plan 2018-28 in June last year.  

Elected members decided in December which roads would get seal extensions this year.  The Council awarded contracts for the works (see next page) in late January.  Physical works should be completed before June.

Mayor John Carter says councillors made the selection based on a priority matrix developed specifically for the 2019 budget allocation. 

Their decisions were based on the presence of schools, marae, health centres and sports facilities. High levels of forestry traffic and road dust, the number of homes along the route, the number of complaints about the road, and whether it is used as a detour route were also taken into account. 

“For future allocations, we will ask the Northland Transportation Alliance to independently develop a prioritisation matrix that compares roading needs district-wide.”

Mayor Carter says the Council understands that road sealing is a priority for many Far North residents. 

“Like them, I would like to see all of the district’s roads sealed. Unfortunately, the financial burden for ratepayers would be crippling, adding up to $14,000 to each rates bill. In the meantime, this programme of unsubsidised road sealing will bring some relief to families living on roads that just fall short of NZTA funding criteria.”

He says the Council is continuing to seek funding from NZTA to seal more of the district’s unsealed road network. 

Far North Road Seal Extension Projects 2018/19

Te Hiku Ward

Road:  Okahu Road

New seal location: RAPID numbers 2603 to 3542

Contractor:  Fulton Hogan

Road: Fairburn Road

New seal location:  RAPID numbers 9028 to 10327 

Contractor:  Fulton Hogan

Road:  Pawarenga Road

New seal location:  200 m at RAPID number 1207

Contractor:  Fulton Hogan

Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Ward

Road:  Otangaroa Road

New seal location:  RAPID numbers 0 to 608

Contractor:  Fulton Hogan

Kaikohe-Hokianga Ward

Road:  Punakitere Loop Rd 

New seal location:  RAPID numbers 3149 to 3602

Contractor:  Broadspectrum (NZ) Ltd (Roading)

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Hokianga Ferry to resume sailing Tuesday

Source: Far North District Council

The Hokianga Ferry should resume normal services tomorrow with repairs to one of its engines due to be completed today. 

Sailings of the Hokianga vehicle ferry were halted yesterday as a precaution due to mechanical issues. 

The Far North District Council is now working with a local ferry operator to arrange for a passenger-only service to begin crossing the harbour this afternoon.  

Updates on when this service will commence, and on repairs to the vehicle ferry, will be posted on the Council website at www.fndc.govt.nz and on its Facebook page as soon as details are available.

People can also phone our Contact Centre on 0800 920 029 for updates. 

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Harold Ave attack dog seized

Source: Far North District Council

Far North District Council Animal Management Officers have seized the dog that allegedly attacked 95-year-old Kaikohe man, Jim Morgan, on Monday.

The terrier cross was impounded during an early morning visit to a property previously identified by Mr Morgan. Another young dog was also impounded from the same address, although this dog is not believed to have taken part in the Monday attack. The dog owner was not at the Harold Ave home when Animal Management Officers visited.

Meanwhile, four Animal Management Officers have conducted door-to-door checks of all properties on Harold Ave to check that dogs are registered and adequately secured. They found a total of 16 dogs. Five of these, including the two impounded resulting from the attack on Mr Morgan, were not registered.  

Darren Edwards Manager – Environmental Services says Harold Ave residents will be understandably relieved that the dog has been impounded.

“This does not resolve persistent dog control problems we have in parts of the district. Since the 16 December attack on Mr Morgan and his dog, Sandy, we have impounded 20 straying dogs and seized another two in the Kaikohe area. That illustrates how pervasive the problem of irresponsible dog ownership is. It is not just a Kaikohe problem; this is replicated across the district.”

Mr Edwards says his staff share the frustration residents feel about uncontrolled dogs. “Many of these dog owners do not respect the law or Council staff. They hide dogs after an attack and refuse to co-operate with Animal Management Officers. We have to operate within the law and adhere to a high burden of proof when taking dog owners to court.

“This means we rely on the community to help by providing witness statements and, where necessary, testifying in court. We know this is not always easy as witnesses may feel frightened of dog owners, who are often their neighbours.”

He says this is the key reason no prosecution has yet been made in the December attack on Mr Morgan that caused the death of his dog, Sandy. “I hope that a $1000 reward now being offered by a member of the public to the first person providing information leading to the prosecution of the owner of the dogs will help.

“It isn’t appropriate for Council to offer payment for information. However, we are willing to facilitate a third party offer in the interests of upholding the law and keeping the community safe.”

He encourages anyone who witnessed the 16 December attack, or who knows someone who did, to contact him confidentially on 0800 920 029.

