$15k secures wheelchair access to Mount beach

mount beach

Mount Maunganui looks set to become the first New Zealand beach to provide a mat enabling waterfront access for people in wheelchairs.

The community challenge to raise $15,000 to provide a wheelchair-friendly access mat has been met. The challenge to other businesses and organisations was issued by Metro Marketing’s managing director Michelle Whitmore late last year.

Tauranga City Council community development advisor Dani Jurgeleit said the $15,000 had been raised through sponsorship from Metro Marketing, Harbour City Lions, and an anonymous donor. The council was now finalising the operational logistics around the mat’s placement and storage.

“Council is very supportive of this initiative which will get people with mobility challenges down on to the beach, and we are incredibly grateful for this sponsorship”.

The $15,000 enabled the purchase of 60m of matting, sufficient to stretch from the dunes to the water’s edge.

Ms Whitmore said while this was a great result, more could be achieved.

“We are on the way to becoming not only the best beach, but the most accessible beach in the country. And the project doesn’t have to stop here, there’s the opportunity to add more matting,” she said.

Ms Jurgeleit said further donations were welcome. Additional mat options included enabling a greater turn-around and sitting area at the water’s edge, or having “branches” off the main mat.

There was also the possibility the mat could be used elsewhere – for example, at Anzac Day services at Memorial Park, where some elderly attendees were in wheelchairs.

Tauranga was introduced to the mat early in December when it was rolled out at Mount Maunganui as a trial. The mat was 1.5m wide, was made of polyester, and worked well on soft sand and undulating services.

Tauranga tetraplegic Amanda Lowry, who has two young daughters, was at the weekend trial in December.

Ms Lowry said she was eagerly awaiting the day when the mat would be in place.

“I want the opportunity to get some sand in my togs and lie there next to my kids. It’s not just about disabilities, it’s about everyone. It’s about living a full life with no restrictions – no barriers. It’s about being on the beach and celebrating what it is to be a Kiwi,” she said.

Ms Jurgeleit said the beach access mat would benefit so many in the community.

“It’s not just for wheelchairs. It is great for those with mobility scooters, walkers and strollers, and kids with autism who don’t necessarily like sand between their toes, for example. We would encourage people from rest homes to come and use it too,” she said.

There was the possibility another open day would be held, giving people the opportunity to come and see what the mat was all about.

Since Metro Marketing’s beach mat funding challenge received media attention, the council has been contacted by people from throughout New Zealand keen to also introduce beach access mats.

Halberg Trust Disability sport adviser Cherryl Thompson confirmed the Mount Maunganui project would represent the first beach access mat in New Zealand.

– People keen to get behind the project are encouraged to contact Tauranga City Council Project Tauranga manager Michael Vujnovich on


Legacy Funerals gifts $55k to worthy community groups


Four Western Bay of Plenty organisations had extra reason to celebrate the opening of Legacy’s new funeral home at Papamoa.

At the official opening ceremony Legacy Trust gifted $25,000 to Waipuna Hospice; with Papamoa Surf Lifesaving Club, Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service and Papamoa College each receiving $10,000.

The new venue, named Legacy Gardens, includes the Western Bay of Plenty’s first columbarium – a storage area for urns holding cremated remains. It functions as a respectful place, within the gardens, which loved ones can visit.

Sited on the corner of Ashley Place and Te Okuroa Drive, the Papamoa venue includes a memorial garden, a 200-seat funeral chapel plus smaller room options, and a catering lounge. The design has included a focus on beautiful places for reflection and remembrance.

Legacy director Kevin Wearne said Legacy Gardens was an asset for the community.

“We are delighted to be able to not only use Legacy profits for the good of the community, but also to invest in infrastructure, such as this, for the good of the community too,” he said.

Legacy Trust celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Over those years $2.4 million has been gifted back to the local community, with a large and diverse number of community groups and organisations benefitting. Profits from Legacy Funerals are distributed back into the community by Legacy Trust.


Garden & Arts Festival: Men take lead


This year’s BOP Garden and Art Festival includes plenty to please the men.

