Newsline 317 - 14 February 2014

Friday 14 February 2014

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Download: Newsline 317 - 14 February 2014

Cyclists Report on Tasman’s Great Taste Trail

In October 2013 a cycle trail survey was posted on the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust website aimed at users of Tasman’s Great Taste Trail (TGTT) and the Dun Mountain Trail (DMT) in Nelson. The research is part of an ongoing project led by Katrina Marwick, Tourism Management Coordinator at the Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) in collaboration with the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trail Trust (NTCTT) to identify and evaluate the social and economic impacts of cycle trails in the Nelson-Tasman Region.

In addition to the online survey, on selected days in December 2013 and January 2014, face-to-face surveys collected rider feedback from users of the Richmond – Brightwater and Richmond – Rabbit Island sections of TGTT. Feedback from 392 riders has been collected and collated by Katrina, with the assistance of two students from NMIT and Tasman District Council.

Cyclists were interviewed about the quality of services associated with the trail such as accommodation, signage, access to drinking water, toilet facilities and trail conditions through to whether or not cyclists had spent money while out on the trail and what services they would expect to find.

Katrina reports a ‘fantastic response’ to the survey with 98% of riders willing to participate. “I was so impressed by cyclists’ willingness to stop and give feedback. As soon as riders realised this was their opportunity to be heard and give feedback to the Trail Trust, they were more than happy to give their time and rate their experiences. Many of them were regular cyclists who had ridden other cycle trails elsewhere in NZ and overseas.”

“Around 95% of survey participants were local, with an overwhelming majority saying they are satisfied with their experience, ride sections regularly and can’t wait to see the full loop completed. Feedback was very useful with constructive suggestions on areas for improvement and I will be reporting these to the Trust in February”, said Katrina.

The international riders interviewed, who made up the remaining 5% of the survey, reflected Nelson-Tasman’s key international markets. Australia represented the greatest proportion of internationals, while Denmark, Germany, Japan, UK, USA made up the balance.

Data shows international/domestic visitor spend is proportionally greater than local spend. The primary reason for tourists choosing Nelson-Tasman was generally not cycling, however, comments show that a cycle trip is one of the preferred mix of activities in the region.  A couple from Marlborough said cycling was the primary reason for their visit. They had been to Nelson before, seen the trails and returned to ride them over a weekend.

In developing the survey Katrina collaborated with NTCTT members to research cycle surveys elsewhere in NZ and Australia. “We felt it important, where appropriate, to adopt questions from research undertaken on other trails. By doing this results can be compared, and Tasman’s Great Taste Trail benchmarked against other trails,” said Katrina.

Members of the NMIT Flexi Learning Team have been extremely helpful, providing ongoing technical support for the online survey and the processing of results. Student help from NMIT Tourism Management programme, Josh Coote, and Ben Jones have also been a “huge help” said Katrina.

The survey is on-going and cyclists are encouraged to complete the on-line survey on the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trail Trust website www.heartofbiking.org.nz/our-trails/trail-feedback-survey. The Trust is interested in feedback from all riders whether they be regular users of the regions two Great Rides or first time riders. The face-to-face element of the survey will be repeated periodically so that data can be captured and compared over time.

Please contact Katrina, Email katrina.marwick@nmit.ac.nz, if you would like more information on the research itself. Survey results will be reported in local media and on the Trust website over coming months.

Katrina and the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trail Trust wish to thank cyclists for taking the time to pass on their valuable feedback.

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Message from the Mayor 

The theme for this months message is a widely used, but no less important, term – sustainability.

In early February we heard Government’s plan regarding pest eradication to protect our native birds, particularly in the National Parks – three of which are in Tasman, from the Beech Mast, a naturally occurring event that fuels the breeding of predatory rats, stoats and possums. Whether there is agreement about the method or not, there is no time for debate as the protection and preservation of our special and unique native birds is at risk.

The other item on the sustainability, and viability, ledger is the future of Port Tarakohe. We have entered into a discussion predominantly with the Golden Bay community, and while there is an ongoing debate there is also some common ground. It is agreed by the majority that Port Tarakohe needs to be retained as a viable recreational and commercial community asset – how this is achieved relies on its financial viability. Inherent in this viability is its ability to survive without the support of the general ratepayer. Throughout the process there has been a number of assumptions made and beliefs built up. Firstly, the Council is not looking for a return. Its focus is on getting back to breakeven. The discussion document that was recently created was a catalyst for ideas and dialogue, not a final Council decision, and the Council wishes to retain the Port’s public benefit and recreational benefits alongside the commercial opportunities. The discussion is not over with regard to the Port’s future and there remains a lot of water to flow under the wharf.

