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Bengal cats ‘picked on’ by council’s pet policy
Bengal cats ‘picked on’ by council’s pet policy

19 April 2024, 6:23 AM

Concern for native animal species has prompted a Southland council to monitor online pet sales, with a particular focus on Bengal cats.But both the SPCA and a breeder say they are no more dangerous than other varieties.This week, an Environment Southland chief executive report said staff were checking retail outlets and online sales sites for Bengal cats and other “high risk” pet sales.Ownership of the breed requires a special permit in Southland, with a complete ban on Stewart Island/Rakiura.In response to questions from Local Democracy Reporting, the council said Bengal cats were the main “high risk” pet it monitored.“Bengal cats have a specific rule in Southland because they have genetic traits that make them dangerous predators to our native species,” Environment Southland biosecurity and biodiversity operations manager Ali Meade said. Damian Vaughan is the owner of Bengal cat breeding business Pride of Eire in Parakai, north of Auckland. He says the variety is unfairly vilified because of its appearance. Photo: Pride of Eire/Supplied“If Bengal cats were to breed with the feral cat population, they could have a major impact.”The strong stance has received pushback, however, with an SPCA spokesperson saying Bengal cats were no more of a threat to native wildlife than other breeds of companion, stray or feral cats.Parakai-based Bengal breeder Damian Vaughan agrees, slamming the council’s view of the leopard-looking creatures. Parakai is north of Auckland.Vaughan said while all cats were predators by nature, Bengals had gained an unfair reputation.“They’re just being picked on because they did come from wild origins being the Asian Leopard Cat, and they look wild because of their leopard markings. So it’s purely unjustified,” he said.In order for a Bengal to be let into the country, it had to be five generations removed from the Asian Leopard Cat.Those in New Zealand were now at least 10 generations removed, and were no more skilled at hunting than a “normal domestic cat”, Vaughan said.“The real problem is feral cats, with wildlife.“They’re going around with empty bellies, and they have to hunt to survive and eat.“So they would be the ones that would decimate wildlife, not a Bengal that’s walking around with a big full belly.”Vaughan said he had been breeding Bengals for 15 years.Females could reach up to 6kg and males up to 8kg, with a lifespan similar to that of other domestic cats — around 16 years.“I also have free range chickens running around and my cats have never touched one.”Included in the list of websites monitored by the council was TradeMe, with staff contacting sellers directly to ensure they were compliant with regional rulesThe council also monitored other pets such as birds and turtles because of the impact they could have on the ecosystem if released, Meade said.“If the council receives a permit application for a Bengal cat, the permit process is followed and if appropriate, the owners will receive approval.”The council had been monitoring "high risk" pet sales for many years, Meade said.There are currently 24 exemptions issued for the ownership of Bengal cats in Southland, with people unable to apply for ownership on Stewart Island/Rakiura and other offshore islands.According to the council report, there had been no new or concerning sales identified and no new applications for Bengal cat permits.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

New $400,000 turf for Te Anau Bowling Club
New $400,000 turf for Te Anau Bowling Club

19 April 2024, 5:24 AM

The Te Anau Bowling Club celebrated the official opening of its new $400,000 artificial turf green at a ceremony in Te Anau yesterday (18 Apr).An aging membership, struggles to find a replacement for long-time greenkeeper Graeme Whatson, and a way to attract new members were all reasons behind the club's decision to replace its traditional grass with artificial carpet.President Brian McCandless said while the club had only decided on the new green about two-and-a-half years ago, they had been quietly saving for "the next step" for the past 10 years.However the project almost ground to a halt before it started when it was discovered that the green's topsoil, that needed to be removed before the artificial carpet was laid, was classified on the Hazardous Activities and Industries List (H.A.I.L.) as hazardous due to the chemicals used over the years to maintain the grass green."Unbeknown to anyone every bowling club in the country is a H.A.I.L. site, because of the toxic chemicals, pesticides and fungicides, that have been sprayed over the turf over many, many years," McCandless said. "We would have had to spend about $20,000 on environmental consultancy fees and the thick end of $100,000 to dispose of the soil."Te Anau Bowling Club members try out their new green. Photo: Southland AppHowever the club was finally granted permission to dispose of the topsoil in a nearby Southland District Council waste storage area, which put the project back on track.McCandless said the new Tiger Turf carpet offered significiant benefits over the traditional grass surface."The bowling season which was about five to six months long, [will now be] 12 months long.""We can play all winter if the weather is half decent and that has a huge impact on the social aspect of what this club is all about.""Elderly people need to maintain good strong social networks, not six months of the year, but 12 months, and his will contribute towards that."The club would now also be running Sunday team tournaments throughout the winter to compliment their already popular tradies and farmers' twiglight bowling sessions.McCandless thanked the project's sponsors including Community Trust South, Meridian, Pub Charities, local businesses and the community for all their support.The new carpet green, one of only 3 in Southland, has a guaranteed life of eight years but if managed properly could last up to 15 years, McCandless said.He said the club had already started saving to replace the carpet, which was expected to cost around half the price of the initial outlay.

