In 2019, the Far North District Council received $37,500 to undertake a study of boat ramp needs in the district. The subsequent report was received by the Infrastructure Committee last week.
The study found a shortage of boat trailer parking in the district, especially in the Bay of Islands catchment area.
There were 2900 boat trailer users but only 48 boat trailer parks and an estimated total of 160 potential standard spaces adjacent to boat ramps.
The 263-page report was authored by David Clamp, manager Major and Recovery Projects, who said the pressure is mirrored when it comes to moorings for non-trailer boats.
"Current mooring locations have no space for new moorings. This exacerbates the pressure on land-based recreational boating infrastructure as the attraction of a trailer-boat option increases."
He said in preparing the application to the Tourism Infrastructure Fund it became clear significant growth in the number of visitors to, and people choosing to live in, the Far North was "placing an increasing strain on the district's boat launching facilities".
The report outlined three ways the council could address the shortage of boating facilities. These include acquiring land through a land acquisition fund to improve current facilities, develop new sites and upgrade existing facilities.
Council may expand parking enforcement
The Far North District Council may expand its parking enforcement responsibilities following decisions made by the Regulatory Compliance Committee.
The committee voted to recommend that council seek delegation from Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to enforce stationary parking offences on state highways, and monitor warrant of fitness (WoFs) and vehicle registration checks.
Council currently monitors parking on council roads, focusing on central business districts. But they state that many of the town's main streets are state highways and they have been asked to enforce parking on these as well.
Any new delegations will be included in two new parking and road use bylaws by the strategy and policy committee.
Russell Info Centre changes hands
Times have changed for Colette Kershaw. After 12 years she has sold the Russell Information Centre and is walking away from the wharf office that has dominated her life for that time.
She worked there for a season in 2008 and bought the business in 2009. Back then 30 cruise ships would visit the Bay and it slowly grew to be about 60 ships at anchor.
They would disgorge their passengers ashore to a summertime bonanza the Bay of Islands depended upon.
Life in the information centre was busy. Colette would start at 8am when the sightseeing and swimming with dolphins boats and the fishing charters would depart and she'd be there until 9.45pm when the final ferry, the Bay Belle, would leave for the evening run.
It was not without its challenges either, not the least of which was competing with the international booking sites.
"I had to diversify the little shop and put in retail after two years because I couldn't compete with those big companies," she said.
But she survived and thrived. Four years ago she wanted to expand the shop but a small vociferous minority group of Russell residents were against her doing anything to the wharf and made their views known on Facebook.
In the end, she felt she couldn't compete with that faction and reluctantly withdrew her plans.
Then last year along came lockdown and she closed the office. Rascal, her West Highland terrier who was a famous and popular feature of the information centre, wasn't used to not going to the office on the wharf and got depressed.
"I had to walk him down the wharf each morning and he just sat underneath the bench," she said.
She went on what she called "a Facebook rampage" and posted something daily promoting the Bay of Islands. She kept her staff going, but the hardest thing she says was watching other companies laying off their staff.
"It was heart-breaking because in the tourism business we are all good friends, we talk to each other every day and when lockdown happened a lot of people went off in different directions."
Post-lockdown and the market has changed, there is not the huge summer peak there once was and Russell and Paihia don't close off entirely over winter any more.
She has sold to Bay Light, who also own Titore Lodge and Wood 2 Water. They have plans to sponsor a drone submarine, to have penguin "art" dotted around town, to instigate a beach shuttle and develop a Fish for Locals programme.
Colette and her husband Tim have started a services business and are already employing another person.
Special Olympics at Kawakawa Pool
The upper North Island region swimming carnival was held at Kawakawa community swimming pool last week.
The 10 athletes representing the Bay of Islands Club walked away with a plethora of medals for the events they entered.
The Bay of Islands Club has a satellite club in Kaitaia, coached by Denise Pure. There were four athletes from there who swam for the club - Denise Cameron, Kelsey Heta, Lani Wallace and Sarasin Ben.
Other Special Olympic Teams competing were from Howick Pakuranga, Auckland, Tamaki, Hibiscus Coast, Whangārei, and Waitakere.
Every swimmer came away with at least one top three placing, some winning every event they entered. The swimmers are now in training for the National Summer Games to be held in Hamilton in December.
Waitangi to get funding
The Waitangi National Trust traditionally does not receive any government funding for operating. It relies largely on visitor admissions to the Treaty Grounds to make ends meet.
However, it recently received $3.6 million in the government budget from the Vote Arts, Culture and Heritage Fund.
Trust chairman Pita Tipene described it as "a relief".
"We are very pleased that government continues to uphold Waitangi and what it stands for as an essential part of our national identity," he said.
"It is very important that we continue to work together on our mission to illustrate the promise of Waitangi to all New Zealanders and indeed to the world and this allocation will enable us to do that."
A press release issued last week said the absence of international visitors due to Covid-19 has severely reduced revenues for the trust, hence its need for external funding to support its operations until international tourism resumes. The budget allocation will enable the trust to keep the doors open.
The trust was in a similar position just over two years ago when an employee, Wallace Te Ahuru, conned it out of $1.2m. He was sentenced to three years and eight months' in prison and served about a third of that and was released in January 2020.
At that time the trust could rely on international visitors to keep going. Then along came lockdown and the closure of the borders.
Trust chief executive Greg McManus, however, said New Zealanders have been "flocking to Waitangi over the past year" and visitor numbers since the borders were closed have "exceeded all expectations".
"It's fantastic to see so many Kiwi families coming to Waitangi," he said.
• Email Sandy Myhre at email@example.com if you have any news you'd like to see in Bay News.