Mayor Richard Kempthorne

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Port Tarakohe Update

Paramount within the current decision-making regarding Port Tarakohe is the continued operation of a community owned port. To achieve this it needs to be financially sustainable, well-run, provide for the recreational needs of the community, and meet the current and future needs of its commercial customers.

This has been the bottom line within all recent discussions and is the basis on which all the recent and subsequent decisions will be made.

The future of Port Tarakohe, including its continued community ownership, relies on it becoming financially sustainable, i.e. an end to general rates input. This has been a principle that has gained the most agreement from all parties involved.

It is only in recent times that the Port’s finances and the true cost of operating it have been clearly understood. The past treatment of loans, the writing-off of past deficits to equity, the payment of water and power charges by others, among other factors, has seriously understated the true cost of operating the Port. In developing a true picture the Council has had to unpick the historic finances, especially the current debt. The basic controls over income and expenditure at the Port have been audited and reviewed. Agreements for the use of its facilities and services are being put in place where they have not existed previously and reviewed where they have. This work will be ongoing.

Securing sufficient income and controlling costs so that the Port breaks even has had to take priority over everything else. In doing that the Council has had to look to all the users of the Port, including public-benefit ramp users and fishers, and private-benefit wharf and marina users. As a note, despite claims to the contrary, the Council is not taking a 7%+ return on capital – it is zero over five years.

Stakeholders and the Golden Bay community have been canvassed for their views about future development at the Port and its overall strategic direction. In doing so a discussion document was used as a catalyst and, despite comments to the contrary, the ‘views’ within the discussion document are just that – they are not the Council’s proposals. The Council will be making its own decisions once the feedback is received. However, there are a number of points the Council will be taking into account in its decision-making:

  • The need for financial viability and sustainability is key, as mentioned above.
  • The retention of the Port in community ownership relies on it being viable and not selling or leasing any area that risks loss of control of revenue.
  • Very little capital development if any over the next five years is likely until the Port’s finances are stable unless there is a sound business case – that means a commercial return on things like a weigh bridge and a crane.

It is likely there will be a Port Tarakohe advisory board with the suggested membership of the group being the Community Board Chair, Golden Bay Councillors and appropriate representatives from among the Port’s users.

Feedback received already through meetings and other means echoes the view of the Council and Community Board, that there is an agreed will to ensure the Port is commercially successful as well as ensuring the public and private recreational needs of the community are retained. It is an achievable goal.

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Kina Leases Out for Consultation

At the end of August last year the Council, with the support of  a number of Tasman area residents, successfully bid for the LEH Baigent reserve on the Kina peninsula enabling it to remain in public ownership.

In return for the local support the Council agreed to undertake a public consultation process regarding a proposal to grant leases to five of the residents who contributed significantly to the purchase price approved. The leases would enable the establishment of boat sheds on a small part of the land within the reserve.

The Council has advertised its intention to grant five leases. The leases will be for a term of 35 years (less one day), at a nominal rental. The maximum size of each boat shed building will be 55m2, with a maximum area of 100m2 per lease.

Any building will still be subject to building and resource consent requirements. The area proposed to be set aside for this purpose is approximately 1000m2 to allow for some “common land”, plus space between individual lease areas.

The Council is entering the decision making process with no pre-determination. The contributors know that the grant of the leases is not assured. Persons with an interest in this issue are encouraged to make submissions in the knowledge that they will be considered fully.

Further information may be obtained by contacting Robert Cant on Ph. 03 543 8400, or via email on robert.cant@tasman.govt.nz

A copy of this notice will be posted on www.tasman.govt.nz and can also be viewed at the Council’s Service Centres. The notice will include plans showing the approximate location.

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Grading Gravel Roads

At regular intervals the Council is required to ‘grade’ gravel roads. Over time gravel roads degrade – potholes and braking bumps start to appear and are made worse by rain and heavy use, ultimately making the road dangerous to drive on.