He adds that Animal Management Officers are continuing to conduct door-to-door checks of randomly selected streets in problem areas across the district to ensure dogs are under control and registered.

“The Dog Control Act states that all dogs must be registered and under control. We are enforcing that and will fine owners if they are unwilling to comply. However, we want to encourage responsible dog ownership and will use our discretion where owners are willing to work with us to fulfil their legal obligations.”

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Council working on Kaitaia water supply resilience

Source: Far North District Council

Summer water restrictions in Kaitaia should become less frequent as the Far North District Council works to make the town’s supply more drought-resilient. 

Dry weather and high water use forced the Council to introduce Level 2 water restrictions for properties connected to its Kaitaia water supply last week.

General Manager – Infrastructure and Asset Management, Andy Finch, says the restrictions have continued to highlight the vulnerability of Kaitaia’s water supply during dry summers.  However, he assures residents that considerable work is being undertaken to increase its resilience. 

“Residents may be aware of past plans to extract water from the Aupouri aquifer. The Council decided to defer development of that option until a robust business case had been developed and all other options to increase the resilience of the supply had been explored. We have made good progress on that.”

The Council recently received a hydrogeological study from Lincoln Agritech comparing different extraction options from the Aupouri aquifer. The study used a mathematical model to estimate the yield and quality of potential bores that are within 10km of Kaitaia and have road access and power supplies. The study identified a number of bore sites that may provide the town with a new water source, including the Sweetwater Bore which the Council has a resource consent to take water from.

“This answers many questions about the suitability of the aquifer as an alternative water source. In the meantime, we have been working to make other parts of Kaitaia’s water supply more resilient.”

The traditional approach of reducing unaccounted-for water via leak detection and pipe repair programmes has been underway for more than two years. This has prevented main breakages and tracked a number of leaks. However, there remains a substantial unaccounted-for water problem. This is likely due to combination of many small leaks, often due to the historic use of materials with a high failure rate, and inaccurate water meters. The Council will now take a more strategic approach and has engaged an expert to provide a systematic strategy to locate hard-to-find leaks and identify which meters require replacement.

The Council also plans to undertake a study of flows in the Awanui River during drought conditions to assess whether the current consent limit can be safely lowered. This can only be undertaken in drought conditions, which have not existed over the past two summers. It is possible conditions may be suitable to undertake the study this summer.

Staff are preparing a report on options for elected members to consider. This will be presented to the Council within two months. 

Awanui River: This is Kaitaia’s primary water source.  The Northland Regional Council limits how much water the Far North District Council can take from the river to safeguard its ecosystem and possible impact on users downstream. The river flow should not fall below 460 litres per second at the point where water is taken. 

Kauri Dam: This provides Council with a back-up water source, but it is unusable in summer because of algal blooms.  The Council resolved last year to stop using the dam as a backup water source, but it has not specified a timeline for this. 

Aupouri aquifer: The Council has a resource consent from the Northland Regional Council to extract water from an aquifer bore at Sweetwater.  Several other consents exist to extract water from the aquifer. While the Council has not used the bore, the resource consent has been rolled over and remains valid. 

Triboard plant: Juken New Zealand Ltd, a significant local employer, consumes around 25 per cent of the water produced by the Kaitaia Treatment Plant. The company works with the Council to reduce consumption by changing some of its processes during dry weather.

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Placemaking project for Jaycee Park

Source: Far North District Council

Junior play equipment with a nautical theme will be installed at Kaitaia’s Jaycee Park this month, the first part of a two-stage revamp of the popular recreation area. 

The new play equipment will include a boat-shaped climbing platform with decks at different levels, steering wheels, telescopes, slides and a crawl tunnel covered with artificial grass. New swings will also be added to the playground with a specially-designed parent-child swing, and a basket swing suitable for infants. The existing site will be expanded to accommodate the new play equipment. 

Te Hiku Community Board Chairperson, Adele Gardner, says the new play equipment is part of a wider revamp of the park that will eventually link Jaycee Park, also known as Centennial Park, and the skate park. 

“This upgrade is being funded out of a new $100,000 Placemaking Fund created by the Council last year. The Placemaking Fund is divided between the district’s three Community Boards to help them better support the Council mission of ‘creating great places’.”

She says the Te Hiku Community Board identified Jaycee Park as a priority for the Ward due to its central location and popularity within the Te Hiku community. “This funding has allowed us to respond to requests for equipment our younger tamariki can enjoy and explore. However, to complete this work quickly and safely, we will have to close the playground temporarily. During this time, whanau may want to use alternative playgrounds at Davis St and Allen Bell Drive.” 
Jaycee Park playground will close from Monday 25 February and should re-open by Friday 15 March.

