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Five Southlanders representing NZ at Olympics
Five Southlanders representing NZ at Olympics

24 July 2024, 12:47 AM

Five Southlanders will represent New Zealand on the world stage as part of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games which get underway in Paris on July 26.A total of 195 athletics will travel from New Zealand to compete at this year's summer Olympics in Paris.Cyclists Nicole Shields and Tom Sexton will be making their Olympic debuts alongside javelin thrower Tori Peeters, while road cyclist Corbin Strong will be attending his second Games and Black Ferns sevens player Alena Saili will be hoping to add another medal to the gold she won in Tokyo three years ago.As well as their respective sporting codes, all five athletes have been supported over the years by SBS Bank Academy Southland, which provides strength and conditioning, athlete life, mental skills and nutrition advice to prepare Southland’s best young athletes for the national and international stage.This is the biggest representation of Academy Southland programme graduates at an Olympics. Interestingly Corbin, Tom, Alena and Nicole were all in the programme in 2016 with Tori joining in 2012.The five Southland’s Olympic representatives (and when they are competing (NZ times)) are;Alena SailiAge: 25NZ Olympian #1488Event: sevensTime: Monday, July 29, 4am Black Ferns v China, 7.30am Black Ferns v CanadaTime: Tuesday, July 30, 2.30am Black Ferns v Fiji.First selected for the Black Ferns Sevens team in 2017 - her first year after leaving Southland Girls’ High School - Alena has made more than 120 appearances and scored more than 40 tries for the New Zealand women’s sevens team.She was included as an injury replacement for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, winning a gold medal as the Black Ferns started a run which has seen them regularly dominate at the international level.After being inspired by the Black Ferns’ silver medal in Rio in 2016, she was part of the gold medal-winning team in Tokyo in 2021, just the second Southlander (and first female athlete) after Nathan Cohen to win an Olympic gold. In 2022 she was part of the team which won silver at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Cape Town and bronze at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games.Alena played 24 games for the Black Ferns in their most recent world circuit, where they won the final four tournaments to top the standings before finishing third overall at the Grand Finale event in Madrid.The Black Ferns lost their semi-final to eventual winners Australia, before beating Canada to earn the bronze medal.Corbin Strong. Photo: Israel Premier TechCorbin StrongAge: 24NZ Olympian #1502Event: road raceTime: Saturday, August 3, 11am - men’s road raceAfter making his Olympic debut on the track with a ninth-placed finish in the madison in Tokyo three years ago, Corbin will join teammate Laurence Pithie to contest the road race in Paris.Corbin won bronze in the team pursuit at the junior worlds in 2017 before winning the title the following year.He became a senior world champion when he won the points race in 2020, as well as silver in the team pursuit, and in 2022 he won gold in the scratch race at the Commonwealth Games and silver in the elimination event at the world championships.He joined a World Tour professional road team in 2022, making his Tour de France debut last year and has seven wins as a professional including the NZ Cycle Classic title, second place in Tour Down Under and stage wins in the Tours of Britain and Luxembourg.The men’s and women’s road races in Paris will start and finish in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, with the men’s course taking in 273km with 2,800 metres of climbing and 13 named ascents including the Côte de la butte Montmartre.Tom SextonAge: 25Events: team pursuit, madisonTime: Monday, August 5, 5.27pm - men’s team pursuit qualifyingWhile Paris will be Tom’s first Olympic Games, he is a veteran of Cycling NZ’s endurance programme - even at the tender age of 25.A junior world champion in the team pursuit in 2016, where he also won silver in the two-person madison, Tom has a string of World Cup team pursuit and madison titles to his credit.He won bronze in the scratch race at the 2019 world championships and claimed gold in the team pursuit at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, also winning silver in the individual pursuit behind teammate Aaron Gate.The retirement of Regan Gough created the opportunity for Tom to make the crucial starting position his own.Tom was part of the team pursuit squad which won bronze at last year’s world championships, marking the New Zealand team, which includes Gate, Campbell Stewart and Keegan Hornblow, as genuine medal contenders in Paris.Nicole ShieldsAge: 24Events: team pursuit, madison, omniumTime: Tuesday, August 6, 5.30pm - women’s team pursuit qualifyingNicole was born in Invercargill and got her start on the SIT Velodrome when she was 9-years-old.When her family shifted to Clyde a year later her cycling focus shifted to the road, but after winning the national under 19 individual pursuit title in 2016 she was selected for the New Zealand team for the UCI world junior track cycling championships.She was part of the team pursuit squad which claimed silver at the world champs in 2016 and 2017, beaten narrowly both times by Italy.After moving to Cambridge to study a Bachelor of Business at Waikato University, Shields rode for a professional road team from 2020 to 2022 and was a travelling reserve for the pursuit team at the Tokyo Olympics.She then returned to the Cycling NZ endurance track programme to stake a claim for what will be her Olympic debut in Paris.Shields is part of a women’s endurance women’s quartet which also includes Bryony Botha, Ally Wollaston, and Emily Shearman who are the top ranked women’s team pursuit, second on Olympic rankings in the two-rider madison and third in the omnium.Their performances have been outstanding this year, with a new national record in the team pursuit.Javelin thrower Tori Peeters in action at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Photo: Michael Dawson/Athletics NZTori PeetersAge: 30Event: javelinTime: Wednesday, August 7, 10.25am - women’s javelin qualifying Group ACambridge-based Tori Peeters grew up on a dairy farm near Gore and first picked up a javelin after watching older sister Stacey throwing at a St Peters athletics day.She broke the New Zealand record for the first time in 2014 and has dominated the sport nationally for more than a decade.Over the past few years she has started to turn that promise into international performances, throwing her way into a top-16 world ranking which earned her qualification for Paris.Peeters put together an impressive series last year, reaching the podium in five European meets, along with the prestigious Seiko Golden Grand Prix in Yokohama, where she extended her New Zealand record to 63.26m.A highlight last year was a silver medal at the Diamond League final in Oregon.She was sixth at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 and missed out on the final at last year’s world championships in Budapest by just 7cm, finishing 13th overall.Southlanders at past OlympicsNathan Cohen went down in history after winning gold alongside Joseph Sullivan in the men's double sculls at the 2012 London Olympics.It was the first time a Southland athlete had won an Olympic gold - or a medal of any colour. Cohen and Sullivan were in fifth place at the halfway stage of the final but powered home over the last 500m of the race to overtake the Italian and Slovenian crews to claim gold.Just 48 hours after Cohen's gold medal row, Storm Uru secured Southland's second Olympic medal, winning bronze in the men's lightweight double sculls with Peter Taylor.It was a great achievement for the Kiwi duo, considering they had an unfavourable lane draw and the race had to be re- run, after an early equipment failure on the British boat.The pair were welcomed home with a ticker tape parade in Invercargill, alongside fellow Southland Olympians Louise Ayling, Eddie Dawkins, Natalie Wiegersma and Natasha Hansen.Four years later, Genevieve Behrent, who didn’t even take up rowing until after high school, won silver in Rio de Janeiro as part of the coxless pair with Rebecca Scown. The pair were also part of the women’s eight, the first New Zealand rowers to contest more than one event at an Olympic Games.Incredibly, the same street in Invercargill would produce a second Games medal in Rio, with Wellesley Ave also the home of cyclist Eddie Dawkins. Dawkins, along with Sam Webster and Ethan Mitchell won silver in the men’s team sprint behind Great Britain.With the Tokyo 2020 Games delayed by a year due to the Covid pandemic, Southland would have to wait five years to add a fifth medal to the trophy cabinet, with Alena Saili a member of the champion Black Ferns Sevens team.Saili, who had to force her way into the team after suffering a fractured shoulder during a training session just two months before the Games, had been inspired by sitting in the gym at Southland Girls’ High School and watching the Black Ferns winning silver in Rio in 2016.

