By Keith Miller
People have mixed feelings about the Manukau Harbour. It’s been the dumping ground for urban runoff and poorly treated wastewater, and the installation of a line of pylons showed no regard for the natural beauty of the harbour’s northern shores.
The interest in recreational fishing around Blockhouse Bay has also varied. There’s a 1957 aerial photograph of Blockhouse Bay that shows dozens of moored launches and dinghies. That was probably the peak period for recreational fishing, as after that overfishing and a reduction in water quality saw fish numbers plummet. However, improvements to the Mangere Wastewater Treatment Plant that were completed in 2005 and better management of fish stocks mean it is again well worth getting out on the water to catch dinner.
Water testing by Auckland Council has shown that quality around Blockhouse Bay is generally good, with the exception being in the 24 hours following heavy rain. The advantage the Manukau has is that it’s shallow and has a big tidal range, so twice daily there are big inflows of clean Tasman Sea water that flush out any contaminants.
An easy and relatively cheap way to get onto the water is by kayak. Kayak fishing has been a growing sport for the past two decades, and that’s reflected in the growing numbers of kayaks now seen in the Bay when wind and tide conditions are good. Kayaks are preferred here as they are easy to launch and can quietly get into position in shallow areas without scaring the fish.
Over summer and early autumn snapper dominate the harbour. Schools of them feed on the mudflats as the tide comes in and the fishing tends to be fast and furious. Many of them are undersize though, and on some days you might catch ten and put nine back. It’s a good idea to file the barbs off hooks to make it easier to release these fish. There are also large snapper around though, with a nice 57 cm fish being caught in the Bay in the past two weeks by my young neighbour, Connor McKeating.
Other fish include kahawai, trevally, and the odd kingfish. Gurnard are common further down the harbour but don’t seem to venture into the Bay. There are also some large stingrays around that are a challenge when hooked. They are not something you want on a kayak, so best practice is to reel in as much line as possible and cut them loose.
Fresh baits such as pilchards give better results than softbaits or other lures, probably because of the sediment in the water that reduces visibility. Fish can be caught in just a couple of metres of water over the mudflats or in the deeper channels. Kahawai will also take a lure trolled behind the kayak.
And even if you come back with nothing, it’s nice to just get out on the water and enjoy the coastal views and wildlife.
Connor caught his huge fish off his back yard from a long line which he kayaked out into the bay. He had lots of fun bringing it in! Later it was pan fried with flour, egg and wasabi mayo, and shared with several people. Delicious!
Connor is a pupil at Blockhouse Bay Intermediate and is passionate about fishing, the environment, and our native birds. He has been fishing and boating since he was in preschool.
He is also passionate about predator trapping and is a member of the Coastal Pirates trapping group with his dad, registered with Predator Free NZ and he is a member of Forest and Bird.
What did you do during lockdown? Lots of organising of my house, exercising etc. Had quality time with husband. Lots of cooking and baking things I wouldn’t normally do (cos I had yeast and flour!) I took time to reflect on the business a little, but didn’t dwell. It is what it is, we will come out the other side, but for now let’s make the most of the time we have together. But by week three I was a bit over it.
What have you learned about yourself? Maybe I work too much and need to find more balance in my life. I thought about this a lot. Not “Is it worth it”, but more “Life is not all about work”. Other aspects of my life are equally important, and it took the business shutting down to see that. At the end of the year I always take time to reflect, but in lockdown there were no distractions; I couldn’t go anywhere, there was nothing that pulled me away from ‘right here and now’. I did quite like that in a sense.
What have you learned about your business, and what will you do differently? When you’re in the daily grind you don’t realise how much the business has grown. From where we started to where we are now is like “Wow!” I’ve realised how much we have grown into a multi-faceted business, and how we can simply change which facets we promote for now.
For instance, there won’t be as much demand for catering, but we can promote our frozen meals, and find new markets for them. And because we have to take out tables the café won’t be the strongest part of the business. Some clientele – particularly the elderly - may also be quite nervous about coming to the café as they have in the past. So, we are looking at diversifying to create more business outside our physical premises, such as fresh dinners.
Our main goal as a business is to keep everyone employed and hopefully growing a bit as well. I’m really hopeful for the future. I believe that the community will come back and support us and other local businesses.