Lack of public toilets, gardens hurt south Invercargill
Lack of public toilets, gardens hurt south Invercargill

17 April 2024, 5:00 AM

Parts of southern Invercargill are desperate for more investment and public toilets, according to a group pushing for equity.For more than 10 years, community rejuvenation project South Alive has worked to boost its corner of the city by creating pride through various initiatives.On Friday, its community development and operations manager Courtney Ellison took the floor at council to share areas that needed addressing in the southern part of the city.“We still receive a lot of comments from the community about the equity of investment and that feeling of the south (of) Invercargill perhaps not having the same standard or levels of service that other parts of Invercargill get,” Ellison said.“We know that some of this may be historic, but we just want to ensure that that remains front of mind when the asset planning is done.”Ellison spoke about street beautification, saying the “green belt” which ran from Queens Park in the north of the city to Russell Square in the south highlighted the issue.Elizabeth Park in south Invercargill is lacking key features, such as good public toilets and rubbish bins. Photo: Matthew Rosenberg/LDRWhile garden beds and plantings could be found in the northern section, it turned into grass once it reached the south, she said.Public toilets were also a problem, with the group’s submission explaining it had been asking for one to be installed at the popular Russell Square for more than five years.“There is a real lack of public toilets in south Invercargill when you compare it with other parts of Invercargill,” Ellison said.That issue was also being felt at Elizabeth Park — a prominent city reserve which recently hosted more than 1000 people at a popular children’s day event.Despite the area being a prominent open space, it also had a lack of public toilets, drinking fountains, seating and rubbish bins.The existing toilet building was normally locked, and having received a key for the recent event, Ellison said she could see why.On the day Local Democracy Reporting visited the park, a wheelie bin was located next to the playground.Resident Destiny Reedy-Cooper said she attended the area regularly with her children, and supported potential upgrades."The littering around there is really bad usually, and the drinking fountain would be awesome too," she said.Other issues highlighted in the submission included upgrades to the South City shopping area, council intervention with neglected properties and dog park improvements.The public transport system also needed an overhaul, with some people unable to access the supermarket on existing routes, it said.Deputy mayor Tom Campbell thanked Ellison for her submission to the long term plan hearing, saying South Alive’s work was well-known to the council.“You do a really good job,” he said.South Alive was established in 2012 with the help of Invercargill City Council through a strategy in its 2012 - 2022 Long Term Plan.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Southern rata commemorates Bluff's fallen WW2 soldiers
Southern rata commemorates Bluff's fallen WW2 soldiers

17 April 2024, 3:20 AM

Twenty-five southern rata have been planted at Bluff's Memorial Grove, ahead of this years ANZAC Day on 25th April, to commemorate 25 World War II servicemen who never returned.The native trees were a donation from the Invercargill City Council (ICC) nursery to the Bluff Returned Servicemen Association (RSA).Memorial Grove, at the base of Motupohue Bluff Hill, was established in 1946 as a commemoration to the areas fallen World War II servicemen.ICC Parks and Recreation Manager Caroline Rain said the area was a beautiful spot.“It has a lovely energy about it and is an ideal place for these trees to be planted.”Bluff RSA District Support Advisor Peter (Robbo) Robertson said that winds and fire over 80 years had led to several of the original trees planted for the servicemen in the aftermath of World War II to fall over.“This is perfect timing,” Robertson saidRobertson said the planting had been in the works for about five months.“The southern rata is red – like the red poppy – and we know that the southern rata grows well here in the coastal environment.”Southern Rata Photo: Jo Hiscock/DOCBluff Community Board Chair Ray Fife said the planting of the rata trees was an important tribute to the 25 men who lost their lives in World War II.“This is a beautiful way to honour the Bluff men who sacrificed their lives for the service of their country,” Fife said.“It also ensures this community stands by our promise: We will remember them.”Bluff's ANZAC Day services will be at 7am at Memorial Grove, and 11am at the waterfront memorial.

