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.

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.

Black Friday Quiz Night, 13 November 2020

The Heart of Manakau Proudly Presents Black Friday Quiz Night
(Be a devil – dress to suit!)

Date: Friday 13 November 2020

Time 7.30 start

Location: Manakau Bowling and Sports Club. Corner of Honi Taipua and Mokena Kohere Streets

Cost: $10 per person

Teams: Maximum of 12 teams with 5 per team. If you don’t have 5 we can help you make up a team on the night. Please make sure you register as we were at our maximum at our last quiz night.

Register your team by contacting Kimbal 029 835 1215 or 36 26 395, mchugo@mchugo.co.nz.

Refreshments: The Bowling club bar will be open. Light snack food will be served during the evening

The MDCA will be running raffles during the evening with all funds raised being used by the MDCA for projects that benefit the community

Please support your community by entering a team.

Quiz Night November 2020 flyer. (37 KB Docx) Same info as above but with better layout and formatting.

Waikawa olive oil a winner

As you drive east along Waikawa Beach Road you see the blueberry farm up near SH1. It’s a great place to visit in summer for fresh blueberries, but they are also award winning olive oil producers:

Success for Waikawa Glen at olive oil national awards

… Waikawa Glen, in Manakau, just north of Ōtaki, won reserve boutique in the New Zealand Extra Virgin Olive Oils Awards held in Wellington.

The company, owned by Lisa Buchan and partner Glenn Wigley, received more accolades at the awards …

“We were absolutely blown away and very pleased,” Lisa said.

Their olive grove became fully certified as organic this year after an organic certification programme.

“A lot of people were telling us that if we were organic we wouldn’t be sustainable.”

The awards are an impressive result for the company, which is in only its third year of harvesting.

Waikawa Glen received a silver medal in 2018 and 2019 before this year’s cluster of awards.

The couple’s story started 13 years ago when they hatched a plan to find a place in the countryside to grow blueberries and make olive oil.

After an extensive search around the country, the pair, with a keen interest in horticulture, bought a slice of land in Waikawa Beach Rd, which had the ideal soil and climate.

“We can get the cold chilling for the blueberries as well as the long hot days of summer for olives.”

Waikawa Blueberries, at the front lower level of their property, has been going strong for about six years, while the olive grove, at the back higher end of the property, has been producing for three years.

It has been quite the transformation for a property that used to be bare paddocks. …

The olive oil, in various blends, is sold locally as well as at the farmgate during pickyour-own blueberry times. …

Local results:

Waikawa Glen won reserve in boutique, best in class and a gold medal in the boutique medium-blends category. Best in class for their frantoio in the boutique medium — single varietal category. Gold medal for its leccino in boutique mild — single varietal. Gold medal for its frantoio in boutique medium — blends. Gold medal for its koroneiki in boutique medium — single varietal. …

Source: Horowhenua Chronicle, 30 Oct 2020, Page 6, by David Haxton.

The draft Manakau Community Plan affects us. Have your say by 24 August 2020

We have a close relationship with Manakau, which means the draft Manakau Community Plan is something we should take a look at, and possibly comment on, especially around matters to do with roading.

Consultation is open from 3 August to midday 24 August 2020.

The Community Plan creates a vision for Manakau:

Manakau is a thriving, friendly and safe rural community with a strong sense of place, a healthy natural environment and good connectivity to other places.

It also identifies four priority areas that will help deliver the vision, each with specific actions attached.

Priority areas are:

  • Protect the special character and heritage values of Manakau
  • Ensure growth occurs in a sustainable and integrated way
  • Improve traffic safety and provide more transport options
  • Improve recreational spaces and water quality.
Manakau community plan graphic.
Manakau community plan graphic.

Read detailed information at the Manakau Community Plan page where you can also see how to have your say.

Some points of interest from the draft plan (3.5 MB PDF):

  • There are 4 projected areas for population growth around Manakau (P13). Land would need rezoning.
  • Council may also look at whether a small commercial area could be identified and provided for in Manakau. (P14)
  • Council may undertake a feasibility study on the delivery of reticulated water and wastewater to Manakau. (P14) Question: where would sewage be disposed of, and how might that affect Waikawa Beach?
  • All sorts of roading matters, including better connections between east and west sides of SH1 (P15 on).
  • Investigating public transport needs (P18).
  • Recreational activities, including shared pathways for cycling and horse riding, and cleaning up waterways (P19 on).

If you have opinions please have your say direct to Horowhenua District Council but also let the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association know either by leaving comments here or by emailing them to the Committee at wbra.committee@gmail.com .