55 days ago

Turn your balcony or patio into a lush garden

Ernest Rutherford Retirement Village

If you have a green thumb, just imagine what you could do with a balcony with a fantastic view like this one at Murray Halberg Village. This elevated space offers the perfect blank canvas to create a lush outdoor space without lawn maintenance or heavy lifting.

Shane Fairbairn, Landscape Manager at Ryman Healthcare, shares some tips for creating the perfect outdoor space on your patio or balcony so you can enjoy the benefits of gardening without the hassles.

First, decide on a theme. Is it cosy and bohemian, sleek and minimalist, a lush urban jungle, or something else? Your vision will guide your plant and furniture choices.

For all his tips and advice click read more.

More messages from your neighbours
2 hours ago

Penguin protocol overlooked during emergency rock works

Nicole Mathewson Reporter from The Press

By local democracy reporter Brendon McMahon:

A local penguin trust had to intervene during emergency repairs to a temporary rock buffer, north of the Hokitika seawall, where Kororā are known to nest.

The West Coast Regional Council rockwork buffering the Hokitika Beach headland, behind the Revell Street residential area, was undermined following a storm which hit the region from April 9-12.

The section of beach - between Beach and Hampden streets - was scoured out leaving a rock overhang, which posed a potential fall risk for beach users below, council said.

Acting catchments manager Shanti Morgan said the emergency work in the past 10 days to fix that had included re-positioning rock moved during the recent storm and adding extra material to remediate the worst erosion.

The area is an active habitat for the kororā or little blue penguin, which breeds and moults on the Hokitika foreshore.

Morgan said the council had worked with the West Coast Penguin Trust and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

However, West Coast Penguin Trust manager Inger Perkins said they only became aware of the work after the Kororā habitat in beach head vegetation had been disturbed the day after the work started on April 12.

She said the breeding cycle for Kororā in vegetation on the foreshore was quite broad, meaning the presence of penguin at any time.

"Fundamentally, they could be in their nests at any time of the year."

Perkins said she was disappointed given the trust and the council had agreed protocols around emergency rock work in penguin habitats.

The council's decision on April 12 to start work meant the trust was not on the ground to point out the area is still an active breeding area, she said.

"The decision was made quite quickly without the people being involved who know that."

Perkins said when she became aware of the work the following day she asked the contractor to stop clearing vegetation due to the penguin nesting site.

The contractor was "very responsive".

Perkins said there had been no need to remove vegetation to do the emergency work, based on their previously agreed protocol with council around access to such work areas. The protocol was to construct a ramp to get access down to the beach.

"It was hugely disappointing that all the submissions, all the collaboration with council putting in signs and the GPS (co-ordinates), that none of that had come before those that were making an urgent decision. It is just frustrating ... why isn't this front of view?"

However, Perkins said council had then been "immediately responsive" when the issue was raised.

Morgan said the team considered all adverse environmental impacts prior to works occurring, including assessing the time of year penguins typically nest (July-November).

"Being outside this key season, there is very little penguin presence in the area."

Morgan said the work was completed under emergency consent conditions as a risk to public safety was identified.

"Overhanging rock that could potentially fall on beach users was removed and the site secured, making the best use of onsite material.

"Disturbance of overhanging vegetation was kept to a minimum and only removed what was necessary to ensure public safety."

Meanwhile, a proposal to do further work would be discussed at the first meeting of the Hokitika Joint committee on May 6.

This would detail options for reinstating protection against the coastal hazard.

A long-term solution and advancing a consent application is in train to extend the existing 2013-built Hokitika Seawall north as well addressing coastal inundation on the Hokitika River side.

"A hearing date to be set by the Independent Commissioner is currently pending."

8 hours ago

Say goodbye to tyre waste


About 40% of the 6.5 million tyres Kiwis use every year are recycled, repurposed, or used as tyre-derived fuel. But the rest end up in landfills, stockpiled or dumped.

The good news is now there’s an easy solution to all that tyre waste. It’s called Tyrewise and is New Zealand’s first national tyre recycling scheme.

Tyrewise ensures that tyres in Aotearoa New Zealand are recycled or repurposed properly, saving millions from going to the landfill.

Find out more about the scheme online.
Find out more

12 hours ago

Flood and coastal protection at stake through West Coast meetings

Nicole Mathewson Reporter from The Press

By local democracy reporter Brendon McMahon:

Members of special rating districts up and down the West Coast should attend their annual meetings, elected representatives say.

The West Coast Regional Council is holding a round of annual meetings in the next month for each of the two dozen special rating areas it administers on behalf of local ratepayers for flood or coastal protection assets.

Council chairperson Peter Haddock said ratepayers within each special rating district give the mandate to the annual asset maintenance budget presented by council, and the consequent levy above their general rates.

That was why it was so important for people to attend their annual local rating district meeting to tell council what they wanted, he said.

"It's the people that make the decision on what their budget is for the year. That's the reason they should attend," Haddock said.

Nearly 75% of West Coast residents are affected by one of 22 special rating districts dotted up and down the 650km long region.

They are mainly for small rural or farming communities but include the three main towns and the tourist hotspots like Punakaiki and Franz Josef.

As the council's rating mess emerged in late 2023 some ratepayers such as the Greymouth floodwall area were shocked to find substantial special rating increases.

CHaddock said in the end rating district members had a significant say.

"The regional council run the programme for the rating district members - it is important people turnup, so they can have their say."

The reserves held ensured money in the pot when unforeseen events such as storm damage came up.

Haddock said this was demonstrable at Punakaiki following a battering 10 days ago of its coastal defences and the annual meeting there last week demonstrated "good conversations" to be realistic.

"There was varying people from commercial operators down to people with holiday homes.

"Everyone is concerned. They know that if they don't continue to maintain the walls, it could fall behind and then they are up for a big bill."

The Karamea meeting saw about 50 show up but many had a false impression for the meeting.

"I think they thought it was (for) the long-term plan submissions rather than the rating district."

A private landfill and the use of 1080 were among unrelated issues brought up.

"A lot of people, I think, don't realise what the regional council does," Haddock said.

Council deputy chairperson Brett Cummings said it was obvious a lot of attendees at the Karamea meeting came to raise other issues -- in itself not a bad thing.

"They thought it was a meeting about rates. A lot of people didn't understand what a rating district is, and they possibly should … there's a lot of confusion."

Cummings said the issues at the heart of the purpose of rating districts -- flood and inundation -- were only going to escalate for them.

"The amounts are getting bigger because the problems are getting bigger … I think a lot of them are beginning to understand we are not spending (the rating district) money ourselves."

Cummings said some meetings also exposed a gulf between the priorities of local landowners and those who did not live in the district but had an interest.

An example was the recent Kongahu meeting where the locals were "all for" addressing an outbreak of the listed water weed Parrots feather in the area but with an absentee landowner
haggling over that priority, he said.

At the same time, the council had a big job ahead of it with the first formal meeting in May of the new Franz Josef/Waiho joint rating district, where council had been "through a torrid time," after years of no meetings for the locals to have their say.