Any pre-conception the festival is simply a garden ramble for women has been well and truly blown out of the water. Like its predecessors, this year’s festival includes a diverse line-up of events and sights likely to appeal to the menfolk.

Festival director John Beech says the festival is a good opportunity to acknowledge the creativity of many clever male gardeners, artists and sculptors.

Many of the gardens on the trail are testimony to menfolk’s hard landscaping abilities.

Examples of the latter can be found in various parts of the district. There’s Joe Dabrowski up in the Oropi hills, for example, Peter Blair in Tauranga suburbia, and Noel Coombes of Te Puke.

Joe Dabrowski will be the first to admit it was hardly a life-long ambition to be a key player in the creation of an impressive garden. It wasn’t until one of his children expressed a desire to get married from home that he decided to fulfil her aspirations for an impressive garden on their rural property. Joe, with help from a friend, constructed two pergolas, an archway, a gazebo, and raised vegetable beds. And then he took to garden art.

An old wooden pole from the back of the Dabrowskis’ property was brought up to become a character-infused garden lamp-post, while another garden light was created from a “beautifully rusted” old diving bottle he found under a hedge.

A couple of old axe handles have been fashioned into a garden handrail, while one of the garden’s new archways has been festooned with all matter of garden tools.

Meanwhile, in suburbia, Sandy Blair says her husband, Peter, started dreaming up design concepts for their property the minute they signed the ownership papers. Creating a super-sized and multi-levelled pond, measuring 25 metres by 10 metres, was a good starting point.

While her husband has a good eye for flora and fauna, Sandy is quick to point out his landscaping talents extend beyond that which grows. Many chunky, solid, timber features are attention grabbers in their garden, and these are further testimony to Peter’s creativity, she says.

Furniture, the wharf that sits pond-side, and a children’s play hut are all Peter’s handiwork.

He also designed, and was involved in the building of, his “man hut”. Milled from native timber Peter got out of the bush, it features an old brick chimney above an open fireplace, with a solid timber bar leaner alongside. It’s likely to be the envy of many a male taking time to enjoy the festival’s trail.

Te Puke will be showcasing man-made delights too. At Julie and Noel Coombe’s property, for example, sculptures and structures add whimsical interest. Giant-sized dice, created by Noel, are an eye-catcher, as is his solid hanging pot plant structure.

At Matapihi a delightful coastal garden carries the name “Pete’s Retreat”. Peter Ferris has had an active role to play in creating this large garden, which includes roses and flower beds flourishing under mature trees. A walkway leads to the aviary, passing spring-fed ponds on the way. Hillside paths wander through native bush, which has been developed to encourage birdlife.

Heather Loughlin’s Matua garden has long been a festival favourite. This year her partner, Howard Jones, will add another element of interest, separate to Heather’s woodland.

Howard, a classic motorbike enthusiast, has committed to converting a garage on the property into a stable for classic English motorcycles for the duration of the festival. The bikes will include: a 1954 Velocette MHC350, a 1954 Norton Dominator model 7 500 Twin and a 2001 Triumph Bonneville T100 790 Twin.

For something different, garden trailers are encouraged to have a chat to Gary Cook of Rivahaven garden in Katikati. He will have “music of the plants” playing in his garden. It’s an opportunity to listen to plants singing through modern technology, he explains. Visual delights – not just aural – can be found here, for example the huge carving of a man’s head.

The trail aside, the festival offerings include many other elements set to interest the male gender.

The Sculpture Walk alone is set to thrill. It will feature sculptures from the primal (a driftwood dinosaur by Jack Marsden Mayer) to more contemporary offerings. Wood, limestone, metal and driftwood are the mediums used by the guest and local sculptors involved. Sculptors include Anton Forde, Shivaun Hogan and Jack Marsden Mayer, as well as local talent Chris Ponton, Linda Munn, Mary Paton, Peter Crammond and more.

The line-up of festival speakers is just as impressive, featuring landscaper extraordinaire Ben Hoyle and TV and radio gardening guru Tony Murrell. Other speakers are: Fiona Eadie (head gardener at Larnoch Castle, author and native plant specialist), Jo McCarroll (NZ Gardener editor), Robert Guyton (gardening columnist) and Sally Holland (Goodbye Gluten recipe book author).