Grading is the process of smoothing out bumps and holes and also involves dragging loose gravel/road material back from the road verges so that it can help form the ‘new’ road surface. By reusing old material that has migrated to the road verge the Council is also able to help keep the water table below the road surface and improve drainage.

When the grading process has just been undertaken the surface of the road can often appear soft and unstable. A few days later though, once it has dried out and been compacted, the new surface becomes very durable and stable. If you are driving on a freshly graded road please drive with care.

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Pest of the Month: Ferrets, Stoats and Weasels – Mustelids in NZ

Ferrets, stoats and weasels were introduced into New Zealand during the late 1800s to control the “plagues” of rabbits that had developed in the dryer regions of New Zealand. They are all members of the mustelid family and have a typical mustelid body shape – long and narrow, pointed head, short legs and short, blunt ears. Ferrets are the largest and have a characteristic dark “bandit” mask around their eyes. Weasels and stoats are similar in colour and appearance, but stoats are larger and have a bushy black tail tip.

Stoats are the most common of the mustelids and are found throughout New Zealand on farmland and in scrubland, forestland and in the high country. Ferrets are less common and are found in farmland, scrubland and forest margins where rabbits, their primary prey, live. Weasels are the least common and are restricted to lowland sites.

Stoats are active during the day and are often seen crossing roads or scavenging on “road kill”. They are bold hunters and regularly take prey much larger than themselves. Stoats and weasels are adept at running and climbing; stoats can travel considerable distances cross-country and have been known to swim more than two kilometres to off-shore islands, putting wildlife at risk on island sanctuaries. They need to eat frequently – up to six times a day – and have had a devastating effect on both native wildlife (birds, insects, lizards, frogs, eels) and introduced animals (mice, rats, rabbits, hares, possums and birds). Ferrets don’t climb, but prey on similar ground-dwelling species and often scavenge carcasses. They are also carriers of Bovine Tuberculosis and have contributed to its spread on farmland.

The mustelids breeding season starts in the spring (September to November), with the first litters born around mid-October. Kits are weaned at 6-8 weeks and start to disperse from home at about three months. This increase in mustelid numbers over spring and summer makes the period from late spring to early winter the best time for trapping. A whole egg is the best bait as it keeps better in the heat than other baits such as cat food, rabbit or fish. Traps should be sited along bush, scrub and stream margins, around ponds, in culverts, along the edges of farm tracks and near poultry runs. All trapping should be carried out using tunnel or box traps, which are attractive to mustelids but safe for other species and children. For more detailed advice on control techniques and trap types, please contact a Biosecurity Officer at Tasman District.

Prolific flowering has occurred on beech trees in the North and South Island in summer this year, a feature known as masting. This will produce vast quantities of beech seed in autumn and winter, resulting in a dramatic increase in the numbers of rats and mice that feed on it, and in the number of stoats that feed on the rats and mice. By spring time, any beech seed that hasn’t germinated will have rotted away, leading to food shortages. The best remaining food source are eggs and chicks of native birds. This will threaten endangered birds such as blue ducks, great spotted kiwi, kaka, kea and rock wren as well as tui, bellbird, fantail and robins. The only feasible means of widespread control on steep terrain is the use of 1080 and the Department of Conservation has re-allocated $15M to control predators to protect native birds.

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Tasman Youth Council 2014

Applications are currently open for keen and motivated young people to join the Tasman Youth Council. If you are aged between 14-24 and are passionate about making Tasman an even more awesome place for young people – we want to hear from you.

Regional TYC clusters operate in Waimea, Motueka, Golden Bay  and Murchison areas. Each cluster carries out projects and initiatives relevant to the needs expressed by young people in their local community.

For more information, and to complete an enrolment form, visit www.jamonline.co.nz

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Waimea River – Toxic Algae Update

The coverage of toxic algae in the Waimea River was recorded at 5-8% on 4 February 2014, which was similar to the previous weeks result. In-line with the national guidelines (which recommend warnings be announced if coverage is over 20%), that means that the warnings for dogs and toddlers not to bathe in the river can now be removed. However, as more time passes since the flood on 26 January 2014 the risk of increased algae cover grows. The Council monitors the river on a weekly basis and if the level of toxic algae increases then the warning signs will be put back up again.

River users are encouraged to check the Council’s website for the latest information www.tasman.govt.nz

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