Look out for Leopard Seals

Not too far from us, on the Taranaki coastline, a protected Leopard Seal has been making use of the beach. It’s feasible it could come to Waikawa Beach for a visit.

If it does, there are some important things to know, including keep your distance.

The leopard seal in Taranaki. Photo: Supplied / Cameron Hunt, Department of Conservation.
The leopard seal in Taranaki. Photo: Supplied / Cameron Hunt, Department of Conservation.

Taranaki beachgoers are being warned to take care around a 1.8m-long leopard seal that has been spotted at several locations along the province’s coastline over the past week [mid-November 2020].

Sightings of leopard seals are uncommon in the North Island, and although the Taranaki arrival looks a little worse for wear, the Department of Conservation is warning the species has a nasty bite.

“Our key message for the public is to keep clear of her – to give her at least 20m of space, keep dogs on a leash, and make sure children are at a safe distance and understand she needs to be left alone,” Marine Ranger Cameron Hunt said. …

Leopard seals behaviours people should be aware of:

  • If a seal lying on a beach lifts its head to look at you – it’s aware you’re there but doesn’t consider you a threat.
  • If a seal raises its head for longer than a few moments, it has become concerned about your approach. Repeatedly lifting and lowering its head means it has become agitated by your presence.
  • If a seal was resting and moves its orientation away from you as you approach, it has likely been disturbed – so slowly step back a few metres and monitor the seal. If it lowers its head and returns to rest mode, this is the ‘comfort’ distance for the seal and you shouldn’t get any closer.
  • If a seal moves off because you approached it, you have harassed and disturbed it and displaced it.
  • When a seal opens its mouth directly at you, it’s “gaping”. It may be accompanied by a head jerking movement – typical threat displays of many animals, and a clear warning the seal wants you to back off.
  • If a leopard seal makes rumbling growls or hissing noises, it is highly agitated and would be classified as harassed and disturbed.
  • A seal may repeatedly yawn while you are watching it. Sometimes it is purely yawning (typically seen when the seal’s head is lowered and its eyes are closed). However, if its eyes are open, then it is monitoring you and may be giving you a warning. Slowly step away from the seal.

Leopard seals are protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978 and are classified as “naturally uncommon”.

DOC records all sighting and incident information in the National Marine Mammal Database. This adds to the pool of information that is available for this species. Sightings can be reported via 0800 DOC HOT.

Summer Activities schedule 2020-2021

As usual, we have plenty of activities planned for the summer. ALL WELCOME: you don’t have to be a member of the WBRA to join in. If you’re staying at Waikawa Beach then come and have some fun.

Date Time Activity Notes
Sunday 27 December 2020 3 pm AGM Hank Edwards Reserve. Bring a chair. If wet, at Manakau Hall.
Thursday 31 December 2020 10.00 am Boat Day At the footbridge. If the weather’s bad it’ll be on Saturday 02 January 2021 at 11 am.
Friday 01 January 2021 2 pm Sports Day Hank Edwards Reserve.
Monday 25 January 2021 (Anniversary Day) Judging at 3 pm Sand Sculpture Day Cross the bridge and turn left.
no date am 18 Hole Golf We need a good turnout so let us know as soon as possible if you’re interested. Email wbra.committee@gmail.com. Normally held at Ōtaki then back to Waikawa Beach for refreshments.
no date am Ambrose Golf Email wbra.committee@gmail.com as soon as possible to register your interest.

Most activities depend on the weather so check the noticeboard, the blackboard or the website for last-minute updates.

Noema (November) 2020 WBRA Newsletter

Kia ora e te whānau. Well, it’s the time of year where you mow the grass, turn your back for a minute and it shoots up so you have to mow it again. On the other hand veges are coming up nicely in the garden too.

In case you missed it, there was a General Election. We have a new MP in this area: Terisa Ngobi, for Labour.

Read on in this newsletter for details of the Waikawa Beach Summer Activities, open to all at the beach.

Beware burglars: there have been more reports of thefts and burglaries from this area. Talk to your neighbours and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Lock up your stuff. If you have concerns call the Police.

Handy phrase for the month: Kua tae mai ngā kūaka. (The godwits have arrived.)

Important note: Village entrance tree removal, 23 and 24 November 2020 may cause delays, so leave extra time for your travel.

In this newsletter:

  1. Summer activities
  2. Property
  3. Recycling station
  4. Toilet block on hold
  5. Brief news
  6. WBRA Subscriptions are due now

Continue reading “Noema (November) 2020 WBRA Newsletter”

Community Plans for Ōhau and Manakau

Horowhenua District Council has recently adopted two more Community Plans — for Ōhau and Manakau:

A Community Plan is the voice of that community and will highlight their goals and aspirations. It will outline what the community wants to preserve in their area and outline ways to enhance and develop other areas of importance.

Council has formally adopted the Waitārere Beach, Ōhau and Manakau Community Plans. These plans were developed based on extensive engagement with the community and set out the vision, values, priorities and actions of each community.

Ōhau’s plan includes things like fresh water, beach access, recreational pathways and a community group, such as a Progressive Association. There is concern too about roads, travel and transport.

Manakau’s plan makes mention of their strong links with Waikawa Beach. Again, the plan includes things like fresh water, recreational pathways and issues around roads, travel and transport.

Both plans are worth a look, and provide foood for thought about a possible Waikawa Beach community plan. What things do we value?

5,000 more people in Levin — submissions close 01 February 2021

Consultation has begun on a proposal to change the designation of 420 hectares of land zoned for lifestyle blocks to make way for the most significant residential development in the history of the district.

The development, Taraika, is proposed for the southeast side of Levin and will become home to around 5,000 people living in approximately 2,500 homes. The development will have parks, reserves, a local shopping centre, a primary school, stormwater retention areas, and several roads and a shared pathway to ensure Taraika is an integral part of Levin. …

The submission process runs from Monday 16 November 2020 through to 5pm on Monday 1 February 2021. You can find out more about the submission by visiting horowhenua.govt.nz/PPC4 or by picking up a copy from Council’s Office on Oxford Street in Levin, or any Council Library in Levin, Foxton and Shannon.

Source: Feedback sought on Proposed District Plan Change 4 – Taraika – Horowhenua District Council.

Village entrance tree removal, 23 and 24 November 2020

Update 18-Nov-20: Electra have advised:

There will be stop/go temporary traffic management in place on the day(s) when the larger parts of the trees are coming down.

This may well cause delays so leave extra time to get to appointments on Monday and Tuesday.

Electra have assessed some Radiata Pine trees growing near 676 Waikawa Beach Road and found them to be dangerous:

During these inspections our senior arborist staff discovered there were some faults with the trees that could cause their partial failure resulting in parts of the trees coming to ground.

… taking into account the risk to public safety and probable damage to Electra’s overhead electricity network suppling the beach community, … Electra [will] remove them.

The proposed date for the works is November 23rd and 24th [2020], weather and unforeseen circumstance permitting.

Map of location.

We don’t have any further details at the moment, but it would be reasonable to expect that road access into and out of the village could be delayed or blocked for a while so the work can be done.