Archive for March, 2010

The Dudley Pool – a bit of recent history

31 March 2010

You might remember …

ECan, Commissioners and Water

31 March 2010

It’s no surprise, but the Government has decided to replace the Canterbury Regional Councillors with commissioners.  The necessary legislation has already gone through Parliament, under urgency.

It remains to be seen what this means in practice for the huge amount of under-the-radar work ECan actually does – like the meeting of the Ashley-Sefton Rating District Committee meeting that I attended – held recently in a Sefton farmer’s driveway!  Cr Ross Little was there – would a commissioner have come? 

A lot of locals are excited about the idea of a proposed Ashley River-Rakahuri Regional Park, modelled on that under development in the Waimakariri River.  It will require public consultation.  We would have expected ECan councillors to be involved in that.  I hope we find a commissioner who is interested.

Likewise, I’ve heard that some people in Oxford would like a bus service – not, despite appearances, an easy matter, given the way District Council rates are going up in Oxford this year.  More consultation – but carried out by whom?

All Councils, including ECan, make representations to the government from time-to-time on behalf of their ratepayers and constituents.  Who will be the commisioners’ constituents?

The above are only a sample.

I accept fully that water is the Number One issue for Canterbury as a region, but the government’s move leaves a lot of unanswered questions.  We can only wait.

Have Your Say on the Rangiora Town Centre

22 March 2010

The Pool Has Had a Try-Out!

22 March 2010

On Sunday entry was free following the Dudley kids’ Triathlon.  Everyone seemed pretty keen.

Planning Hearings and Commissioners … and Supermarkets

20 March 2010

I’ve got a feeling the wheels are going to come off somewhere when people hear the decision on the proposed Pak’nSave supermarket.  I have no idea what the decision is going to be, but I suspect that there will be unhappy locals, whatever the decision is.  Some are looking forward to greater shopping choice, others are concerned about traffic in the area.

The hearing on the proposed Pak’nSave in Southbrook has been held, but the decision is yet to come.  The Countdown proposal for Ivory Street, Rangiora, will take place soon.  Both are being heard by commissioners.

What does this mean?

Where the Resource Management Act requires a hearing on a resource consent, the Council staff have three choices.  They can arrange for a hearing with a panel of councillors (usually 3), a commissioner, or a mixture of commissioner(s) and councillor(s). 

Usually, they go for commisisoners if the matter looks complicated or is high-stakes.  The latter is the case in the supermarket applications.

Some of us councillors have had training in Resource Management matters and it is the Council’s practice to make sure that they are in a majority on a councillor panel.  They are Robbie Brine, Dan Gordon, Elaine Cole, Roger Blair and me.

If the Council is the body wanting the resource consent from itself (!), a commissioner has to hear the case.

Once a commissioner makes a decision, the Council has to accept it.  If the matter is appealed to the Environment Court, the Council is bound to defend the decision – although how vigorously it makes that defence is up to it.  The Council cannot appeal against a commisioner’s decision because it would be tantamount to appealing against its own decision.

There can be a number of Acts, plans, etc that are relevant in a hearing, but the two most important are usually the Resource Managment Act and the Council’s District Plan.


Latest on Dudley Opening …

17 March 2010

From the Council Management: As of this afternoon we are planning to open Dudley Park Aquatic Centre on Saturday 27 March at 7.30am.

ECan: Ministers Meet the Waimakariri Council

17 March 2010

Environment Minister Nick Smith (raised in Waimakariri!) is doing the rounds of the Canterbury Councils and this morning he came to Waimakariri, joined by Local Government Minister Rodney Hide (also raised here) and locally-based Labour and Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson.

They have come to hear the Canterbury Councils’  views (as distinct from the Mayors’) on Environment Canterbury.  There was an exchange of views on ECan’s performance over a long period of time and the short-term measures that could be taken.  We also discussed the long-term: how this process could lead to a deeper reassessment of the Local Government structure in Canterbury.  Hopefully, if this takes place, it will involve all of Canterbury’s people. 

Nick Smith made it clear that where they talk about a separate water authority (my words), they are not just talking about the allocation of water.  They are talking about everything to do with water: flood protection, the river environments, water quality, the sharing of the resource, etc.  This is actually a significant part of ECan’s current work.