What did you do during lockdown? We took the opportunity to accomplish a big job of rearranging the grocery area – a three-to-four-day job which we couldn’t do during opening hours. We came in every second day, cleaning, rearranging etc.
We had permission from the MPI to open as we are a mini supermarket carrying grocery items, but we made the decision not to open out of concern for the safety of staff and family. We were one of only two Fruitworld shops that closed in level 4.
The rest of lockdown we spent time with our kids and elderly parents (who live with us) – we had a very good time of family bonding. It was quite different to going on holiday.
When we returned to level 3 we saw that the case numbers had reduced a lot so we thought ‘now we can open, it’s not too risky’. We just felt responsible for our staff and their families; the virus is deadly, and just not worth the extra dollar.
What effect has the lockdown had on your business? It’s the nature of the fruit and veggie game; you’ve got to be on your toes, you can lose a lot of money with perishables. Going into level 4 we sold everything off cheaply, and gave the rest away. We lost thousands, but over time we will get back to where we were. We are very fortunate that we are not out of business.
We have some commercial properties and gave our tenants free rent, regardless of their circumstances. Unfortunately, we did not receive rent relief ourselves, but everyone’s different.
Will you change your business model as a result of the lockdown? Fruitworld is setting up an online purchasing system. But I encourage our customers to “look, feel and buy”. No-one chooses produce like you do.
Our business model won’t change much though. We choose quality over price, and send shipments back to the depot if they are not good enough. We believe that buying the best quality produce is an investment in your health. Produce is seasonal and subject to weather. Growers spend months growing fruit and veggies which can be wiped out overnight. That creates supply issues, and a lot of people don’t factor that in when prices go up.
What have you learned about yourself and your business, and what will you do differently? We’ve been in business 18 years, and we work seven days. We are on our feet all the time, so it was really nice to have a break. The weeks of lock down were really valuable. Komal and I have decided that we will rearrange the business so that we spend less time here at work, and more time with family. We have always had a passion for ensuring customers have the best fresh produce experience, but now we realise that we haven’t allowed enough time with family and friends. We intend to change that in the months and years ahead.
Te Uru Waitākere Contemporary Gallery, in partnership with Christina Houghton and Melissa Laing, is pleased to announce the Takarua / Winter Walking About performances.
6 June - 5 July, Walking about in fog by Layne Waerea and Lana Lopesi. Begins at your front door and is shared online.
Sunday 21 June, 3 pm, The Public Stand by Becca Wood. Meet at the bottom of Racecourse Parade, Avondale.
Tuesday 14 July, 6:00 am, Rangi Matariki by Pīta Turei. Meet at Rangimatariki, Rosebank Domain, 126 Patiki Rd, Avondale. 7:20 am Walk to Motu Manawa across the mud flats.
Walking about is a contemporary art series that explores the relationship between walking and art. It takes place over 16 months and is put together by curators Christina Houghton and Melissa Laing, in partnership with Te Uru.
Started in September 2019 and finishing in December 2020, twelve artists will create walks-as-artworks and artworks-as-walks, and invite the public to join them in moving through the spaces of Auckland, co-creating the works with their passage.
The participating artists are: Rodney Bell, Suzanne Cowan, Vanessa Crofskey, Christina Houghton, Melissa Laing, Jeremy Leatinu’u, Andrew McMillan, Richard Orjis, val smith, Pīta Turei, Layne Waerea and Becca Wood.
Individual Walks for Takarua / Winter
Walking about in fog
In Auckland, Winter is a great season for fog. Artist Layne Waerea has long engaged with the physical and conceptual practice of chasing fog and, with Walking about in fog, she invites Aucklanders to follow a full lunar cycle of fog by walking with her and collaborator Lana Lopesi.
Beginning with the full moon on Saturday June 6 and culminating with the following full moon on Sunday July 5, Aucklanders will be supported to rise early, seek the fog and share their experiences with each other in photographic form.
For the duration of the full moon cycle, Waerea will be offering a limited* number of vouchers for local businesses to those who walk about in fog and share their images. The first time a participant's images are posted to the website, a voucher will be sent to them by email, giving them the opportunity to support any of the small businesses featured on https://sosbusiness.nz . (*The voucher offer is only valid until the artist runs out).
