Rakino Easter Treats 2024

Rakino Easter Round-up

Firstly, thank you to the hardy Rakino-ites that humoured me by turning up at the unreasonable hour of 10am for the first of the #ecofest2024 events organised for Easter. The icy south-west wind was howling into West Bay as our group hugged the cliff and hacked and poisoned rhamnus, but the views were spectacular.
Elsewhere, the moth plant removalists were hard at work ripping out the devil’s weed and plucking pods. Bert has an enviable and cunningly wrought device which is just the ticket for this tedious job. It’s a sort of hooky prongy thing on a long pole, and he should probably patent it.

Julianne killing rhamnus

The second event was a 4pm low-tide beach clean-up at the northern end of West Bay, and it was really cool to see how many kids were there. My expectations for buy-in of my fanciful ideas are usually quite low, so massive thanks to everyone who turned up. Unfortunately the beach rubbish at West Bay is mainly small pieces of plastic which are entwined in the leaf and feather middens of the high-tide mark. Common items were foil lolly wrappers, small indeterminate pieces of plastic bags, and jandals. It wouldn’t be a beach clean without finding clothing pegs and soft silicone baits, but my favourite find was a foil wrapper claiming to contain a ‘fart bomb’, and Steve Livesay dragged a sodden duvet inner and cover up the saddle track which impressed me mightily. The beach was also smothered in Lion’s Mane jellies, some of whom were clutching onto bits of plastic. I asked them nicely before removing it…

Lion’s Mane Jellies en masse

Buckets of beach rubbish

I didn’t attend the Sunday RRA meeting as planned because I was setting up for Market Day, but I hear that much gratitude was given to Lez in the form of many rounds of applause, there is progress on the Hall, and the progress on the Fire Shed is self-evident, so many thanks to Chris, the Stephen’s (Thomas and Wong), Henry, and John Beasley, plus everyone else who has worked on the shed. It’s looking great. Let’s hope it doesn’t need to be utilised in a hurry.

Harriet played a blinder in generously offering up her garden for a Market Day fundraiser for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust. The kids’ activities for humans of all ages went down a treat, and I reckon we should expand on those for future events. A huge thank you to everyone that helped out, provided materials, time, and participated in this event.

Pinch pots and painting

A colourful garden party!

Thanks to:
* Lez for jigsaw cut outs, and John for the test pots and treats,
*Lucy for teaching pinchpots,
*Reilly, Natalie, Carolyn, Dylan, Jo, Jim Wheeler, Lisa, and Harriet for their creations.
*Eleanor for her paintings and life drawings.
*Bert on sausage sizzle with William weeping over onions in the kitchen.
*Simon for the poster, Gary for helping set up, and me for the interminable spruiking..
*Lyndsey & Caroline for their vintage goodies.
*All the Rakino-ites who supported.

We raised $1350 for Westpac… which will be paid this week.

Bert on sausage sizzle duties.

It was also the last weekend ever of the Woody Bay Pizzeria as Alf hangs up his pizza paddle. We dropped in at Monday lunchtime and trade was roaring in the calm of the bay after a few days of a brutal westerly. Woody Bay was full of boats, and pizza eaters.

I hope everyone else had a relaxing Easter, but I had to go home for a rest. . .

Woody Bay on Easter Monday

Winner winner kina dinner

If there is one seafood Rakino is particularly abundant in, it’s spiky kina.

The un-charismatic sea urchin has managed to stealthily encroach on sub tidal rocky reef crevices all around our island. This would be bearable if there were vast schools of old granddaddy snapper with blubbery lips thick enough to crack their carapaces open, but the snapper inhabiting the reefs are in the main part juveniles. Likewise, crayfish are functionally extinct in the Hauraki Gulf, which means they exist in insufficient numbers to fulfil their role in the ecosystem as a predator of kina.

A young snapper from above

As a consequence kina are steadily munching their way through swathes of kelp beds creating kina ‘barrens’, which is pretty much what it says on the tin; areas barren of everything except kina. Healthy kelp beds are our most important and most diverse coastal ecosystems. They are nursery areas for many commercially fished species as well as a food larder of smaller rocky reef fishes for those species. They should teem with life, and in areas of high protection, they do.

