Archive for September, 2012

Two Habitat for Humanity Houses Opened In Kaiapoi

23 September 2012

Two Habitat for Humanity houses were opened this afternoon in Kaiapoi.  The houses are not quite finished yet, but the two families will be in their new homes within a few weeks.

Habitat for Humanity is a Christian-based international organisation which has President Jimmy Carter as one of its flag-bearers.  These two houses in Fuller Street were helped along for a while by an international team of volunteers, mainly from the US and Canada.

There is no doubt that affordable housing is getting very difficult to find in Canterbury and it is great that these two families are being helped in this way.

People gather for the opening, with one of the houses in the background.

Rangiora and Oxford: Send Those Chlorination Forms In!

22 September 2012

All of you who are ratepayers on the Rangiora and Oxford Urban water supplies should have received a consultation leaflet asking whether you want chlorination continued in your water supplies.

Most public water supplies around the world (and NZ) are chlorinated, but some are not.  The new supplies in Oxford and Rangiora come from very secure (i.e. safe) sources and do not have to be chlorinated – although they would be safer if they were.

Chlorination removes bacteria (e.g. E-coli) and viruses, although not protozoa like giardia and cryptosporidium.

The choice is one of better taste versus greater safety.

Note that the Christchurch, Kaiapoi and Woodend supplies are not chlorinated.

Peter Carson Exhibition at Chamber Gallery

21 September 2012

The latest exhibition at the Chamber Gallery in the Rangiora Library, is by Peter Carson of Cust.  A retired Rangiora postie (who first took on the job because it gave him time to paint in the afternoons), Peter’s latest exhibition is largely inspired by the views he gets looking out over the Cust Valley from his home. You will see that he is interested in the changes of light that occur – pop in, you’ll enjoy what you see.


I Didn’t Kiss the Pig!

18 September 2012

I can report that I didn’t have to kiss the pig at the Woodend School Fair – although I wouldn’t have minded, as Sunshine was quite pretty as pigs go. The other candidates were MPs Kate Wilkinson and Clayton Cosgrove, Cr Kirstyn Barnett, school principal Graeme Barber and Woodend Community Association chair John Archer.  Graeme had the most money put on him, so he did the honours.

The weather turned out fine and the fair was a great community event, as always.

Community Buildings Under Construction All Over the District

18 September 2012

There are are a number of community buildings under construction across our District – some photos from last Sunday …

Wharenui at Tuahiwi

Oxford Men’s Shed

Oxford Gym

Woodend Community Centre Extension

It’s Spring (I Think!) and the Community Events Start Rolling Out

16 September 2012

Mid-September and the community events around our District intensify.  Bowling Clubs are opening (I was at Rangiora’s yesterday) and the school fairs start to pop up.  Woodend’s is today and St Patrick’s Kaiapoi (pictured) was yesterday.  It was good to see the Kaiapoi (and beyond) folks out supporting one of their local schools.  It was a rare event for me – I actually won something on a chocolate wheel!

Isn’t the Rangiora Fence Art Great? – well done Rangiora Community Board and all the groups who helped

15 September 2012

The School Announcements and Waimakariri

14 September 2012

The schools announcements by the Minister of Education have certainly got Christchurch going.  I attended four Christchurch schools and three of them are either gone or have question marks over them.

As for Waimakariri, two schools featured.

Kaiapoi Borough School is to get further land investigation done and it was further signalled that the Waikuku School would be transferred to a new site in Pegasus.

Neither was new information.

TC3 Meeting in Kaiapoi – lots of good questions, lots of info.

12 September 2012

There are two TC3 areas in Kaiapoi:

  • Between Beach Road and the east Kaiapoi Red Zone.
  • Both sides of the railway line in Hilton and Fuller Streets, west of Peraki Street and the town centre.

It is important to realise that “TC3” does not mean that land is necessarily badly damaged. What it means is that a property is in an area that requires a more thorough investigation before a decision can be made on what kind of foundation is needed.

Last night, a large crowd in the Kaiapoi North School hall heard presentations from Roger Sutton, EQC, insurers, the Waimakariri District Council, the Dept of Building & Housing and Tonkin & Taylor.

While it is clear that many are tired of waiting, and having their frustrations with EQC and the insurance companies – readily acknowledged by those on the stage – the overall mood was one of wanting to find out what was going on. It probably helped that EQC’s investigatory land drilling has just started in Kaiapoi.

However, assessing the land is only one step in the journey. There are still the EQC/insurance issues, foundation solutions and a number of other matters facing homewowners.  It is taking time and some, for a range of personal reasons, need to move faster.