The Public Stand
The Public Stand is a choreoauratic walk that pays attention to the uncertainty of what lies ahead for the Avondale Racecourse. Through walking with and listening to the site’s histories, this choreographed event reimagines lost and forgotten stories, and present and possible futures.
Wearing headphones, the participants listen to a downloaded soundscore which invites them to tune in to the site, their moving bodies, the disappearing and the unseen. As a collective, this community walks together and apart, going nowhere in particular, navigating social distancing and walking towards the unknown.
‘Slowing down to listen, the sounds sink inwards to the middle of me... Slowing down my pace in the cityscape in order to make visible the hidden spaces, lost landscapes - feeling the shadows cross me, the back streets… the voice of the street – that become a part of us.’
Join storyteller Pīta Turei at Rangimatariki for the third in a series of storytelling events. Standing on the point of Rangimatariki, a history of the land and people can be shared. This history helps to strengthen and increase our knowledge of celestial progression, by observing and sharing the oral histories of Tāmaki Makaurau.
Together we will watch Matariki rising as Turei shares histories of Tāmaki. As dawn breaks, join the hīkoi out to Motu Manawa across the mud flats. This hīkoi acknowledges the significance of Rangimatariki, Motu Manawa and Te Kou (Pollen Island Marine Reserve) for Te Wai o Hua and the people of Tāmaki. Presented as part of Matariki Festival 2020.
Numbers for the matariki rising observance are open within the limits of the safety level we are at. However, to protect the delicate ecology of the marine reserve, numbers for the hīkoi to Motu Manawa are limited to 20. Register on Eventbrite to secure your place or email email@example.com. The walk requires a reasonable degree of physical fitness and in parts crosses thick tidal mud. Gumboots or sturdy walking boots are a mandatory requirement for all walkers.
All Walking about walks are responsive to the Covid19 alert levels. Walking about in Fog can be undertaken at any alert level. The Public Stand is able to be undertaken together-apart at Level 2 and through audio files shared online if we are in Level 3 or 4. Rangi Matariki can be undertaken with appropriate distancing at Level 2 and we are currently developing our Level 3 and 4 strategies for it .
Individual walks and updates will be announced at walkingabout.nz and on Te Uru’s social media pages.
Walking about has received generous support from Auckland Council, Albert-Eden Local Board and Whau Local Board.
The 2020 public launch of Te Hau o Te Whau, a 5-year crown research project on Microplastics and Emerging Organic Contaminants in Te Whau river inspired the creation of Awa Stories - a two-part storytelling project about our connection to wai and awa.
Ten West Auckland residents were invited to share their first experiences with wai and these stories travel from Zanzibar, Tuvalu, to the Manukau Harbour and our local Te Whau.
Teresa Timo is the eldest of seven siblings who grew up in Avondale. She speaks from her family home and recounts her memories of a childhood free from technology by Te Whau river. This is her Awa Story.
My name is Teresa Roimata Timo and this is my family home. My father is from Samoa and he came here in 1954 and my mother is from the Cook Islands. She came here in 1948.
When we first moved here, the Te Whau, all the families used to go down there. That was our beach, that's where we went swimming every summer. This was a great area to grow up in because it was still part bush and wild. We didn't have things that you play with, so we made our own things. We had our own treehouses and forts and we'd have war games and all these things that we used to do.
We've still got friends from when we went to school with. These are lifelong friends that we've had and we would refer to ourselves as the Avondale family.
You forget. You know, like I'm 63 now, going to be 64, and the family members have always been here since the 1960s so it's a lot of time.
I mean, I've had an amazing life, I've travelled a bit. I've travelled to Europe and I've lived in Australia for 12 years but I came home, and this is it. This is what grounds me. This is where my family is... the memories of my mum and my dad.
Growing up, it wasn't easy but it's made us who we are, me and my sisters and brothers. When you have seven siblings, and we were all pretty close in age so there was a lot of fighting and arguing of course, but when you needed somebody there at your back they're the first people that would be there for you, and that's what my mother had always said.