Just one parking warden dishing out tickets in Invercargill
Just one parking warden dishing out tickets in Invercargill

16 April 2024, 9:56 PM

Invercargill is down to a single parking warden as the city council works to plug the gap left by recent departures.Tensions were rising as food delivery drivers and goods trucks flout parking rules, a councillor warned.While three people normally patrolled the city’s streets, just one was left due to staff moving to other opportunities, Invercargill City Council environmental services manager Gillian Cavanagh said.The council had been shorthanded for more than four weeks.“We do have processes in place such as using other staff as appropriate and scheduling patrols to cover priority areas on a daily basis, as well as regular patrols through the week,” Cavanagh said.“This ensures we continue to have a presence in the community, cover areas of concern and requests for service, as we work to fill these two vacancies.”The issue came to light during a community wellbeing committee meeting last week where disruptive drivers in the CBD were discussed.Councillor Ria Bond said she had observed issues on Esk St where goods and services vehicles stopped to offload in unofficial parking spaces next to the mall, and food delivery drivers parked on the footpath.Bond said tensions were escalating between the public and those in breach of the rules.“How often are these breaches being monitored, and what can we do to ensure the safety of public comes first?” she asked.Cavanagh said the council was down to only had one parking officer which made it “a little bit more difficult”.When councillor Darren Ludlow suggested issuing infringements as a way of tackling the perpetrators, Bond pushed back.“But we can’t catch them because we’ve only got one person to monitor.”Councillor Alex Crackett said the council needed to adapt to obvious changes in community behaviour.Ride shares and delivery services weren’t going anywhere, and the council needed to develop services for them in the same way they did with taxis appeared, she said.The council currently managed a total of 831 metered parking spaces in the city.Cavanagh said the organisation was recruiting for the vacancies and expected to be fully staffed "very soon".LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Invercargill mayor subject to conduct complaint
Invercargill mayor subject to conduct complaint

16 April 2024, 9:31 PM

A code of conduct complaint has been made against Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark as the result of his appearance on a television show.Last month, Clark made headlines when he appeared on comedian Guy Williams’ satirical news show New Zealand Today and used racially charged language.The show covered a March 2023 incident where Clark used the ’n-word’ at an Art Foundation Event.On Tuesday, two councillors confirmed they had lodged a code of conduct complaint against the mayor."It was based on the Guy Williams thing. I believe they’ve breached different parts of the code and went ahead with it (the complaint),” councillor Ian Pottinger said.Lodging a complaint was a complex process and required a level of satisfaction that there had been a breach, he said.“It’s part of our role, if we believe there is a breach, we should be strong if we do believe it.”Pottinger would not comment further, saying the process needed to be followed.Councillor Ria Bond confirmed she was the other party and had co-written a letter of complaint.She said an outside agency had picked up the complaint and was investigating it.“I can also confirm that until the complaint investigation has completed, I need to respect the process and not make any more further comment.”Mayor Clark was approached for comment but said he would not speak further until the issue had been investigated.Both Bond and Pottinger were critical of the mayor’s television appearance after it went to air, with the latter labelling it a “train wreck”.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Southland council tight-lipped over code of conduct issue
Southland council tight-lipped over code of conduct issue

