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Highlights from the latest Hauraki District Council meeting are available below.

Meeting date - 31 May 2017

Council keeps tabs on coastal rights and titles

At least five iwi, hapu and whanau groups have recently applied for coastal and marine titles and customary rights in the Hauraki area.

The groups put their cases to the Government and High Court over the last few weeks in response to a final call for applications under the Marine and Coastal Act 2011. It’s possible other groups may have applied without notifying the Council. Keen to stay in the loop on developments, the Council has registered an interest by Serving Notices of Appearance on all applications relating to the area.

The 2011 Act replaces the highly contentious Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 which was reviewed in 2009, following a strong public reaction. Under the new Act, groups can apply for protected customary rights and customary marine titles which protect their intrinsic and inherited rights in relation to coastal and marine areas from the king high tide mark out to the 12mile territorial limit. If granted, a marine title would allow a group to protect wahi tapu, give or decline permission for activities requiring resource consent, and assume ownership of newly found taonga in the area. The granting of protected customary rights would ensure legal rights to activities such as gathering kaimoana, launching waka, imposing rahui, the use of resources such as minerals, shingle and peat, and the collection of medicinal and food plants.

The new Act also safeguards the rights of the general public who will continue to have legal access to all coastal and marine areas despite their ownership status, and the right to continue to engage in activities in these areas such as boating and fishing.

The five applications the Council is aware of involve a number of coastal areas in the District.

Support for proposed changes to speed limit rules

It’s hoped new rules proposed by NZ Transport Agency will allow more flexibility and local input on State Highway speed limits in Hauraki District.

The Council has agreed to support the Agency’s proposed new setting of speed limits rule saying it considers advances in technology and data, and allows common sense speed management in specific areas where there are safety issues, rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

The proposed new rule potentially enables a maximum 110km speed limit on the country’s very best roads, acknowledging that some modern roads can safely be driven at this speed. Criteria for this would include at least two lanes on each side of the road separated by a median barrier. On the flip side, reduced speed limits would be considered on less safe roads.

The new approach also sets out clear criteria and processes for local input on proposed State Highway speed limit changes.

Child safety non-negotiable - road safety improvements for Paeroa Kindergarten

Collecting and dropping off kindy kids in Paeroa will soon be a whole lot safer.
Councillors agreed child safety in Hauraki is non-negotiable, and a mini-bus drop-off zone, extra car parks, and speed humps to slow approaching traffic will be built outside the Paeroa Kindergarten over the next few months.

“Although the kindergarten is off the beaten track in a relatively quiet street, it experiences a lot of traffic activity during peak times of the day,” said Acting Mayor Toby Adams, “the mini bus is having real issues finding somewhere safe for the kids to disembark.”

He said motorists should be extra vigilant around all schools, especially during morning and afternoon drop off and pick up times, as young kids could be unpredictable and weren’t especially known for their road sense.

Ongoing support available for flood affected farmers

Cyclones Debbie and Cook may be just a distant memory of wet days watching Netflix for many, but for flood-affected farmers in Hauraki they’re not so easy to forget.

Damaged paddocks, feed shortages, and the onset of winter are all stark reminders of the relentless rain that fell over a matter of days raising river levels to record heights that overtopped stop banks and caused mayhem for many who are now asking questions about potential improvements to the Piako River Flood Scheme managed by Waikato Regional Council (WRC).

The scheme is currently in its normal review cycle, but following recent events, WRC is producing a special report into what happened which it says will be available early to mid-July at a series of open days. Technical experts will also be in attendance to listen to concerns and answer questions.

Now in recovery mode, the Waikato Civil Defence Group is working to coordinate agencies that can provide assistance. These include Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI)) and Ministry of Social Development (MSD) which are working with Rural Support Trust and Task Force Green to supply crews for clean-up work. Federated Farmers has also put its hand up to assist farmers in need of feed or grazing. It’s been working with its members to source discounted and donated feed across the North Island. Rural Women New Zealand also has $1000 grants available for farmers in need.

At a local level, Hauraki District Council is leading a smaller scale recovery operation to determine the extent of the damage to farms and its impact on the farming community, as well as the wider District.

Assistance has been divided into two recovery sectors, social and rural. The social sector, is supported by Thames Valley Civil Defence Welfare Committee, while the rural sector is being led by the Rural Support Trust.

The Council is keen to spread the word support is available for those who need it.

“It's great to see all these agencies and communities coming together to support each other and offer help,” says Acting Mayor Toby Adams, “no one should feel they have to go through this on their own, we know there will be an ongoing recovery period for many, and we urge anyone with any concerns to ask for help."

For rural support call 0800 RURAL HELP (0800 787 254).

For stop bank or other flood-scheme related matters call the Waikato Regional Council on 0800 800 401

For welfare concerns contact Hauraki District Council on 0800 734 834

Under the pump - flood protection

Think your job is stressful? Spare a thought for our pumps!

While Waikato Regional Council is responsible for the majority of the elaborate flood protection schemes in Hauraki, Hauraki District Council also owns and maintains some of the pumps and most of the drains in the Plains area.

During April our pumps were working 46 times harder than usual, doing 15, 835 hours between them (that’s a lot of days in lieu!). To put this in perspective, pump hours for the year to date are sitting at 40,898, which is 218 percent of the average annual total of 18,760 hours.