News and Notices

Grassy Slopes Tamed by Yellow Spider 02 June 2016 If you see a table-sized yellow machine in our parks that looks like a large, square Roomba – well, you’re not far from the truth. New Plymouth District Council is using a new Spider lawnmower to tackle slopes above 30°, and it’s run by one person with a remote control. “The controls look like a beefed-up X-Box controller and the ‘driver’ can stand safely on the flat while the Spider tackles the slope,” says Manager Parks and Open Spaces Stuart Robertson. Previously, grass on slopes greater than 30° was cut with a hydro-mower (using an extendable arm with blades) or weed-eaters, or was left to grow. Mr Robertson says the new remote mower gives the Council more options for maintaining the district’s tricky green areas while keeping staff safe. “Auckland Council uses these on its motorway berms. We can look at a similar use, which would reduce any traffic interruptions caused by closing off lanes due to staff or larger machinery being on site,” he says. Repairs to Section of Huatoki Walkway 27 May 2016 Repairs to Huatoki Walkway will require a section of the pathway to be closed for three weeks. The section between Glenpark Avenue and the intersection of Frankley Road and Maratahu Street will be closed from next Tuesday (31 May) while three small slips are removed and a retaining wall is built. “The slips have happened over the last three months and they’re close to the edge of the path, so we’ll close off this area while we strengthen this section of the walkway,” says Manager Parks and Open Spaces Stuart Robertson. Barriers and signs warning people to stay out of the worksite will be erected. During the closure period, the public will be diverted onto Glenpark Avenue and Frankley Road. Visit Pukekura Park for Botanic Gardens Open Day 26 May 2016 Locals are being encouraged to explore new areas of Pukekura Park this Sunday (29 May) as part of Australasia’s first national open day for botanic gardens. The aim of the open day is to highlight the achievements of botanic gardens in plant conservation, with more than 74 venues in Australia and New Zealand taking part. “Locals have grown up with Pukekura Park and we often go to our favourite usual places, such as the playground or the Fernery and Display Houses or Brooklands Zoo,” says Curator Pukekura Park Chris Connolly. “What we’d like to do is encourage people to explore a part of the park they haven’t been to for a long time, or that they’ve possibly never visited before, and take note of the variety of plant species around them. “Pick a new walking track and see where it takes you!” The 52ha of Pukekura Park have 14km of walking tracks, two Sister Cities gardens, a native bush remnant that includes a 2,000-year-old puriri tree, and other trees that have been planted as far back as 1851 – just 10 years after the European settlement of New Plymouth. The Fernery and Display Houses has more than 50,000 plants in its collections, with species from around the world. Pukekura Park is a five-star Garden of National Significance and is widely recognised as one of the finest gardens in Australasia. “We’re so fortunate to have this amazing botanical jewel right in the heart of our city that is open every day and free to enjoy,” says Mr Connolly. Australia’s Ambassador for the Botanic Gardens Open Day, Costa Georgiadia, had these words to share about this inaugural national event: “Botanic gardens have gathered centuries of resources and expertise and play a key role in plant conservation. Such work not only conserves threatened plant species, but forms the basis of critical science and research projects looking at some of the most important challenges we face,” said Costa Georgiadis, Ambassador for the Botanic Gardens Open Day. “Botanic garden staff are passionate about their work and we see our role as educating, training and imparting knowledge to ensure our future is in safe hands. “Some of the biggest challenges of our time are being tackled on the botanic garden frontline. We know plants are critical to our lives, but there is still a low awareness in the general community of the work that botanic gardens undertake. That is what the Open Day is all about.” New Programme Can Help Revitalise New Plymouth's CBD 25 May 2016 A programme to refresh and revitalise New Plymouth’s CBD is under way. A collaboration of the Council, Taranaki Chamber of Commerce and the Business and Retailers Association, ‘Shaping Our City’ will see three key activities taking place during the coming months: Paint the City, Green the City and Light Up the Laneways. Group Manager Strategy Liam Hodgetts believes the Shaping Our City initiative can help some great outcomes for relatively small costs. “The CBD is performing relatively well but like many provincial city centres, it’s facing a few challenges – but our CBD also has a lot of opportunities,” he says. “It has a great mix of buildings, laneways, activities and some passionate developers and business owners, which is creating a