Every 10 years, we have the opportunity to shape the future of our communities and our rural environment by reviewing the District Plan. The District Plan tells us what we can and can’t do with our land. It makes rules about where we can subdivide, what activities we can do and where we can do them. It also controls things like nuisance – noise, smell and glare – so that the places we live in are comfortable and safe. The government requires us to address a lot of things to keep our communities safe, like natural hazards and contaminated land. Our current District Plan does a reasonable job of this, but there is room for improvement. The government also asks us to look after our environment – our beautiful coastline, stunning indigenous forest areas, outstanding landscapes and sites of cultural heritage. The Council has a lot to do to properly address both the legal requirements and the community aspirations in these areas. The District Plan is also important for place making and place shaping. This is all about what we want our townships to look and feel like;
  • what is our identity and our culture?
  • what changes do we need to make to improve our wider environment?
  • and what do we need to manage and protect for the future?
Council believes that shaping our communities is the most important part of the District Plan. After all, this is where most of us live, work and shop. Because there are not many of us in Waitomo, it means that our townships are crucial to the success of our District. It is very important that we set aside space for the best infrastructure, facilities, and reserves that we can afford. It’s also very important that there are opportunities for industries to operate and expand, for tourism to be encouraged, for residential areas to be attractive and safe, and for our commercial areas to be vibrant and busy. So before we start writing the rules, we think it’s vital to talk to you about what matters most. In December, we will be focusing on Te Kuiti’s commercial area. If you live in Te Kuiti, you’ll be invited to come and see us and help make decisions about the town’s future. We’ll be talking about what the District Plan needs to do, so we can better shape the township. We have lots of ideas, but yours might be better – and there will be cake and coffee. In January we are looking forward to coming to Mokau. We would like to work with the community to embrace the laid-back, seaside vibe of this beautiful part of our District. We think that we should be looking at connectivity and resilience for the people of Mokau. This means that the District Plan might provide for better access in some areas, look at managing parking or provide more opportunities to establish a business. We also need to think about how we manage things like coastal erosion and climate change so that the community can successfully navigate these issues. There’s no need to feel left out if you are in another part of the District. If you live in Waitomo Village, next year we will begin some work to build on the fabulous Structure Plan document that your community has developed. We will be looking at implementation through the District Plan to integrate all of the exciting things that are happening there. Benneydale, we recognise that you are an important gateway to Pureora and the Timber Trail. We will be talking to you about how the District Plan can help facilitate and support this. We also recognise the special character of Piopio and will be talking to you about developing and implementing a town concept plan to strengthen all of the hard work that you have done for your community. Aria, Taharoa, Marokopa, Te Waitere and Kinohaku, our focus for your towns will be on providing the right kind of zoning to encourage different types of activities. Where we need to in the coastal townships, we will have conversations about beach and river erosion, flooding and future proofing for climate change. At Te Maika, we’ll look at the different options for protecting the unique location you have, while considering if the environment there can support more development and how that might look. In our rural environment, there are changes to forestry rules to enable a more streamlined process, and a strong focus on supporting productive rural land activities. And for the heart of Waitomo, our mana whenua, we are looking forward to finding ways to enrich and embrace the cultural foundation of our District. It’s very important that our communities get involved in these early conversations. If we don’t know what matters to you, we can’t provide for it and we can’t budget for it in our future Long Term Plan and Annual Plan process. There is a lot to do. District Plans are the single biggest document that Councils’ write and they are resource intensive. We recognise that this is going to take time and investment, so we have to carefully plan what we can realistically achieve. It is going to take some good old fashioned kiwi ingenuity to try and get the best outcomes for everyone. So while the District Plan can’t promise a short-term miracle, we can promise a vision and method to help achieve it over time. The District Plan will take two years to research and write and another two years for the formal part – submissions, hearings, and appeals. Council has budgeted for this review for many years. It will cost around $2.4 million to complete the review process. Our best guess is that the new Plan will be fully operative by 2021, and should not need to be reviewed again until 2031, although we can make tweaks to it to keep it relevant. 1_Cathy-OCallaghan Introducing Cathy O’Callaghan – Principal Planner for WDC and (soon to be) the familiar face of the District Plan review. Cathy’s experience includes regional and district consents planning, consultancy (for many years), policy drafting and implementation. Along with most of the members of the Waitomo District Plan team, Cathy was part of the team that drafted the Waipa District Plan. Cathy hails from Matamata and thinks that Waitomo is absolutely beautiful, but the best part is the positive ‘can do’ attitude of the people. “Everyone I’ve met has been friendly, welcoming and kind – it reminds me of when I was little and nothing was too much trouble for anyone, we just mucked in and got on with it”.