Common triple-fin
A smiley yellow-lipped parore

They are also a larder for the seabird species we see around Rakino, the shags, little blue penguins, reef herons, gannets, shearwater, and petrels. The seabirds eat fish and their guano feeds nutrients back into the kelp beds so the cycle can continue.

Kelp, yet to be munched by kina

This is the time of year to eat kina because they are supposedly sweeter and plumper. In some regions the collective wisdom is to harvest them when kowhai is in flower, in other areas when pohutukawa is in flower. Generally I would hazard the correct time to collect them is in Spring, at low-tide. If you were to adhere to Mātauranga Māori you would harvest them in the days immediately following a full moon.

The bag limit for kina is 50 per collector per day.

I’ve always been averse to kina; the descriptions of its flavour sounded frankly nasty, but I braved a mouthful after a recent snorkel and was pleasantly surprised. The orange roe is the part to eat, and its texture is quite firm. They were briny, lightly iodine flavoured, and mildly sweet. The immediate sensation was that I had eaten something tremendously healthy. Kina are tremendously healthy! Kina is a good source of Iodine, Selenium, Vitamin B6 and VitaminA; and a source of Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Riboflavin (vitamin B2) and Vitamin E.

I’ve noticed kina gradually creeping onto the menus of good restaurants around Auckland, in the same way they creep into every rock crevice available. I found this recent recipe from Al Brown on RNZ, so I’m sharing it in the hope you’ll all put some kina entrees on your Rakino summer menu this year. I advise a glove to protect your hand as you lever them off the rocks, and a bag to put your catch in. Don’t worry, they don’t move quickly…


Labour Weekend Market Day

We haven’t had a market on Rakino for a few years, so a few enthusiastic people have decided to have a crack at reinstating it on the Rakino events calendar.
It’s going to happen this year on October 23rd, 1pm till 3-ish, down at the Hall, after the RRA meeting. There will be a $10 a market table koha to be donated to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust.

If you have bits and bobs to sell, come on down, and if you have some cash burning a hole in your pocket, definitely come on down. Come on down regardless.
There will be a sausage sizzle, so bring some gold coins for that, and Jennie Cruse will be busking, so bring some gold coins for her.
There will be t-shirts, tote-bags, cool pottery mugs, preserves, pearls, and much more. The art rooms will be open also, for painting ceramics, and jewels. Cash transfers are available.
If you need more info, email me, lisa@lisawest.co.nz

We look forward to seeing your lovely faces on Sunday. 🙂

Preventing Future Pest Incursions

The current Darwin’s ant invasion has got me thinking about risks and risk mitigation.

With regard to keeping our environment on Rakino free of undesirable fauna, the risks of pests getting to the island are high, and the consequences are severe. The costs of the rainbow skink incursion were in the tens of thousands, and we can only cross our fingers and hope that the Darwin’s ant incursion can be dealt with swiftly.

I don’t know how the ants got to Rakino, but there is one vector we can eliminate. I know from experience when I have brought plants from Auckland to Rakino that Belaire is assiduous in checking they have been dealt with according to protocol in order to stop spread of Rainbow Skinks and Argentine Ants. I’m so paranoid about being ‘that guy’, that I soak my plants in buckets for two days solid before taking them to our island. Often the bio-security staff are down at the pier with the sniffer dogs too, which is excellent. All commercial transport operators moving goods or people to or among Hauraki Gulf islands will need to have a Pest Free Warrant also, which is a further protection.

The weak link is people with private boats who may not be aware of the protocols around moving plants from the Mainland to pest-free islands.

I’m proposing that we utilise the already excellent existing Rakino Nursery further; talking with John MacKenzie about the native plants we’d like to be planting, seeing if the range can be expanded even further. John does his best to eco-source seed for propagation, and the nursery has expanded recently, which means more trees grown on island, so no risk of incursions.

Of course, people also want to plant exotics, annual flowers, vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees, so these are also possible vectors of pest transmission if they are being transported to Rakino.

