News and Notices

News Our Work Local Parking CBD Green light for central city free parking proposal 17 June 2020 A winter-boost of one hour of free parking a day in New Plymouth’s central city for the next three months has been added to a proposed package of Back On Our Feet measures. The parking move will run from 1 July to 30 September and was added after public feedback on a number of other measures, valued at approximately $20 million, that were proposed as NPDC looks to help local businesses and residents hit by the Covid-19 economic storm. The change aims to give a boost for restaurants, cafes and shops in the central city with the first hour free on all metered parking from Monday to Saturday and is estimated to cost about $410,000. The measures were adopted by the Mayor and Councillors, at their Extraordinary Council meeting on 17 June and they will now look to confirm the Annual Plan at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 30 June. The yearly budget has been revised because of the impact of Covid-19, including a projected $5.4m drop in income. Proposed rates increases have been halved to about 2.5% for the average home and the operating budget is about $175m. Five other measures that will boost local businesses and provide extra funding for grassroots groups are part of the package that already includes $8m in rates relief, $165,000 to support small to medium businesses and rent relief for NPDC’s commercial and community group tenants impacted during and after the lockdown. Nearly 950 residents gave their feedback on the plans with support for all the proposals while more than 150 people attended three ‘Zoominars’ where the Mayor and Councillors answered questions about the Covid-19 stimulus measures. The measures are: Continuing to ‘Buy local’ and giving Taranaki contractors and suppliers an advantage when bidding for NPDC works. $7.5m to expand the Home Insulation scheme, providing work for tradies to make residents’ homes warmer and greener. $1.3m on cutting fees for local businesses including restaurants, hairdressers, cafes and builders. $450,000 in extra funding for grassroots groups. $50,000 to help property owners enhance main street buildings.
News Our Work Local Ben Ingram CDEM lead Emergency team rose to the challenge of Covid-19 12 June 2020 It took months – but it’s fair to say the world changed in a blur.  And, while celebrating and settling back into Level1 over this week, it’s also a perfect time to reflect on the journey we’ve been on, and how we continued to deliver for our community. Back on 22 January, when the coronavirus was still confined to China, the NPDC Civil Defence team first sat down to discuss it. We pulled out our Pandemic Response Plan and looked at some of the actions required. We considered what might happen in New Zealand, but we were all thinking the same thing: “Surely this thing won’t make it here, and even if it did, the impact would be small.” As the virus raced around the world, that attitude changed. We realised it was a matter of “when”, not “if”. Once New Zealand had its first confirmed case of Covid-19 we acted. NPDC activated its Incident Management Team (IMT), which would manage and coordinate our response. Led by NPDC Local Controller David Langford, it comprised managers for intelligence, operations, logistics, public information, and myself as Response Manager. Our priority was the delivery of essential services, like water, rubbish collection and safe roads, which our residents would need to get through an emergency. As NPDC’s Civil Defence and Emergency Management Lead, I’ve been deployed to some major emergencies, including the Kaikoura earthquake and Edgecumbe floods. Every response is unique, but COVID-19 was unlike any other. After a natural disaster, such as a flood or tornado, you can see the damage and how it affects the community. It could disrupt lifelines such as roads or the water supply. It could halt transport and isolate people. Usually we can estimate how long it will take to fix the damage and restore services. Our role is to fill the gap until then. If the water supply is affected, as it was in New Plymouth by ex-Cyclone Gita in 2018, we can deliver water in tankers until the damage is fixed. If people are isolated and stuck on the other side of slips, as in the June 2015 floods, we can fly supplies to them by helicopter. Covid-19 was the invisible disaster. The damage was – and still is – unseen. There was no broken infrastructure, no access issues. It also changed more rapidly than any other emergency I’ve ever seen. This made it difficult to keep people effectively informed. Emergency managers must be very flexible as circumstances are fluid. Events often don’t pan out as we expect. We can spend a day planning how to deal with a specific situation, but the situation could change totally in an instant. Then it’s back to the drawing board. With Covid-19, we seemed to be taking curveballs almost every day. For example, the ban on gatherings of more than 500 people had a major impact on our events and venues, but the very next day the 500 became 100, followed by a complete closure of all public facilities. The IMT had been operating out of our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at the TSB Stadium for about two weeks when Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made her most significant announcement: We were to be in Alert Level 3 for 48 hours, then go straight to Alert Level 4. Lockdown, essential services only. The moment felt surreal. The team was speechless. In a strange way this made the emergency response job a lot easier. It’s the only time I can ever remember an emergency getting more serious, while our outputs