Community Newsletter

Doesn't it look fabulous?

KRRA is super pleased with how the mural on the toilet block at the Black Jack Reserve turned out, and we hope you agree that this was a great use of KRRA funds.

Your Committee would like to thank TCDC for refurbishing this toilet and installing two new outdoor showers (note that the water storage has to be upgraded before the showers are operational).

And of course huge thanks to the artist, Rebekah Pearson, who did a fantastic job incorporating our wish for a mural that reflected our beach, surf, dark skies and flora and fauna. 

On the subject of new looks...

You may have noticed that this newsletter has a new colour scheme. This is to match the long-promised new version of the Kuaotunu.nz website, which your Committee is pleased to announce is finally live. 

Check out the new Kuaotunu website

Have your say on our public meeting dates

KRRA usually has two public meetings every year. One is the KRRA AGM which is always held at Easter, and the second has traditionally been held in early January. The reason for these dates is to enable as many absentee ratepayers as possible to attend together with our permanent residents.

Last year the committee trialled replacing the January public meeting with one at Labour weekend, on the theory that it didn't make sense to have the two public meetings so close together. However the Labour weekend meeting was not very well attended, and so we thought we would ask you directly:

Which date would you prefer for attending the second public meeting?
Early January
Mid-late January
Labour weekend
Some other time

If you selected "Some other time", please let us know what date would suit you best.

Water quality monitoring underway

Several new water quality monitors have been installed in the Kuaotunu Wetland area as part of a field trial for RiverWatch.

RiverWatch is an affordable, robust and user-friendly water quality monitoring system developed by local innovator James Muir. The monitor sits in the waterway, sampling every 10 mins and sending the information to the cloud. Water quality can then be viewed in real-time and we can see trends and changes over time. RiverWatch monitoring systems will be publicly available in June this year, but in the meantime James is providing the monitoring and support for this area while he tests out the sensors.

Alongside one of the RiverWatch sensors in Kuaotunu River is a state-of-the-art nitrate sensor provided to RiverWatch by National Oceanographic Centre (NOC) in the UK. These sensors would normally cost in the tens of thousands, so it's a great opportunity to have one monitoring our river. James is currently collaborating with the NOC on new sensor technology that will help manage water quality.

The data from the monitoring will be made available before KRRA's upcoming AGM.

Olivia Muir with a RiverWatch monitoring system
Olivia Muir with a RiverWatch monitoring system

You are invited...

The AGM of the Kuaotunu Residents & Ratepayers Association will be taking place on Easter Sunday. 

Please join us at 3pm on Sunday 12 April in the Kuaotunu Hall for what is bound to be an interesting and informative meeting.

Nominations are now open for the committee, so please consider standing and helping to influence the direction and outcome of what happens in our little piece of paradise.

All welcome!

Nominate someone for the KRRA Committee

Kuaotunu Dark Sky initiative

We all know about and love Kuaotunu’s unspoilt natural beauty and beaches.  However, we often take for granted another unspoilt treasure and that’s our exceptionally dark sky. 

Unfortunately this is at risk of being slowly eroded due to the gradual and virtually unnoticed encroachment of unwanted light which is termed ‘light pollution’.  This is already creeping over the hills from Whitianga and Matarangi, but even in Kuaotunu excessive numbers of streetlights are appearing on our roadside and starting to degrade our view.

In order to try and protect what we have, KRRA (along with the Opito Residents and Ratepayers Association) is beginning the process of gaining formal protection for this important part of our natural environment.  This will hopefully result in the Kuaotunu Peninsula gaining recognition as a “Dark Sky Sanctuary” accredited by the International Dark Sky Association based in Tuscon, Arizona.  This is the same designation that Great Barrier Island and Stewart Island have recently attained.

Preliminary approaches to the Mercury Bay Community Board have been encouraging so we are hopeful that our council will support KRRA in this venture.  If you want to know more or are interested in helping us to drive this project feel free to contact us.

A huge thank you...

Finally the huge pile of weed infested gravel/rubbish that occupied two boat trailer parks at the boat ramp has been removed!

We are very grateful to Paul Reilly for generously providing his digger, his truck and his time to dispose of this. Many thanks Paul!!!

Our dunes need help 

Kuaotunu has a long history of volunteer groups working to protect and enhance our coastal dunes and reserves. Unfortunately there has been limited or no involvement for the past 4-5 years, resulting in an increase in the number of weeds and erosion affecting our dune environment. 