16 April 2024, 9:22 PM

Southland District Council will not reveal any details about a code of conduct matter discussed behind closed doors this week.The issue formed the sole item of an executive committee meeting on Monday, with Mayor Rob Scott later telling Local Democracy Reporting it was in its early stages.He could not give an indication of when more information would come to light.“It’ll end up coming out public later, but it’s nothing too serious,” Scott said.“Still in the very early stages, we can’t really release much at this stage for privacy reasons.”The executive committee is made up of three members — mayor Scott, deputy mayor Christine Menzies and external member Bruce Robertson.Menzies could not comment but said she would advise once she was in a position where she could speak further.A council spokesperson said the executive committee would investigate the alleged breach and prepare a report for council to consider in an open meeting.The potential breach could remain secret, however, if it was determined under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987 (LGOIMA) that it should remain private.Reasons for that could include a breach which related to the misuse of confidential information, or impingement on privacy relating to staff or the general public.The council’s code of conduct is a 19 page document last updated in November 2022.It covers such topics as the roles and responsibilities of elected members and the chief executive, relationships and behaviours, conflicts of interests, and contact with media.Information on the potential breach was withheld under LGOIMA from the report prepared for Monday’s meeting.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Penny Simmonds Invercargill MP - Local Water Done Well in South
Penny Simmonds Invercargill MP - Local Water Done Well in South

15 April 2024, 4:33 PM

Councils and voters around the country, like Invercargill, rejected Labour’s expensive and bureaucratic Three Waters regime, and earlier this year the Coalition Government repealed the policies. Now Cabinet has agreed on key steps to implement “Local Water Done Well” – the Government’s plan for financially sustainable, locally delivered water infrastructure and services. Local control was a key concern for Southern ratepayers last year, with many unhappy at the prospect of handing over local water assets built up over many decades. This Government has a clear plan to deliver better, financially sustainable, and affordable water services, while crucially retaining local control of water assets. Our plan recognises the importance of local decision making and flexibility for communities and councils. This is important because it will allow councils, like Invercargill, Southland and Gore, to determine how their water services will be delivered.  Cabinet has agreed to a streamlined decision-making process for the establishment of council-controlled organisations (CCOs) for water services, as part of “Local Water Done Well.” The transitional legislation to enable this is expected to be passed by mid-2024 and this will make it easier for early movers to shift the delivery of water services into council-controlled organisations - as a first step, setting the foundations for more financially sustainable and transparent services. Transitional provisions will also include the requirement for councils to prepare Water Services Delivery Plans within 12 months.  This will demonstrate their commitment to deliver water services that are financially sustainable, meet regulatory standards for water infrastructure quality, and unlock housing growth. As we move forward, the Government will provide further details in mid-2024 on the broader range of structural and financing tools which will be available to councils. This will ensure councils, like those in the South, can make the required investment in water services infrastructure. This legislation will be passed by the middle of 2025.Funded by Parliamentary ServicesPublished by arrangement

Invercargill venues ‘difficult to access’: Migrant community
Invercargill venues ‘difficult to access’: Migrant community

15 April 2024, 1:56 PM

A call for a dedicated migrant community event space in Invercargill has been made by a group struggling to find suitable venues.Southland Migrant Walking Together Organisation said it was getting more difficult to access places amid high demand and costs.“If there is a place where actually the migrant community can come together and celebrate their culture, it would be really helpful,” advisory board member Krunal Patel said.“Many of the venues are getting really busy. There are so many events going around, so sometimes it is really difficult to access those venues.”Patel said it would be good to have a “cultural centre” where migrant people could not only host events, but also celebrate their culture.“Our mission is to foster integration and celebrate the cultural diversity in our community.”The comments were made at an Invercargill City Council long term plan hearing where groups and individuals were given the opportunity to make submissions on the city’s roadmap for the future.Presenting alongside Patel was chairperson Himani Mishra Galbraith, who said the past two years had seen rental prices hit levels which were out of reach for many.Many migrant events also required an indoor-outdoor flow, she said, which had proven a challenge.Galbraith later told Local Democracy Reporting that a new space would allow for immersion, inclusion, diversity and respect.“We need to create those spaces, we need to create those opportunities, where we can showcase that.”A tight deadline allowed for only two questions at Friday’s meeting, with mana whenua representative Pania Coote asking Patel and Galbraith if they had heard of the migrant group who had purchased the community hall in Dacre for the purpose of hosting events.Councillor Leslie Soper wanted to clarify that the presenters were asking for a permanent, dedicated space.Galbraith said something similar to “container halls” used for SIT students would be suitable, so long as it had a kitchen, electricity and toilets.Deputy Mayor Tom Campbell, who was chairing the hearing, said there was a queue of people wanting to ask questions — more than for any previous presentation.“You’ve created a lot of interest,” he said.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Council drops ball on smoke-free signage: Health service
Council drops ball on smoke-free signage: Health service

