Troublesome Hinekura Road formally re-opened – for now

By Ray Lilley Hinekura Road _ a 23-kilometer stretch of mostly narrow, winding, hilly and massively poor condition access road to rural farmlands east of Martinborough _ formally reopened on April 18, with a red ribbon cut to mark the event. Some 25 people, including the acting mayor, three councillors, …

Electrifying comes to Marty town centre

The Wairarapa’s first EV (electric) delivery van will shortly be trundling P&K orders round the streets of Martinborough. It will be followed by the installation of two EV fast charging stations at the shopping carpark off the Square. Until now, no formal plans for EV charging stations have surfaced for …

Palestine war vigil attracts toots, waves in Square

By Ray Lilley A protest group holding Palestinian flags, posters reading “Toot for Gaza,” “Genocide” and “Free Palestine” is winning solid support – with tooting, waves and thumbs-up from passing motorists and, notably, younger tourists who stop to add to the gathering of between 12 and 20 locals. Some join …

Skyline Challenge “roaring” success for Lions

After last year’s cyclonic washout, this year’s Lions’ Club Skyline Challenge was a “roaring” success, with around 250 participants turning up to mountain bike ride, run and walk over the challenging hills north of town to enjoy the fabulous views and perfect weather conditions. “It was such a disappointment last …

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Water woes disclosed in SWDC’s late 2023 report

February 13, 2024 February 2024 Comments Off on Water woes disclosed in SWDC’s late 2023 report

Dublin St pipe springs another leak amid severe water restrictions.

Water loss in the supply systems of Martinborough, Greytown and Featherston reached 46 per cent last year, and the South Wairarapa District Council (SWDC) fell significantly short on response times when leaks were reported.

Furthermore, SWDC cannot confirm that the towns’ water quality met New Zealand drinking water standards last year. The Council has had to give itself a “not achieved” score on its core obligation to provide “reliable and safe drinking water supplies.”

This information and more is disclosed in SWDC’s 2023 Annual Report, finally made public on 7 December. The document sets out significant activity reporting and annual financial accounts in respect of the year ended last 30 June (ie 2022-23). The information would have been publicly available months ago had the SWDC not missed, once again, the statutory deadline – 31 October – for all council annual reports in New Zealand.

SWDC’s significant activity reporting for 2022-23 shows that of 12 performance indicators for water supply, nine were not achieved. The water loss rate in the town supply systems at 46% – up from 43% the previous year – was well above a performance target of under 30%. Urgent call-out resolutions – where faults are fixed within eight hours of being reported – occurred only in 59% of instances which was down from 61% the previous year (target rate is 90%).

On water quality, SWDC has reported “no” for each of Martinborough, Greytown, Featherston and Pirinoa in relation to Ministry of Health drinking water standards (bacteriological and protozoa) throughout 2022-23, but attributes noncompliance to a problem with its water sensors and to a need for “additional investment.” (So, is the water safe? – Ed).

Some progress has been made in reducing both the South Wairarapa’s daily water consumption per resident, and the rate of complaints received over water quality and supply. SWDC has recorded a 51% satisfaction level among ratepayers and residents surveyed in 2023 on water service (39% in 2022), and an improvement to 41% in urgent call-out notifications that were responded to (although not necessarily resolved) within an hour of notification (33%).

Wellington Water is water services provider for South Wairarapa acting on behalf of SWDC, with the latter accountable for service standards and funding through rates, other charges and borrowing. SWDC financial statements for 2022-23 show a surprising fall in operating expenditure on water supply to $4.47 million ($4.68 million the previous year). Capital expenditure in this area was also down, apparently to $2 million, this being largely investment to replace existing assets. At 30 June 2023, ratepayers owned water services infrastructure valued at $43.2 million. … Continue Reading

Martinborough Food Bank demand rising again

February 13, 2024 February 2024 Comments Off on Martinborough Food Bank demand rising again

Martinborough Food Bank leader May Croft opens the group’s “Priceless on Princess” fund-raising store in mid-December.

Food parcel demand at The Social Crust, Martinborough’s ccommunity food bank, is back on the  rise, with recent weeks seeing at least 63 boxes of food distributed to the needy in the Martinborough and Greytown areas.

And with government funding now ended, the food bank has opened a so-far successful “recycling” shop to help support its cash flow.

Martinborough FoodBank spokesman Peter Croft said the weekly food box output saw “a rise until Christmas time, then there was a drop-off. 