Other beach communities on the peninsula with active Dune Care groups commit to various levels of involvement, from once a year planting to weekly (winter only) weeding and planting sessions.  TCDC and WRC provide leadership, expertise, support, plants, equipment and funding to support the efforts, but the key to the success of each project is a single person coordinating the involvement of the community. 

The plan for this year is to tackle an area that is not too large and overwhelming and would give the community a good idea of the benefits that could be gained and the effort required to achieve them. 

The proposed area is the end of the reserve opposite Luke’s Kitchen – known as the Black Jack or Torea Reserve.  The idea is to create specific access routes to the beach, with protection for the restoration by roping off areas of replanting.  Some reshaping of the dune would repair the erosion caused by uncontrolled access. 

Elimination of weeds and infected spinifex (fungus damage) is to be followed by planting of dune species and healthy spinifex.  With support from TCDC and WRC, there is opportunity for involvement in a community initiative for people of all ages and abilities, with as much or as little time as you can spare.

If you are interested and able to help in any capacity, please email kuaotunudunecare@gmail.com.

Mercury Bay Art Escape on this weekend

Support our local Kuaotunu artists by participating in the Art Escape Open Studio Tour this weekend (and next weekend). 

View the map of open studios here.

A successful first year at the Domain for the library

The Kuaotunu Library Committee is pleased to report that its first year of operating in the new location has been very successful.  Paid up membership exceeds 150 families and there has been strong, regular patronage throughout the year.

Donated books are still much appreciated – please ensure books are in good condition and preferably published within the past 10 years.

If you still haven't joined, contact Maxine McRobbie (866 4341) or Denise Young (866 0450) to arrange registration, usage details and pin number to gain entry to the library at your convenience, 24/7. 

The Library Committee would also welcome suggestions for authors, genres or subject matter members you would like the library to provide, and/or other improvements you would like to see to enable the library to service current and future needs.

Rings Beach Wetland Group Update

Last year the Wetland Group became an independent incorporated society to provide the legal status required to be eligible for large grants from funding agencies supporting eradication of pests and weeds such as wilding pines.   The Group also became a charitable entity, to ensure that your donations are tax deductible.  

The record of predator catches for 2019 is impressive – and is consistent with those of other pest control teams as it was a mast year for many native trees.  The team recorded 579 rats, 748 mice, 25 stoats/weasels, 187 possums and 5 feral cats.  We expect the numbers of rats, mice and stoats (2.5 times higher than the previous year) to be significantly less this year with a reduction of food (seeds).

2020 will see the third year of large-scale pine felling and the changes in the views and landscapes after the past two years of felling are dramatic.  The walking tracks were extensively used over the summer months and we have many regular (year-round) walkers.  The kauri dieback hygiene stations needed constant replenishment, with everyone mindful of protecting both the self-introduced and planted kauri throughout the reserve.

If you are keen to help with predator control, you can always start with a trap in your backyard.  Backyard Trapping is supported by Predator Free NZ and a supply of traps is available if you can check the traps at least once/week (preferably more often in the autumn).

To find out more about the Wetland Group or Backyard Trapping, email: ringsbeachwetlandgroup@gmail.com.

Final update on the half pipe

After two years of what have proven to be extremely frustrating formal and informal meetings and discussions with all concerned, your Committee has been forced to cease work on the proposed half pipe skate ramp and to liaise with donors to return their funds.

The main parties (i.e. TCDC, DOC and Ngati Tamatera) have been unable to agree on a suitable site using either Reserve or Domain land within the vicinity of our village. We are not happy with this and understand that many in our community will share our frustration.

One of our generous donors has indicated that they would still be in favour of helping fund another youth orientated project in the village or, failing that, a piece of public art.

SO, we need your input - please ensure you can attend our AGM at Easter as we will have this item on the agenda. And if you were one of the people who donated money towards this project and have not heard from us, please contact us to arrange your refund.

This newsletter is brought to you by the Kuaotunu Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc (KRRA). KRRA thanks the following people for their contributions to this edition: James Muir; Carrie Parker; Brent Page; Alastair Brickell; the Kuaotunu Library Committee; and the Rings Beach Wetland Group. 

We’d love your feedback on this issue - please email your thoughts and suggestions to info@kuaotunu.nz.  

Like to contribute an article to this newsletter? We welcome contributions about events, happenings, projects etc that are relevant to the Kuaotunu community (maximum of 250 words, please). Please note that the Newsletter Editor has the final say regarding content and may edit content if required.

To find out more about the Kuaotunu Residents and Ratepayers Association, such as the date of the next meeting, how to join, agendas and minutes of previous meetings, etc, please click here

You are welcome to attend any committee meetings, these are usually held on the third Thursday of the month.