17 November 2023
Media: Rotorua Daily Post
Topic: Geothermal activity at Ohinemutu
*NOTE - this is a follow-up enquiry to yesterday's initial enquiry about geothermal activity at Ohinemutu
I have spoken with Ōhinemutu resident Lani Kereopa, who lives on the lakefront, about the increased geothermal activity.
She said the village has been calling for better signage and fencing to keep tourists safe, something the council has not acted on.
She said the lakefront redirected people towards Ohinemutu and locals were trying to protect the tourists.
Below are all her comments:
She doesn’t walk on the lakefront, and said the villagers don’t let their kids play there because it’s dangerous. She said the lakefront looks like a beach, but it’s dangerous, and locals would try warn tourists about the hazards.
She said it was “obvious” to locals that the increased geothermal activity is linked to the high lake level and water table.
She said hot pools had opened up around the village where they hadn’t been before, including in the carpark where the Waitangi Day celebrations were usually held.
She said locals have been monitoring the pools now that the water table has receded. The pools were still there but were lower, and the levels increased after rainfall.
“Only time will tell if these features are here to stay.”
With constant visitors to the village, she said locals were “definitely concerned about the safety of anyone venturing down along the lakefront”.
“I wouldn’t walk down there ... I cannot trust there is not going to be hot pools that I can’t see that I might fall through the ground into,” she said.
“As villagers, we don’t let our kids go wandering and playing down there because it’s dangerous.”
She said they tried to inform people that “it’s not safe” and was not a normal beach, despite appearances.
She said there was a lack of adequate signage, and the little that was there was not deterring people or a proper warning.
She said the village has tried talking with Rotorua Lakes Council about investing in fencing and signage to keep tourists safe in the village, “but that hasn’t eventuated”.
She said the new lakefront directed tourists into the village. During developments pre-Covid, she said the council approached the village and said there would be a 10-fold increase in tourists to the village, only offering the village a gateway.
She said they responded to the council saying they were already trying to keep the tourists coming there safe.
“There’s not appropriate signage, there’s not appropriate fencing, there’s not appropriate directions for visitors to understand where they can and can’t go,” she said.
She said visitors were directed but not told what was the attraction, and what was just people’s backyards.
“Ōhinemutu has been pushing for council to do just that. To ensure the safety of visitors to Ōhinemutu since the time of the lakefront development.”
She said the village was “strongly” trying to tell the council that Ōhinemutu needed to be included as part of the inner city revitalisation plan to ensure the safety of visitors.
- What is the council's response to the above?
- Why has the council not invested in signage and fencing in the area?
- Are there plans to invest in signage and fencing in the area to keep locals and tourists safe? If so, when is this likely to be up? Will it be up before the busy summer?
- Does the council believe there are risks at Ōhinemutu regarding the increased geothermal activity?
- Will the council consider monitoring the area?
- Any other comments welcome.
I understand your response today said that council has not been made aware of any substantial increase at Ōhinemutu and you couldn't provide a response, but could you please respond to each other above questions.
The reporter was asked to delete the information we provided yesterday as more information had come to hand and we have covered all of her enquiry in the below:
From Rotorua Lakes Council spokesperson:
We are not aware of new concerns regarding geothermal activity at Ōhinemutu but have been working for some time with trustees of Te Papaiouru Marae relating to activity in that area. This has included inspecting areas of activity and providing fencing to prevent public access to some areas.
Council is working collaboratively with the marae trust to support them to ensure public safety within the marae grounds and publicly accessible areas.
Council has not erected any signs (as signage would have to be agreed to by the Trust) but is amenable to doing so where that is appropriate.
Rotorua Lakes Council has a public safety role and regulatory role in regards to bores, natural features and geothermal gases. Bay of Plenty Regional Council manages and monitors the Rotorua geothermal field and GNS also plays a scientific role. Rotorua Lakes Council maintains appropriate connections with these agencies.
Response to issues relating to geothermal activity by the Council typically stems from a report from the public or an observation made by council staff in the field.
Media: Local Democracy Reporter
Topic: Directive to fluoridate water supplies
I was wondering if it could please be explained the significance and consequences to the council what the court ruling on the fluoridation order is?
How does this change things for the council?
Has the council received any communication regarding the ruling and what it means? Who from and what did it say?
Noting staff were asked to gather further information from the Ministry of Health on the safety and legality of the directive - what was asked and what was the response? Who from and when?
How much money and work has gone into complying to the directive?
From council GM Infrastructure and Environment, Stavros Michael:
Re impact of the preliminary High Court ruling re fluoridation directives:
The court decision does not revoke the Ministry of Health directive to fluoridate so it remains in place at this time. We have sought clarification from MOH about how we should proceed in light of the court decision.
Re has RLC received any communication regarding the ruling and what it means? Who from and what did it say?:
No formal written communication has yet been received from the Ministry but we have sought clarification from officials who have verbally advised that the Ministry is considering the court’s decision and in the meantime, funding assistance for installation of fluoridation systems remains in place.
Re request for further information from the MOH on safety and legality of the directive:
Council requested clarification from the Ministry on the legality of its directive and on its view of concerns about potential health risks associated with fluoridation of water supplies. The MOH advised that its directive was legally binding and it remained confident and consistent in its advice that fluoride in drinking water, at the suggested concentrations, does not represent a material health risk to the community. MOH also advised it is committed within its statutory responsibilities to monitor national and international evidence to ensure that its instructions (in the form of the Directive) are appropriate and evidence based.
Re work to date to implement directive and the cost of that:
Work to date includes design and peer review, and seeking tenders for supply and installation of equipment. No decision on accepting and implementing the tendered for works has been made at this stage.
Cost to date for detailed design and testing work is approximately $200,000.
We will claim for costs from the MOH fluoridation funding assistance package.
Media: Rotorua Daily Post
Topic: Dog and cat registration
I'm currently writing a story on pet diabetes. Could please provide the following statistics?
- How many pet cats are registered in the Rotorua Lakes region?
- How many dogs are registered in the Rotorua Lakes region?
Reporter was informed that Rotorua Lakes Council did not require cats to be registered and that there were 11,936 dogs registered for the 2022/2023 year in the Rotorua district.