What do the gardeners think about having a couple of plant/seed buy, sell or swaps a year? Cuttings are easily taken from many of the pretty exotics that birds love on the island. I’m particularly thinking of the callistemons (bottlebrush) which are a magnet for bellbird and tui. They also pose a risk because of myrtle rust, and along with pohutukawa should not be transported to Rakino. We have to protect our big old pohutukawa as best we can. I’ve also got my eye on a number of beaut hibiscus that I’m keen to get cuttings from.. Seed collection is very easy with regard to annual flowers, and commercial seed packets are completely safe, of course. It could be a great theme for a market day.

Next year Rakino is 20 years pest free, so it’s unfortunate timing for the ant incursion. We are incredibly privileged to inhabit an island that is free of predators. It’s actually very rare internationally, and we shouldn’t take that status for granted. I suggest we come up with a framework to stop further incursions, and take responsibility to stop the potential risks ourselves.

I’d love some feedback, and further thoughts about this. 🙂

RRA Election time?

Is it time to review the function and performance of the RRA (Rakino Rate Payers Association)?

The objectives of the Association are set out in its Constitution.

At the Annual General Meeting candidates either volunteer or are persuaded to join the committee sometime later. There is no election process as is defined. Elected officers are those who volunteer for that role. Not much happens. There’s little or no communication with the membership. The Association doesn’t enjoy community support and more importantly respect. All fairly typical characteristics of any volunteer organization. Well-meaning. Volunteers doing their best, but is their best good enough?

In recent times things have been organized independent of the Association. We have enjoyed concerts at the Hall, the Nursery and at the Pizzeria. Yoga classes, art, weaving courses are all well received and supported. The community can make things happen if it has the will. Who needs the Association?

It does seem that decentralization will continue which questions the relevance of the Association and especially as it has seldom taken a lead or achieved much. The hall is but one example. Our emergency response capability is being withdrawn. The Association fiddles whilst Rakino potentially burns.

The Association is nevertheless essential as the body that represents us when dealing with say the Council. Council will only deal with the one voice. The problem with that one voice is that the committee is not democratically elected, doesn’t have a mandate on any position it takes, is seldom well informed and invariably reflects the opinion of the committee or some on it.

We have allowed this situation to occur. We don’t follow the prescribed process for the election of a committee and a Chair. We don’t give them a brief, a blue print for what we want for the Island, where we are going and how we want to get there. If we don’t manage change, it will happen regardless.

I believe the function of the Association should be three-fold;

  1. To achieve representation on the Waiheke Community Board.
  2. To represent the community with key stake holders and deploy expertise within the community for specific negotiations.
  3. To develop a road map which reflects the communities needs and aspirations, coordinate a blue print and invite people to take on specific function, unhindered. Performance is measured by success.

The Hall is a prime example as to why there must be change.

After years of talk, Stephen Thomas came up with a scheme to move and redevelop the existing building which he costed and presented to the community both on and off the Island. His concept was well received and he was congratulated on his initiative. We were to be canvassed for our thoughts. A no brainer really. Unfortunately, covid aside, nothing has happened. More of the same and for the same reasons.

We were told at the last AGM that Council preferred a new build on which premise a vote was taken to do away with the old and bring in the new. A concept by the Association was presented with a few boxes and improved vehicular access. It has since transpired that Council did not express that preference yet a new design is being developed after Stephen Thomas presented his vision and the ink had almost dried. Stephen had broad approval for his concept and has the skill set, drive and contacts to make things happen. Local trades, professionals and merchants offered their support. Meetings brimmed with enthusiasm and suggestions as to how it could happen and how individuals could contribute.

Stephen should be given the job to resolve the hall fiasco once and for all. He has the qualifications to present a concept and costings to the Waiheke Board, get approval from the Board, facilitate funding and consents, negotiate with Auckland Transport as regards transportation issues and bring the community together to build with fund raising if necessary. No one else on the committee has those skills and frankly they have had decades to demonstrate their capabilities. A significant job for a lone individual but Stephen is a team player and can call upon expertise within the community to finally resolve something which has been on the drawing board for decades.