shrank. Everything was to be closed to the public, with only a skeleton staff on essential sites, such as the water treatment plant. Everyone else was to work from home if they could. So where we are five months down the track? We’re well and truly in recovery mode, but that’s not quite a return to pre-Covid-19. Over the next 12 months the unseen impact of COVID-19 will become clearer, particularly the social and economic effects. As Local Recovery Manager, I’m now looking at how we live with the new BAU. Emergency management is about constant improvement, and how we can do better next time. I believe emergencies bring out the true character of our people and our organisation. I’m extremely proud of how NPDC responded to Covid-19, and kept delivering essential services to our residents. I’m proud of all those who put up their hands to volunteer at the EOC and at the Taranaki Emergency Management Office throughout COVID-19 response. And I’m confident that, for however long it takes, we’ll keep being flexible, being kind and being united when it counts. Ben Ingram  NPDC Civil Defence and Emergency Management Lead
News Our Work Local Question mark generic photo Top takeaways from latest NPDC meeting 09 June 2020 Māori ward decision The Strategy and Operations Committee has recommended seeking feedback from residents about establishing a Māori ward for the 2022 local body elections. Under local government rules, NPDC has to review its representation mix every six years and this includes deciding if a Māori ward should be set up. The review is set to take place in 2021 and will examine things like how many councillors there should be, the wards system and community boards. At the 9 June meeting, the Mayor and Councillors voted to recommend a Māori ward be consulted on. A final decision will be made at the Full Council meeting on 22 July. The plastic problem The issue of what to do with certain types of plastic is a local, national and global problem, a report to the Strategy and Operations Committee says. Only plastics 1, 2 and 5 – things like milk containers and coke bottles – can now be recycled in New Zealand and abroad following changes to the global market for recycling plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7, also known as ‘mixed plastics’. The report says the problem plastics only make up a fraction of all the recyclables collected in the green bin – about 3% - and urged residents to try to avoid buying products using plastics 3, 4, 6 and 7. The Mayor and Councillors approved a recommendation to stop collecting mixed plastics in the yellow recycling bin with the final decision to be made at the 22 July meeting.
News Our Work Sports Mike Roberts Indoor pool ready after lockdown upgrade 09 June 2020 A safer, more flexy indoor pool will greet swimmers when NPDC’s Todd Energy Aquatic Centre reopens on Wednesday 10 June after its lockdown upgrade. Flexy? Yes, thousands of metres of rubber-like sealant in special joints set in the floor of the pool have been replaced, which will help the pool surface to expand and flex in an earthquake, says NPDC Aquatics Lead Mike Roberts. “Lockdown gave us a unique opportunity to empty the indoor pools and give them a much-need makeover,” said Mr Roberts. “That included a new non-slip surface on the ‘beach’ area at the shallow end of the pool, a good clean and replacing the sealant, which will minimise the risk of cracks in a tremor.” Up to 40 staff have been working on the TEAC spruce up since the country moved to Alert Level 2 on 14 May. Other renovations include a new bubble machine, new hair and lint screens for the hydro slide water, a new reception counter, and a fresh coat of paint throughout the pool area and the changing rooms. Staff have refilled the pool, which took about three days and a million litres of water, and have brought the temperature up to a comfortable 28 degrees centigrade. About 370,000 people used the TEAC last year and revenue topped $1million. The outdoor pool complex opened in 1963 and holds about 1.6 million litres of water, and the indoor centre opened in 1993 and was New Zealand’s first pool to have a wave machine. The indoor hydro slide is the tallest in New Zealand, with a family slide that has a ride length of 62 metres and the higher turbo at 92 metres long.
News Local Drone shot of Oakura Oakura rezoning recommendation adopted 05 June 2020 NPDC’s Mayor and Councillors have voted to adopt an Independent Commissioner’s recommendation not to allow nearly 60 hectares of land in Ōākura to be rezoned. The application was to change what the 58 hectares of land is allocated for in the District Plan. The area south of Ōākura is currently zoned as rural and the Private Plan Change Request was to change this to residential, business, rural lifestyle and open space, paving the way for subdividing it into 399 sections. The application received more than 436 submissions with more than 390 of those opposing the plans. The applicant amended the request in response to evidence at hearings held last year, cutting the scale of the rezoning bid to 15.9ha and 144 subdivisions. Some of the commissioner’s key reasons for turning down the application include: The plan change is not aligned with the ‘growth and direction’ for Ōākura. The social and cultural impact on the size of the township had not been adequately evaluated. There is already capacity for development and growth for at least 30 years. The decision to adopt the recommendation was made at the 2 June Full Council meeting and the applicant and submitters now have 30 working days to appeal the decision to the Environment Court. For the full decision and further details about the commissioner’s recommendation, see here.