‘Degrading, offensive’: Nobby Clark breaches code of conduct – again
‘Degrading, offensive’: Nobby Clark breaches code of conduct – again

24 July 2024, 12:19 AM

Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark has breached his council’s code of conduct for his "insulting, degrading" behaviour during a television interview.It is his second code of conduct breach in as many months.On Tuesday afternoon, the council released findings from an independent investigation into Clark’s appearance on satirical news show New Zealand Today in March.It described the mayor’s behaviour as “disrespectful, discourteous, insulting, degrading, offensive, and/or discriminatory”.Clark failed to treat members of the public in a respectful and courteous manner, did not uphold the reputation of the council and fell short of required leadership standards as mayor, law firm Wynn Williams found.The investigation came on the heels of an April complaint from councillors Ria Bond and Ian Pottinger who took exception to the mayor’s behaviour on the show.During the television interview, Clark repeated the ‘n-word’, insisted host Guy Williams say it, used a homophobic slur, and featured a book titled ‘Twisting the Treaty – A Tribal Grab for Wealth and Power’ — the latter described as ‘gratuitous’ by the investigators.Wynn Williams said the breaches were “serious” and recommended minimum steps of censuring Clark by letter and requesting he publicly apologise.It also recommended council consider other penalties, including steps to restrict Clark’s duties, a vote of no confidence and inviting the mayor to consider tendering his resignation.On Friday, an extraordinary council meeting will be held to make a final decision on whether Clark did breach the code, and decide on the next steps.It follows a similar meeting on June 21 when calls were made for the mayor to step down over his behaviour at a private event earlier in the year.A complaint lodged by council chief executive Michael Day on behalf of the United Fire Brigades’ Association prompted an investigation, which found Clark to be in breach of the code at that time too.In March, Clark was a guest at an association event, where it was alleged he made derogatory remarks towards the female MC from the lectern, including an unfounded claim she was having an affair with the association president.He also referred to volunteer firefighters as second class citizens.“All in attendance were horrified and appalled by the mayor’s hateful and disrespectful rhetoric,” association chief executive William Butzbach wrote in a letter to the council.The mayor blamed his actions on a “brain fade” following open heart surgery in January, but remained resolute in his decision to stay on as mayor despite multiple requests to resign.Clark has now breached the council’s code of conduct three times since entering the chambers as a first-term councillor in 2019, with his first occurring in 2020.At that time, an independent report found he breached the code for questioning the truthfulness of then-chief executive Clare Hadley at a public meeting.Clark did not participate in the most recent code of conduct investigation, listing a series of reasons including neither complainant seeking to discuss the matter with him directly, and an apology he’d already made in the media for “any unease caused”.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Colin Macnicol - Back to his roots - Colin the community man
Colin Macnicol - Back to his roots - Colin the community man