Ms Gardner says the Community Board aims to add more features, such as shade sails, drinking fountains, picnic tables, seating, lighting and concrete paths. “Unfortunately, our funding does not cover all of these additions, so we are writing to local businesses and organisations seeking sponsorship to help pay for these.” Sponsors will be recognised with name plaques or similar on items they help pay for. 

The second stage of the revamp will be developed by landscape designers, Open Spaces, which will provide a blueprint for increasing connections between the playground and skate park. 

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More water restrictions as consumption climbs

Source: Far North District Council

Sprinkler bans are this week being applied to Kerikeri and Kaitaia, while existing water restrictions are being tightened in Kaikohe.

The Far North District Council is applying the restrictions due to a combination of high levels of water consumption recorded across the district’s eight water schemes, and NIWA predictions that dry weather will continue well into February.

From Tuesday, Level 2 restrictions have been applied to properties connected to Council water supplies in Kerikeri and Kaitaia. The restrictions mean it will be illegal to use automatic or unattended garden hoses, sprinklers and irrigation devices.

On the same day, Level 2 restrictions already in place for Kaikohe were increased to Level 3. This means people with homes and businesses connected to Council water supplies can only use a bucket to water gardens, and to wash buildings, cars or boats. Filling private swimming pools from Council water supplies is completely banned.

General Manager – Infrastructure and Asset Management, Andy Finch, says that despite showers over the past few days bringing some relief to parts of the Far North, the need to conserve water remains urgent across the whole district.

“Our Kerikeri and Kaitaia water treatment plants are working at maximum capacity to keep up with demand and recent rain has had little impact on consumption. We are asking all residents to take steps to reduce consumption now.”

He says the situation in Kaikohe is particularly serious. “The recent rain will have no immediate impact on the Monument Hill water bore, which is dangerously low, and will not substantially increase flow rates in our primary water source, the Wairoro Stream.”

Mr Finch is also extending his water conservation plea to residents and businesses with rain water tanks. “Most bulk water carriers source water from Council supplies to refill empty tanks and this has a significant impact on overall demand. I am asking those who are buying in water to not use it to fill swimming pools or for irrigation.”

He warns that if there is no reduction in demand, the Council will be forced to prevent bulk water carriers from sourcing water from the Kaitaia, Kaikohe and Kerikeri water treatment plants.

He is urging all Far North residents and businesses to adopt simple conservation measures to help avoid tighter restrictions being applied in the future. These include:

  • Only washing clothes when you have a full load. A full washing machine uses about 150 litres of water in just one wash
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving
  • Put the plug in the sink when washing vegetables and avoid running the tap
  • Mulch your garden with grass clippings or compost. Mulching can prevent up to 70% of water loss through evaporation.

Go to bewaterwise.org.nz to find more water conservation tips. Residents concerned about restriction breaches or water leaks should contact the Council on 0800 920 029.

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Relationship agreement a milestone for Northland leaders

Source: Far North District Council

A relationship agreement signed between Northland Mayors and Tai Tokerau Iwi Chairs is the first of its kind in New Zealand.

The Northland Mayoral Forum and Te Kahu O Taonui (Tai Tokerau Iwi Chairs Forum) have been in discussions for the past 19 months about how they can build a strategic relationship.  Last Thursday, at Waitangi, members of the Northland Mayoral Forum and Te Kahu O Taonui signed an agreement formalising a collaborative relationship aimed at progressing a shared vision for Northland.  

Council leaders and Iwi Chairs who signed the agreement are Chairman Bill Shepherd for the Northland Regional Council, Hon Mayor John Carter for the Far North District Council, Mayor Jason Smith for Kaipara District Council, Harry Burkhardt for Ngāti Kuri Trust Board, Maahia Nathan for Te Rūnanga Nui o Te Aupouri Trust, Wallace Rivers for Te Rūnanga o NgāiTakoto, Haami Piripi for Te Rūnanga o Te Rarawa, Raniera (Sonny) Tau for Te-Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi, Hoki Tua for Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa and Dame Rangimarie Naida Glavish for Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua.  Whangarei District Council, Te Runanga-a-Iwi o Ngati Kahu and Ngatiwai Trust Board chose not to be signatories at this stage, but are free to do so in the future. 

Northland Mayoral Forum Chair, Bill Shepherd, says Northland’s Iwi and Council Chief Executives have had an Iwi and Local Government Agency Chief Executives’ Forum for a number of years.  However, there has been no equivalent governance forum.  “The agreement gives Councils and Iwi Authorities a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and provides opportunities for joint ventures that deliver mutual benefits.”