point of difference. It has something unique and cool going on and we want to help that along. “Fortunately that doesn’t have to mean major spending. A lot can be achieved through good ideas and collaboration among people and organisations that share a passion for our city.” Paint the City will encourage more medium-to-large-scale art on CBD Buildings while Green the City will include a precinct-based planting regime for street trees along with the replacement of street furniture. Some of the new furniture is already in place, outside Centre City, with new-look ‘feature seating’ due for installation over spring. Light Up the Laneways will use environmental design to prevent crime and increase vibrancy. Lighting will be brought into some of the CBD’s darker side streets, brightening them up to deter bad behaviour and encourage positive activities such as events and pop-up music performances. The Shaping Our City initiative complements improvements to the CBD approved late last year, which included a dedicated resource to minimise litter and untidy streets, as well as the upgrading of planter boxes, rubbish bins, information signage and seats. It is part of NPDC’s District Blueprint, a spatial plan comprising eight key directions that will guide the Council’s planning for the district over the next 30 years, with ‘central city’ being one of them. New Plymouth District Council Backs Vote2016 Campaign 23 May 2016 New Plymouth District Council has confirmed its participation in the Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Vote2016 campaign to increase nationwide voter participation in the October local elections to more than 50 per cent. Local election turnout has been declining since the 1980s and only 42 per cent of New Zealanders voted in the 2013 elections, down from 49 per cent in 2010. In New Plymouth District, 51 per cent of voters cast their ballot in 2013 – down from 58 per cent in 2010. Mayor Andrew Judd says: “This is a downward trend that we want to reverse – we don’t want to go below 50 per cent, and in fact the higher we can get that voter turnout the better it is for local democracy.” LGNZ’s Vote2016 campaign will work with participating local councils, national businesses and community organisations to showcase the value local government provides to communities across the country. LGNZ President Lawrence Yule welcomes New Plymouth District stepping up to partner with LGNZ in the Vote2016 campaign and ultimately help build a stronger community through more engaged local democracy. “Partnering with councils is integral to Vote2016. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship focused on building a larger pool of skilled local candidates to stand in their communities and inspiring more people to vote,” said Mr Yule. LGNZ research shows a significant number of citizens are interested in the local government process but don’t vote, or want to vote but say it’s too hard to find the information to make an informed decision. “Vote2016 will support New Plymouth District Council in ensuring voters have access to the information they need about local candidates standing and about the voting process, including when, where and how they can vote,” said Mr Yule. “We’re thrilled to work with New Plymouth District Council in encouraging talented, committed people to stand for office and to vote in your local elections, the most powerful ways to influence positive outcomes in your community,” he said. For more information on standing as a candidate visit Local Council Candidates Urged to Come Forward Early 19 May 2016 Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) is encouraging passionate leaders to get ahead of the game and start thinking about running for their upcoming local council elections now. “Standing for local council is an incredible opportunity for people to have their say about the issues that affect their community directly and develop their leadership skills,” said LGNZ Chief Executive Malcolm Alexander. “While candidate nominations open from 15 July 2016, we want potential candidates to start thinking about their future in local government now, so they have all the support and information they need ahead of the election,” he said. Mr Alexander said ensuring elected representatives had the abilities, diversity of skills and training to respond to major community issues was an important part of a successful election process. “Providing communities with a choice of candidates that they feel confident will make the best decisions for their area is vital. We also hope that a pool of competent and passionate candidates will drive even more citizens to vote this year.” LGNZ recently announced the launch of Vote2016 campaign, which aims to lift nationwide voter turnout in local elections to more than 50 per cent – a first since the 1980s. The national Vote2016 campaign will showcase the value local government provides to communities across the country, with a strong focus on inspiring more New Zealanders to vote, and building a pool