Iona Surveys on McDonald’s
Year 12 Geography students at Iona College recently conducted some market research regarding McDonald’s planned entry to Havelock North. Results were presented recently to BayBuzz and Hastings Council staff. The students conducted face-to-face surveys with consumers in the Havelock Village, as well as an online survey within the Iona community … 279 completed surveys in all.

In the total sample, 49% were opposed to having a McD’s in Havelock, 19% were supportive, the rest were neutral. The main concerns: don’t bring arches to Havelock North; detracts from village character; increase in rubbish on road to Hastings; feel better if it fitted in with the village theme; different location – not a nice entrance to Havelock North (56% oppose location); not health promoting.

Interestingly, amongst the under-20 demographic, opposition was less pronounced — 39% opposed, 32% were OK with the idea, and 29% were neutral. Those Iona girls must like their burgers … or is it the salads?!

BTW, did you know that McDonald’s is the New Zealand beef industry’s biggest single customer? With the new “Angus Burger” driving additional sales, McDonald’s will now buy 25,000 tonnes of NZ beef annually, of which 20,000 tonnes will be exported. The 5,000 tonnes that is consumed in NZ would amount to about 4.5 million kilograms, or roughly 1kg per person. I’ll take a Diet Coke with that.

Commissioner Ponders Ocean Beach Bill
An independent commissioner heard Hill Country’s appeal that the Hastings Council had charged to much for Council’s review of Andy Lowe’s proposed 1,000 home village at Ocean Beach. Hill Country argued that: a) HDC used expensive consultants to do more “review” than was needed; b) much of the work billed to Hill Country would necessarily have been done anyway to support HDC’s own proposed plan for Ocean Beach, which involved several hundred homes; and c) in any event, the general public benefited from some of the analysis that was prepared during the review of Lowe’s private plan change, and thus Hill Country should get some credit for that.

The Council argued, in effect, “Balderdash!” … supported of course by legal arguments.  The commissioner is off weighing the matter.

The bill at issue is for nearly $300,000, and Hill Country wants one-third to one-half knocked off. One wonders whether the legal fees will negate any reduction in the bill!

The Commissioner is off weighing the matter.

Maori Leader Joins Sports Park Trust
Ngahiwi Tomoana, Chaiman of Ngati Kahungunu, has been appointed to the Sports Park Trust. No doubt he’s examined the case for the sports park carefully. But I suspect he wasn’t informed that no Maori voices supported the RSP when it was being debated before the Hastings Council … not a single submission in support from the Maori community. Flaxmere Councillors Henare O’Keefe and Keriana Poulain voted against the sports park.

Mayor Yule must be sighing with relief that he has finally found a Maori leader to support the venture. And better still, perhaps one who might not fuss much over the details. Mr. Tomoana is a rather busy man … his non-attendance at meetings of one Council he advises has become an issue. He’s not likely to become the “Wayne Bradshaw” of the Sports Park Trust! But then after all, the Mayor’s looking for a cheerleader, not a watchdog.

New Look for Labour
I had the opportunity to meet Labour List MP Jacinda Ardern on her recent swing through the district. At age 29, she is, fittingly, the Labour Party’s spokesperson for youth affairs. Seems to be trying to find the right balance between ideology (her “compass”) and pragmatism (listening and searching for what works). Bright, articulate, attractive … the right look for a re-building party.

But the best part was watching her and MP Rick Barker suit up in their leathers and helmets, mount Rick’s Triumph motorcycle, and ride off to their next gig. Now that’s a great look for Labour … beats the red bus, Rick!

Tutira Planting Disputed
The Regional Council has recently begun planting on a newly-acquired 316 hectare block at Tutira. The intent is to make this Council-managed property into a model of integrated land use – carbon forests, grazing, wetland creation, indigenous plantings, erosion control, recreational use, research … the works. Great concept!

Unfortunately, the project has stumbled a bit out of the gate. When a group of very experienced local farm foresters and tree growers were shown around the property and the initial plantings, they came away dismayed over what was planted and how, as well as lack of clarity about objectives. Wrote one of the group, Chris Ryan of Baywatch: “This property has the potential to be a wonderful recreational and demonstration site for what is possible with imaginative tree planting and careful planning. But the initial approach gives many of us cause for concern. And I would hate the vision needed to buy this land turn sour. Please consider giving this project the time and consideration it deserves.”

At their latest briefing on the initiative, Regional Councillors asked staff to review their plans taking into account the concerns and ideas of knowledgeable locals. Hopefully this will get sorted out … everyone seems to endorse the potential of the project.

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