News Our Work Local Sanders Park mowing Grass is greener in lockdown Level 2 thanks to NPDC 04 June 2020 NPDC staff haven’t been letting the grass grow under their feet since getting back on the fields after the Covid-19 lockdown. With winter sports looming fast and people heading out to enjoy the last of the golden autumn weather, the team has gone that extra mile to get our parks and reserves - some of which went up to 8 weeks without a good mow during the unprecedented state of national emergency - back into top nick. The district has about 283 hectares of grass along our 82km of walkways and 1,600 hectares of parks and reserves. “It’s a huge area to mow, but we’ve been pulling out all the stops and taken on extra contractors that’s helped us to catch up with the backlog in some areas, while working under safe Alert Level 2 working rules. Employing the additional contractors is also a boost for local workers as we all work to get us Back On Our Feet,” said NPDC Infrastructure Manager David Langford. “We’re lucky to have so many awesome green spaces, which are a big feature of our Lifestyle Capital, especially as we gear up for the winter sports season.” The grass area includes 24 sports fields and some of the turf, like Yarrow Stadium, the Pukekura Park cricket ground and Puke Ariki Landing, requires special care. NPDC has 12 full-time equivalent staff on lawnmowing operations, and contractors help year round on areas such as steep banks and outside the main urban areas. The team has also finished upgrading our sports fields and fully renewed the Pukekura Park outfield and cricket wickets.
News Our Work Local People Oxfam Trailwalker Oxfam Trailwalker charity fundraiser heading to Taranaki 01 June 2020 New Plymouth District walkers looking to keep their lockdown exercise and goal-setting going as the alert levels ease can take part in a major charity fundraiser coming to Taranaki in 2021. Oxfam Trailwalker is heading to the region next March after NPDC in partnership with Venture Taranaki won the right to host the event and be the destination partner for the next three years. Mayor Neil Holdom says securing the Oxfam Trailwalker event was another feather in the cap for the New Plymouth District and would be a major boost to the region as it recovers from the economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 crisis. “We’re absolutely thrilled to host the Oxfam Trailwalker challenge for the next three years,” says Mayor Holdom. “It’s another major event in our beautiful region as we continue to Build a Lifestyle Capital and it will be a superb showcase for our wonderful corner of Aotearoa. It’s perfect timing too as it will bring hundreds of much-needed visitors to our region as we all work to get Get Back On Our Feet as the economic shock of Covid 19 bites.” VT Chief Executive Justine Gilliland welcomed the addition of another premium event to Taranaki as the region turns its focus onto economic recovery. “From Mounga to moana, Taranaki has so much to offer. On the back of COVID19, the announcement of Taranaki as 2021 Oxfam Trailwalker hosts provides an exciting glimpse into our economic recovery and the possibilities and opportunities that lay ahead.” Those looking to get a head start in training for the 50km or 100km treks for teams of four people can join Oxfam’s #whyIwalk campaign, which encourages people to exercise and sign up for the 2021 Trailwalker event. Oxfam New Zealand’s Executive Director Rachael Le Mesurier says: “Oxfam Trailwalker is a truly inspiring experience and one we hope the Taranaki community will enjoy being part of as much as we and our walkers do. We are delighted with the support of our Taranaki hosts, as the spirit of local hospitality and encouragement will make all the difference as hundreds of walkers set out to challenge poverty over 50 or 100 kilometres. “Participants in Oxfam Trailwalker 2021 will enjoy Taranaki's wonderful scenery and the region's other special attractions. We also look forward to seeing many Taranaki locals stepping out on the start line or supporting in some other way, as we make history with the first Oxfam Trailwalker in the region.” About 1,000 walkers take part in the event, helped by 1,500 friends, family and support crew, and the event was previously held in Whakatane and Taupō. For more information and to find out how you can get involved in the next event, head to https://www.oxfamtrailwalker.org.nz/
Our Work Local News Dragon's teeth NPDC enlists dragons for student safety 29 May 2020 Here be dragons – but just their teeth! ‘Dragon’s teeth’ road markings are appearing on the New Plymouth District’s roads as part of a national road safety trial aimed at cutting drivers’ speeds outside schools. NPDC is one of just five New Zealand local authorities taking part in the trial of the distinctive markings which are already a familiar sight outside schools in the UK and parts of Australia. “We’re exploring innovative road treatments to see how they might improve road users’ safety,” says NPDC Let’s Go Team Lead Kym Smith. “All five councils will collect data until the end of the year then evaluate how effective the road markings are in changing driver behaviour.” Trial sites are also in Auckland, Hamilton, Christchurch and Dunedin. The dragon’s teeth will feature first outside Spotswood School, and then Moturoa, after Let’s Go finishes upgrading the streetscape outside Moturoa School as part of a programme of safety improvements. “Getting the physical road environment right in high-risk areas, such as school pick-up and drop-off areas, can lead to greater safety for some of our most vulnerable citizens, like schoolchildren,” says Ms Smith.