15 April 2024, 1:50 PM

Invercargill needs to fulfil promises about being smoke-free in its CBD.That was a key message from the National Public Health Service all polices advisor Laura Pope on Friday, when she presented to Invercargill City Council during its long-term plan hearing.In June 2020, the council approved a policy to make a number of public areas smoke-free in hopes it would promote a healthier environment and reduce young people’s exposure to the activity.That included the CBD, where the council said it would target signage.But Pope said that had appeared to go by the wayside in the wake of recent upgrades.“You have worked hard to create an environment in the city centre that promotes healthy behaviours and attitudes towards smoking and vaping, to create a space that is safe for whānau,” Pope said.“We feel the smoke free, vape-free CBD is no longer well-recognised in Invercargill, and feel the messaging needs to be better promoted.Pope said the council should implement signage throughout the CBD, and strongly suggested promotional work be undertaken to make the community aware.“Since the council have improved the landscape of Esk St, it appears there is no smoke-free, vape-free signage by council.”Other areas including the South City shopping centre should be considered for a smoke-free status when the council reviewed its policy, she said.Mana whenua representative Pania Coote supported the smoke-free stance, but asked how it could be policed.Pope responded that while the policy was not enforceable, signage and promotional work created awareness.“(For) a majority of people that smoke nowadays, it’s an addiction, and we don’t think it should be policed.”Areas covered by the council’s current smoke-free policy include all council owned parks and reserves, playgrounds, sports fields, Splash Palace (including its car park) and Queens Park aviary and animal reserve.According to Te Whatu Ora’s website, the National Public Health Service works alongside communities to deliver national, regional and local programmes for achieving pae ora (healthy futures).LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Roadworks Update 15/4/24
Roadworks Update 15/4/24

14 April 2024, 8:35 PM

. Please see the areas of the Southland state highway network where you are likely to experience delays this coming week due to programmed works. Highways South work with traffic management in place (all with temporary speed limits):SH1 Bluff highway between Avon road and Bayview Road, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairsSH1 Bluff highway between Awarua and Greenhills, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairs (multiple locations)SH1 Clyde St between Earn and Nith streets, lanes closed in both directions (see above) *ongoing for 3-4 weeksSH96 Winton-Wreys Bush highway near Mayfield road, temporary traffic lights for drainageSH6 Dipton-Winton highway near Pukearuhe Road, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairs (multiple locations)SH93 Old Coach Road between Hurst Road and Dodds Road, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairs (multiple locations)SH93 Old Coach Road near Waikana Road, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairsSH6 Winton near Moore road, stop/go for cracksealingSH6 Kingston-Garston highway near Allandale Road, stop/go for cracksealingSH94 Te Anau Mossburn highway near Centre hill, stop/go for cracksealingSH96 Winton-Hedgehope highway near Yorke road, stop/go for resurfacingSH1 Tay St near Inglewood Road, stop/go for resurfacingSH93 at the Owaka Valley road turn off, stop/go for roadmarkingSH94 Waimea highway near Waimea Street, stop/go for roadmarking SH6 Northern Winton, stop/go for roadmarkingSH99 at Waimatuku Flat Road, stop/go for roadmarkingSH99 at Gropers Bush Thornbury Road, stop/go for roadmarking Third party work and events with traffic management in place this week (all with temporary speed limits):SH1 Gore St Bluff, northbound lane closed with detour via Lee/Barrow/Palmer for demolition workSH1 Gore St Bluff between Shannon and Suir streets, traffic lights for cycle path work SH1 Bluff highway at Kew, stop/go for asset inspectionsSH6 North Road near McIvor Road, lane drop for utility inspectionsSH93 Old Coach road near Boundary road, stop/go for tree maintenanceSH98 Lorne Dacre Road near Aerodrome Road, stop/go for pole replacementSH99 near Colac Bay, stop/go for hot chipping  Useful links:NZTA Journeys website - https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/journey-planner Freight Impact Register - https://www.nzta.govt.nz/commercial-driving/trucks-and-tow-trucks/potential-restrictions-affecting-freight/ - download and filter the region for ‘Southland’. This will indicate any upcoming work in the next fortnight which have closures, detours or width restrictions for freight.

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