23 July 2024, 8:47 PM

Colin Macnicol doesn't like to sit idle, so when he and wife Jean supposedly 'semi-retired' from their Southland farm to Arrowtown in 2006, Colin got busy.A former Southland Deer Farmers Association chairman and national selection panelist, long time Rotarian and talented musician, Colin's probably best known locally for his jive - churning out old favorites on the piano accordion on the back of the Arrow Miners Band truck.His warm, friendly farmer smile has also calmed many a first day nerve on the Arrowtown and Wakatipu High school buses for almost 20 years.His farmer skills soon had him driving for Gibbston deer farmer Murray McWhirter and then carting grapes in the truck for local wine growers.Colin has emotional ties to Arrowtown, his dad the brother of Mount Aurum Station's legendary Archie Macnicol."My dad, Duncan, was born in Arrowtown - the first of seven kids, taken home to Skippers on a horse with his mother, aged three weeks."He managed Mount Aurum Station from the age of 16 or 17 until he was 21.He then managed southern stations, eventually farming in Woodlands.Colin Macnicol on piano accordion and long-time band mate Wayne Sinclair on lead guitar. Photo: SuppliedAt 15, Colin discovered a love of music after taking up the piano accordion - "an excuse to drive the car to Kennington on the outskirts of Invercargill for lessons."A natural, he was quickly invited into an adult band with renowned musician 'Mrs Lemin'.Colin and his high school mates formed a teenage dance band - The Naughty Knights, played dances and parties at almost every hall in Southland for some thirty years.Eventually Colin graduated to the electric organ.A farm boy at heart, he was heavily involved in Young Farmers and later Federated Farmers.He soon met his match in Jean, a farmer's daughter from Mokoreta, and well-travelled, champion debater."Don't argue!" he grins.When they married in 1968 Colin's dad helped them into a 400-acre (161ha) dairy and sheep farm."We milked our own cows and made our own butter in those early days", he says.Colin in the deer shed. Photo: SuppliedThey've always been a team so when Colin, ever the innovator, wanted to try the new craze of deer farming in 1978 Jean was right behind him.Lamb prices had been low, so they bought three live capture hinds for a hefty sum, borrowing the money from "The Firm".Always up for a challenge, Colin was then the first to host a young French agriculture exchange student."We'd be driving around the farm sorting out a lot of swear words", he chuckles.At 62, Colin had a heart attack, also losing his sister around the same time."I thought, 'I've got things to do before I finish up'."With no family keen to take over, they sold the farm near Dacre and moved to Arrowtown where Colin, stent in place, had a new lease on life.Colin, left, and the family, from left, Kirsty, Lynette and Paul, with Jean in front, before leaving Lone Gum farm. Photo: Supplied"My first job was driving the Arrowtown School bus," he says."I love the kids. They're great."On his first day the first stop was Hogan Gully Road."I was being very careful, and I picked up a boy who could recite all the Roman Generals. I asked him to help me with the stops as it was my first day," Colin says."He said, 'Yes I know, cos you went so slow down the hill and around the corner'," Colin grins.On another occasion a first-day newcomer quietly hung on until the last stop at Gibbston, last one on the bus, where he finally asked, 'Is this Jack's Point?'Colin's served as valued Rotarian for almost 40 years - Invercargill East and Queenstown, including a stint as president down south.As chairman of the Southland Deer Farmers Association, he oversaw one thousand members and is now a life member, also representing Southland on the National Selection and Appointments Panel in Wellington.In Queenstown he landed the dream job, carting millions of dollars' worth of deer for high profile, ex-Otautau deer farmer Murray (McWhiter), who dealt in trophy stags.Colin is a well-known foundation member of Arrowtown MenzShed, has served on the Arrowtown Village Association, Queenstown Districts Historical Society and Arrowtown RSA, somehow fitting in time to help Jean with Meals on Wheels.However, Colin's probably best known for his lively renditions and beaming smile radiating from the back of that unmistakable old Arrow Miners Band truck."I've done that since I arrived. There are only three or four of us left now," he grins, just a few months from his 80th birthday.Reporter: Sue FeaRepublished with permission from the Lakes Weekly Bulletin and the Queenstown App

Failing to stop for Police leads to multiple charges
Failing to stop for Police leads to multiple charges