of skilled candidates to stand in their communities. Significant support, including governance training and guidance through LGNZ’s EquiP professional development programme, is provided for newly elected members, and ensures a consistent level of capability across the sector. People interested in finding out more about standing as a local council election candidate are encouraged to contact their local council’s electoral officer or visit Vote2016.co.nz. “We have an incredible pool of talent in New Zealand – dedicated Kiwis who are already becoming leaders in their communities. “Standing for their local council is a great way to step up and have real influence over the key issues affecting their families, friends and communities, and we encourage them to come forward now,” said Mr Alexander. Record Number of Draft Annual Plan Submissions 18 May 2016 A record number of submissions have been received by New Plymouth District Council for the draft Annual Plan 2016/17. Submissions closed last Friday (13 MAY) and 1,389 were received – up on the previous record for annual plan submissions of 484 in 2003/04, and not far off the 1,831 submissions to the draft Long-Term Plan 2012-22. “It’s really great to see so many people getting involved in the planning of our activities in the district for the coming year,” says Mayor Andrew Judd. “There’ll be a mix of reasons for the high number of submissions. We asked for people to comment on three key proposals and a lot businesses in the New Plymouth CBD have commented on one of them, about free time-limited CBD parking on Saturdays. “Also, the Council’s done a lot of advertising to encourage people to have their say, and the MyRates website has been very popular.” MyRates.npdc.nz enabled ratepayers to see how the rates for their properties would be affected if they selected any of the three key proposals – free Saturday parking in central New Plymouth, attracting more events to Council venues and scoping an upgrade for the Todd Energy Aquatic Centre – then send their selections to the Council as a submission. NPDC received 405 submissions via MyRates and 984 in hard-copy or through the Council’s website. Public hearings on the draft Annual Plan submissions will be held in the Council Chamber on 9 and 10 June, and the Council’s deliberations will be on 28 June. All meetings will be streamed live online via newplymouthnz.com. Update on Logging Operations Oakura 18 May 2016 Due to favourable market conditions, the decision has been made to extend logging operations at the New Plymouth District Council’s Oakura Joint Venture Forest. We estimate that the harvesting will be completed by August 2016. We thank you for your understanding and kindly request that you continue to take care when using the roads. Further information can be obtained from Philip Bracegirdle, Taranaki Forestry Services Limited on 027 448 5794 or office 758 0864. Get in the Habit of Reducing Non-Recyclables 18 May 2016 We are recycling more than ever, but we could do better. That’s the message from Taranaki’s three councils seven months into the new rubbish and recycling system. “Nationally most places have eight per cent of non-recyclable items in their recycling, but in Taranaki we have 12 per cent at the moment,” says Manager Water and Wastes Mark Hall. “We understand there have been a lot of changes to adapt to but we want people to be aware of the do’s and don’ts of recycling before the bad habits set in and become hard to break.” The only things that should be in the blue glass crate are unbroken, clean jars and bottles, while the mixed recycling wheelie bins take clean paper, cardboard, tins, aluminium cans, and plastic bottles and containers stamped with the recycling numbers 1-7 on them. “If in doubt, leave it out and contact your council to check – or visit their websites for a comprehensive list of what’s recyclable and what’s not,” says Mr Hall. Some of the non-recyclable items that are turning up in recycling bins include plastic bags, clothing, wood, gas bottles, toner cartridges and medical waste. “On average we have four 9m3 skips of non-recyclable items from the recycling bins that need to be taken to the landfill every day. Not only is this inefficient, costly and adding to the landfill, but some of the non-recyclables put the team at the Material Recovery Facility in danger, so please try to get it right,” he says. A useful tool for Taranaki residents who want to check their rubbish collection day or recyclable materials is the NPDC Rubbish and Recycling app. Just go to Google Play or the App Store on your smartphone and search for 'NPDC rubbish'. Improvements to Pukekura Park Entrances 13 May 2016 Work has started on upgrades to several entrances to Pukekura Park. Improvements have already begun on the Victoria Road/Shortland Street entrance, and it will be followed by work on six other entrances in coming weeks. The project – which includes installing new gates and information signs plus other upgrades – will help standardise the presentation