North Canterbury Kapahaka – a Lot to Celebrate!

12 September 2012

It was a busy day at the Rangiora Baptist Church today as a lot of our local schools took part in the North Canterbury Kapahaka Celebration. I was sorry I couldn’t stay all day, but I was able to watch groups from Kaiapoi Borough, Waikuku, Tuahiwi and Rangiora High.

Waikuku School Perform


Rangiora Borough Entertain Again

12 September 2012

Barbara Clarkson brought her junior choir down to entertain the locals again – this time in commemoration of Daffodil Day.

How About a Super Waimakariri? – Watch out Christchurch!

10 September 2012

Back in the 1960s, Ghanaian one-party ruler Kwame Nkrumah went to China on a state visit and while he was away the army overthrew him.  He couldn’t even get back to his own country.

I go to Aussie on grandad duty for 5 days, and the Minister of Local Government announces a review of Canterbury local government in 2014. People start talking amalgamations.  I should have paid closer attention to history.

So should we look forward to a super-city? Some points to consider …

  1. Auckland city and district councils had a history of poor co-operation.  Canterbury city and district councils have cooperated well since the 1989 reorganisation.  Examples include the Greater Christchurch Development Strategy and the shared landfill at Kate Valley.
  2. Before the recent organisation, urban Auckland was run by 6 or 7 cities and districts. Urban Wellington has four. Urban Christchurch already has only one.
  3. Canterbury is not a city.  It’s a region or province stretching from beyond Kaikoura to beyond the Waitaki River.  It takes five or six hours to drive from one end to the other.
  4. A question for those who think Waimakariri and Selwyn, or parts of them, should be absorbed into Christchurch. What are their proposals for the rest of Canterbury?
  5. Waimakariri and Christchurch share one, repeat one, piece of infrastructure: the old Waimakariri Bridge on the Main North Road. No pipes, no other roads, connect the two areas.

Of course, the other option is for Waimakariri to absorb Christchurch.  Perhaps we could put that to a vote in the city.


Another Thought About ECan

9 September 2012

I’ve just tweeted a summarised version of this:

Question: Is the real reason for the delaying of the ECan elections that the Government has an agenda for all Canterbury local goverment but can’t implement it in 2013 because of the earthquakes?

ECan Commissioners to Remain in the Meantime: Some Thoughts

7 September 2012

The Government has announced today that Environment Canterbury, the Regional Council, will continue to be governed by commissioners until 2016, with a review on its future to be conducted in 2014.

One of the reasons for the delay in reaching final decisions has been given as the effect of the Canterbury earthquakes.

I have to agree with that.  Councils in the Greater Christchurch area (Christchurch, Waimakariri, Selwyn and ECan) do not need the distraction of a governance debate while our focus has to be on earthquake recovery.  My direct experience of the 1989 reorganisation was that a lot of time and energy was sucked up in the process. While the future governance of ECan would not necessarily affect the three territorial authorities, public speculation and debate on amalgamations, etc. had already started and would have intensified.  No thanks – we in Waimakariri have much more important work to do in the meantime.

The matter of having unelected commisisoners governing ECan will certainly raise some hackles – I have already received a tweet about it!  In the longer term, it is my view that a Council dealing with regional environmental and development issues and with regional resources, and responsible for regional regulation, should be answerable to the regional electorate. In the interim, however, I have been impressed with the performance of the Commissioners. Dame Margaret Bazley and her team have worked closely with the 10 territorial councils in the Region and have engaged very well with the community.  In other words, they have behaved as good elected  councillors should.

An important focus has been the implementation of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy. In our case the Waimakariri Zone Committee has worked very well, consulted our community on a number of occasions and has set a clear way forward through its Zone Implementation Programme. Commissioner Rex Williams has played a full part in this Committee.

Looking to the future, a key issue for the Region is the fact that the majority of its population lives in Christchurch which therefore holds the electoral power but the most significant work lies, and has greater impact, in the rural areas. The greater part of ECan’s income probably comes from the city, but individually rural ratepayers would, on average, pay higher ECan rates than their city counterparts.

The distribution of representation is therefore an issue. In the end we have to remember that we are all Cantabrians and our urban areas (which are not just in Christchurch, of course) and our rural areas are interdependent.

Statements on councils’ internal borrowing plain wrong, says LGNZ

6 September 2012


Statements carried on Radio New Zealand this morning about councils supposedly hiding the extent of their debt by internal borrowing are wrong and misleading, says Local Government New Zealand.