23 July 2024, 1:28 AM

A 40-year-old Matura man is due to reappear in Invercargill District Court on multiple charges after failing to stop for Police in Avenal, Invercargill in the early hours of Sunday morning (21 Jul).The man, who was allegedly driving with no lights on, failed to stop when signalled to do so on Wellesley Avenue around 12:55am.Southland Area Commander Inspector Mike Bowman said Police initiated a pursuit, following the vehicle south onto Dee Street.During this initial pursuit the offender rammed a Police vehicle, with the Police vehicle sustaining very minor damage.The pursuit was subsequently abandoned due to safety concerns.Later that same morning the vehicle was located travelling south on Kelvin Street and Police followed maintaining long-range observations.Thanks to a well-coordinated approach by all staff in the south Invercargill area, the vehicle was successfully spiked and brought to a stop on John Street, Bowman said.The man was taken into custody around 6am.A 40-year-old Mataura man was taken into custody around 6am.He has been been remanded in custody and due to reappear in the Invercargill District Court on Tuesday 13 August.The man faces charges of failing to stop, driving while disqualified, resisting police, assaulting police, dangerous driving, and wilful damage.Luckily, there were no injuries sustained to officers or members of the community during this incident, Bowman said.There is no place for this activity in our community. Southland Police will continue to target unlawful behaviour, particularly involving gangs and organised crime groups, and especially that which brings the public and Police staff in harm’s way, he said.Anyone witnessing an unlawful activity should contact Police on 111 if there is an immediate risk to people or property.Alternatively, you can report information anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

‘Overlooked for too long’: Resident’s battle to get road tar sealed
‘Overlooked for too long’: Resident’s battle to get road tar sealed

23 July 2024, 12:50 AM

A longstanding battle to tar seal a section of a Southland town's main road is rolling on, as one woman continues her fight.Riverton resident Leah Boniface wants Southland District Council to seal the 300m northern section of Palmerston St where she has lived for about 30 years.The gravel road is technically part of the town's main street, but is home to just four houses, sheds, horse stables and land.With her rates bill currently sitting at $3000 a year, Boniface wanted “a little bit more” for her investment.She first contacted the council in 1992 with concerns related to the width of the road and asked them to seal it in subsequent years.That included going public in 2021 with her frustration, where she said she'd had to push her late husband in a wheelchair over gravel due to a lack of footpaths.This month, Boniface told the council in a submission for its long term plan consultation that she was once again asking for improvements to the carriageway.“Even a footpath surfaced with dunite (stone surface) would be an improvement for those who walk. Grass verges are always wet and unpleasant for pedestrians.”Requests for potholes repairs were generally addressed promptly, but reappeared quickly after rain, she said.Boniface says her street is dusty in the summer and muddy in the winter. Photo: Matthew Rosenberg/LDRPonding was also an issue on one side of the street where there was no kerb or channel.Boniface told Local Democracy Reporting the street had been “overlooked for too long”, and questioned if it would ever be sealed.The council has provided little to no light at the end of the tunnel for Boniface.In response to questions, council strategic manager transport Hartley Hare said “nothing has changed since the previous report”, when Boniface went public three years ago.At that time, then-mayor Gary Tong said the street only serviced two or three residents, and had been deemed not cost-effective to address.The dollars weren’t there for doing such jobs, he said.According to the council’s website, it manages nearly 5000km of roads throughout Southland.The network comprises all roads, streets and bridges in the district except highways and national park roads.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Pest plant infests large southern site
Pest plant infests large southern site

22 July 2024, 5:34 AM

A toxic pest plant capable of smothering whole trees has burst forth at a Southland river site, raising alarm bells at a local council.Old Man’s Beard is described by Environment Southland as an “extremely aggressive climbing vine” that can reach heights of up to 20 metres.It can cause lower growing plants to die by cutting off their light, the regional council says, with each plant capable of producing up to 100,000 seeds per square metre.Last week, a chief executive’s report prepared for a council meeting revealed a “significant” infestation of the plant had been found in willows on the Ōreti River.The outbreak was deemed large enough to put the council’s containment programme back several years.Council biosecurity and biodiversity operations manager Ali Meade said the organisation thought Old Man’s Beard was getting under control.But a trip up the Ōreti River by boat to check a site that was now clear revealed a large infestation slightly further on.Meade said the site had probably contained the plant for several years, which had invaded a canopy of mature willow trees.“It’s a big site, the biggest site we’ve seen in Southland for a very long time.”Managing the removal of the plant could prove difficult, however, because of the importance of the willows to the river system.While releasing herbicide from a helicopter was an easy solution, it could cause issues for the host plant.The council was now deciphering how it could kill the Old Man’s Beard without wiping out the willow in the process, or whether it was appropriate to sacrifice the willow.Spraying the trees was unlikely but remained an option, Meade said.The containment programme for Old Man’s Beard forms part of the council’s regional pest management plan.Up to 70 different plant, animal and marine species are included in the plan, with specific containment goals to reduce their habitable area.There were just over 200 sites in Southland home to Old Man’s Beard, but most were considered small.Anyone who spots the pest plant is encouraged to get in contact with the council to help control its spread.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Mystery surrounds Milford Sound's drowned camera
Mystery surrounds Milford Sound's drowned camera

