The ongoing drought affecting our region has reached crisis point. In addition to the devastating Pigeon Valley fire we now face a second potential emergency – a critical water shortage.
The fire may have been ignited by a single spark in the exceptionally dry conditions on Tuesday 5 February. It ripped through thousands of hectares of land in Pigeon Valley and forced thousands of residents to evacuate from Pigeon, Eves, Teapot and Redwood valleys, Golden Hills Road, and Wakefield.
The community response from throughout Nelson-Tasman to the fire was immediate and outstanding. A huge thank you to everyone who lent a helping hand to their neighbour, cared for other people’s pets or livestock and donated food, clothes and other essentials to help those in need.
Tragically, the fire is not the only severe challenge facing our community. We now also face a critical water supply shortage in the Waimea Plains and Motupiko areas.
As you know we have been asking you to conserve water since late last year and in mid-January restrictions came into force. As the hot dry weather continued we have had to escalate the restrictions and this week a total ban on almost all outdoor use of water was imposed, along with a 25% cut required by all businesses connected to the reticulated water network in the Waimea area. Most Waimea Plains and Motupiko water permit holders are now subject to a 65% cut in their permitted take.
If we don’t get rain soon we expect serious economic consequences. People’s jobs and livelihoods are at stake. It's vital everyone in our community saves water wherever they can.
More information about the water supply situation and restrictions is also in this issue of Newsline.
The Pigeon Valley fire has shown the huge depth of support our community can show one another. Neither the fire nor the water shortage are likely to be resolved quickly so we ask that you continue to care for one another and seek help if you need it in the coming weeks and months.
I have been overwhelmed by the tremendous support from our communities as a result of the fire that started in Pigeon Valley on 5 February.
There have been thousands of acts of kindness, generosity, care and love displayed to those either affected personally by the fire, or working as part of the Civil Defence effort to fight the blaze and support the community. An example that epitomises much of the community spirit shown came from Murchison – one proactive resident loaded up his horse float with some hay, then asked for any donations from the Murchison community. By the time he left Murchison, the horse float was full of not only hay, but toys, clothes, and food, which he then drove over to Richmond. This is just one of so many stories of people helping those who were displaced from their homes by the fire.
To all those who rallied together and to all the community groups and iwi who provided assistance and support, a place to stay for those who were evacuated, your time, energy and support: You have been amazing in assisting those in need. To the NZ Defence Force who arrived with their kitchen trailers, and to everyone else who contributed and cooked for our wonderful firefighters and pilots, please know it is greatly appreciated. Thanks also to all the firefighters who worked tirelessly to protect our community from the fire, both those living locally and the many from out of the District. Thank you to those who worked during the night on excavators and bulldozers clearing fire breaks and to the aircraft pilots who could be seen in our skies day after day dropping water and fire retardant. There were many heroic efforts which contributed enormously while working on this fire.
I would like to acknowledge the stress and the challenges for many people who were evacuated, their animals and stock. It is important to be aware of your own health and wellbeing first and then look out for neighbours and friends. Recovery from this fire will take a considerable period of time and I really appreciate the patience expressed by all those who have been affected.
We have established the Mayoral Disaster Relief Fund to assist those most adversely affected by the Pigeon Valley fire. The criteria for the fund is still to be finalised and is intended to allow for one-off relief grants to affected residents, ratepayers and business owners. Grants are expected to cover damage or hardship caused by the event and not generally covered by insurance. It is intended that these grants go some way towards helping alleviate the emotional and financial stress experienced by individuals and families due to the fire event. As soon as the criteria has been finalised, we will let you know how to apply via our website as well as other media. For all those who have made a donation towards the relief fund, thank you.
I have never been prouder to be a part of the Tasman community – your generosity, goodwill and good humour has been a source of strength to those who need it. I thank you all.
Mayor Richard Kempthorne
Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the Pigeon Valley fire, particularly those who have had to leave their homes over the past two weeks. We would also like to acknowledge the huge community response that has sprung up to support residents and frontline emergency teams.
Thank you Nelson-Tasman – you are amazing.
There are a range of agencies providing help and support for those who need it.
For the latest information please visit the Nelson Tasman Civil Defence website, www.nelsontasmancivildefence.co.nz.
The usual fees for GP visits and pharmacy prescriptions will be waived for fire-related appointments. Visit www.nmdhb.govt.nz
for public health advice.
Anyone worried about animals in the fire affected area should phone MPI on 0800 008 333 (option 4). If you need stock feed, please phone Federated Farmers on 0800 327 646.
Work and Income may be able to help with urgent or unexpected costs, urgent living expenses or lost wages.
More information is at www.workandincome.govt.nz.
You can donate to the Mayoral Disaster Relief Fund:
Tasman District Council, ASB Bank Ltd, Nelson Commercial Banking
Bank/branch account number: 12-3193-0002048-03
Include in the reference "relief fund" and your name and contact phone number.
A big thank you to all Tasman residents for your ongoing patience and support during this emergency event.