News Our Work Lifestyle Local Belt Road Nadine Rogers New Plymouth named as a Motorhome-Friendly Town 26 May 2020 As domestic travel in New Zealand gets a boost with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, NPDC is gearing up to make New Plymouth a destination city for Kiwi motorhomers. New Plymouth has now received the official seal of approval from the New Zealand Motor Caravan Association (NZMCA) which has accepted it into the Motorhome Friendly Town scheme. New Plymouth District Mayor Neil Holdom says its great news. “We’re looking forward to warmly welcoming motorhome users – potentially a multi-million-dollar market - to our wonderful corner of Aotearoa. This year we’ve seen a record 150,000 visitors enjoying the TSB Festival of Lights and there’s a huge amount for visitors to do from exploring our Mounga to visits to Pukekura Park and our iconic Coastal Walkway. This accreditation from the NZMCA recognises the work we do with our council-controlled organisation Venture Taranaki to make our region a must-visit destination for Kiwis and is another example of how we’re Building a Lifestyle Capital.” Destinations have to meet certain criteria to be accredited as Motorhome Friendly, such as having a compliant Freedom Camping Bylaw and providing access to rubbish/recycling and drinking water facilities. The final development New Plymouth needed was a motorhome dump station on public land which is opening soon on Rifle Range Road in Waiwhakaiho, thanks to the support of the local community in that area. NZMCA CEO Bruce Lochore says the Association was pleased to welcome New Plymouth to the Motorhome Friendly scheme which comes as it looks to play a key role in helping kick-start the country’s economy. “We have committed to a multi-pronged, national promotional campaign that’s designed to revitalise responsible motorhome tourism in our 56 Motorhome Friendly towns this spring and summer,” says Mr Lochore. “As an organisation, the NZMCA is ideally placed to lead such an initiative; because while much of the tourism industry is going to be playing catch-up with domestic tourism, it’s our area of expertise. When all the focus was on international tourists in the big-name destinations, we’ve led the charge to ensure that rural and provincial New Zealand got its fair share of tourist dollars. “Naturally, we have appreciated the Motorhome Friendly towns’ support in the past so, come spring, we’re ‘going hard’ to once again bring responsible Motorhome Tourists in Certified Self-Contained vehicles to destinations like New Plymouth.” Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park owner Peter Crawford says: “We commend NPDC for taking steps to again highlight New Plymouth as a friendly place to visit. We hope ‘motorhomers’ attracted support local tourism, retail and hospitality businesses as we move toward tourism that really benefits the host communities.” More motorhomes, caravans and campers have been coming to Taranaki as the region enjoyed a surge in tourism after being named among the top two regions in the world to visit by Lonely Planet in 2016. This is expected to rise again as Kiwis venture out closer to home with foreign travel grounded during the Covid-19 pandemic. NPDC has six campground and holiday parks across the District from Urenui to Ōākura. Who are the NZMCA? The NZMCA represents more than 95,000 private motorhome and caravan owners, who collectively are a multi-million dollar market. NZMCA promotes responsible motorhome and caravan use and requires all members vehicles to be fully certified self-contained. NZMCA provides free marketing and tourist information for the district to its members through its website www.mhftowns.com, the Motor Caravanner magazine and the NZMCA Travel Directory.
News Our Work Local Jetcharm barber for Boof Last chance for public feedback on Covid-19 relief package 25 May 2020 The New Plymouth District Council (NPDC) is urging residents and businesses to have their say on its revised yearly budget which helps cushion some of the economic blow of Covid 19. The public are urged to complete a 5 minute survey on the proposed annual plan and go in the draw to win a $500 SOS voucher to support local firms. Mayor Neil Holdom says the draft yearly budget isn’t set in stone and public feedback is critical to decision making. “Council is playing its part to support our community and work alongside Government to minimise the impacts for those suffering from Covid 19 economic hardship and we want to know has NPDC got the balance about right between slashing fees for business, toping up our community grant schemes for grassroots groups, having a preference for Taranaki contractors when bidding for our jobs and a subsidised warmer and greener home insulation scheme. It’s our job to support struggling businesses and residents while keeping rates affordable, offering great services and juggling competing priorities.” NPDC says all ideas are welcome but the five parts of the proposed yearly budget it is keen for specific feedback on includes: Keeping tradies in work making residents’ homes warmer and greener via our expanded Home Insulation scheme, $7.5 million. Slashing fees for local businesses including restaurants, hairdressers, cafes and builders, $1.3 million. Giving faster access to boosted community funding for grassroots groups, $450,000. Topping up property owners to help enhance main street buildings, $50,000. Continuing to ‘Buy local’ and giving Taranaki contractors and suppliers an advantage when bidding for NPDC jobs. Over the next year NPDC is facing a $5.4 million dollar drop in revenue and is looking for ways to cut costs. Proposed rates increases have been halved to about 2.5% for the average home and the operating budget is approximately $175 million. NPDC has already provided the following Covid 19 relief initiatives: $8 million rates relief package $165,000 of funding to Venture Taranaki to support small-medium businesses $1.9 million loan to the airport to cover its costs until the end of July $90,000 for commercial and community rent relief. Head to newplymouthnz.com/backonourfeet to fill in the five minute survey or call our Feedback Hotline, 06 759 6060 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday and we’ll help you fill in the survey, over the phone with one of our team. Once you’ve completed the survey, you’ll go in the draw to win SOS vouchers to help local businesses, with a main prize of $500. Feedback closes 5pm on Tuesday 26 May 2020.
