Archive for July, 2008

What Actually is Civil Defence in Waimakariri?

31 July 2008

People sometimes think that Civil Defence is like an army that will miraculously appear in civil emergencies.  It is not.

Civil Defence and Emergency Management (to give it its full title) is the coordination of existing bodies operating, if a Civil Defence Emergency is declared by the Mayor, with additional powers.  The only “extra” people are the District’s CDEM officer, Les Pester, three volunteer controllers (Kevin Felstead, Paul O’Donnell and me) and small teams of trained volunteers who are available to be called on for specific tasks, e.g rescue and welfare centre operation.  The Controller for Civil Defence is Bruce Thompson, one of the Council managers.

The rest of it is the usual police, fire brigade, ambulance, Sicon, MainPower, Telecom, Council staff, etc.  The operation in an Emergency would be coordinated from the Council building in Rangiora by Council staff.

You can see, therefore, that resources could be stretched, depending on the extent of the problem.  We can’t assume that helicopters would be available or that the Army would be able to roll in: if an emergency were Canterbury-wide, for instance, even those resources could be stretched.

However, a lot of training is carried out for just these kinds of events, and there is a lot of awareness of the availability of resources in the private sector.  During a major exercise last year, for instance, a number of local helicopter operators were phoned without warning and asked – “If there was a real emergency would you have a helicopter available right now?” The majority were able to say yes.

The Ashley’s Somewhat Full!

30 July 2008
Ashley-Rakahuri, 31 July 2008

Ashley-Rakahuri and Cones Road Bridge, Rangiora, 31 July 2008

Ashley-Rakahuri from Cones Road Bridge, Rangiora 31 July 2008

Ashley-Rakahuri from Cones Road Bridge, Rangiora 31 July 2008

The Potential of Rangiora Airfield

29 July 2008
DC3 at Rangiora Airfield Earlier This year

DC3 at Rangiora Airfield Earlier This Year

The Rangiora Airfield has a huge potential for this District.

It is at the northern end of Merton Road, alongside the Ashley River.

The Council owns the Airfield (it was first set up by Rangiora County Council after World War II) but all the buildings on it are privately owned.  The Council’s main source of income, therefore, are the rentals paid by the owners of the buildings.

The use of the airfield space is a mixture of recreational flying, flying instruction and commercial use.  Several businesses operate out of it.

The Council runs it through an Advisory Group, the chair of which is Keith Vallance.

As Wigram’s closure comes closer to reality, there has been a steady demand for sites and there is now not a huge amount of space available.  The Council does, however, recognise the economic potential of the Airfield, with job creation and the downstream effects on the whole local economy high in our minds.  We are also interested in increasing the District’s income from the it so that more money comes available for development of the facility.

The Apple iTurbine?

28 July 2008


Corners of Waimakariri: the Railway Shed at Springbank

28 July 2008

A long way from any current railway line, the railway shed at Springbank reminds us of the railway line that once ran between Rangiora and Oxford (and, for a short time, over the Waikamariri Gorge to Springfield).  You can still see the old track bed in many places and the station-style signs put up along the track as a 1990 project.

A Unified District? – What It Could Be:

27 July 2008

People recognising:

«      that town and country depend on each other.

«      that one area is not a rival of another.

«      that they are working for the District as a whole, not their own particular patches.

«      that a new facility in one part of the District is a facility for the whole District.

«      that all parts of the district have histories that should be celebrated.

«      that most community organisations draw on the strengths and talents of people from all over the District.

«      that Waimakariri is a great place to live and that we can make it even better! 


I’ll let you decide what a unified district isn’t!

Many stones make up a riverbed

Many stones make up a riverbed

Woodend and State Highway 1 – the Council’s Next Step

25 July 2008

The District Development Working Party has received the ViaStrada report on western bypass options and sent it to staff briefing on 13 August.

Because it is a briefing, members of the public will not be able to attend – but nor can any decisions be made.  The first full Council meeting after that date will be 2 September but it remains to be seen if the Council will be considering the issue at that meeting.