A new offering this year will be the Tauriko Business Estate Industrial Garden Challenge – businesses will create gardens for their very own trail, and the public will judge.

the details:
tickets –
One- and four-day tickets for the November 17-20 festival are available. Single day ticket: $35, multi day ticket: $60. Reduced prices of $30 and $50 are available for TECT card holders. Tickets are also now available for the speaker events and the Indulge Long Lunch. For further information see


University partners with High Performance Sports Centre

The University of Waikato is to be the tertiary partner to the Tauranga High Performance Sports Centre.

Stage one of the strategic partnership was given approval by Tauranga City Councillors on Tuesday, 22 March.

The benefits of the partnership will be significant, says Justine Brennan, manager of the centre, which opened its doors at Mt Maunganui’s Blake Park early this year.

“This partnership will be transformational for the centre. It will add exponentially to what we can offer, taking us from the country’s largest high performance gym to a leading provider of testing and research into sport science and human performance,” Miss Brennan says.

The University of Waikato’s tenancy space will include a purpose-built laboratory, and a state-of-the-art environmental chamber, with the latter providing some New Zealand-firsts. The laboratory will be used for the purpose of sports science and research as well as athletic performance testing. The high-tech environmental chamber, to be built inside the laboratory, will be able to control specific heat and humidity requirements. It will also offer the capability to simulate a high altitude environment.

Miss Brennan says the environmental chamber will be the only one in the country with the capability to control the three factors – heat, humidity and altitude. The size of the proposed chamber is also an advantage, she says, as it will be big enough to accommodate several athletes at one time – it is “leading edge” in terms of both its size and the technology the University of Waikato will be using, she says.

The environmental chamber will be used for research, training, recovery and acclimatisation. Temperatures of 40 degrees and humidity of 90 percent, for example, will give the opportunity to acclimatise athletes to the conditions they will often have to face in other parts of the world. The chamber will also be used to research human athletic capabilities under those conditions.

University of Waikato Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Alister Jones says this is an opportunity to be a facilitator of post-graduate sports science education within a high performance sport environment in the Bay of Plenty.

He says the University of Waikato is already the tertiary partner at the Home of Cycling Trust Avantidrome near Cambridge, which has attracted many high performance sports.

“We already work closely with many athletes there, and now we will be able to offer them additional expertise just a short distance away in the Bay of Plenty,” Professor Jones says.

He says the University’s partnership with the High Performance Sports Centre builds on the institution’s commitment to the Bay of Plenty over many years. The University is currently leading the development of a Tauranga CBD tertiary campus.

Work is underway on configuring the university’s 265 square metres of space within the centre to its high-tech specifications. The laboratory and chamber will be ready for use by the end of April.

The university’s space will be staffed by academic professionals specialising in sports science and human performance, with that group including PhD students carrying out research.

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby says this high profile project has got the attention of organisations that support the industry of sport; the business end of the sector.

Sports educators underpin the success of NZ athletes on the world stage, and this partnership will further enhance Tauranga City as a destination for world champions and aspiring athletes to grow their careers, Mayor Crosby says.

Already confirmed tenancies at the High Performance Sports Centre are the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union, the New Zealand Rugby Union (Sevens), and Body In Motion physiotherapy and sports medicine.

Miss Brennan says the High Performance Sports Centre is an example of how collaboration can achieve transformational outcomes.

She says Bay Venues and Tauranga City Council are to be applauded for their “astute and strategic” thinking in getting the centre off the ground.

“The Bay Venues board and city councillors need to be congratulated for realising the window of opportunity was there to transform the old, vacant former Mt Cosmopolitan Club into something that can, in turn, transform the city.

“This partnership really puts the centre in the same league as the AUT Millennium Institute, which also has a partnership with a tertiary education provider. We are providing world-class facilities for the nation’s best athletes. The research capability we will have will be on par with the best in the country,” Justine says.

Bay Venues board chairman Peter Farmer says his board is very pleased to support the High Performance Sports Centre project to completion.

“It has been a fast paced, multi-stakeholder project involving very close team work and collaboration with Tauranga City Council and numerous national and regional sports organisations.