of the park to visitors. “Currently some entrances have wooden farm gates, some have white swing gates, one has a turnstile and one has a zig-zag entrance, so this work will bring all the entrances up to the same standard of presentation and accessibility,” says Curator Pukekura Park Chris Connolly. “A few of the entrances have grass or dirt accessways that will be paved, some will have bollards installed and a couple will have landscaping done in the immediate area. “The signs will include a map of the park and a pointer to where the person is, to help them orientate themselves.” Work starts next week on entrances off Upjohn Street and Coronation Avenue (near Highlands Intermediate), and two off Somerset Street. The last to be upgraded are on Gilbert and Rogan streets, which will be finished by the end of June. Access through these entrances may be restricted for short periods of time while the work is under way. Be Safe Be Seen 04 May 2016 With winter nearing, road users are urged to take steps to be seen easily. Be Safe, Be Seen is a region-wide campaign promoting the use of lights and hi-visibility clothing during the autumn and winter months. Manager Transportation Carl Whittleston says staff from New Plymouth District Council, Shell Todd Oil Service and the police will be on the streets in New Plymouth, Opunake, Hawera and Eltham with a chocolate treat for those walkers, runners and cyclists who use lights or are wearing high-viz gear. “For those who don’t, we’ll give them a bright backpack cover, a reflective armband or front and rear bike lights so they can be more easily seen on our roads and footpaths,” he says. “We’ll also have hi-viz backpack covers available for free from the Civic Centre in New Plymouth during May.” Mr Whittleston says people should never assume they have been seen by other road users. “It’s for our own safety that we make it easy for others to spot us in low-light conditions or when a low sun is in drivers’ eyes, and that drivers check twice to make sure the road ahead of them is clear,” he says. The campaign is supported by Shell Todd Oil Services, New Plymouth Police, New Plymouth injurySafe and Roadsafe Taranaki. Safety tips for road users Drivers: think twice and look ahead when driving into sunstrike or sections of heavy shading on the road. Look twice to make sure there isn’t a child waiting at a pedestrian crossing or a cyclist ahead of you in the light. Cyclists: when cycling at night or when visibility is poor, bicycles must have the following: One or more steady or flashing rear-facing red lights that can be seen at night from 100m away. One or two white or yellow headlights that can be seen at night from 100m away. Only one of these headlights may flash. Pedal retro-reflectors on the forward and rearward facing surfaces of each pedal. If the cycle does not have these, the cyclist must be wearing reflective material. There are $55 fines for bikes with no lights, no tail lights or no red reflectors or tapes. Water Restrictions for Okato 03 May 2016 Very low flows in the Mangatete Stream have prompted the reintroduction of water restrictions in Okato. The use of sprinklers, irrigation systems and unattended hoses is banned, while hand-held hoses can be used at even-number houses on even-numbered days and at odd-numbered houses on odd-numbered days. Manager Water and Wastes Mark Hall says the ongoing dry spell has taken its toll on the Mangatete Stream, from which Okato’s water is sourced. “We see rainfall being forecast for Taranaki but it either doesn’t last long or it’s much lighter than predicted – the Mangatete just hasn’t been getting the rainfall it needs to keep its water flow at a good level,” says Mr Hall. “Showers are forecast for the end of the week and we hope that’ll be enough to at least reduce demand for watering gardens, even if it’s not enough to lift the restrictions.” The Council asks Okato residents to keep water use at a minimum. Tips on how to conserve water are on the Council’s website at newplymouthnz.com. More Improvements to New Plymouth Wastewater Treatment Plant 02 May 2016 The next stage of significant upgrades to the New Plymouth Wastewater Treatment Plant begins this week. Phase two of Wai Taatari (‘filtered water’) will result in lower costs for drying the plant’s excess sludge into the fertiliser Bioboost, and also provide the Council with more options for disposing of sludge if the thermal drying facility (TDF) is ever offline. “It’s about making the plant more efficient and cheaper to run, and building more redundancy into our disposal options,” says Manager Infrastructure David Langford. “When phase two has been fully commissioned by the middle of next year we’ll have cut the TDF’s gas use by between 30 and 45 per cent – which will also reduce the plant’s greenhouse gas emissions – and we’ll be saving between $110,000 and $170,000 per year.” The first phase two project, which starts this week, is to upgrade the plant’s thickening system. This will result in better quality sludge that will