We need to remember that ECan does a lot of other stuff too: air quality, urban passenger transport regulation, coast care, civil defence, etc etc – quite a long list.

Corners of Waimakariri: the Kaiapoi Woollen Mill

16 March 2010

Kaiapoi played an important part in the early settler economy of North Canterbury.  The region’s agricultural products moved there to the port, the freezing works or the woollen mill.

The Kaiapoi Woollen Mill and the “Kaiapoi” brand were famous and probably many homes still have Kaiapoi rugs to be brought out on cold days.

Today the mill still has an important function, housing a variety of businesses and is a sprawling, low-rise presence on the Cam River.

Rangiora Community Groups on Display

16 March 2010

On Sunday, the Rotary Club of Rangiora hosted a “Community Expo” of local community groups  – a chance for them to show what they had on offer.

About 50 such groups took up the offer, filling the saracens Rugby Club rooms at the Northern A & P Show Grounds.

A steady stream of visitors flowed through during the four hours it was open.

The idea was taken up from the example set by Kaiapoi, where Kaiapoi Promotions run a similar event.

Cultural Variety

15 March 2010

A lot happens in the Waimakariri District!

On Saturday evening, Marilyn and I went to the Kaiapoi Cooperating Church to hear a triple-harp concert by Robin Ward. It was a most enjoyable recital and I left knowing a lot more about triple harps than did when I arrived! ( ).  Robin is based these days in the UK, but is the grandson of the late Margaret and Lloyd Cleland, both prominent in the parish and in Kaiapoi civic life in past decades.

Yesterday, we went to a poetry recital by Leonard Lambert, Rangi Faith and Roger Hickin, and featuring musical interludes by Julia Holcroft (piano) and Keeneth Love (‘cello), in the Chamber Gallery.  Rangi is a Rangiora local. Again, an enjoyable experience sponsored through the Waimakariri Community Arts Council.

Rates and GST

15 March 2010

Don’t forget that the Government’s signalled rise in GST by 2.5% will affect your rates as well as just about everything else.

I have always felt that GST on rates is wrong – a tax on a tax. 

The Government’s response (no matter who is in power) has always been that rates are a charge for services.

There might be a case for saying that some of our rates bills are a charge, e.g. the Kaiapoi water charge, the Eastern Districts sewer charge, the libraries charge across the District – although even then I would argue that these charges are not for services but for the availability of service, i.e. a tax.  There is certainly no case for saying that rates-in-the dollar are a service charge.  The the level of rates varies with the value of one’s property – in other words, rates are a property tax.

Angry Farmers

13 March 2010

On Thursday evening, I attended the latter part of a meeting called by Federated Farmers to discuss rating in the Waimakariri District.

Amongst their complaints are the high level of rates they are having to pay, when compared with others in the District.  They point out that they are getting the same levels of service as their small-holding neighbours but paying vastly more in rates – in some cases, tens of thousands of dollars per year.

There is no doubt that there is something wrong with the rating structure in this District.

The paradox is that large rural properties are paying too much but so are the lowest-value urban properties – where ratepayers sometimes make invidious comparisons between Waimakariri and Christchurch.

One part of the answer is to shift to Capital Value Rating, which is what most New Zealand ratepayers experience.  All Councils in Canterbury are on capital value except Waimakariri and Timaru.  Obviously, those on capital value include ECan and our three neighbours, Hurunui, Selwyn and Christchurch.  In the period immediately before the 1989 Local Government reorganisation, of our predecessor authorities, both Oxford and Hurunui Counties were on capital value rating.

For an earlier comment see

Personal Abuse and Local Politics

13 March 2010

 The March issue of the Woodpecker, an informative little bulletin that circulates in the Woodend area, carries a cover story about Woodend School’s new walking bus programme.  Amongst those instrumental in getting it going is Kirstyn Barnett of the Woodend Action Group (  ).

Coincidentally, the letter to the right appeared this week in the Northern Outlook  of Wednesday 10 March.   Kirstyn Barnett has been an excellent advocate for the Woodend community and a has record for getting things done – the sort of person who is eminently qualified to sit on the Woodend-Ashley Advisory Board.