The agreement will also help the region to speak with one voice on regional issues, giving it more influence in central government decision-making.  “Northlanders want to see their leaders working together and Central Government wants to invest in regions that have a joined-up strategic plan.” 

Te Kahu O Taonui spokesman and Chairperson of Te-Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi O Ngāpuhi, Raniera (Sonny) Tau says, “We are pleased that the vision we had when we started these discussions with Councils to come together to explore this opportunity has come to fruition.  We come to the table with a commitment to working in partnership and making a real difference for all in Tai Tokerau to achieve our shared aspirations.”

The agreement doesn’t replace the statutory powers and strategic plans of Councils or agreements between Councils and Iwi/Hapū.  “This is about better collaboration between Iwi Authorities and Councils on strategic issues.”

The agreement could form a blueprint for strategic collaboration between local government and Iwi in other parts of New Zealand. “We are aware of other regional agreements involving Iwi and local government.  However, these are limited to Resource Management Act issues and Treaty settlement obligations.  The agreement we have signed today is about achieving better social, economic, cultural and environmental outcomes for Northland.”

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Water restrictions for Hokianga and Kaikohe

Source: Far North District Council

Continuing dry weather has forced the Far North District Council to ban the use of sprinklers in Kaikohe and tighten existing water restrictions for South Hokianga.

There has been no significant rain in the Far North since Christmas, compounding low river water levels recorded as early as October. NIWA predicts total rainfall over the next seven days will be below normal across the North Island with the driest areas in the Far North. It says meagre rainfall, combined with warm temperatures next week, will see soil moisture levels decrease even further across the island. 

In response, the Council will introduce Level 2 water restrictions for properties connected to its Kaikohe water supply effective from 30 January. This will make it illegal to use automatic or unattended garden hoses, sprinklers and irrigation devices. This is necessary due to low water levels in the Wairoro Stream, Kaikohe’s primary source of raw water, compounded by very low water levels in the Monument Hill water bore, the town’s secondary water source.

Meanwhile, restrictions already in place for Rawene-Omanaia and Opononi-Omapere water supplies since December 24 have increased to Level 3. It is now illegal for people whose properties are connected to these supplies to water their gardens or lawns with sprinklers, irrigation systems or hand-held hoses. The use of open hoses, trigger nozzle hoses, or water blasters to wash vehicles, windows, buildings or paved areas is also banned, as is filling swimming pools from Council water supplies. 

General Manager – Infrastructure and Asset Management, Andy Finch, says low rainfall has dramatically reduced river levels across much of the Far North. “Hokianga streams and rivers are among the most vulnerable raw water sources we have and after a month of mostly dry weather, levels are at worrying levels. 

“For these waterways to recover, we need a good soaking of at least 150mm of rain spread over a week. In the meantime, restrictions will remain in place and we are asking consumers to limit water to essential water use only. That is drinking, cooking and bathing.” 

Go to the Be Waterwise Whakanuia to whakaaro ki te wai website bewaterwise.org.nz/ for more information about water restrictions in Northland and tips on saving water.  Phone 0800 920 029 to tell the Council about water leaks or breaches to water restrictions.

The Council can grant exemptions to water restrictions in exceptional circumstances. Applicants must demonstrate significant hardship and have no practical alternative water source. Go to www.fndc.govt.nz/savewater for more details and to apply for an exemption.

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Youth Council launches youth fund

Source: Far North District Council

Young people in the Far North will have access to a new youth fund to assist them to achieve their dreams.

The IF Innovation Fund is now open for applications, thanks to the Far North Youth Council and the Ministry of Youth Development.

Young people are invited to pitch their ideas for youth projects to be in to win a share of the funds. Application forms are available on the Far North District Council website.

Successful applicants will receive funding, mentoring and support toward youth-led projects up to the value of $5000.

The decision panel for the fund will include trained youth mentors from the Far North Youth Council and Far North District Council staff.

The panel will be looking for projects to boost youth wellbeing through fun events and activities, especially in rural areas of the Far North.

Meanwhile, the Far North Youth Council is seeking new members for 2019 and is asking for applications from young people aged 12-24 years.

Those wishing to join the youth council are invited to apply online via the Far North District Council website; via a message to the Youth Council Facebook page www.facebook.com/FarNorthYouthCouncil/ or Instagram account @farnorthyouthcouncil. They can also email FarNorthYouthCouncil@fndc.govt.nz

The Far North Youth Council was formed by the Far North District Council in 2016 to give young people a greater say in district affairs.

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