22 July 2024, 2:53 AM

Fiordland Camera Club president Chris Watson has stumbled across a drowned $12,000 camera, still on its tripod, while attempting to photograph a white heron on the tidal flats of Milford Sound on Saturday (20 Jul).Watson and 17 fellow club members were in the area with tutor Trey Ratcliff, as part of a day-long photography workshop, culminating in a fiord boat cruise."When we got off the boat the sunset was looking like it was going be one of those really really cool ones," Watson said.An abandoned high-value camera and tripod found on the tidal flats of Milford Sound. Photo: Chris Watson"Everyone's like we've got to be quick because the sun is setting."While the rest of the group took to the walkway, Watson decided to take advantage of the low tide and dash across the tidal flats."I'm walking across there and the sunset was amazing. I took a couple photos and turned around and there was a tripod on the ground in front of me.""Then I looked closer and there was a camera on the end of it as well."Watson said the Canon R5 camera and lens, together worth around $12,000, was the same as his but had probably been there for at least a year."The camera is literally falling apart."The rescued camera in pieces in order to remove its memory card. Photo: Chris WatsonWatson said he had managed to remove the camera's memory card and was currently drying it out."Fingers crossed I can find someone to help get some photos off it.".However mystery remains around the camera's owner and why it was abandoned."I'd be keen to find out the story behind it. How it got there," Watson said."My theory is that someone was in there one night taking photos at nighttime of the stars - doing time-lapse.""And they were cold, so shot back for a coffee, sat down for a bit and when they came back the tide has got it.""There's no way they would have just left it there.""I would be out there swimming to get it."Watson said he had been on the flats before and admitted you couldn't hear the tide coming in.Chris Watson captured more than just a photograph of this white heron while on the tidal flats of Milford Sound on Saturday. Photo: Chris Watson"All of a sudden, you're on this wee island and surrounded by water.""I've had to walk up to my waist to get back out again," he said.

Gym time important for basketballer Maggie Manson
Gym time important for basketballer Maggie Manson

21 July 2024, 11:20 PM

Time spent in the gym has been paying dividends on the court for Southland basketballer Maggie Manson.The Central Southland College head girl and SBS Bank Academy Southland leadership year athlete has had a busy past month, turning out for the Southland Storm in the TUPU League and Otago at the national under 18 championships.Competing in a senior competition with the Storm was probably the hardest physical test she had encountered and something she had prepared for in the Mike Piper Training Centre with Academy strength and conditioning coach Josie McKerchar, the former New Zealand under 15 representative said.Storm team members. Photo: Supplied“If I wasn’t in the Academy and wasn’t going to the gym I would have struggled because the physicality was crazy. Josie just sets everything up for me and I’ve worked on my arms and legs and core so that I can hold my ground,” she said.“It was really cool. It was awesome playing with the women from here and against ex-Tall Ferns and players like that. The physicality was crazy, they are so strong. I didn’t have to worry about doing anything else (on court), I could just do my job - getting rebounds, setting screens and things like that.”The inaugural TUPU League replaced the former D League competition and saw the Storm bank a solid midtable finish in Tauranga. A final day win over Taranaki, who they had lost to earlier in the tournament, saw the Storm finish seventh.From there it was onto the national under 18 tournament in Wellington, where Maggie quickly introduced herself to her Otago teammates.The team trained together on a Sunday and left for the tournament the following Tuesday.“Southland didn’t have a team so it was good to get to know those girls. We hadn’t played together but we got used to each other pretty quickly and figured out how each other played. We played Counties on the first day and lost to them and then we played them on the last day and beat them by, like, 20 points.”The Otago team had a challenging pool, finishing in a three-way tie for second with Counties and Taranaki. Otago finished ninth, but only lost to Tauranga by seven points in pool play with Tauranga going on to finish second overall.With Maggie’s focus now switching to netball, the next major basketball assignments will be the South Island secondary schools event in September and her second appearance at the HoopNation event in Tauranga in October.

‘Not acceptable’: Freedom camping pressure felt in south
‘Not acceptable’: Freedom camping pressure felt in south