We had Christmas here and it was so wonderful just to see the reasons why my parents came here and the life that they tried to give us. And we've passed that on to our children and hopefully they'll pass it on to their children.
I wish that my nieces or grand nieces and nephews get the same enjoyment from what we had - freedom of not being tied down to technology, to enjoy what is natural and what is out there before all these changes, get them to see it through our eyes what it was like to grow up here.
And I hope that nothing ever happens to the Te Whau creek because it's still there, it's still flowing, and I hope with all this building, it doesn't impact on it, and so the children of the future can get to enjoy it as much as we did.
You need to look at the past as well, you need to look where you came from. We forget to look back and remember.
Just remember little things, that'll make your life a lot easier if you move forward.
Awa Stories is a collaborative work by EcoMatters and John Rata Photography, with thanks to I Love Avondale, Whau Local Board, Healthy Waters, Panuku and Te Kawerau a Maki.
View Awa Stories photo exhibition on 1909-1949 Great North Road, Avondale Mainstreet until June 30. All 10 videos will be available on the EcoMatters Facebook page.
Community Patrol (CPNZ) has been working with Police since 2002 to deter crime in communities around NZ, by patrolling suburbs and reporting to Police, areas, people and vehicles that appear suspicious.
Mount Roskill Community Patrol Inc. (MRCP) which is based at the Roskill South Community Policing Centre, commenced in 2015 and regularly visits known trouble spots in the community covering Lynfield, Hillsborough, Three Kings through to Balmoral, Sandringham, Mt Roskill and Owairaka, with the aim that the presence of a marked patrolling vehicle will have a deterrent effect on criminal activities. All the patrollers are local people who volunteer, are vetted and trained to help minimise crime in the community.
Like many other worthy causes, most CPNZ branches run virtually on the smell of an oily rag, with many using patrollers’ own vehicles sporting magnetic CPNZ signage. However, due to an incredibly generous donation by a local business, MRCP now has its own car.
Grateful thanks go to a Mt Roskill business QualityCare Dental who have donated a Toyota Prius Hybrid to MRCP. Owners Dr Sangeeta and Venkat Mankal had met Merril Bourne, secretary and co-ordinator of MRCP at Puketapapa Business Voice, a business networking group set up to support local businesses in the Mt Roskill area. It was through that association that Sangeeta heard about MRCP and the work they do.
“The support from local businesses such as QualityCare Dental is so encouraging”, says Merril Bourne. “We rely completely on grants and donations, and it’s just so good to know the business community has got our back.”
Anyone over the age of 18 yrs can apply to become a community patroller and the more members each patrol has, the greater their success will be.
Thousands will no longer refer to the community newspaper that appears in their letterbox as “the local rag”.
They have a new-found respect because they either realised what they had missed during the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown or were grateful that publishers had continued to supply local news in those challenging times.
When the Level 4 lockdown was declared, community newspapers (and magazines) were inexplicably omitted from news media deemed to be essential businesses. There seemed to be an outdated belief that community newspapers were only delivered by vulnerable children. Days after the ban, there was a partial loosening of the rule to allow publications in remote rural areas and ethnic communities. Many titles, however, could not print or could not make letterbox deliveries. Digital editions continued and local residents expressed their gratitude for continuing local coverage but, for many older readers, that was no compensation for the loss of the local newspaper…
Urban community titles owned by Stuff and NZME are reappearing. These publications have in recent years been characterised by a large amount of content shared across titles in regional groupings in the name of cost-cutting. Stuff’s Auckland titles, for example, mainly carry supercity-wide stories and columns that are common across the publications. There is little, if any, truly local news. The reactions of readers of independent community newspapers that concentrate on local – some would call it hyperlocal – news might send a message to these group owners. If they want readers and advertisers, they may have to find ways of returning to the days of local news in local newspapers.
The eight-page Central Leader that reappeared in my Lynfield letterbox recently carried a commendable front-page editorial exhorting reader to support local businesses – “Backyourbackyard” – but not one story related to my suburb or even my part of Auckland…
The real attraction of community newspapers lies in that description. They need to be about the local community, the people you know, or the people you recognise and to whom you can now put a name.