The Mayor, Councillors and Staff at Waitomo District Council wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Councillors-images Elected Member contact information is available on our website here. WDC service information can be viewed here, on our facebook page, and in the Waitomo News.
If dogs are roaming or seized by an animal control officer because they’re unregistered or have attacked a person or animal, they will be taken to the Waitomo District Council dog pound. If a registered dog hasn’t been in the pound in the last two years and there are no other reasons that the dog has been impounded, we will return the dog to its home, as long as the owner is there and the dog can be secured. We do our best to work with owners first by talking to them about the regulations of the Dog Control Act and the Dog Control Bylaw. If an owner does not comply then a letter will be sent as a warning notice. As a last resort, Animal Control will seize and impound the dog.
What happens when a dog is impounded? We have a purpose-built, modern pound with individual pens. The pound is designed to minimise contact between dogs to reduce injury and spread of disease. The Dog Control Act 1996 sets minimum standards around what we must do to locate an owner. If we can’t contact the owner by phone we must write to the last known address of the owner. We usually visit the last known address, and if unable to speak to the owner at that address, we send letters in the post. The owner has seven days from the date of the letter to make contact with Council and pay any fees to release the dog. This system relies on owners keeping Council updated with their most recent contact details. If the dog is registered our general practice is to hold the dog for a further seven days before making a decision on the dog’s future. In some cases, a dog has lost their collar by the time they are impounded so having your dog implanted with a functioning microchip which has been notified to Council is an enormous help and provides proof of ownership.
What happens to unclaimed dogs? If we haven’t heard from the owner within the allotted time or they haven’t paid the required fees the Dog Control Act states the dog may be sold, destroyed or otherwise disposed of. Only dogs deemed suitable for home placement can be adopted or rehomed. Dogs classified as dangerous will not be rehomed. A fee of $140 applies for the rehoming of an impounded dog.
Temperament testing Before making a decision on rehoming a dog, the dog will be temperament tested. Our Animal Control Officer assesses dogs in their care and makes decisions as to which dogs are suitable for testing. Officer safety and risks to other animals are the main considerations before testing begins. Dogs showing aggression are not tested. There are some dogs that will never be rehomed, this includes:
  • any dog that has been impounded that has a history of aggression
  • any American Pitt Bull Terrier type and crossbreeds of them
  • any dog that any officer assesses as not meeting our temperament standards.

Have you recently moved? Are your contact details updated with WDC? Please get in touch by email: or free phone 0800 932 4357.
The remnants of Cyclone Debbie and Cyclone Cook caused widespread flooding, slips, and damage to Waitomo District’s roading network during April and May. The storms have resulted in damages of around $1.4 million. We completed a full assessment report which was used to apply for Emergency Repairs funding from the NZ Transport Agency. We have worked through that process and are now in a position to claim $400,000 for the remedial work back from the emergency funds budget, leaving a balance of $1 million. A prolonged period of torrential rain in August and September resulted in further storm damage and failures of the road surface, and culverts. The majority of over slips have been cleared and roads reinstated. Minor over slips will be attended to by WDC’s Roading Contractor Inframax as part of our zonal maintenance programme. The areas of our roading network that are scheduled for further repairs include Mangatoa Road, Oparure Road, Pukerimu Road, Rangitoto Road, Taharoa Road, Taumatatotara West Road, Te Waitere Road and Troopers Road.
At the October 31st meeting, Council considered formalising the way in which audit and risk functions are being managed and governed and Council agreed to establish an Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) pursuant to Clauses 30 and 31 of the Local Government Act 2002. The Terms of Reference (TOR) within which the Committee shall operate were approved. The ARC will be focussed on providing assurance on risk management and internal and financial control systems within Council. The ARC will assist Council to create and promote a more risk-aware culture and help to develop measures that would assist management and governance in understanding and managing risks more fully. The initial membership of the ARC comprises of all of Council. Council will review the TOR including membership in 6 months’ time (April 2018) and will consider the appointment of an independent member to the ARC at this time. The committee meets four times per year, with its first meeting planned for November 2017. Agenda and minutes will be published on our website.