Exhibition of Four Emerging Artists at the Chamber Gallery

24 July 2008

The Chamber Gallery in the Rangiora library is currently featuring the work of four local artists who have never exhibited before: Sally Anne Ashton, Louise Davidson, Kaylene Goldsworthy and Truujse Hewson.

If you pop in and have a look, I think you will agree that they have talents that deserve encouragement.

This is yet another example of the rich artistic vein that runs through the Waimakariri District and the wider North Canterbury area.

Exhibitions at the Chamber Gallery are organised by the Waimakriri Community Arts Council.

What Should Be Done With Rangiora’s High Street?

22 July 2008

High Street, Rangiora 22 July 2008

High Street doesn’t look great here – but the photo was taken about 5.00pm on a cold winter’s day. But even in summer, with the trees in leaf, the town looks tired.  Most of the what you can see has been there for 20 years.

However, a working party (that includes me) is currently looking at doing-up the street.  We don’t have much money to put to it – the Council cut the budget from $650 000 to $450 000, which won’t go far.

Matters such as the parking layout and the one-way system aren’t on the agenda – there’s not enough money for that – but you might have views on things like seating, paving, bollards, planting, rubbish bins, lighting and the like.

The area we are looking at is between Ivory Street and Durham Street, but we can make changes as far as King Street if it was necessary to tie that section in with the rest.  It includes the Good Street mall area and the Cenotaph – obviously, the RSA will be involved with the latter.

If you have any views, why not share them?  Click on the number of comments wording below.

Corners of Waimakariri: Blackwell’s Department Store, Kaiapoi

22 July 2008

For a very long time, as they have come south over the bridge, this building has been right in front of people – a Kaiapoi institution and a testament to an old and active Kaiapoi family.

A Tale of Two Properties (and their rates)

21 July 2008

Waimakariri rates demands are hitting letter-boxes about now.

 You might be interested in this comparison between two properties – one in Rangiora and the other in Christchurch.


Land Value

Capital Value

District / City Rates

ECan Rates

Rangiora $34 000 $123 000



Christchurch $72 000 $325 000



Note that Waimakariri rates on Land Value, whereas Christchurch and ECan rate on Capital Value.

 So why does a low-value Rangiora property get rated higher than a Christchurch property with a much higher valuation?

 There are at least three reasons, but one is particularly relevant:

  1. Christchurch has sources of income that Waimakariri doesn’t have (e.g. several companies owned through Christchurch City Holdings Ltd).
  2. Christchurch can achieve economies of scale (e.g. Christchurch’s new ocean sewerage outfall will cost about $87m. Waimakariri’s, servicing less than a tenth of Christchurch’s population, cost about $35m).
  3. Waimakariri rates are heavily loaded with uniform charges …. read on!

 Look at the second column of your rates assessment for the year and you will see a number of rates are “fixed”.  This means that no matter what the value of a property, every property in the area covered by the charge will pay the same. 

 For instance, every property in Rangiora, Kaiapoi, Woodend, Pines/Kairaki and Waikuku Beach pays the same sewerage charge – but Oxford pays a different one because they have a separate scheme.  Every property in Rangiora pays the same water charge, but this is different from that paid in Kaiapoi.

 For Rangiora properties, the total of fixed charges is $1450.50 (Kaiapoi’s and Woodend’s will be different).  Note that this is higher than the rates paid by the Christchurch property above – it is impossible for a Rangiora residential property with a house on it to pay $1445!

 On the two properties above the uniform charges are:

Rangiora $1450.50
Christchurch $197.00
ECan (both properties) Nil

Press Council Finds Against “Kaiapoi Advocate” on Woodend Bypass Reporting

21 July 2008

Click on the page with the same title on the right of your screen.  This is the finding of the Press Council in response to a complaint laid against the Kaiapoi Advocate.  The issue was to do with reporting on the Woodend bypass proposals.

ViaStrada Reports on Woodend Bypass Process

20 July 2008

ViaStrada, the firm of consultants employed by the Council to review the process Transit NZ took to deal with western bypass options and to assess possible western bypass options, has delivered its report.