The closest I have is produced by my neighbours Kerrie and John Subritzky. The Beacon is a modest publication, a newsletter more than a newspaper, and has just had its fourth anniversary. It is printed outside of Auckland and was caught out by the lockdown. The April issue was delivered last week. It is unashamedly “parish pump news and all the little things that go on in our community”…
How each publisher defines community news will be influenced by the extent of the circulation area but the most engaged never lose sight of street level. They need to be enthusiastic champions of their own area, which makes local ownership a major advantage. And, as we are gripped by global pandemic, they need courage.
Food charities and support services, already under pressure due to ramifications of COVID-19, are now bracing for an expected surge in demand with the first round of the government wage subsidies due to end on June 9.
One charity, which operates using a unique model to promote the preservation of dignity amongst recipients, saw a 185% increase in demand, with the numbers of families it helps growing from 350 per week to more than 1,000.
Brook Turner, head of community service development at VisionWest Community Trust, says they have seen the number of whanau they support in West Auckland triple since the beginning of Level 4 and are concerned once the Government wage subsidy is no longer available, the numbers of people in need could increase by this amount again.
He expects it to grow by an additional 700 families in the West Auckland region alone. Now a new $200,000 donation has been made, evenly split between two charities to help them cope with the additional demand for food.
“The first wave exposed the level of food insecurity in New Zealand, but this second wave of need will be at the end of the wage subsidy and we’re already seeing cracks in the surface with redundancies,” says Turner. “I believe there will be a third wave too, with businesses getting through September, October and November and then collapsing.
“There is a perfect storm coming and it will be a once in a generation kind of moment. We’ve got to walk with people, give them employment opportunities, set up community enterprises. We will need public, private and non-profit partnerships that help build a new economy to have a co-ordinated food system and a significant response to those in poverty.
“I think Christmas is going to be a really hard time, so it will be up to us as communities and local organisations to really anticipate those needs and respond to them to help people get back on their feet as quickly as possible,” he says.
VisionWest provides wrap-around support to those in need, with an empowerment philosophy which sees those receiving food support also volunteering at the organisation to help others like themselves.
“Our whole approach to kai is that it is a great connector and food is a basic human right like shelter; without those things your whole world is in disarray.”
Turner says during lockdown the charity also worked with police to help deliver food to those in challenging situations; this gift alone was often enough to calm difficult situations.
“We’ve seen whanau, who just with the simple gift of food, have a situation de-escalated in their household where there was rising aggression. Food has the ability to make people feel calm and cared for and to come together as a family,” he says.
Donations from suppliers and charitable organisations such as the $100,000 grant from The Trusts will go some way to ensure those that need their help will continue to get it, says Turner, but more will need to be done.
Veronica Shale, executive director of charity Fair Food, which collects and distributes surplus food from retailers and manufacturers, and the other recipient of a $100,000 grant from The Trusts, agrees that a holistic approach is the only way to support the growing number of people who will continue to need support to feed their families.
She says as more hospitality businesses struggle, there is a flow-on effect for suppliers, and food wastage and scarcity are the results.
“The issue is how do we divert this food that’s not needed anymore away from the landfill and back into the supply chain so organisations like us can help get it to those who need it.”
Shale says before the outbreak of the virus most of the surplus food picked up from her organisation was from supermarkets.
“Then once lockdown came it definitely became more business to business, so we’re picking up from growers, producers and manufacturers.
“In month one of lockdown we conservatively rescued over 121 tons of good, surplus nutritious food, which equates to over 348,000 meals. Rather than being dumped, this food is doing good. Fair Food offers a pragmatic solution to tackle food waste and food insecurity, nourishing our communities in need - and this need will be ongoing for some time,” says Shale.
She says this has had a positive impact on those receiving food parcels with an increase in the amount of protein in their diets.
“In the past, we’ve struggled to get good protein as meat, chicken and dairy are expensive and what we’ve been rescuing is restaurant quality stuff. We were also lucky to be able to take 26,000 eggs off a nationwide fast food chain that was unable to utilise them for products on their breakfast menu during lockdown,” she says.
Shale says while they’re grateful for the support of The Trusts, businesses and the community need to work together efficiently to redistribute surplus food.