Local government analyst, Larry Mitchell, who was in Whangarei speaking to a ratepayers group, said councils used to have “sinking funds that they could not touch which were to be used to replace infrastructure.”

Mr Mitchell also claimed that since the rules had been changed to allow councils to use these reserves to finance their other needs, they had done so with “a vengeance.”

In addition to questioning the emotive language Mr Mitchell had used about “raiding reserves with a vengeance,” LGNZ President, Lawrence Yule, explained that councils had accrued money in accounts from asset depreciation and temporarily used this money to fund other projects to avoid borrowing externally.  This was common practice and saved ratepayers money.

Mr Mitchell argued that councils should show their internal borrowings in their annual reports and plans.  In fact they already do.  This has been a legal requirement since 2010, said Mr Yule.

The sinking funds Mr Mitchell referred to had not been in common use since 1996, when council borrowing was deregulated.

Mr Mitchell also reportedly said that “council balance sheets around the country show debt ceilings have been reached and there is no capacity to borrow.”

This is far from true, Mr Yule said.  An NZIER report published in July, using two internationally accepted key measures of the risk associated with debt, showed New Zealand councils controlled their debt very well overall.**  It’s the ability to service debt that was key, not the total amount of debt.

“Debt and gearing is low, and interest costs are at a prudent level relative to incomes and quoted benchmarks,” the report stated.  Additionally, the councils in New Zealand which had requested ratings from international credit ratings agency, Standards and Poor’s, had received very good ones, said Mr Yule.

“If communities want new bridges, parks and roads, the funding doesn’t come out of thin air.  It’s unlikely communities will be able to pay for these things out of rates, or fees.  Borrowing spreads the costs over years and provides another vital avenue through which community aspirations can be fulfilled.  Put simply, future generations of people who will benefit from infrastructure pay a share too.”

“It is also important to remember that infrastructure councils buy is often mandated by central government.  For example, water treatment plants.  These need to be paid for.”

“Mr Mitchell’s comments are unhelpful and show that there is a strong need for public discussion about the reality of council borrowing, including its extent and what constitutes good, responsible borrowing, which is very much the norm in the local government sector.  We need to talk based on facts and evidence,” he said.


For more information contact LGNZ communications advisor, Malcolm Aitken, on 029 924 1205.

**The measures are the gearing ratio and the debt servicing ratio; debt as a proportion of assets and debt servicing costs as a proportion of the associated revenue stream, respectively.



Water is Basic

5 September 2012

The problems we have been having with contamination in the Mandeville water supply just brings home how important good water supplies are.

They come, however, at a cost. Oxford and Rangiora ratepayers have had to bear sharp increases in rates to pay for new supplies that now, unlike their previous supplies, meet national drinking water standards.  These are high standards, and it is one thing for a relatively large community like Rangiora to meet those standards, quite another for more rural councils with much smaller communities.

Most water supplies around the world are chlorinated to add to their safety. In our part of Canterbury, however, neither the Kaiapoi nor Christchurch are chlorinated because their sources are judged to be relatively risk-free.

Rangiora and Oxford residents are soon to be asked if they want chlorination to remain in their water supplies. Rangiora’s water now comes from Kaiapoi from wells beside the motorway and Oxford has a new well to the south of the town.

There are good arguments on both sides of the chlorination issue.  It will be interesting to see what the two communities say.

Can Anybody in Rangiora Hear a Low-Pitched Hum?

4 September 2012

A household in Rangiora, a bit south of Johns Road, have reported a continuous humming noise. It’s been going on for months.

Is anybody else hearing it? If you are, please email me at


4 September 2010 – 2 years later

4 September 2012

On 4 September 2010 I was a volunteer Civil Defence controller. Some disconnected impressions:

  • Rude awakening, thinking of Haiti.
  • Thinking the house was coming down, but then it didn’t – in fact, seemed OK.
  • Newstalk ZB off the air – so back to the National Programme.
  • Surprised it wasn’t the alpine fault.
  • Radio report that Harcourts Kaiapoi down – oh! oh!
  • Walking into the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) with a guy offering a helicopter. Still dark.
  • Intelligence gathering already underway. Clear biggest problems were around Kaiapoi.
  • Main bridges closed, just in case they were unsafe.
  • EOC starting to hum. Staff drifting in. Crews out checking water, sewer, roads.
  • Got a ride from Southbrook in first helicopter flight with Council engineers Gerard Cleary and Gary Boot – pumping stations and pipelines their priority.
  • Mandeville Bridge all broken.
  • Hilton St by Dudley Drain – culvert has popped up – impassable to vehicles.
  • Chimneys broken.
  • Charles St sewerage pumping station doesn’t look good.
  • Liquefaction all through eastern Kaiapoi.
  • More of it in Kairaki and Pines Beach. Power pole just about down.
  • Ocean outfall pipeline seems OK.
  • A bit of liquefaction at Woodend Beach and Waikuku Beach – not too bad.
  • Pegasus and Woodend look OK.
  • Ashley Bridge north of Rangiora has stayed up – surprise!
  • Rangiora looks good from the air.
  • Back to landing point in Southbrook.

