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Year in Review: July 2023

The South Wairarapa District Council bought the assets of Lake Ferry Holiday Park, Greytown started the annual Festival of Christmas event, Cape Palliser Rd residents tried to convince Waka Kotahi NZTA not to cut crucial back funding for the key road to the coastal township, and Te Whatu Ora claims damages against Masterton District Council and two other parties for negligence of just under $90 million.

July 1

South Wairarapa District Council bought the assets of Lake Ferry Holiday Park. It was understood that the deal cost the council more than $300,000, not including legal fees. Mary Tipoki, who sold the assets, said the deal was the culmination of her being subjected to sustained bullying and intimidation by council staff.

July 3

Wairarapa-based organic produce seller Don Staples was the victim of a quick-fingered thief at the Thorndon Farmers Market in Wellington. Staples said he couldn’t believe his eyes when his market cash box, containing between $400 and $600, was swiped from his table.

A few evening showers didn’t keep the crowds away from wrapping up and celebrating for Greytown’s opening night to the Festival of Christmas. Event manager Rachael Fletcher described the event as ‘Significantly bigger than any previous winter festival night.’

After a hard-fought weekend of rugby, Carterton was set to host Pioneer, and Greytown had home advantage against Marist for the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup semifinals.

July 6

Carterton District Council decided to keep the northbound lane closed along the length of Hughes Line to all traffic until August – despite locals’ mounting frustration. The lane closure, which made no exception for emergency services or residents, is in place to reduce traffic on Hughes Line – which had increased due to ongoing SH2 roadworks – and prevent deterioration.

South Wairarapa District Council was consulting the public after a recent decision to reduce library opening hours is proving unpopular. The move comes as ratepayers face an increase of 19.8 per cent, and SWDC’s announcement that it has acquired the assets of a local campsite.

The council announced reduced library hours last week but has since brought forward public consultation on the issue. The move follows hundreds of critical comments on social media from people who were “upset and disappointed” about the “gutting” decision to restrict hours.

July 10

Masterton drilling contractor David Bowring, 48, was sentenced to three months of home detention after punching his ex-partner in the face, intimidating her while holding a kitchen knife, and then leaving an intimidating voice message weeks later. Bowring admitted to an assault and a threatening acts charge when he appeared in Masterton District Court last Wednesday.

Defending champions Carterton were set to play old foe Greytown in the Chris ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup final after two contrasting semifinal encounters.

July 11

More than 50 South Wairarapa residents had made submissions about reduced library hours across the district, just one week into the two-week consultation process. Submitters expressed dismay and disappointment at the reduced hours at the Featherston, Martinborough, and Greytown libraries.

Wastewater was flowing down the gutters of Hinau Place in Lansdowne after recent rain exacerbated a sewer blockage. One Lansdowne resident said he had reported the incident to Masterton District Council shortly before 10am after he saw wastewater and tissue paper overflowing from a manhole in the middle of the road. MetService had recorded 41.4mm of rainfall in Masterton over the weekend.

July 13

South Wairarapa District Council and Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty come out in support of Cape Palliser Rd residents’ bid to convince Waka Kotahi NZTA not to cut back funding for the key roading lifeline of Wairarapa’s South Coast.

July 15

After public backlash about its proposal to close the Judds Rd level crossing, KiwiRail presented options to keep the road open. KiwiRail staff attended a meeting with the steering group set up by local businesses opposed to the closure and presented two options at the meeting; the first option involved installing traffic lights linked to train signals and barrier arms. The second option proposed a left turn only into Ngaumutawa Rd with barrier arms and a turnaround lane further south on Ngaumutawa Rd to allow traffic to merge right and then travel north.

July 17

A penalty right on full-time gave Carterton back-to-back senior club rugby titles at the ‘Moose’ Kapene Memorial Cup final on Saturday. More than 1000 spectators made the most of sunny conditions to turn up to cheer their side on.

Long-time Greytown community member Richard Harding passed away, aged 101. The news of Harding’s passing brought great sadness to many who knew the beloved and celebrated figure in Greytown. Harding served as mayor of the township in the 1980s, when it was still a borough and lived in the community for over 50 years.

July 18

A Wairarapa woman was ordered to pay more than $40,000 to her former employer for breach of contract and an additional $15,000 in penalties. An Employment Relations Authority decision in Wellington found Adrienne Dempsey had breached employment obligations she owed accounting firm Moore Markhams in relation to her employment in its Masterton office.