Fire and Emergency New Zealand introduced a Restricted Fire Season for open-air fires on the 1st December. The change to the fire season will provide a consistent approach to fire seasons throughout the Waikato region. The restrictions mean that anyone who wants to light an open-air fire must first obtain a permit from WDC. We sometimes need to carry out an inspection of the site before a permit can be issued. For this reason, we ask that applications are lodged five (5) working days prior to the fire being lit. To apply for a fire permit please phone WDC on 0800 932 4357.
We are excited to have recently launched our shared recruitment website, in collaboration with Waikato and Waipa District Councils. On this website, we list our current vacancies, provide information about our regions and what it’s like to work within Local Government and each Council. Check out our website
We confirmed the Brook Park entranceway project as part of the 2017/18 Annual Plan. Inframax Construction Limited has been awarded the contract for this project, for the sum of $135,822 plus GST. As this newsletter went to print, a revised works programme was received with a start date of January 2018. The existing concrete kerb and gardens, stone wall and cattle stop will be removed. Relocation of the existing stormwater drainage infrastructure will also be completed. The entrance road will be widened from 3.8 metres to 6.5 metres, making it safer for vehicles entering Brook Park from Te Kumi Road, and exiting from the Bosco Café car park. A new fence and garden layout are included in the design. During the construction period, the site will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians with security fencing and signs in place. Public access to Brook Park is available from Eketone Street. The project is expected to be completed by the end of February 2018.
Our main focus areas for the 2017/18 financial year for the Solid Waste Activity are to upgrade of the road entrance and tip-head access road at Waitomo District Landfill and to carry out Health and Safety compliance work for the Landfill and District Transfer Stations. A Capital expenditure budget of $280,000 has been allocated in the Annual Plan to complete these projects. The main entrance is an asphalt road which is proving too weak for the size of the vehicles and loads that frequently use it. Roadworks are planned for the William Street entrance and will involve milling the existing pavement to construct a more durable concrete driveway. For a period of time access from William Street into the entrance will be down to single lane. The work will be carried out in three stages to minimise the inconvenience to our customers. Keeping the public and staff safe is the aim behind new barriers installed at the Te Kuiti Transfer Station. The drop off point is higher than the bins receiving the waste material. That makes it easier to deposit material, but without barriers, there is a risk of people falling into the bins, according to WDC General Manager Infrastructure Services, Kobus du Toit. Residents have raised their concerns about the fall risk through our annual survey. “The method of unloading refuse into skips from a drop height is being phased out around the country as operators are working to meet industry best practice guidelines. Barrier arms are a widely used method to reduce trip and fall hazard risk. It will mean a few changes to the way people will use the bins, but it will keep everyone safer so it’s worth it.” “The message we want to convey to you is that although you may believe the barriers are an inconvenience, their purpose is to protect people from harm.” The barrier arms can be opened by authorised staff to enable access to the bins for specialised tip trailers. Health and safety improvements are planned for our Transfer Stations in Benneydale, Kinohaku, Awakino, Piopio, and Marokopa. 1_IMG_5720
In April 2018 we will seek your feedback on the 2018-28 Consultation Document. As part of this, we will be inviting comment on the review of the Solid Waste Activity Management and Minimisation Plan (SWaMMP). One of the key proposals of the SWaMMP is the relocation of the Mokau/Awakino Transfer Station from Manganui Road, Awakino to Oha Street, Mokau (see photo below), supporting better access and increased utilisation of the facility in a convenient location. We will formally seek your feedback on this proposal in April next year. However, we are interested in hearing from the Mokau and Awakino community. You can send us an email:, write to us at PO Box 404 Queen Street Te Kuiti, or take part in our poll below. 2_IMG_5736 The Awakino Transfer Station is located on Manganui Road, Awakino. 1_IMG_5731 Potential Oha Street site for Transfer Station.
The 2016/17 Annual Report was adopted by Council at the Tuesday 31st October Council meeting. The document reports on WDC’s operational performance and financial position for the year to 30 June 2017. The Annual Report was audited by Deloitte and was issued an unmodified audit opinion. During the 2016/17 financial year, we have kept our focus on prudent and sustainable financial management practices while leading our communities towards a vibrant and thriving future and we will continue with our endeavours into the future. Actual debt has continued to reduce against forecast levels over the last three years, despite a continued investment in planned capital upgrades. The investment we have made now will extend the useful life of assets, enhance the quality of services, and reduce future operating costs. This, in turn, benefits current and future generations that rely on our roads, water, wastewater and community services. We have a committed elected Council and staff working collectively to achieve great outcomes for our ratepayers and the District as a whole. Our top financial results for the 2016/17 financial year are:
  • Public debt is at $43.4 million, compared with the $54.63 million forecast in the 2015-25 Long Term Plan.