Later in the day:

  • In Kaiapoi now. Bridge closed by Police.
  • Museum really badly knocked around.
  • Corcoran French and old BNZ (John Rhind) buildings on a lean.
  • Former Post Office looks OK, but wouldn’t trust it.
  • Blackwells damaged – excavator is making it safer by knocking bits off it.
  • National and regional news media concentrating on Christchurch.

And through it all, a beautiful spring day.  Many people left their homes, but by nightfall, all had found somewhere to go.  No-one had to be put up at the welfare centre.  The EOC stayed on duty all through the night, but there was little to do until daybreak.

Mandeville Boil-Water Notices Stay in Place

3 September 2012



 Media Release

Following further tests at the weekend Waimakariri District Council staff have maintained the boil water notice for residents on the Mandeville water supply.

A boil drinking water notice was put into effect on Fri 24 August after testing showed the presence of e-coli. Precautionary measures were put in place including the boil water notice, increasing the chlorination level in the supply to improve disinfection, and a switch to the supply’s No. 1 well – a deeper, but lower yield well.

Additional testing of well No 2 last week for the presence of giardia and cryptosporidium showed it to be clear of those organisms. Further tests last week and over the weekend have revealed no e-coli presence in the water in the No. 1 well. Staff will monitor results over the coming days prior to deciding whether to lift the boil water notice.

Despite the water supply being disinfected by chlorination staff have kept the boil drinking water notice in place as a further safety precaution. Should there be any change to that, information on the Council website will be updated daily in the interim.

The boil water notice will stay in place until at least later this week. Notification of any lifting of the boil drinking water restriction will be made through radio stations Compass FM, MORE FM and Newstalk ZB, on the Council’s website (, through local papers and on the Council’s social network sites at and

Mandeville Boil Water Notice Should Soon be Lifted

2 September 2012

Media Statement

Waimakariri District Council staff soon hope to be able to lift the boil water notice, which was issued on Friday 24th August, for the Mandeville water supply. Tests over the past week for the presence of e-coli have all been clear, and staff have continued to test supply wells over the weekend. As soon as approval is given by the Canterbury District Health Board, the boil water notice will be lifted – staff expect that will be sometime tomorrow (Mon 3 Sep). Residents should refer to the Council website for updated information, or listen to radio stations Compass FM, MORE FM and Newstalk ZB. Until the boil water notice is officially lifted all residents on the Mandeville water supply should continue to boil drinking water.

Konnect With Kaiapoi This Week!

2 September 2012


There are a whole of events going on this week in Kaiapoi – some sort of anniversary!

“Konnect Kaiapoi” was a bringing together of a whole lot of community groups – clubs, societies, churches, etc – to let people know what is available in the town and around. It has been on all weekend at the Kaiapoi Club and organised by the Kaiapoi Promotions Association (well done Jocelyn Larsen and Neill Price!).

For the rest of the week, the easiest way to see what is on offer is to go to:

North Canterbury Business Awards 2012

1 September 2012


Last night saw Enterprise North Canterbury’s Business Awards evening at the Mud House, Waipara.  It was a great night in a marquee and with catering from Continental.

The winners were:

Continental Exceptional Niche Marketing Winner: Mill Orchard Ltd.

Heller’s Exceptional New Emerging Business Winner: Vogue Kaiapoi Hair Spa

Hamner Springs Thermal Pool and Spa Tourism Business Winner: High Country Explorer Tours Ltd

Department of Labour Exceptional Employer Business Winner: Hurunui Recycling

Community College North Canterbury Exceptional Service Winner: Men at Work Ltd

Northern Outlook Exceptional Retail Winner: Paper Plus and Toyworld Rangiora

Westpac Exceptional Sustainable Business Winner: Community Colleges NZ Ltd

And the supreme winner was ….. Community Colleges NZ Ltd

Congratulations to the winners, but also to all the finalists … indeed, all who entered. North Canterbury Business deserves celebration and last night was a great night.

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