“What we found out was that whanau came to stay over Christmas and they’d  provide additional funding so the need was less. Now that Christmas is over, we find demand is slowly increasing up to pre-Christmas levels. So this (January 24) week we’re doing 63 boxes for Martinborough and Greytown. That’s right up there” with pre-Christmas demand. 

“Most of our (food box) people are working, not full-time work … so people are doing their best to look after themselves and their families and we’re kicking in to help where they’re short.

“What’s depressing is that people have got jobs but are not making enough to cover rent, power and transport – and that’s when food becomes discretionary. We hope to be able to help those people until they’re in a position that they don’t need to come to us any longer. Nobody wants to come to a food bank.” 

Comparing the “list” of food box people from years ago till now “there’s only a very small number who are still on that food list and that’s because most people’s circumstances have changed – they have improved or got a better job or smaller house and don’t need us any longer.”

That also applies to RSE (recognised seasonal employers) workers. … Continue Reading

Who read the air cond memo?

February 13, 2024 February 2024 Comments Off on Who read the air cond memo?

Is cooling the region a key performance requirement for SWDC?

Or did they forget to send the memo about air conditioning, how it works _ and costs?

The front door at the council’s offices on Kitchener Street are a model of aircond decorum. Movement activation/automation means minimum time for the interior air to be displaced/replaced by the warmer outside in summer _ or colder outside in winter.

It also means the cost of the office aircond for the bill-payers (aka ratepayers) should be reasonably contained. 

Perhaps one of the amenities staff on the council could be deployed to consider the door issues at the council’s other main Martinborough office facility _ the Waihinga Centre.

There, much to the chagrin of at least one grumpy ratepayer, summer’s heat sees two or three main access doors deactivated and/or propped open during normal operating hours.

So, the Martinborough Library, Knucklebone Cafe and i-Site staff working inside the complex face open doors. The result is an aircond unit permanently churning away as it seeks to cool the whole region by dragging in the hotter outside air. 

Open doors ensure that. The electricity bill must be significant.

But by closing the wide-open doors to allow the aircond to ventilate and cool the interior, one would assume the electricity costs would be significantly reduced. 

The grumpy resident could feel a little less irritated by thinking the Waihinga Centre’s power costs have gone down, even if his rates have increased 76 percent in five years _ with double digits to come this year?

Podocarpus Totara – Tree of the Month

February 13, 2024 February 2024, Regular Features Comments Off on Podocarpus Totara – Tree of the Month

Growing tall and proud, but rather alone: Totora in the playground.

By Martin Freeth – Trees of Martinborough

Hot summer days help us appreciate trees like this one – the 70 year old totara in the Waihinga Centre grounds. The tree is looking very healthy, providing shade to play areas and gives high “amenity value” (visual appeal) to the grounds. 

In 2019, a letter signed by 83 Martinborough residents formally asked South Wairarapa District Council to ensure preservation and protection of this totara. Council officers had suggested removing the tree for the health and safety of children: Tree roots were said to be causing damage to the concreted basketball court and skate park next to its trunk. A subsequent arborist’s report said “remedial options are available to retain the tree,” without significant affects on the court or skate park. The arborist put a value of $23,000-$28,000 on the tree, considering all its benefits. Nearly five years on, this totara is looking better than ever – and the concrete appears in good shape too. 

Have a look for yourself! 


Totara, a New Zealand native, grows up to 30 metres high with a diameter of up to 2 meters. It has a juvenile, adolescent and mature form. Starting with spindly, almost weeping branches covered in fine needle-like leaves through a pyramidal tree phase, to eventually acquiring a massive trunk and branches that bear dense foliage. 

Totara trees, also known as Podocarpus totara, can live 800 to 1,800 years.


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Golf clubhouse fundraising builds up

An amazing fundraising day for the new clubhouse was held on April 19 when 34 teams took to the course in an ambrose tournament. The winners on the day with net 54.87 were Taylor Dewis, Robbie Robinson, Tom de Groen and Liam Richardson.  The longest drive for men went to …

Women’s football team in Green, Black and … Pink strip

Martinborough Football Club has unveiled a vibrant new palette of green, black and pink with the introduction of a women’s team, marking a significant milestone for the club. The rise of interest in women’s football, fueled by events like the FIFA Women’s World Cup, highlighted the demand for local opportunities. …

New golf clubhouse build, fund-raising up and running

Martinborough golf’s new clubhouse build is well under way _ as are fundraising efforts. It doesn’t seem long since we watched the demolition of the old clubhouse and now the frames for half the new building are in place with scaffolding up ready for the roof timbers. Everything is going …

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