  • Total expenditure was $2.2 million less than budgeted
  • Council also sourced a favourable interest rate which reduced the amount of interest costs we incurred over the year.
  • We invested $9.7 million in Capital Projects to renew and/or improve our public assets.
Our infrastructure highlights for the past year include:
  • Installation of a new playground equipment in Waitomo Caves Village, and Eketone Street.
  • Completion of public toilets in Benneydale.
  • Completion of the sealing of Maraeroa Road.
  • Completion of phase one of the Te Kuiti Water Treatment Plant upgrade.
  • Replacement of part of the main water pipe on North Street, Mokau (from Oha Street to Rerenga Street).
  • Replacement of the water main from Awakino Road to the Blackman’s Reservoir.
  • Improvements to the condition of stormwater assets in Te Kuiti and Mokau.
The Summary Annual Report has been distributed with this newsletter. The full Annual Report can be viewed online at or alternatively, a hardcopy can be obtained from our Queen Street office.
In 2010, Council made the decision as the Shareholder, to invest in a recovery plan for Inframax Construction Limited (ICL). By the end of the 2012/13 financial year, ICL had achieved a net profit of $93,000, demonstrating a significant turnaround by the Board and Management Team. Fast forward to 2017, and ICL’s net profit after tax is $2.7 million for the 2016/17 year. This achievement confirms the decision to fully back the recovery plan of ICL was the right decision. Council has worked very closely with the ICL Board to ensure that the company maintains its commercial presence and continues as a large employer in the Waitomo district. The equity of the company has increased substantially over the last five financial years, from $0.36 million as at 30 June 2012 to $6.41 million as at 30 June 2017. We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Board, Management, and Staff on this stellar performance. This excellent progress reflects a lot of hard work by the Board, Management and Staff and of course the support of the Council over time as the shareholder. Inframax-article-inset-image To read more see page 139 of the full Annual Report 2016/17.
After serving the community for decades, the Te Kuiti Water Treatment Plant (WTP) was in need of upgrading due to its age and the need for compliance with the New Zealand Drinking Water Standards 2005 (Amended 2008). The original WTP underwent several upgrades in its long life with this current upgrade being a substantial one. The WTP output capacity was increased in the 1970’s with the construction of two additional clarifiers and rapid gravity sand filters. When the time came to plan for this upgrade it became clear that upgrading the existing WTP and its buildings would not be feasible or cost-effective, as the old building did not comply with earthquake standards. Planning commenced in 2011 in earnest. A new building was designed and planned that would house the main plant mechanical components; the low and high lift pumps, electrical switchgear and control equipment as well as the Ultraviolet disinfection reactors. During the upgrade, we encountered an issue when two of the four sand filters cracked due to a long-standing leak that rapidly became worse. An investigation showed that the other two filters were in similar condition with imminent failure. All four filters were replaced with new stainless steel tank filters in early 2017. The plant reservoir was drained, checked, refurbished and brought up to earthquake standards. A new roof structure was required as the existing one had suffered from corrosion that would have made replacement necessary in the near future. The discussion was held on what to do with the old backwash sludge ponds, which were initially going to be upgraded. The decision was made to convert the area beneath the clarifiers into a storage area for wastewater from backwashing and cleaning. This is now pumped to the sewer system for treatment before discharging from the upgraded Wastewater Treatment Plant into the Mangaokewa river. Phase two involves replacing the old cantilever floating intake pumps to meet standards. The new intake screens will prevent juvenile fish from being sucked through the pumps. A new intake structure was designed and the contract awarded, but due to the very rainy start to 2017 and the need for compliance with the conditions of our resource consent, construction was delayed until early 2018. This provided an opportunity to commence Phase 3 (the last phase) that would see the refurbishment of the four clarifiers, demolition of the old building and the construction of a new driveway entrance incorporating a bulk chemical tanker filling bay compliant with current safety standards. New fencing will also be installed. The upgrade of the Te Kuiti Water Treatment Plant is on track to be completed in 2018. This investment positions WDC ahead in the field of Water Treatment, with a modern asset that will service the Te Kuiti community for many years to come.