19 July 2024, 5:24 AM

As tourist numbers increase, the lack of a freedom camping ambassador is being felt by locals in the Catlins, with an urgent call made to replace a vacant role.The ambassador is tasked with educating freedom campers on the rules, but funding for the role in the popular tourist spot dried up last year.Southland District Council is being asked to fill the position by Waihopai Toetoe Community Board, which says a lack of oversight in popular areas is frustrating local communities.“Previously we had our freedom camping ambassador in the past, through arrangements with different organisations," community board chair Pam Yorke told Local Democracy Reporting."Last year, unfortunately, we didn’t have one.“With the increase in tourism numbers, we just need that education perspective and . . . people enforcing how long you can stay in the freedom camping areas and keeping an eye on things.”Yorke presented at the council’s hearing for its long term plan consultation on Tuesday, where she highlighted the issue in the Catlins — an area covering the southeastern corner of the South Island.In a strongly-worded submission, Yorke said she had taken up the matter with staff but had not received a satisfactory response.Meanwhile, tourism numbers were on the rise with approximately 90,000 people visiting Curio Bay alone in 2023, she said.“I was advised by staff that when the opportunity for funding came up, it was a brief turn around time frame, so it wasn’t applied for last year,” her submission stated.“This is not acceptable.”Key areas for freedom camping referenced in the submission included Fortrose, Weir Beach, Slope Point, Waikawa and Curio Bay.At the latter, freedom camping was not permitted, but some visitors to the area flouted the rules.Yorke said having the role moved people along who had stayed longer than their allotted time, which prevented facilities from overloading. It also helped in dealing with people camping in non-certified vehicles.In response to questions from Local Democracy Reporting, council group manager regulatory services Adrian Humphries said his organisation had been without freedom camping ambassadors since the summer of 2022/23.The role was an educational one, to inform people where they could camp and for how long, he said."Tourism Infrastructure Funding (TIF) was not obtained last year so there was no budget to pay for ambassador(s). There has been no indication from the new government that TIF funding will be available this year."The council was currently reviewing its regulatory requirements and might request funding of ambassadors if it was deemed appropriate, he said.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Bats and birdsong return to the heart of Tuatapere
Bats and birdsong return to the heart of Tuatapere

18 July 2024, 11:42 PM

Vibrant birdsong, long-tailed bats and a regenerating understory are returning to a small pocket of Western Southland native bush, thanks to a supportive community and dedicated group of locals known as the Tuatapere Predator Free Team.Well known as the backdrop to Tuatapere's iconic domain the 160-hectare bush remnant, once part of uninterrupted beech and podocarp forests that stretched from Fiordland to the Catlins, is now surrounded by houses and farmland.The Tuatapere Predator Free Team was formed in 2023 after an Environment Southland (ES) report identified the reserve as an important refuge for indigenous birds, fish, lizards and bats.Nationally threatened and at-risk plants were also identified along with important taonga including several century-old totara trees.Tuatapere Predator Free Team member Maria Tipuna beside one of the Tuatapere reserve's 1000-year-old Totara trees. Photo: SuppliedHowever the report also pointed out threats to the reserve from not only introduced pest plant and animal species, but also people using it as a source of firewood and to dump rubbish and garden clippings in.Predator Free Team member Glenys Steele said that while the reserve with its 'Tui Trails' were well used by the public, the bush was only considered to be in a fair condition at the time of the report.She said once the team had signed a memorandum of understanding with the reserve's owners - the Department of Conservation and the Southland District Council, mahi began to grid the reserve into manageable blocks.Because the fledging group only had a handful of members and as traps were expensive, they decided to concentrate their initial efforts on the closest block to town.After several 'bush bashing sessions' - and with help from members of the Omaui Landcare Group - the first traps lines (using donated traps) were established in September 2023."Our [trapping] numbers were pretty amazing for the start," Steele said, with over 270 possums and a countless number of stoats, rats and mice caught."We have definitely made a huge difference in the first block," she said.Tuatapere Predator Free Team member Glenys Steele maintains a trap line of 'mouse motels' in the reserve. Photo: Supplied Predator Free Team president Tony Shore, who walks the lines up to 4-times a week with fellow member Jared Fluerty, said that while the reserve had an amazing array of plant species, what had astounded him most was the size and age of many totara and matai."A couple of these totaras are two to three metres thick and approximately 1000 years old [and] there are another three or four off track that are slightly larger."There was also some pretty majestic silver beech in the block, with some of the large ones being in the vicinity of 500-years plus, he said.However Shore had been disturbed to find up to a dozen big Matai and Totara trees that had been historically scarfed (a wedge-shaped cut made in preparation for felling)."It's like 100-years ago that they were scarfed. That's illegal. You don't scarf trees and leave them. I don't know the reason for that," he said.Shore said there was a good selection of native birds in the reserve including kakariki, kaka, falcon, kererū, fantail and grey warbler as well as silver eyes, tui, bellbirds and morepork."It's an important patch of bush, surrounded by farmland, that connects the migration routes of things like the kererū from Fiordland through to the Longwoods."ES listening posts had also now confirmed the presence of long-tailed bats across the reserve, Shore said, but because they could fly up to 20kms to feed - their roost locations remained a mystery.Tuatapere Predator Free Team president Tony Shore inspecting one of the group's new AT220 automatic traps. Photo: SuppliedAlong with donated traps, the group now boasts 4 automated 'AT220' traps, which can automatically reset up to 100 times.The group hopes that through further fundraising and grants, more automated traps can be bought and a contractor used to start actively trapping the remaining blocks.CLICK HERE to find out more or to help the Tuatapere Predator Free Team.Tuatapere Reserve. Photo: Environment Southland

Could this be New Zealand’s next dark sky reserve?
Could this be New Zealand’s next dark sky reserve?

