Community Newsletter

First Dark Sky Project Event a Success

The Kuaotunu Peninsula Dark Sky Project hosted a very successful community event at the Kuaotunu Domain on June 26 to coincide with NZ’s first Matariki holiday weekend.

Over 60 locals and a few visitors turned out at 5am on a cool Saturday morning to enjoy views of planets and stars through two big telescopes provided by members of the group. Jupiter put on a great show with its four biggest moons all lined up and easy to spot, whilst Saturn had its lovely rings on display. A beautiful crescent Moon also turned up to show off its craters and mountains, and even brilliant Venus made a late appearance for the keen attendees. A sausage sizzle and hot drinks kept everyone warm and there were even Mars bars on hand for dessert!

This event was a Kuaotunu Peninsula Biosphere initiative, organised and supported by our own Alastair Brickell of Stargazers B&B, with the full support of the three local resident and ratepayer associations of Kuaotunu, Opito and Otama. 

Further good news for the Dark Sky Project is a recent request from the European Space Agency (ESA) for Stargazers B&B and Astronomy Tours to host one of their robotic telescopes. This would be remotely operated from Europe to search for space junk and potentially hazardous asteroids. Our area of New Zealand was selected due to its unusually dark skies. 

It is likely that the telescope may eventually be sited at Opito due to the faster internet connection available there, but it will be great to have it within the Kuaotunu Peninsula Dark Sky Community and it will be a superb teaching asset for budding scientists throughout the wider Coromandel area.

Poster from the Department of Conservation about the Waitaia Loop Track Upgrade on the Kuaotunu Peninsula

Kuaotunu Hall News

The new front door of the Kuaotunu HallThe Kuaotunu Hall Committee is pleased to announce that the hall now has a brand new door. The old door was no longer weathertight and was unable to be repaired, so a new door was custom built and then painted in the original colour.  

The Hall Committee is very grateful to Dave Fitzgerald, Sayers Construction and Keith Mahon Painters for their help with this small but challenging project, which was funded from the committee's own funds.

The Hall Committee is also very pleased that the hall is starting to be used again, after almost a year with very few bookings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our regular users are back in force, and in April we welcomed the first wedding party in over 12 months. We are looking forward to hosting a further 11 weddings between this September and May next year.

You may be interested to learn that the Hall Committee has a policy of not accepting more than two bookings per month for major events (e.g. weddings, 21st birthday parties etc). We feel that this policy strikes a good balance between earning the income which enables us to keep up with the extensive and ongoing maintenance our historic hall requires, while also ensuring that the local Kuaotunu community is able to use and enjoy the hall on a regular basis. We welcome your feedback on this policy.

Great Progress Made at the Grays Beach Reserve

The recently re-planted dune reserve at Grays Beach Kuaotunu surrounded by bollards

On Saturday 25th June (Matariki weekend) up to 40 locals, bach owners and visitors gathered on Grays Beach reserve and planted over 1300 sand binding plants.  The 400m2 area had been prepared by the TCDC Coastal Restoration team.  The dense weed cover on the foredunes which had been sprayed previously was mechanically removed and then covered with fresh sand immediately prior to planting.
The area has now been finished off with bollards and ropes. It is hoped that next year restoration will continue eastwards along the reserve and further bollards and proper access ways will be installed.
A special thanks to Keith Goodall from Richardsons Real Estate who has taken drone shots from Cuvier Crescent to the Blackjack Recreational Reserve.  This has allowed us to make an inventory of the coastline and to plan restoration projects for which we are hoping to get funding. 

The first area we are looking to regenerate is Zone 1, which is directly across from the village (to the left of the river in the adjacent image). This is so that we can maintain and restore the natural beauty that we, as a community, attach to our coastline.

Local Government News of Interest to Kuaotunu

Freedom Camping Bylaw Open for Consultation

The Thames-Coromandel District Council (TCDC) is reassessing which Council-managed and owned areas around the Coromandel can support freedom camping, and they want your feedback on it.  

The issue of freedom camping is of interest to many residents and ratepayers in Kuaotunu, so please take this opportunity to let TCDC know your thoughts.

Campervan parked on the bank of a river, with text asking whether Freedom Camping should be Allowed, Restricted or Prohibited

Find out more at tcdc.govt.nz/freedomcampingbylaw.

New Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme

If you travel through Thames on a regular basis, you may be interested in learning about the new soft plastics recycling scheme that the Thames-Coromandel District Council has recently announced.

This scheme promotes soft plastic recycling using community bins located throughout Thames (with the aim of ultimately extending it across the Coromandel Peninsula). The recycled soft plastic will then be turned into fence posts or building materials.

Find out more at https://www.tcdc.govt.nz/Our-Services/Rubbish-and-Recycling/soft-plastics-recycling-scheme/

Local Body Election Nominations are Still Open!

Nominations opened on the 15th of July for the Local Body elections which are scheduled for October this year. We will be asked to vote for 4 x Community Board members and 3 x Councillors to represent Mercury Bay (currently only 2).

PLEASE take an interest, nominate someone you think will best represent the aspirations of our communities, scrutinize all candidates and most importantly, VOTE. Nominations close 12 August.

TCDC poster encouraging people to vote where their bach is

Note that if you own a property here but don't live here, you can vote in the local elections here as well as your normal place of residence, but you have to enrol separately as a ratepayer elector. Find out more and enrol at www.tcdc.govt.nz/election.

Looking for Somewhere to Mountain Bike?

Entrance sign at the Whitianga Bike Park

A number of people have asked KRRA (Kuaotunu Residents & Ratepayers Association) about mountain biking access locally, especially with the temporary closure of the Bluff Road access to Matarangi.

After some inquiring, we're encouraged to report that the Whitianga Bike Club is actively working on expanding its existing 10km network of trails.  If you haven't already done so, pay them a visit, or better still get involved with their volunteer work. 

More details can be found here: Whitianga Bike Park – Whitianga Mountain Biking & Cycling (allaboutwhitianga.co.nz) and you can also find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WhitangaBikeClub/.

This newsletter is brought to you by the Kuaotunu Residents and Ratepayers Association Inc (KRRA).

Please note that the views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of KRRA.

KRRA thanks the following people for their contributions to this edition: Alastair Brickell (KRRA); Jenny Crawford (Kuaotunu Dune Care); Kathy Speirs (Kuaotunu Hall Committee); Danny Bay (KRRA). 

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. 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  every 6 weeks on Friday mornings at the Kuaotunu Hall.