News Our Work Local Puke Ariki reopen Daisy and Teddy Walmsley Queues as Puke Ariki and community libraries reopen 21 May 2020 While readers have feasted on eBooks and eAudiobooks during Alert Levels 3 and 4, bookworms itching to get their hands on the real thing queued outside NPDC’s Puke Ariki as it opened its doors for the first time since the lockdown. Puke Ariki Library and Bell Block, Waitara, Inglewood, Oakura and Urenui libraries have all reopened under Covid-19 Level 2 with measures in place to keep people safe as they browse for books. NPDC Spokesperson Jacqueline Baker says Puke Ariki has done an amazing job virtually as people stayed in their bubbles and the reopening meant there was now another option for those craving a good read. “Our library team has gone above and beyond during the lockdown, lending out record numbers of eBooks and eAudiobooks – some 12,600 in April - with Puke Ariki open virtually 24/7 for our residents,” says Ms Baker. “We’re now safely open for business for those wanting to get their hands on everything from magazines, newspapers to romance novels to children’s and young adult books.” Level 2 measures at the libraries include contact tracing registers for all those who enter, hand sanitiser at numerous locations including the entrance, multiple cleans each day and restrictions on how many people can go in at any one time. “Our libraries are incredibly popular with about 850,000 visits each year so if people could limit their time to around half-an-hour that would be great as it would mean more people get to visit them. We thank everyone for their patience and kindness as we all adapt to our new Covid-19 reality.” Residents wanting to give feedback on NPDC’s Back On Our Feet measures to help residents and local businesses hit by the Covid-19 economic storm will be able to fill out a hard copy survey at Puke Ariki and the Bell Block, Inglewood and Waitara service centres. Those who take part go in the draw to win up to $500 in SOS Business vouchers to support local businesses. Puke Ariki Museum and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery will reopen on 25 May, also with the appropriate Level 2 safety measures for visitors. Public programmes remain on hold at the venues but will continue online at pukeariki.com and govettbrewster.com.
News Our Work Kym Smith Keep active through the alert levels 13 May 2020 Walking and cycling became the highlight of the day for many people during lockdown and NPDC wants everyone to keep enjoying being active as we head towards lower Covid-19 alert levels. NPDC’s Let’s Go’s Kym Smith says it was fantastic to see so many people using active travel on the district’s footpaths and walkways and urged workers and children to keep it up as they eventually head back to the office and schools. “Everyone has been doing a superb job in uniting against Covid-19, staying in their bubbles and keeping apart when exercising. Our walkways have never been as busy and everyone has been so friendly as well while out for their daily stroll or cycle,” she says. “It would be great for people to keep this up once the lockdown eases. Don’t put your running or walking shoes away or store your bike in the shed for the winter, keep them out and keep enjoying the outdoors as you head to work or school or for fun in the weekends. "Stay active and keep exploring our walkways and shared pathways – it’s good for you and our environment. Just remember that more cars are returning to our roads so be alert when out and about.” If your child hasn’t walked or cycled to school before, or you’d like to give them a refresher about the safest route to take, now is a good time to travel the route with them and highlight any trouble spots they might have to manage, such as crossing roads. Cities across New Zealand have recorded less air pollution and more birdlife in urban areas due to the greatly reduced volume of vehicles on the road. “We can keep contributing to that by leaving our cars at home when we travel – we can help keep our air fresher and cleaner for everyone,” says Kym.