17 July 2024, 5:50 AM

An increase in visitors hoping to catch the southern lights has resulted in a call for the Catlins to be made a dark sky reserve.On Wednesday, Owaka Going Forward presented to Southland District Council at a hearing for its long term plan consultation, asking for support in making its dream a reality.In its submission, the community group referenced a DoC estimate which said more than 100,000 people had visited Nugget Point — a popular Catlins destination — for the 12 months to March 2024.“Along with the spectacular scenery, precious flora and fauna and vistas on offer in the Catlins, an increasing number of those visiting want to experience and take photos of the amazing aurora lights,” the submission read.Located in the southeast corner of the South Island, the Catlins comes under the jurisdiction of both Southland District Council and Clutha District Council.Owaka Going Forward had already spoken to the latter, which group representative Glenys Hanley said had been supportive, and was now turning its sights on Southland District Council.It specifically wanted support with a lighting policy which would align with dark sky requirements.“The importance of having a dark sky reserve here is really to highlight the Catlins natural, unique beauty, and its night skies,” Hanley said.The group pushing for accreditation was a sub-committee of Owaka Going Forward and had registered with DarkSky International.Although it had paid a registration fee, it was yet to put in a formal application, she said.If ultimately successful, the area would join six other communities in New Zealand with dark sky accreditation.Those included dark sky reserves Aoraki Mackenzie, Wai-Iti (Tasman district) and Wairarapa, and dark sky sanctuaries in Oxford, Great Barrier Island/Aotea and Stewart Island/Rakiura.Hanley said there was ecotourism potential for the Catlins should it gain accreditation, as well as benefits for nature, such as the large native bat population found in the area.Other benefits included the environment, local economy and educational opportunities for local schools.Aside from the relevant councils, the group also hoped to work with DoC, Iwi and the community to reach its goal.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Frosts blamed for rise in Invercargill air pollution levels
Frosts blamed for rise in Invercargill air pollution levels

16 July 2024, 10:47 PM

Recent frosty nights and still days are being blamed for the current rise in Invercargill's air pollution according to Environment Southland (ES).A monitoring site at Pomona Street has twice this winter recorded levels that exceeded the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality just days apart.On Sunday, 14 July, the Pomona Street monitoring site recorded a 24-hour average PM10 concentration of 51.6 micrograms/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air), over the standards’ threshold of 50 micrograms/m3. The following day there was a second exceedance of 50.7 micrograms/m3.ES team leader air and terrestrial science Nick Talbot said data showed pollution levels rose quickly after 5pm, and remained high until midnight.“With the onset of frosty nights, the smell of smoke is quite notable.""The smell is from tiny particulates in the air; these can easily penetrate into the lungs, placing stress on people's health, especially for those who are more susceptible to health complications, such as children, the elderly and others with respiratory conditions,” Talbot said.“Remember, outdoor smoke easily makes its way into other people's houses, so the way you burn affects your neighbours and neighbourhood.”We encourage everybody to keep warm when temperatures drop.The best tip to reduce smoke impact and get the most value for your wood is to keep fires burning hot and bright, burn dry wood, don’t bank your fire overnight and make sure the flue is clean and burner well maintained.Non-compliant burners are progressively being phased out, with burners that were installed in Invercargill and Gore before 1 January 2001 now requiring to be replaced by a compliant burner.CLICK HERE for more information on what you can do to improve air quality.

 Inaugural Southland Creative Arts Awards finalists named
Inaugural Southland Creative Arts Awards finalists named