It’s amazing to see how our community binds together in times of hardship and to see so many of you lend a helping hand to strangers, neighbours and whanau.
We also want to thank you for your patience and understanding that having your requests sorted out with our Customer Service staff might take a bit longer, as they’re assisting with fire and normal Council enquiries.
Tasman District Council Customer Services manager Suzanne Westley says she’s had “really positive feedback from all around on the work we have been doing.”
The team took 3538 calls between 6 February and 11 February, averaging 589 calls a day. An average day without emergencies sees the team answer about 320 – 350 calls in a day.
The highest call day was 8 February, on which the team took 1186 calls.
The Waimea Plains and Motupiko areas are experiencing a grave water shortage. Without a large amount of rain, the water supply to both rural and urban communities of the Waimea area is at significant risk.
River and aquifer levels are dropping. As these levels drop, the risk of saltwater intrusion into the aquifers increases – and this can contaminate our drinking water sources. Other risks to our water sources also increase.
Urgent water conservation is needed to reduce the risk of saltwater contamination, and is one of the key reasons (along with the need to maintain the health of the river) the Council imposes water restrictions during dry periods.
Restrictions for the week of 18 – 24 February are as follows:
25% cut in use by all businesses connected to the reticulated network in the Waimea Plains
65% cut in permitted takes for most Waimea and Motupiko water zones (also known as Stage 4 rationing)
Firefighting and dampening property at risk from fire is always permitted
A ban on outdoor water use by households and businesses – excluding watering fruit and vegetables with a bucket/watering can, on alternate days only, and washing of surfaces for genuine health and safety reasons only (for example, for visibility from car windscreens).
These restrictions apply to residents and businesses connected to the reticulated water network in Richmond, Hope, Brightwater, Mapua, Ruby Bay, Wakefield and their rural extensions. The rural schemes of Dovedale, Eighty-Eight Valley and Redwood Valley are also included. These restrictions are regularly reviewed and updated to reflect the current weather and water conditions. Please see the water restrictions page for the most up to date information.
Since restrictions were first introduced on 14 January, the water used by both our urban and rural communities has been steadily dropping. That means most of you have heeded the call for urgent water conservation and are doing your bit to preserve this precious resource. Thank you, we greatly appreciate your efforts.
Unfortunately the drought has not broken and we need you to do even more. As well as complying with any current restrictions, we ask that you think carefully about all the ways you use water in your home to reduce this use as much as possible. Never put water down the drain when there may be another use for it such as watering plants or cleaning.
Some ideas include:
You may notice new signs appearing at various locations through the Waimea area advising of the current water supply risk.
These signs show how at risk the water supply is, how long we expect it to take before this risk reaches “extreme” levels (assuming there is no rain), and how much water saving we require from your community.
The risks to different water sources vary, but include:
There is a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to ensure we can continue to supply you with water.
Some of the things we’re doing to protect our water supply include:
In addition, the Council is subject to the same 25% usage cut as every other business in the area. To achieve this saving in Council buildings we will:
It's a good idea to check your water meter every day so you can assess your water use and how much your efforts are saving. It will also help alert you if you have a leak somewhere on your property – fixing these quickly is one of the best things you can do to reduce water wastage.
Those of you with firefighting water storage on your properties are strongly advised not to use this water for stock or any other purpose.
The fire risk is still extreme in Tasman and maintaining water for firefighting is essential.
The seriousness of the situation means we will be monitoring compliance with both urban and rural restrictions and taking action if required.
Work was suspended on site at Bateup Road while equipment and staff were diverted to help with the Pigeon Valley firefighting effort.
Nelson Tasman Civil Defence has issued a notice to stop work where machinery is at risk of starting a fire if there is no high-pressure water system available in the area.
The Tasman District Council met with Higgins and is satisfied that their mitigation measures around fire safety are satisfactory and meet the Civil Defence standards for working within the notified area. Higgins has been given permission to commence work on site again under strict controls around fire safety.
We have a specialist company helping us find water leaks in our Council water supplies. Detection Services will have staff in various areas listening for leaks and marking up the ground with paint where they find them. Their vehicles have Detection Services written on them and they wear high–vis jackets. They often work at night when it’s quieter and the water use is less. If your water meter is down a private driveway, they may access it, otherwise they will not be coming onto private property. If you see any water leaks on any scheme, please continue to report them to us immediately. The lack of rain has resulted in the ground drying out which has increased leakage in some areas. Leaks are fixed as soon as possible, usually within one or two days. Where there is a backlog of work, the largest leaks are prioritised.
Applicant: Nelson Drag Racing Association
Event: Drag Racing Events
Location of road closure: Queen Victoria Street, Motueka. From Queen Victoria Street and King Edward Street intersection to Queen Victoria Street and Green Lane intersection.