News Our Work Local NPDC Back on our Feet graphic Give your relief package feedback via Zoominars and hotline 12 May 2020 Public ‘Zoominars’ with Councillors will provide a modern forum for NPDC to gather feedback on its proposed multi-million-dollar plans to help residents and businesses hit by the Covid-19 economic storm as part of its revised yearly budget. And for those not online, they can talk to a person via our dedicated phone ‘Feedback Hotline’ to share their views. New Plymouth District Mayor Neil Holdom says: “Our revised yearly budget includes a range of proposed Back on Our Feet initiatives from slashing fees for restaurants, hairdressers, cafes and builders to giving Taranaki suppliers an advantage when bidding for NPDC jobs, as together we weather the Covid-19 economic storm. “We’re keen to hear what you think and are looking forward to new ideas and feedback,” says Mayor Holdom. NPDC’s annual plan for the year ahead has been revised because of the Covid economic shock, including a $5.4 million drop in income. Proposed rate increases have been halved to about 2.5% for the average home and the operating budget is approximately $175 million. The proposed package of projects to help the District get Back On Our Feet are worth about $20 million. Already in place are an $8 million rates relief package and $165,000 in funding to Venture Taranaki to support small to medium businesses. NPDC is asking for feedback on: Continuing to ‘Buy local’ and giving Taranaki contractors and suppliers an advantage when bidding for NPDC jobs. Keeping tradies in work making residents’ homes warmer and greener via our expanded Home Insulation scheme, $7.5 million. Slashing fees for local businesses including restaurants, hairdressers, cafes and builders, $1.3 million. Giving faster access to boosted community funding for grassroots groups, $450,000. Topping up property owners to help enhance main street buildings, $50,000. Public feedback runs from the 12 to 26 of May 2020. The Details Fill in our 5 minute survey here newplymouthnz.com/BackOnOurFeet and go in the draw to win a voucher to support local businesses Get Back on their Feet. There are six SOS vouchers up for grabs, including a main prize of $500. Head to newplymouthnz.com/zoominars to see details about the times and topics of the three public ‘Zoominars’. All welcome. Call 06 759 6060 from 8am to 5pm on weekdays and ask for the ‘Feedback hotline’ and our team is available to talk, take your feedback and fill in the survey over the phone.
News Our Work Local Daisy and Teddy Walmsley online Crackerjacks Puke Ariki borrowing soars and NPDC open for business virtually 08 May 2020 Our buildings have been closed during the lockdown but NPDC services have never been busier and have been open 24/7, making sure we stay connected without bursting any bubbles. Puke Ariki has had book lovers covered, lending out more than 12,600 eBooks and eAudiobooks in April, up from 8,800 in March and about 7,000 in February. If you’re worried about your kids’ screen time, then the library’s BorrowBox service might be to blame – it saw 3,400 eBooks downloaded in the first week of April, more than triple the number for the whole of March – or the online Crackerjacks Storytime, which also kept them entertained. Meanwhile, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has been inspiring youngsters to get creative with streamed Family Art sessions and projects to bring art to the people. The gallery is also currently asking budding movie-makers to share their short films on a day in their lockdown through Once in a Lifetime – The Bubble Project. All these community films will be shown on the Govett-Brewster YouTube channel. Public Council meetings have continued via Zoom with the full meetings published online at newplymouthnz.com the most recently being the deliberations around our yearly budget and we’ll be zooming to the people for feedback on our Back On Our Feet plan and buying local. NPDC spokesperson Jacqueline Baker says we’ve been in uncharted waters during the lockdown but NPDC set a course to keep people informed and entertained. “Puke Ariki and our Gallery have been doing an amazing job virtually with borrowing soaring as we stick to our Covid-19 bubbles while we continue to work hard delivering water, safe roads, rubbish collections while managing hundreds of customer calls and emails each day,” says Ms Baker. Puke Ariki’s digital library has been open with thousands of eBooks, eAudiobooks, movies and newspapers available for everyone in Taranaki and Ancestry.com free during the lockdown. The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery has also brought art to the people through an online collaboration with Taranaki poets for The Art of Poetry project and has launched Window Gallery – Bringing Art Home, working with the Taranaki Arts Trail for artists and designers to turn their own windows into galleries. NPDC is made up of 16 ‘business units’ including Puke Ariki and our community libraries, a zoo, concert venues and we take care of 1,600 hectares of parks and open spaces. For more details, head to newsplymouthnz.com, govettbrewster.com and pukeariki.com or call 06-759 6060.
News Our Work Have Your Say graphic showing the key points in the get us back on our feet plan as described in the webpage text By the numbers: Top takeaways from extraordinary meeting 06 May 2020 At the Extraordinary meeting last night, proposed average residential rates increases were halved to about 2.5% for the average home, with a total rates rise of 3.95%. Before Covid-19, the yearly budget was forecasting an average residential rates rise of 4.75% and a total rise of 6.47%. $300,000 for a feasibility study into expanding the wastewater network to include Urenui, Onaero, Lepperton, Egmont Village and Okato. $100,000 to fast track stormwater improvements to the Waitara township. Reduce operational funding for the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery by $400,000. Management were asked to find operational savings to help reduce debt. The following Get Us Back on Our Feet initiatives were approved: Warmer and greener homes via our expanded Home Insulation Loan scheme, $7.5 million Slashing fees for local businesses including restaurants, hairdressers, cafes and builders, $1.3 million Help for grassroots groups by giving faster access to boosted community funding, $450k Top up to help property owners to enhance main street buildings, $50k “Buy local” plan to give Taranaki contractors a helping hand by ensuring they get preference when tendering for NPDC work. Airport: $1.9 million loan until the end of June when a full options paper will be discussed. Commercial and community rent relief, $90k. The plan will be finalised by the Mayor and Councillors at the end of June.