16 July 2024, 7:02 AM

The finalists in the inaugural Southland Creative Arts Awards 2024 have been announced by Arts Murihiku.The awards are billed as representing not only an opportunity for local artists to gather and celebrate their place in Murihiku, but also to celebrate excellence in art. Over 120 nominations were received across ten categories, each tailored to showcase the dedicated individuals and organisations championing the arts across our amazing region. Arts Murihiku chair Becs Amundsen said it was wonderful to see so many artists acknowledged, and she was please so many were to be part of the Arts Awards."We know the huge contribution people make to the arts sector across Murihiku Southland."Amundsen said the selection panel had had an incredibly challenging task selecting the finalists and an even tougher one identifying the winners.The 2024 finalists are:Sono Sound Lifetime Achievement:Awarded to a person or group who has consistently shared their time, energy, knowledge and skill for the betterment of the Arts in Murihiku.• Trevor Daly• Riversdale Arts Inc• Jonathan Tucker• Invercargill Musical Theatre• Helen Nicoll Good Tech Leadership in the Arts:Awarded to an individual who has voluntarily steered groups or individuals to success and has inspired and empowered those around them through leadership, management or administration.• Charmin Dahl• Sally Bodkin-Allen• Tania Carran• Emma Jarman• April Fisher• Lyn Henry Southland Art Society Leadership in Arts Education:Awarded to an individual, group or institution who displays passionate, innovative and accessible education in the arts.• Linda McGregor• Sharon Wilson• Michelle Dawson• Steve Solomon• Andrea Sexton• Sarah Rae Southern Outlook Emerging Talent:Awarded to an individual under 25 who displays great talent and skill in their field and who is working towards a future in the arts.• Maia Fletcher• Deacon Kynan-Wilde• Lydia Blomfield• Meadow Bodkin-Allen• Oshada Perera• Levi Te Amo• Sam McGregor The Hits Production Excellence:Awarded to an individual who displays excellent dedication and skills in helping bring an artistic endeavour to the public behind the scenes, for example; producers, production secretaries, arts administrators, stage managers, set and lighting designers and curators.• Campbell Trewin• Jim & Marcella Geddes• Bernadette Gourley• David Pottinger• Nick Round-TurnerHe tohu kia mau ki nga taonga tuku iho:For a group or individual who is independently pursuing the reclamation, preservation and celebration of te ao Māori in their practice. Awarded to those who hold onto, and maintain and develop those treasures and knowledge handed down from our ancestors.• Steve Solomon• Mīharo Murihiku Trust• Te Anau Waitangi Charitable Trust• Sharne Parkinson The Little Green Fairy Patronage:Awarded to a business or sponsor who has consistently supported the arts through support, patronage, collaboration and encouragement.• Nicola McGilvray, Tuatara Cafe• Kennedy School of Music• All Saints Male Choir• South Alive• Jenna Lee Shave, Shave Photography and Design• Jordan Cossill, Threes & Sevens Records ELM Marketing Creative Excellence:Awarded to a person or group who has shown skill, creativity, innovation and mastery in their field.• Malcolm McDonald• DEOW Owen• Gemma Baldock• Charlie Rodgers• The Dollys• Southland Art Foundation Ascot Park Hotel Community Catalyst Individual:Awarded to a person that has made significant contributions to fostering a sense of community and connection within the Murihiku arts scene.• Sally Bodkin-Allen• Jordan Cossill• Bella Williams• Lesley du Mez• Louise Evans Community Trust South Community Catalyst Organisation:Awarded to an organisation or group that has made significant contributions to fostering a sense of community and connection within the Murihiku arts scene.• Southern District Arts Trust• 45°Fibre – Amy Hughes, Michelle Wood and Sarah Le Roux• South Sea Spray• Invercargill Musical Theatre• Southland Art Society• Mīharo Murihiku TrustILT Supreme Award:This will go to an individual or group who has exemplified the kaupapa of Arts Muirihiku and these awards in the period from January 2023 until closing date of the awards. A practitioner, group or producer who has pushed boundaries, inspired others, and made a lasting impression on the Murihiku artistic landscape.• The winner embodies excellence, creativity, and significant impact and will be chosen by the judges from the pool of finalists.Category winners, along with the ILT Supreme award, will be announced at the Gala Dinner & Awards ceremony at Ascot Park Hotel on the 17th August.CLICK HERE to find out more and book your tickets.

Popular Fiordland trail needs ‘a little bit more help’
Popular Fiordland trail needs ‘a little bit more help’

16 July 2024, 6:22 AM

The trust behind two popular Fiordland trails is putting its hand up for financial support, questioning the equity of the district council’s decision making.Over the past eight years, Fiordland Trails Trust has created two trails — the Upukerora Trail which loops around Te Anau and the Lake2Lake Trail which connects Manapouri with Te Anau.But the task has been completed without regular input from Southland District Council, which trust chair David Boniface pointed out had given large amounts to the 186km Around The Mountain trail running from Kingston to Walter Peak.“Our trail is just as important to Southland as the Around The Mountain, and we find ourselves as professional fundraisers, essentially, to keep ourselves developing and maintaining,” Boniface told district councillors at a long term plan hearing on Tuesday.“We would like a little bit more help. We are worried about our financial position long-term.”Boniface pointed to a 2023 assessment undertaken by market research company Angus and Associates as proof of the impact the trail was having on the area.The report found the Lake2Lake Trail alone contributed over $3 million to the economy in a 12 month period.And it was gaining in popularity.In 2023, there were more than 44,000 passes at the busiest point of the trail, and in the first six months of this year, the trail had already hit 94 percent of last year’s total numbers.Speaking to Local Democracy Reporting after the hearing, Boniface said the trust had been well supported over the first eight years of trail building.That included cash injections from Meridian, the community board, Southland District Council and Jobs for Nature.The trust had also fundraised, including by running an annual half marathon.But looking ahead, it required ongoing support to make sure its future was secured.“The issue is, going forward, we need to underpin our maintenance and operations costs, so we can maintain what we’ve got.“Those costs are in the order of about $1000/km a year.”The Lake2Lake Trail is the longer of the two trails created by the trust, totaling 28.5km, including a road section.The Upukerora Trail is 7km in length, having recently been extended with the completion of a new Patience Bay section.Boniface said the trust had presented several times to the district council without success, but was trying again this year.“We think we’re a pretty damn good investment.”LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

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