Date and time: Saturday 2 March 2019, 7.30 am to 4.00 pm (rain date Sunday 3 March , 7.30 am to 4.00 pm)
Applicant: Downer NZ Limited
Event: Watermain Installation
Location of road closure: Headingly Lane, Richmond. From around 50 Headingly Lane to the end of the road
Date and time: Monday 8 April to Friday 3 May 2019. Works will occur between 7.00 am and 7.00 pm Monday to Friday. Resident access will be provided.
Date objections close: Monday 11 March 2019
Many Council staff have been diverted from their usual work to help with the Pigeon Valley fire and drought responses. This means many of the large variety of day to day activities we carry out have had to take a back seat. We may not able to respond to your other needs as quickly as usual. We are grateful for your patience and understanding.
Have your say on any of these topics at www.tasman.govt.nz/feedback.
Consultation closes 25 February 2019
We’re reviewing the way we manage the 107 reserves in the wider Motueka area – and we need your feedback. The public reserve land in Motueka ranges from small neighbourhood green pocket parks, to large community parks such as Decks Reserve, sportsfields and corridors of land next to beaches and rivers. Memorial Park is not included, as it has its own separate management plan. Using public feedback gathered over the summer of 2016–2017, we’ve drafted a management plan that will guide the way we look after these important green spaces for the next decade.
Survey closes 28 February
That’s a question we’re considering this year and will be included in a development plan for this important asset on Richmond’s back door. Fill in the survey on our website to have your say.
Entries close 28 February.
Let us know your views on the Summer Events Guide and go in the draw to WIN a $100 voucher for Mitre10. Conditions apply.
Current applications for alcohol licences, including information on how to object, are advertised on our website.
Temporary reservations and speed limit uplifting for maritime events between 25 January and 31 March 2019.
Tasman District Council Harbourmaster has/may soon grant authorisations for the following events during the holiday period. Due to navigation safety requirements, water users not involved in these events may be excluded from defined areas during these activities. Notices will be placed at nearby access points during these events.
Further details for these and any new events may be viewed at www.tasman.govt.nz/link/maritime-events.
23 / 24 February*
Power Boat Regatta
2 / 3 March*
Classic Boat Show
Mapua Boat Club Regatta
*Event date still to be confirmed
Our hearts go out to everyone who was affected by the Pigeon Valley fires. As stressful and frightening as the fires were, it was wonderful to see our community pull together and support each other during a difficult time. We would like to thank everyone who fought the fires, volunteered to help, and provided time and resources to support people affected by the fires. We were pleased to be able to assist in our own small way – by providing the space and resources to give locals the opportunity for respite, or to navigate the practicalities of evacuation in a safe, calm environment.
There are two free events remaining in our series celebrating the beauty and diversity of the Māori world. In the first, from 5.30 pm – 6.30 pm on Tuesday 26 February, Hamuera Robb will be visiting from Nelson Provincial Museum to talk about his role as the Kaitiaki Taonga Māori at the museum, and what it means to be responsible for taking care of the Māori treasures in the museum’s collection. In the final event on Tuesday 5 March, from 5.30 pm – 6.30 pm, Timoti Moran will talk about his pounamu carving practice and the ways in which he works with greenstone to emphasise the mauri in every piece.
Motueka Library invites teenage fiction fiends to descend upon the library in their hordes to catch up with books and movies, find out about the latest titles, and snack on delicious treats in the company of other fiendish book-loving fellows. Fun diversions included. It’s free, and it’s on Wednesday 27 February from 3.30 pm – 4.45 pm at Motueka Library.
Does the young person in your life love books? And does your young person love crafty activities as well? Then Takaka Library’s Children’s Makerspace with artist Sarah Hornibrooke might be just the ticket. Sarah will be running a 3 week “book art” project with children between the ages of 8 and 13 years in which participants will make a fabulous book art creation. The session runs on Thursdays from 3.30 pm – 5.00 pm from Thursday 7 March and costs $10. For more information and to book your spot, contact Takaka Library, phone 03 525 0059.
Did you know that Motueka, Richmond and Takaka Libraries all have book groups for adults? It’s free to join the book groups and you’re almost guaranteed to meet like-minded people and discover wonderful new books. Silverfish is Takaka Library’s book group and takes place on the last Tuesday of every month at 1.30 pm. The next meeting of Silverfish is on Tuesday 26 February. Tasman Talks Titles is Richmond Library’s book group and takes place on the third Wednesday of the month from 3.00 pm – 4.00 pm. The next meeting of Tasman Talks Titles is on Wednesday 20 March. Motueka Library’s book group is Babbling Books which meets on the first Thursday of every month at 1.00 pm. The next meeting of Babbling Books is on Thursday 7 March. We hope to see you there!
Your library card gives you access to a wide variety of newspapers and magazines from all over the world that normally you would have to pay to buy or read. To access PressReader and read full digital replicas of local, national and international newspapers, simply visit our website www.tasmanlibraries.govt.nz/e-library/e-resources-a-z and scroll down until you find PressReader. All you need to log on is your library card number and PIN. If you need a hand, just contact your local library.