“Keep Kuaotunu, Kuaotunu”

2019 Refreshed Community Plan


Understanding the Refreshed 2019 Kuaotunu Community Plan

The refreshed 2019 Community Plan builds strongly on the previous 2009 Community Plan.

In 2018 a community survey and a follow up community meeting were initiated by the Kuaotunu Residents & Ratepayers Association Inc (KRRA) to solicit community reaction to key items from the original plan. The survey had an unusually high response rate, and the subsequent community meeting was very well attended. Hence this refreshed Community Plan incorporates the priorities and ideas from this input.

Our 2019 Plan strongly reflects the community’s common goals and is designed to trigger concrete actions and projects and to assist the committee in its advocacy role when it comes to making our voice heard for the Thames-Coromandel District Council’s (TCDC) and Waikato Regional Council’s (WRC) annual, tri-annual and long-term planning processes.

Instead of using the ‘Priorities’ table in the 2009 Plan, the 2019 Plan contains ‘Work Programmes’ which form the basis of projects to be undertaken by KRRA, community members, and relevant partners such as TCDC and WRC.

Abbreviations Used in this Document

KRRA          Kuaotunu Residents & Ratepayers Association Inc
TCDC          Thames Coromandel District Council
MBCB         Mercury Bay Community Board
WRC            Waikato Regional Council
DOC            Department of Conservation
NZTA           NZ Transport Agency
LTNZ           Land Transport NZ

About the Community Plan


  • Focus community debate and get people involved in making decisions and taking responsibility for our community.
  • Document the community’s aspirations, priorities and common goals.
  • Promote consensus and minimise division.
  • Safeguard the community and the environment from exploitation.
  • Help avoid haphazard development.
  • Ensure the development of new facilities are appropriate for the community.
  • Capture all good ideas and identify initiatives suitable for external funding.
  • Help maintain the unique character that distinguishes Kuaotunu from other Mercury Bay North communities.
  • Show opportunities for individuals and groups to develop new projects and provide goods and services.
  • Assist the decision-making process of the Community Board and allow more effective use of ratepayer funds.
  • Help influence TCDC’s and WRC's programmes of works during their annual and long-term planning processes.

How Will It Be Used?

The Kuaotunu community will use this plan to:

  • Lobby and influence government agencies such DOC and NZTA, as well as local government agencies such as TCDC and WRC, emphasizing local priorities and annual and longer-term work programmes;
  • Influence the development of policies for appropriately managed growth within and around Kuaotunu; and
  • Secure support from within and outside the community for funding for specific projects (along with local individuals and groups).

KRRA will take a lead role in promoting the Plan to the community and where appropriate, facilitating project development. There is opportunity for involvement at every stage of the process.

How Will It Be Accessed?

The Kuaotunu Community Plan is available online at www.kuaotunu.nz.

How will Progress and Success be Measured?

A review of the Plan’s Work Programmes will be carried out every three years by KRRA to enable success to be measured and information to be checked and updated. It is vital that the plan feeds into TCDC's Long Term Plan. The result of this review will then be reported to the Community Board and the Kuaotunu community.

A review of the whole Community Plan will be undertaken every ten years.  This will involve public consultation and input.

How can New Ideas be Incorporated?

The Community Plan has been arranged like a workbook so that an individual or group may use it to keep a record of their activity and ideas. The central record of activity, maintained by KRRA, will form the basis of the annual report to the community and the Community Board.

Any comments on or contributions to this Community Plan should be emailed to the Chair, Kuaotunu Residents and Ratepayers Association c/- krra@kuaotunu.nz.

Description of our Community

Kuaotunu is a working coastal village consisting of three main clusters of houses at Rings Beach, Kuaotunu West and Kuaotunu. The community stretches from the top of the Kuaotunu hill to the Matarangi turn-off. There are few commercial operations, mainly located in or near the village centre or small B&Bs etc. 

The majority of Kuaotunu is zoned Coastal Living or Rural. According to the latest District Plan, the Coastal Living zone “is valued for its sense of remoteness and a feeling of being part of the Rural Area with good access to beaches, harbours and the wider coastal landscape”. There are large pockets of reserve and public conservation land.

Most importantly, unlike Matarangi where only 10% of the residents live there permanently, in Kuaotunu there is a high proportion of permanent residents (estimated to be 65% or more).

What could Happen in the Future?

Much of the Kuaotunu settlement area that has been zoned for residential purposes has yet to be developed to its full potential.  Therefore, the number of lots and dwellings in this area could potentially increase the size of the settlement substantially.

Due to its close proximity to Whitianga as a service settlement, the projected increasing median age of New Zealanders and subsequent potential relocation of retirees, and the improvement in internet services which support remote working, Kuaotunu is likely to come under pressure for further development in the short to medium term.

Given that there are already issues with existing residences in low-lying areas, it will be important to manage all further consents with special regard to stormwater and wastewater management along with water quality.