July 19

A claim against Masterton District Council and two other parties headed to the High Court in Wellington. The litigation was been brought by Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand [formerly Wairarapa DHB] in relation to alleged defects in the construction of Wairarapa Hospital. Te Whatu Ora claims damages for negligence of just under $90 million – plus GST, interest and costs on top. The four-week hearing was scheduled to start on July 31 in the Wellington High Court. MDC says it will defend the claim. Aecom New Zealand Ltd. [formerly Maunsell Ltd] and Rigg-Zschokke Ltd, were named in the claim as third parties.

July 20

Arvida Lansdowne Park, Wairarapa’s largest lifestyle village, expanded as a retirement village and was set to open ‘Arvida Lansdowne Estate’ on September 16. Construction began in August last year, with 21 villas completed since then in the first stage of the development. “There are a further 10 villas that have begun construction, and these are due to be completed for move-in by March 2024,” Arvida general manager of sales Tristan Saunders told the Times-Age.

July 21

Wai Weight Gym was being forced to seek legal advice as its consenting battle with Masterton District Council dragged on. Bevan MacKenzie, the owner of the 24-hour gym located on Bentley St, said he was at his wit’s end because the council was forcing him to seek consent for things he was permitted to do under the district plan. He had sold his ute to cover legal fees and said he had suffered sleepless nights because his family’s home and livelihood were in jeopardy. The trouble began last year when a neighbour made 11 noise complaints about the gym. Although no evidence of excessive noise was found, the council subsequently directed the gym to reapply for the consent it had held for 14 years.

Squatters occupying the closed-down site of Tuturumuri School have been moved on. Land Information New Zealand [LINZ] manages the site for the Ministry of Education. LINZ head of Crown property Sonya Wikitera confirmed to the Times-Age that the occupation ended earlier this week. “The unauthorised occupation of the site has been resolved. The occupiers were requested to vacate the site on Monday and have since left,” Wikitera said.

July 22

A woman was been airlifted to Palmerston North Hospital in a serious condition after her vehicle collided with a northbound Wairarapa commuter train, trapping her in the vehicle. The crash, which happened at a level crossing on Norfolk Rd in the Carterton District, closed the intersection between SH2 and Norfolk Rd for at least two hours, while the section of Norfolk Rd from the railway crossing remained closed for a further two hours.

In a momentous week for Athletics and Cycling Masterton [ACM], two of their members were selected to represent New Zealand in world championships. James Inwood is set to represent New Zealand in the World 24-hour Championship in Chinese Taipei in December, and Debbie Donald to run the half marathon at the World Road Championships in Riga, Latvia.

July 25

Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty picked up another ministerial portfolio following the resignation of Kiri Allan after she was charged with careless driving and resisting arrest in Wellington. He added the role of Regional Development Minister to his four other portfolios of Emergency Management, Local Government, Racing, and Rural Communities, which he juggled with his duties as Deputy Leader of the House.

July 26

A senior manager at South Wairarapa District Council apologised for the furore in relation to recently reduced hours and Saturday closures of the district’s libraries. The apology came as an interim solution was being put in place to deal with South Wairarapa’s library hours while the council conducted a detailed review of the facilities’ business, funding, and other drivers.

It was a case of back to the future for iconic Wairarapa brand Hansells NZ, with the long-sought sale of the business to investors in the region finally coming to fruition. As well as providing additional export opportunities, the sale meant staff numbers would quickly increase by around 14 per cent, from the current 70 to over 80.

July 27

The New Zealand Defence Force [NZDF] arrived in Masterton yesterday for the second time in a month in response to the discovery of another potentially explosive item. Local police were alerted at 9.05am to the presence of an unexploded ordinance resembling a mortar round at Wairarapa Scrap Metals on Ngaumutawa Rd. Police initially closed the road but pulled the cordon back to just the immediate area of concern after advice from the NZDF. An NZDF explosive ordinance disposal team responded to assist with identifying and disposing of the item, which was found to be inert.

Thefts of and from vehicles in Wairarapa are sitting at an uncomfortable high level. In the past 30 days, Wairarapa Police community and rural manager Steve Cameron told the Times-Age 62 vehicles around the region had either been stolen or broken into. Police believe that youth are responsible for the majority of these thefts.

July 28

Motorists have reported scraping their bumpers on deep roadworks at the Renall St and Pownall St roundabout. The roundabout, which now has a large drop-off on all the exits, is difficult to avoid for many motorists on school runs to St. Matthews Collegiate or Wairarapa College and for a large volume of traffic from central Masterton to Ngaumutawa Rd.

July 29

A prison escapee has been found guilty of raping a woman who offered him a ride in her car. Damon John Exley was found guilty in the High Court at Wellington on Thursday of abduction for the purpose of sexual connection, assault with a weapon, and sexual violation by rape.

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