One of the reasons they were asked to do this work was that Infinity Investments, the owners of the Ravenswood property north of Woodend, have suggested a slip road to connect the Pegasus entrance on the Main North Road with the Rangiora-Woodend Road .  The intention of this is to ease traffic in Woodend and to provide a more direct route between Pegasus and Rangiora.  It was felt by some councillors that this added a new element into the mix subsequent to Transit completing their own public consultation.

The ViaStrada conclusions are as follows:

  1. The Woodend Transport Study conducted by transit was appropriately based on the current and future Waimakariri District’s planning stategies, current zoning and on the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy.  Therefore Transit’s assumptions and the basis of the consultation process are sound.
  2. Based on legal advice we have received Transit’s recognition of the potentially acute difficulties involved with the acquisition of land in the Maori Reserve is justified.
  3. The conclusion reached by Transit to eliminate further consideration of western options is reasonable.

“In addition, we have assessed several different western corridors but have not identified any option that would, in the context of the current planning foundation for the project, be considered viable or worthy of further investigation.”

Corners of Waimakariri – Owen Stalker Park, Woodend

19 July 2008

The old freezing works shunter has been a Woodend fixture for such a long time that it has become a landmark.

Kaiapoi Art Expo Triumphs Again!

18 July 2008

The third annual Kaiapoi Art Expo (it’s looking like a fixture now) opened tonight with the usual high standard of work.  A wide range of artists from all over Waimakariri, working in a variety of media, are exhibiting.

The Expo is on for this weekend only, at the Kaiapoi Club in Raven Quay.

Great! Market Day on High Street

18 July 2008

Wasn’t it great to see the KidsFest Market Day on High Street today!  Kids running stalls for kids to shop at, as well as other stuff for them to do.  A wonderful community event for Rangiora and the surrounding District.

The Tuahiwi Maori Reserve and Why Many Wouldn’t Countenance a Road Through It – an Extremely Brief History!

17 July 2008


This reserve extends, very roughly, over the triangle of land bounded by Rangiora-Woodend Road, Sandhills Road, the Cam River and Tuahiwi Road.  It is one of the reserves allocated to Ngai Tahu in negotiations with the Government agent Walter Mantell in 1849.  This followed an earlier, inadequately completed, deal made by Henry Kemp the preceding year.


The deals allowed for “adequate” reserves to be set aside to Ngai Tahu for their own use.  The inadequacy of those reserves became a subject of continued petition and argument with the Government over the ensuing 150 years, culminating in the Ngai Tahu Claims Settlement Act of 1998.


In 1865, Parliament passed a Native Lands Act which stated that no more than 10 Maori owners could be listed on a title.  In this way, Maori tribal land was broken up all over the country and passed into the hands of groups of individuals.  In Tuahiwi, the effect was to dispossess Ngai Tahu of their tribal land.  Over the years, while some of these blocks of land have been sold, the remainder have remained in the hands of ever-multiplying numbers of owners as each successive generation has inherited its share.


The 1865 Act was designed to do just this. At that time, the New Zealand Wars were still being waged in the North Island, wars that were partly brought about by the increasing reluctance of Maori to part with their land.  Opposition to land sales, for instance, was a central part of the Maori King Movement (Kingitanga) that had been established in the Waikato in 1858.  The Act was the settler Government’s way of freeing up land for sale.



Since 1865, there have also been many instances where government, both central and local, has seen Maori land as fair game when it comes to public works: roads, airfields, defence installations and the like.


Given this background, it is hardly surprising if talk of roads through the Tuahiwi Reserve strikes a sensitive nerve!

“Waimakariri Doesn’t have Anything”

14 July 2008

When it comes to attracting visitors, I’ve heard it said that “Waimakariri doesn’t have an icon.”  Sure, we don’t have a Hanmer or a Mount Hutt or an Akaroa – but we are only a short drive from Christchurch so we do have something going for us.

We have, for instance, a number of places that encourage the appreciation of Canterbury’s natural environment.  How’s this list for starters?