News Our Work black and white photo showing two hands holding each other Multi-million dollar revenue drop and rates rises slashed in proposed yearly budget 01 May 2020 Cutting proposed rates increases by almost half while managing a projected $5.4 million drop in income are the next steps in NPDC’s Get Us Back on Our Feet plan to help households and businesses hit by the Covid-19 economic storm. Five rates options for a revamped yearly budget will be considered at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 5 May and average residential rates are forecast to go up by just 2.54%, with a total rates rise of 3.95%, if the recommended option is approved. Before the state of emergency, the Annual Plan was forecasting an average residential rates rise of 4.75% and a 6.47% increase in total. At the meeting, the Mayor and councillors will consider a range of other initiatives to include in the proposed Get Us Back on Our Feet package, worth about $20 million. The council has already approved an $8 million rates relief package and worked with the Council Controlled Organisation Venture Taranaki to provide financial support to small and medium businesses via the Professional Services Grant for Small-Medium Enterprises programme. Further initiatives being looked at in the Get Us Back on Our Feet package include: A plan to “Buy local” by choosing local contractors for council jobs. Ramping up and expanding the home insulation loan scheme, providing much-needed work for tradies to make residents’ houses warmer and greener, worth an estimated $7.5m. Slashing and dropping a range of fees for businesses. For hairdressers, cafes, restaurants, and property developers at an estimated cost of $1.3m. Making an extra $450k available to grassroots groups faster. This will allow them to keep supporting our most vulnerable during an unprecedented health and economic shock. A $50k package helping shop building owners improve their buildings around the District. A short-term $2.6 million loan to the New Plymouth airport company Papa Rererangi i Puketapu Ltd. A reduction in commercial and community rents of around $90,000. Mayor Neil Holdom says: “In six short weeks the world has changed and we know many of our residents and businesses are hurting because of the massive economic downturn,” he says. “We’re proposing to reduce rates rises for the average residential ratepayer to 2.5%, after working hard to revise our yearly budget, while also managing a forecasted $5.4m drop in revenue from closed facilities like pools, Puke Ariki, TSB Showplace, TSB Bowl of Brooklands, TSB Stadium and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.” “We think this draft budget strikes a fair balance between helping our people, boosting the local economy while ensuring we continue to deliver critical services. We’re looking to largely debt fund this Get Us Back on our Feet plan because if it was rates funded, it would result in an almost 12% rates rise,” says Mayor Holdom. NPDC has also submitted nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of shovel ready projects for the Government to consider as part of its spending on big-ticket projects to kick-start the New Zealand economy. This includes $321m to upgrade the District’s Three Waters network, $108m on improving roads and bridges, $37m on an eco-friendly hydrogen-powered thermal dryer at the wastewater treatment plant and $13.6m to continue work on the Taranaki Traverse walk. The total proposed operating budget for the next year is about $175 million, spread across 16 different business units that make up NPDC. Next steps Mayor and Councillors will discuss the revised yearly budget at an Extraordinary Council meeting on 5 May. Public feedback from May 12 to May 26. Final budget for 1 July 2020 - 30 June 2021 will be approved by the end of June.
News Our Work Construction generic photo NPDC helps businesses get back to business 28 April 2020 NPDC’s big-ticket building projects are getting underway while our building and resource consents teams are working at 100% capacity to help tradies and construction crews get back on the job. While most workers are still working from home under level 3, businesses which can operate safely are restarting, including the building and construction sector, plumbers, electricians and tradespeople. NPDC spokesperson Jacqueline Baker says: “The move to level 3 means we can restart our major work programmes again, supporting home-grown jobs and local businesses. “Our building team is back at full strength to sign-off new builds and renovations and our resource consent team is fully operational to support the District’s construction and development sectors. “We’re also putting together our Get Us Back on Our Feet Plan which will see us working with Government and business to kick-start our economy as we work through our different alert levels.” Our building team helps keep our economy humming by swiftly dealing with about 1,600 applications each year. This includes everything from millions of dollars’ worth of new home consents to helping people applying for a wood burner or registering a swimming pool. Construction projects which are back up and running includes building two new reservoirs on the outskirts of New Plymouth and our parks team are back in the field, keeping our walkways and 1,600 hectares of reserves and parks in tip-top shape. Our major contractor Downer is also back on the road again carrying out maintenance work on the District’s 1,300km road network. Level 3 – what else you need to know: The majority of NPDC staff continue to work remotely or at critical sites that provide essential services. Our recycling and rubbish collection has restarted. Our facilities remain closed but some are open virtually for contactless business such as Puke Ariki and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Playgrounds remain closed. Carparks that were shut under level 4 remain shut, along with boat ramps.