Our Social Goals

(Community Wellbeing – Health – Education – Arts and Heritage)

What Has Changed Since 2009?

We now have:

  • A wonderful Food Forest
  • A new library located at the Recreational Reserve (Domain)
  • A beautifully revamped Community Hall
  • An increasingly popular Luke’s Kitchen along with a revamped Kua Kawhe Café
  • A vibrant annual arts and crafts schedule
  • A well-used community Facebook group (Kuaotunu Katchup) along with a community website and a regular community newsletter
  • Markedly improved recreational infrastructure on the Domain (e.g. a petanque court, BBQ and playground facilities)

What Do We Want?

  • To retain our strong identity and sense of cohesion as a working coastal village with a high proportion of permanent residents.
  • To avoid any further pressures from the seasonal influx of visitors.
  • To have a safe, confident, caring and healthy community that caters for the needs of residents of all ages.
  • To prevent any proposed initiative that would jeopardize the above in any way.
  • To maintain and enhance the community hall and its surrounds as the social hub of our community, to cater for the needs of the numerous groups using it and build community spirit.
  • To have more social events that bring people together in the community.
  • To keep and enhance our volunteer emergency community services, i.e. the Volunteer Fire Force and Land Search and Rescue.
  • To have all residents knowledgeable about the Civil Defence Plan and Tsunami Warning Systems.
  • To acknowledge and promote our history and heritage.
  • To continue actively encouraging creative talent in our community.


  • Work with TCDC to finalise and distribute the Emergency Response Plan.
  • Actively encourage people to use the Domain for any outdoor activities that contribute to community health and well-being.
  • Work with all stakeholders to establish a skateboard halfpipe on the Domain.
  • Document and promote Kuaotunu’s history and heritage on the Kuaotunu.nz website.
  • Liaise with other art communities on the peninsula such as Creative Mercury Bay and the Mercury Bay Art Escape to continue to promote our art and crafts scene.
  • Incorporate where possible local artistic creativity into any proposed infrastructure.


Our Infrastructure Goals

(Roads – Footpaths – Power – Telecommunications – Water – Stormwater – Wastewater – Rubbish)

What Has Changed Since 2009?

We now have:

  • Extended 50km and 70km zones
  • More footpaths
  • Bluff Rd sealed from the end of Cuvier Cres to Seavill Park Rd; Waitaia Rd partially sealed
  • Bluff Rd closed to vehicular traffic between Matarangi & Rings Beach
  • Engine brake signs
  • Improved broadband services as a result of the availability of fibre and 4G
  • An improved power supply  (power outages now relatively rare)
  • A flashing speed sign & Penguin Crossing signs
  • A rubbish compactor at the Quarry Point boat ramp
  • Extended summer hours of operation for the Matarangi Refuse Transfer Station
  • A substantial increase in heavy traffic travelling through the village as a result of pine harvesting and the Opito subdivision

What Do We Want?

  • To get traction on what has been weighing on the community’s mind for more than a decade:
    • A network of footpaths connecting Kuaotunu West, the main beach front, the village centre and through to Cemetery Road to enable people to walk and cycle freely and safely between the various parts of Kuaotunu; and
    • Extension of the 50km zone so that it starts at Cemetery Rd and finishes at Hilldale Crescent, and enforcement of this.
  • To retain helicopter landing space at the Domain for emergencies only.
  • To retain boat launching at Torea Rd (Blackjack Reserve) for small craft only, and to ensure that any upgrade has no detrimental effect on other users and the overall environment.
  • To keep Bluff Road open to a standard suitable for cyclists and pedestrians as a minimum.
  • To ensure that all traffic through the central village zone is controlled for safety and noise management.
  • To have enhanced maintenance and monitoring of stormwater and wastewater infrastructure to minimise flooding and pollution of streams.
  • To support waste minimisation and aim for zero waste.
  • To have reserves and roadside litter picked up by TCDC contractors.
  • Inorganic collections / green waste.
  • To minimise street lighting to maintain our unique and precious dark skies (the long-term goal being to reduce streetlight numbers significantly).
  • To retain a high level of service for our power supply and telecommunications.
  • Improved mobile phone coverage.
  • An outside shower by the Torea toilet block.


  • Continue to lobby NZTA to extend the posted 50km/h speed limit along the main beach front to the entire Kuaotunu area from Cemetery Road to Hilldale Crescent.
  • Create a shared traffic zone in the village to help calm the traffic.
  • Advocate for a purpose-built tsunami siren.
  • Work with NZTA and TCDC to get the footpaths built.
  • Work with our community to promote responsible management of on-site wastewater treatment systems.
  • Encourage residents and ratepayers with septic tanks to get these checked annually.
  • Work with LTNZ and TCDC to reduce the number of streetlights, the colour temperature of existing lights, and the unnecessary upward spill of existing lights, and to ensure that we are consulted before any new lights are installed.
  • Consult with the Food Forest group on community composting and possible recycling options.
  • Actively pursue waste management projects.