require less energy to dry in the TDF. The remaining projects of phase two are the replacement of the dewatering system and an upgrade of the plant’s inlets, which will take place in 2016/17. The $11.5 million phase one of Wai Taatari was officially completed in March 2014 and resulted in the plant’s two aeration basins being upgraded into bioreactors, making them more efficient in treating the district’s wastewater. Phase two will cost $12m. The sludge that is dried in the TDF is surplus micro-organisms that are used in the bioreactors to eat the waste in the wastewater. These micro-organisms are separated in the clarifiers from the water effluent, concentrated in the thickeners, have excess water squeezed out of them in the belt presses, and then are dried, sterilised and palletised in the TDF to make Bioboost. Pool Party for Taranaki Pooches 28 April 2016 For the very first time, the Todd Energy Aquatic Centre will be opening its gates to dogs and their owners for a Pooches Pool Party. The pool party marks the end of the outdoor pools’ swim season and will be a fundraiser for the SPCA. “These parties are really popular at other public pools around the country so we thought we’d give Taranaki dogs the chance to enjoy a splash-around too,” says Manager Venues and Events Ron Murray. “The public swimming season will be finished by then so we’ll invite dogs and their owners in before the outdoor pools are drained for winter. “The swimming is primarily for the dogs – we don’t see owners getting in the pools unless their pets need a hand.” Aquatic centre staff will lower the pools’ chlorine levels for the comfort of the dogs. The event is from 1pm to 3pm on Saturday 7 May and will include dog demonstrations, spot prizes and competitions. All dogs must be NPDC registered, vaccinated and socialised, and on a lead unless swimming. Owners must have control of their dog at all times and be prepared to assist in the water if required. Entry is $2 per dog via the back gate to the outdoor area. Share the Magic With TSB Bank Festival of Lights 09 December 2014 Pukekura Park’s iconic summer festival wants you to ‘Share the Magic’! The TSB Bank Festival of Lights opens this Sunday (14 December) with a new programme of feature light installations, evening entertainment and daytime activities for children and families. “Every day is different during the festival so people can return throughout summer and have a new experience that’s memorable and fun,” says Manager Events Melissa Devine-Collins. “The festival’s theme is ‘Share the Magic’, which originates from the feeling of magic when you enter the festival for the first time and share the experience with friends and family. “We’re also running a Share the Magic competition with a $2,000 Air New Zealand travel voucher as the prize – just look for the oversized photo frame by the row boats to take part.” Poet’s Bridge is the site of the lighting installation Cloud 9, which encompasses giant bird nests, large water droplets and the rich colours of a sunset reflecting on stylised cloud formations. Tripping the Light uses glowing spheres across Fountain Lake to create waves of colourful patterns, and Flock of Birds brings a new dimension to the black-light area. The evening On Stage entertainment starts on Boxing Day and the programme includes a free concert in the TSB Bowl of Brooklands that features New Zealand X-Factor favourites Moorhouse, a Rod Stewart tribute performance by Rud Stewart, New Plymouth singer/songwriters and Wellington nine-piece Balkan Gypsy brass band Niko Ne Zna. On Stage is supported by TSB Community Trust and will have performances on the Taranaki Daily News Stage at the Hatchery Lawn six days a week (excluding Mondays), and on the ITL Engineering Stage at the Boat Shed Lawn on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The daytime Summer Scene programme is sponsored by Tag Oil and Horizon Energy Services and includes a fun scavenger hunt, the hugely popular big beach dig, craft-making, dance workshops and magician shows. More... “The Twilight Movies in the Park programme is always really popular and we have The Golden Bearing sculpture back as well as the TSB Bank bubble kiosk and the illuminated row boats on the Main Lake,” says Mrs Devine-Collins. The TSB Bank Festival of Lights runs until 24 January. Festival programmes are being delivered to Taranaki households this week as inserts in the North Taranaki Midweek and the South Taranaki Star, and are also available at New Plymouth District Council’s Civic Centre, TSB Bank branches, Taranaki i-SITES and Taranaki libraries. This year the TSB Bank Festival of Lights was named New Zealand’s Most Outstanding Event by the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA), and the Best Established Community Event by the New Zealand Association of Event Professionals. More information about the festival, its programme of events and the Share the Magic competition is online at festivaloflights.nz.
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