  • Kaiapoi Lakes (Williams Street, north of Kaiapoi)
  • The Ashley / Rakahuri mouth at Waikuku
  • Ashley Gorge
  • The braided rivers of the Waimakariri and Ashley / Rakahuri (including the regional park being established along the Waimakariri)
  • Matawai Park (King Street, Rangiora)
  • Glen Tui and Mount Richardson
  • Northbrook Wetlands (Northbrook Road, Rangiora)
  • The Pegasus Bay Walkway between Kaiapoi and Waikuku (somewhat in need of doing-up, but hopefully soon ….)
  • Any of our beaches.

A winter view of Kaiapoi Lakes

Corners of Waimakariri: Saltwater Creek

13 July 2008

Saltwater Creek is easily flashed by these days, but it was once a little port serving North Canterbury.  The remains of the wharf can still be seen – see the photo below.  What hasn’t changed is the associated wetland and the spawning waters for whitebait.


Update August 2012. It looks like a got this wrong – the piles are from a previous bridge.  See attached comments below.

Making Our Towns More Beautiful

13 July 2008

Most of us know that there are Beautiful Towns Committees in Oxford, Kaiapoi and Rangiora, and that in Woodend a lot of beautification has been done by the Lions, (small groups of dedicated volunteers all), but why rely on just them?

In San Francisco there is on organisation that calls itself Friends of the Urban Forest and on their website – – there is a neat YouTube video on how they get trees planted street by street or block by block – and it’s done by the locals themselves..

Former Kaiapoi Court-House Marked as a Landmark

12 July 2008

The former court-house at Kaiapoi (now the Kaiapoi Museum) has been marked as a Landmark with a bronze plaque.  This is the first of a number planned for Kaiapoi, the oldest European settlement in Waimakariri.  Kaiapoi Community Board chairman Tom Bayliss is shown unveiling the plaque.

A Comment from Britain on the Effects of Rising Fuel Costs

11 July 2008

Foot off the pedal – Rising fuel costs begin to change behaviour

 Jul 10th 2008
From The Economist print edition

Illustration by Claudio Munoz

ONE of the most popular programmes on British television is “Top Gear”, a Sunday-night celebration of the motor car that owes its success to an irreverent mix of speed, stunts and smoking tyres. But viewers of the first instalment in the show’s new series, broadcast in June, had a slightly different experience. Following a race designed to find the most fuel-efficient supercar, Jeremy Clarkson, one of the hosts, gave a short soliloquy on how motorists could cut their fuel bills by changing their style of driving. Visitors to Mr Clarkson’s blog can find a list of uncharacteristically worthy fuel-economy tips, which include avoiding aggressive acceleration and braking, switching off unnecessary gadgets and even driving more slowly.

This sensible advice from the nation’s petrolhead-in-chief is only one piece of evidence that high oil prices are beginning to alter consumer behaviour. The AA, a motorists’ club, reports that fuel prices rose at their fastest-ever rate last month (by 5.6p per litre for petrol and by 7.4p for diesel). Garages report drops in fuel sales of 5-10%, and say that buying patterns have changed as consumers use their second cars less. Government officials maintain that motorists are driving more slowly, and that high fuel prices are reducing congestion in clogged city centres.

Nor is it only motorists who are being squeezed. The rail industry thinks travellers are beginning to abandon their pricey cars for public transport, but public transport is having to economise as well. FirstGroup, which runs bus and train services across the country, is encouraging frugality by suggesting that its drivers let trains coast downhill and forbidding bus drivers from idling their engines. Ferry services to Ireland are sailing more slowly, and even airlines have been trimming speeds. Pricey petrol is affecting shopping habits, too, as consumers avoid long trips to out-of-town retail parks. Data from Footfall, a firm that tracks customer numbers, shows that visits to out-of-town shops have fallen by 7.4% since May, compared with a drop of only 3.6% in visits to town centres.