“The strategic partnership between Bay Venues and The University of Waikato will now ensure the High Performance Sports Centre can fulfill its potential in becoming a leading national and international centre of excellence for sport.

“This agreement is a long term partnership between Waikato University and Bay Venues Ltd/Tauranga City Council, and is yet another example of the development of first class amenities within Tauranga City,” he says.


Pokemon to go to Rotorua Tulip Festival

Pokemon to go to Rotorua Tulip Festival

A Pokemon ‘battle’ is set to attract a new audience to this year’s Rotorua Tulip Festival.

According to a press release sent to the Rotorua Daily Post today, festival organisers have collaborated with Pokemon Go Rotorua to host a battle which will see Pokemon lures dropped in the Government Gardens and central city during five days of the October 1-9 festival.

It is expected to lure Pokemon Go players from Rotorua and beyond.

Prizes will be at stake with Pokemon Go challenges including gym battles, excellent throw competition, lowest CP, rare Pokemon and best dress-up Pokemon outfit.

Pokemon Go Rotorua spokesman Mark Hepi said it was an exciting collaboration.

“We are really excited about the council supporting us and sponsoring over 32 hours of lures during the tulip festival.

“Rotorua has become a bit of a talking point with Bay of Plenty Pokemon communities, with many players in surrounding cities already looking to take advantage of the lure drop.”

The Rotorua festival is the largest tulip festival in New Zealand, featuring more than 100,000 tulips, which were planted by Rotorua Lakes Council in gardens around the city several months ago.

Rotorua Tulip Festival organising committee member Portia McKenzie said an opportunity to attract a new audience to the festival had been seized, especially as the virtual pastime had really taken off in Rotorua.

Rotorua has a lot of “pokestops” – locations where the virtual characters are located for players to find and capture them – including several in the Government Gardens area and in the inner city.

Recent research had identified exactly how Pokemon-friendly Rotorua was, Mrs McKenzie said.

“We discovered that, in comparison to other centres, Rotorua has a high number of high-level Pokemon Trainers and Pokestops within close proximity of each other.

“We spent a mere $37.50 to get a local Pokemon-Go leader to send out lures via a Pokemon Go Facebook site to attract more people to Rotorua’s Thursday night market.”

Pokemon Go players from not just Rotorua, but also Hamilton, Tauranga and Taupo, came to Rotorua for Pokemon Go action.

As a result of that success there will be a Pokemon Go Tulip Festival battle hosted by Pokemon Go Rotorua, with lures bought by council.

“This is such a fun way for council to collaborate with the community and to encourage others to join our city in making the most of our beautiful gardens.”

Lures will be dropped on various dates and at the three locations during the festival.

These are: October 1, Government Gardens 9am-5pm; October 2, Farmers’ Market 9am-1pm and Government Gardens 1pm-5pm; October 6, Night Market 5pm-9pm; October 8, Government Gardens 91m-5pm; October 9 Farmers’ Market 9am-1pm and Government Gardens 1pm-5pm.


There will be plenty to do and see at the Tulip Festival, other than Pokemon.

There will be the opportunity to take tulip tours, listen to guest speakers, engage with celebrity speakers, and participate in spring garden talks, family picnics, bike rides, markets, and more.

There will also be separate bus tours which will visit Dalton’s Plantation and Homestead Gardens; and Plenty Flora and Sandara Gardens.

A wide range of activities for children are also being staged.

Celebrity guests are New Zealand chef and TV One Kiwi Living foodie sensation Michael Van de Elzen, award-winning contemporary furniture designer and maker David Trubridge, acclaimed New Zealand landscape designer and repeat Chelsea Flower Show exhibitor Xanthe White, and New Zealand Gardener magazine editor Jo McCarroll.

The Rotorua Farmers’ Market will be launched during the festival, plus two art exhibitions with a distinct Dutch flavour are being staged at Rotorua Museum.

Fifty seven digitally remastered Rembrandt works will be exhibited, as will the work of Dutch-born Rotorua artist, the late Walter Bakkenes (1920 – 1986).

For further information visit



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