News Our Work Teenage boy putting out a foodscraps bin for collection at the kerbside with two landfill bins in the background NPDC to restart kerbside recycling and rubbish collection 24 April 2020 NPDC’s bubble of bins is ready to get back to work when its full rubbish and recycling collection restarts on Tuesday 28 April. As the country moves into Alert Level 3, weekly red bin-only pick-ups will finish and normal collection can resume, NPDC Manager Resource Recovery Kimberley Hope says. To see which bins you should put out, just check the handy calendar we delivered with your new bins last September, the NPDC Recycling and Rubbish app or visit the bin collection schedule webpage. “Thank you to everyone who has stockpiled their recyclables during the lockdown. It’s been an unprecedented time and it’s been wonderful to see the community still keeping to their Zero Waste habits where they can,” says NPDC Manager Resource Recovery Kimberley Hope. “If you have more recyclables than will fit into your bins, please hold onto them for your next collection date or until travel restrictions ease under Alert Level 2 and you can then take them to the transfer stations for free. And please note that The Junction will remain closed for now.” When using your kerbside bins, please don’t overfill them. For the safety of our collectors and to ensure the glass crate is emptied, the glass should be no higher than the top of the crate. No extra boxes or bags will be collected from the kerbside – only council bins. Safety requirements around COVID-19 means the mixed recycling in the yellow-top bin will have to go to landfill until we reach Alert Level 2. "We know this isn’t ideal but these are unprecedented times and sorting recycling is a high-touch job with thousands of tonnes of household recycling to wade through. If you want to, you can keep storing them until they can be recycled at Alert Level 2 but we understand if you don’t have the space," says Ms Hope. She says it has been great to see people developing their Zero Waste skills during the lockdown, including building their own compost bin or worm farm. “We really encourage people to keep using them. It all helps to reduce the amount of waste we produce as we work toward becoming Zero Waste district!” 
News Art Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh Govett-Brewster Co-directors heading back home to Canada 23 April 2020 Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre co-directors Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh are taking up a new role in Canada. In the midst of the global Covid-19 crisis, the pair are returning to Aileen’s homeland to be closer to family. Their time at the NPDC-owned gallery has been capped by a highly successful 50th anniversary exhibition and the couple, who have a young daughter, are reluctantly leaving after making a big impact since moving to Taranaki in January of 2019. “It’s been an honour and a privilege to have been the co-directors of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre. The chance to lead the Remai Modern gallery in Saskatoon, Canada, was too good an opportunity to turn down and it will be wonderful to be close to our family, especially during these difficult and unprecedented times,” they say. NPDC’s Recreation and Culture Manager Teresa Turner says the co-directors have left the gallery in excellent shape and have done a great job in helping engage the local community during their tenure. “We were very lucky to get such a dynamic duo at the gallery and while we’re sad to see them leave, they have done a superb job and we wish them the very best for the future,” says Ms Turner. The Covid-19 situation will mean the gallery will look to appoint a new director towards the end of the year. While the gallery, which added $5.6m in GDP to the local economy in 2016 (Source: Berl), remains closed during the national emergency, it is bringing art and other cultural content to audiences online. It has teamed up with Pop-up Poetry Taranaki to launch ‘The Art of Poetry’ - a weekly open call for poems about art on Instagram and the website and is also working with the Taranaki Arts Trail on the ‘Window Gallery’ programme, to bring art to the streets.
News Our Work info graphic outlining key points to the rates relief package. as outlined on the web page Covid-19 rates relief package approved 21 April 2020 Our Elected Members have voted to approve a rates relief package to help soften the financial pain of COVID-19. Many of our hard-pressed households and businesses need some breathing space at this unprecedented time. Top points are: We want you to know that there will be no late penalties until 1 July if you can’t pay your May rates bill now. If it’s likely you’ll still be in difficulty then, you can ask for a rates holiday for six months or for a year, with low-interest repayments. Conditions will apply, including independent verification that your income has fallen due to COVID-19. This package could result in NPDC increasing borrowing by about $8million over the next 12 months which we’ll be carefully monitoring. This is the first step in our Get Us Back on Our Feet Plan which will see us working with the Government and other partners to kickstart our economy when the lockdown lifts. We’ll have more details soon View the Covid-19 Rates Relief Policy (PDF)