More worrying for the government are the political consequences. Expensive oil will swell the Treasury’s coffers with a combination of petrol-tax receipts and revenue from North Sea production (see article), a welcome boost for a government in a fiscal tight spot. But it also reminds drivers that much of the pump price is accounted for by fuel duty. Petrol duty is 50.35p per litre, and that on diesel is 56.94p, making British diesel among the most expensive in Europe. A combination of angry motorists and disgruntled hauliers, who have been hinting at a re-run of the strikes that paralysed the country in 2000, mean that a 2p rise in fuel tax planned for October will probably be abandoned. The Conservatives have proposed letting taxes vary with oil prices to ensure that motorists always pay the same amount—an appealing piece of populism from the party that concocted the policy which has brought fuel taxes to their current level.

The ultimate impact of such changes depends on how long oil prices remain at their current eye-watering levels. Stephen Glaister, an economist at Imperial College, London and the director of the RAC Foundation, a motoring lobby-group, points out that demand for both motoring and fuel is reasonably elastic in the long term. A sustained period of high prices could lead to significant changes in behaviour.

That, in turn, could affect a whole slew of government planning decisions, from predictions of tax revenues to subsidies for renewable energy and investment in airports, roads and railways. The case for expanding Heathrow, for example, set out in the aviation white paper in 2003, relied in part on official forecasts that oil would cost $25 a barrel in 2000 prices ($31 in today’s). Predicting the oil price is a fool’s game (oil was falling again as The Economist went to press), but even the most diehard oilmen think a return to such cheap fuel is unlikely. With airlines’ fuel surcharges boosting ticket prices and slowing the growth in demand, those opposed to a bigger Heathrow are rightly urging a re-think.

Bronzes in the Chamber Gallery, Rangiora

11 July 2008

 The latest exhibition at the Chamber Gallery is a bronze sculpture exhibition by Alison Erickson.

The Chamber Gallery can be found in Rangiora’s Trevor Inch Memorial Library and is so named because the room was for a long time the meeting chamber of the Rangiora Borough Council.

Why Are Rates Not Simple?

3 July 2008

I’ll confine my comments to Waimakariri rates, but much what I say will apply to rating in other New Zealand districts, cities and regions.

An advertised rate increase or decrease is likely to affect properties unevenly.  This is because within a total rate demand, there will be rates and charges that are not based on property value.  Many Waimakariri rates, for instance, are uniform charges that are same for every property within a defined area.  A percentage change in rates may affect these or it may not, but wherever the change applies it will cause different effects on the total rates of different properties.

Changes in land value will not necessarily cause rates to go up or down.  If your property value goes down after a district-wide valuation done by Valuation New Zealand, it does not necessarily mean that your rates wiill go down. To put it in simple terms, if your property value goes down by more than the average drop in property value across the district, your rates will  go down, all other things being equal.  If, however, your property value goes down less than the district average drop in values, your rates will actually go up.

In Waimakariri and in most other ditstricts, cities and regions, there are diffferent rates for different areas.  The water charges in Kaiapoi, for instance, are different from those in Oxford.  The community service charge for Woodend is different from that in Ohoka, and so on.  Sometimes, advertised percentage changes in rates include these.  If an advertised  overall rate increase includes, for instance, an increase in the West Eyreton water charge, it will affect West Eyreton properties much more than the advertised average, but affect no-one else in the district at all.

Increases in uniform charges, e.g. if it were to occur on the Easter Districts (Kaiapoi / Rangiora / Woodend etc) sewer charge, result in bigger percentage increases for lower value properties than on higher value properties.

We also need to remember that in most districts and cities, there are also regional rates, e.g. we in Waimakariri pay rates to Environment Canterbury. Changes in one or the other affect the bottom line of each property diffferently. An X% increase in ECan rates does not mean an X% increase in your total rates.

And that’s just a taste of the complexity!

Corners of Waimakariri – Northbrook Ponds, Rangiora

2 July 2008

Rangiora’s Northbrook Ponds were formerly sewerage-treatment ponds.  Now they help to clean up the Northbrook Stream before it enters the Cam River.  They have also become a great site for bird-watching, particularly water-fowl, and a favourite walking route for locals.

2 July 2008

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