Our Economic Goals

(Land Use – Retail – Service – Industry – Tourism)

What Has Changed Since 2009?

We now have:

  • A substantial increase in the number of visitors staying in the area resulting in a significant increase in accommodation facilities and pressure on infrastructure, especially in summertime
  • An increase in the number of residents and dwellings
  • Petrol pumps removed from the store
  • The establishment and rapid growth of Luke’s Kitchen
  • The granting of consent for a substantial residential development in Opito Bay which has and will continue to increase the traffic through the village

What Do We Want?

  • To control residential development through the currently applicable rules in the TCDC District Plan including resource consent monitoring and enforcement.
  • To retain Kuaotunu’s character by limiting further commercial development such as aquaculture and extractive mineral mining.
  • To keep beaches free from further development.
  • To have Whitianga remain as the service centre for Kuaotunu.
  • To have a transport link/bus service to Whitianga, especially over the summer months.
  • To preserve our uniquely dark skies for future generations to enjoy.
  • To advocate for any land use to avoid pollution of our streams and wetlands.
  • To resolve the community debate over the provision of motorhome facilities.


  • Liaise with the Community Board and DOC to ensure that any concessions to operate from Kuaotunu beaches and reserves are granted after consultation with KRRA.
  • Work with the Community Board, TCDC and other agencies to ensure that all planning and consent decisions are publicly notified and reflect the intent of the District Plan and RMA.  Require that any variation is publicly notifiable in Kuaotunu.
  • Work with the community to achieve a consensus on the provision of facilities for self-contained motorhomes. 
  • Work with other surrounding areas towards the goal of obtaining an International Dark Skies Association (IDA) designation to protect our local and wider dark sky environment.
  • Work with the community to find solutions for safely managing peak activity at the boat ramp.
  • Work with the community to ensure extractive mineral mining is not established in Kuaotunu.


Our Environmental Goals

(Bush, Streams and Coastline – Reserves Management)

What Has Changed Since 2009?

We now have:

  • The disestablishment and withdrawal of funding by TCDC of the Reserve Management Groups
  • The granting of Statutory Acknowledgment to Ngati Tamatera over the Domain
  • Increased pressure on the environment as a result of higher traffic volumes, more visitors, more houses and extended peak holiday periods
  • Significant eradication of wilding pines in our surrounding green areas
  • Kauri dieback disease
  • The implementation of sand ladders and some new staircases on the beaches

What Do We Want?

  • To maintain and where possible extend reserve areas through continued management, protection and funding for reserves without encroaching on private use.
  • To keep the Domain as an area of active recreation according to its intent while acknowledging the Statutory Acknowledgment granted to Ngati Tamatera.
  • To develop new and maintain existing bush walking tracks.
  • To keep our bush PTA (kauri dieback disease) free; signage required at all entrance/exit points for all trails without closing tracks to the public.
  • To have more native trees planted on the foreshore, with existing trees to be maintained and pruned but NOT removed without consultation with affected parties.
  • To improve swimmer safety at our beaches via the use of appropriate methods (e.g. marker buoys, clear signage for boaties, and enforcement of the 5 knots limit within 200m of shore for all powered craft).
  • To better protect the sand dunes including a ban on vehicular traffic, the maintenance of sand ladders, the roping-off of dunes and signage.
  • To have more animal and plant pest control with an emphasis on community-driven initiatives with external funding or co-funding.
  • To wherever possible avoid the unnecessary use of harmful chemicals.
  • To have clean streams and clean water in the bay.
  • To protect the Blackjack Reef surf break.
  • To prohibit set nets and dredging in Kuaotunu Bay.
  • To protect our bush backdrop, native fauna and flora.


  • Investigate the formation of a Beach Care Group in order to proactively manage maintenance of our walking tracks and reserve plantings.
  • Investigate how a marine reserve could be established to prohibit set nets and to protect coastline, oceans and fish stocks.
  • Discuss the installation of marker buoys with the Whitianga Harbour Master.
  • Encourage our community to actively participate in environmental protection initiatives, with a first step being adding information to the Kuaotunu.nz website about pest control options, which groups are looking for volunteers, etc.
  • Work with WRC and TCDC to better understand how land use can impact stream health, where monitoring is applicable and what solutions can be implemented to enhance and protect the existing flood plain and wetland.
  • Lobby TCDC to cease using harmful chemicals such as glyphosate.
  • Lobby public landowners (TCDC/WRC/DOC/NZTA) to more proactively eliminate wilding pines, pampas, etc.
  • Work with all landowners on programs to enhance the health of our waterways, wetlands and coastline.
  • Work with TCDC to better protect the sand dunes & reserves, e.g. through installing more bollards.