The letter itself is an example of what we can do without in the Waimakariri community.  In my view,  personal abuse has no place in public discourse. As they say, play the ball, not the man (or, in this case, the woman).

The Latest on the Opening of Dudley Pool for Swimming

11 March 2010

Public Opening Scheduled for 23 March

It is expected that the Dudley Park Aquatic Centre will be open for public swimming in the week of 23 March. Commissioning of some of the equipment has taken longer than anticipated. Over the next two weeks plant and equipment at the Centre will continue to be tested to ensure that everything functions as it should. Part of this involves load testing which will be carried out during school visits and the schools triathlon on the 21 March. On successful completion of these tests the Centre will open on 23 March.

Report from Simon Hart, Pools Manager

A Notable Anniversary! – an important part of Kaiapoi’s social fabric for 125 years

11 March 2010


A District Facility with Loads of Potential

10 March 2010

The Northern A & P Association owns the showgrounds in the north-east of Rangiora.  Since 1866, Shows have been held here, only interrupted by World Wars.

The Association is looking at ways their land can be better utilised and to this end have developed a strategic plan to increase the variety of activities able to take place there.

The showgrounds are well known, of course, not only for the Shows but also as a rugby ground and the location of events such as traction engine rallies and the annual muscle-car show.

The showgrounds are a great asset for the Waimakariri District with a huge potential to generate visitors and to provide a focus for the community.

A Busy Sunday

8 March 2010

Kowai Sports

It’s that time of the year when local communities have their fairs and other events.  Last week it was Tuahiwi.  Yesterday, the long-running Kowai Sports day was on at Sefton and the huge Swannanoa Country Fair raised funds for the local school.  There was also a craft fair in Oxford.

Kowai Sports

Swannanoa Country Fair

Southbrook Pak’nSave Hearings This Coming Week

5 March 2010

The hearing, before a commissioner, for a resource consent for the proposed Pak’nSave at Southbrook will be taking place in the Council Chamber on Monday and Tuesday this coming week, i.e. 8 & 9 March.

The hearing is public – anyone can go.

Rangiora Ward Advisory Board: 3 New Members Appointed

5 March 2010

As signalled in aprevious post, the Rangiora Ward Advisory Board asked the Council to appoint three new members, even although there were only two vacancies.  This the Council has now done;

They are Jim Gerard, Lynne Winsloe and Greg Miller.

Remember that at this year’s local body elections, voters in the Woodend-Ashley and Rangiora Wards will be voting for new Community Boards that will replace the Ward Advisory Boards.

What Are Our Beaches For?

3 March 2010

Currently I am sitting on a hearings panel that has been listening to submisisons on a proposed District Plan Change, By-Law and Management Plan for the Waimakariri District beaches.

Shags at the Ashworths side of the Ashley-Rakahuri mouth

 There are widely divergent views regarding beach access for motor vehicles.  Most seem to agree that the beach is a wonderful place – much of it a wilderness at our back door. Many would like to see no vehicles at all, but others see a legitimate use for people to get to fishing points, etc.  They would probably see the ATV below, used to pull a jet-ski to the beach in an isolated area, as such a use.

 Most, however, have expressed hostility towards the use represented below.  Unfortunately, however, young trail bike riders don’t usually appear before Council hearing panels! Incidentally, the rider in the picture used a route to the beach that is already illegal.

ECan and the Local Councils

1 March 2010

The recently released report on ECan says:

Territorial authorities (TA’s) within the Canterbury Region unquestionably believe that Environment Canterbury has failed to effectively and efficiently manage freshwater. TA’s view this as institutional failure.

I don’t know how the report can say this.  I have never been asked for my views on this and nor, to my knowedge, has the rest of the Waimakariri District Council.

I wonder how many of the mayors who have spoken behind closed doors on these matters can say they are speaking for their councils.

Last Saturday’s Press said that some of the mayors may be looking beyond a Regional Council and turning the District and City councils into unitary authorities (combining district and regional functions).

I think you, the people, should be given some say on this.

Tuahiwi Village Fair

1 March 2010

Morris Dancers - some are locals from Ashley!

The Woodend Fire Brigade promoted fire safety

Yours truly & Marilyn watching the Rangiora High Kapa Haka group

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