“What I'm saying is if you are a food grower, or manufacturer there are food rescues all around New Zealand who would gladly distribute that food and there are people out there that really need it,” says Shale.
Matt Williams, acting CEO of The Trusts says they are working with a range of community organisations who have had their usual source of funding disrupted during the lockdown.
“There is a growing need from charities who have been cut off from their normal supply of resources which is impacting on their ability to support members of our community.
“We want to encourage other corporates who are in a position to help to reach out to these groups and find a way to help them, whether through financial support or even lending warehouse space and logistical support,” he says.
With recreational fishing picking up again, we decided to find out if they are getting lucky.
On our way out to Te Whau Point, we met returning Kayak fisherman Greg Cockerill. An ex-Wellingtonian, Greg has been in Auckland for a year, living in Mt Eden. This was just his second kayak fishing trip at Blockhouse Bay so he is still looking for good spots, surveying the channel with his fish finder. Today he managed two kahawai.
When we visited, unusually no-one was fishing near the boat club, but there were five men fishing at the next headland towards Green Bay on the receding tide.
Eric Mariano had also caught two kahawai. That must have been the fish of the day! Eric had some good gear and has been fishing for about six months. He lives in Glendene and this was his first time fishing here with his wife Ofelia. We asked Eric if he came from a long line of fishermen in his Philippines homeland. No he laughed, we were farmers!
At last we found a local, Nolie Vergara from Bolton St in Blockhouse Bay. He comes down with his wife Anita most weekends to fish. He enjoys the fish pan-fried or as a soup. He really enjoys catching a feed and as a break from his work as a panel beater in Otahuhu. We mentioned that another of the fishermen was also Filipino and Nolie laughed, saying that everyone who was shore fishing this morning was Filipino.
As we were leaving the beach, a group of young men arrived who are keen prospective fishermen. They are from – you guessed it, the Philippines. They are lodging together in Mt Roskill and are all employed by the same company, Passive Fire Systems, doing fireproofing work. We were able to assure them that yes, it is legal to fish here as long as you observe the catch limits and fish sizes.
Returning in the afternoon, there were several more people fishing. Medium sized kahawai were still the main catch and fishing well. Leigh Paulden had loftier goals though. Two weeks earlier he caught three snapper and he wanted a repeat! He says that the channel off Blockhouse Bay seems better for snapper than further up the harbour. “Why travel miles to fish when there is this great fishing on our doorstep?” He said. It makes a good break from his day job as a business coach.
Many people have yet to discover this hidden treasure that is so close to New Lynn.
Originally developed as an extensive park like garden it now boasts a fantastic butterfly house and a large function centre. With such a beautiful setting, it is an ideal location to gather for any event including weddings, corporate meetings, parties and club events.
West Lynn Garden and Butterfly House is open once again following the Covid-19 lockdown. Covering 4.5 acres, it is a beautiful environment and a space for community.
Formed in 1981 on land originally owned by the Eden Garden Society, the West Lynn Garden Society is an independent organisation. It is a space for people who love outdoors, gardening, and a relaxed environment. We are committed to the creation and maintenance of this unique environment for the enjoyment of all. It is a fabulous space for a picnic, a day’s outing, a family venue or a place for people to wander through the spacious garden area.
Functions and Events
You can hold your event at West Lynn Garden including outdoor and indoor events in the Function Centre including parties, corporate functions and weddings. The facility is of a high standard and is a beautiful, inviting environment for any type of function. There is more information available on the website or come and visit us.
You could be part of this wonderful place as a member or volunteer
Anyone can become a member or volunteer to help sustain the vision of this wondrous place of beauty and peace.
Please come and visit and consider joining or volunteering. As a not-for-profit organization West Lynn relies heavily on volunteers to keep our operation humming along.
Could you give some of your time to assist us? We currently have a need for people with secretarial, accounting, reception or gardening skills. Volunteering at West Lynn Garden can be a rewarding experience working with a dedicated team in a friendly natural environment.
AGM: All are welcome to the Annual General meeting of the West Lynn Garden Society (Inc.) on June 28th at 2pm at the garden, 73 Parker Avenue, New Lynn.
If you think you could help us please come along or if you have questions call Margaret 09 833 9643 or send us an email us.