No more delays awaiting the formation of a committee, no more waffle and grandstanding. Responsibility delegated to someone who know what they’re doing. Job done.

What else does the community need? Here’s but a few thoughts to make my point.


Lisa and Holly have shown to have the drive and passion to organize fantastic events with fantastic artists. They should be given carte blanche responsibility with an allocation of funds from the Association. The community should underwrite the associated costs and be willing to pay to participate rather than stand on the fringes and observe.

Sense of community

Why not our own flag, an Island logo, a letterhead, some merchandise that sets us apart. Let’s appoint someone with those skills, which may also include a programmer so that we can vote electronically on whatever design we prefer. The same program could be utilized at the AGM and at other significant decision times.

Other thoughts are; fruit trees along the berms, utilization of the land at the top of the Island for sporting events, a website which brings together all the other sites under the one umbrella, resolution of the mooring travesty, a welcoming committee for new owners, an information centre for visitors.

The possibilities are endless. Someone with a special interest or skill takes responsibility for a specific function after being provided with a broad outline of what the community wants.
Once again, answerable to us, not the committee which in time becomes largely redundant much as it is now but is no longer permitted to stymie innovative thinking or enthusiasm.

Thoughtful comment would be appreciated. The next AGM is over Labour weekend. Change is necessary now. I believe we need fresh blood on the Association. There are many talented impassioned people out there to make a real difference. I believe that needs to begin at the top.

Fire Prevention & Fire Safety

Dale Tawa from FENZ has kindly provided this link for us. It has plenty of simple tips with regard to reducing risk to your property should fire break out, and advice on applying for fire permits. Dale has also answered a question for me that I have been asking for a while. In case anyone else was wondering, NO, a charcoal/wood-fired BBQ in a prohibited fire season is not permitted.


A resident’s observations on our Hall complex.

My feedback for community hall, library, art room, mail room, emergency response storage, ferry terminal facilities.

I have carefully tried to list all of the uses of the island’s only community structure as it is important to keep all of these in mind while trying to decide how to move forward.

Moving forward is a key consideration, it would be a true shame to see the loss of any amenities  as amenities are a rare commodity on our beautiful Motu. I am fortunate enough to have made this island my home and so am in a position to see how, when and why these buildings are used. I certainly don’t deserve more of a vote than any other landowner but do have better perspective than most and, with all due humility, expect to be listened to.

My strong feeling is that the existing, historic, structure needs to be preserved in some manner. While a new build may have advantages in terms of a reduction in short term maintenance requirements it (to my mind) will not provide the same facilities as does the current structure. I in no way trust that Auckland council will consider an increase in size or utility of the building(s). I am trying to remain logical about the situation but need to briefly say I can’t see how any new building would hope to have the same warmth and heart.

My preferred option would be to remove the hall/kitchen section and move it, raised .5 metres to secure it against surge tides, to the area seaward of the existing toilets. The jutting section of the art facility could then be mounted on poles and a small 1.2 metre concrete wall built on the Southern edge to further protect all structures. This would also provide a safe waiting area for humans and animals. The existing parking beside the bins would be designated pick up and drop off only thus becoming a safe turning area for vehicles.

As a final note I hope all due efforts have been made to consider the non internet savvy in our community. Of course there are limits to any form of communication but all must be consulted on decisions that affect all. Aside from the natural beauty it is the personalities of us all that make the island a special place.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Josh McCann

My view on the hall

As you’ll know, the position of the hall is something of a problem, as king tides can cause inundation and damage. Recent goings on in the RRA have prompted me to have a think about what should happen to the hall, I poked around council reports, costings, and the possible solutions. It looks like boiling down to:

Two Options
There seem to be only two solutions on the table, demolish the hall and do a new build, as proposed by the RRA committee or the Lift and Shift option, as recommended in the two local board reports.

Proposed move and lift
Lift & Shift the Hall

Demolish and build new

My preferred option is for a lift and shift, for the following reasons:

A new build will not be fit for purpose
Discussion with community members, along with the results of a survey about what people want and value from facilities showed that a gallery, art space, and, library, and music venue are core requirements rather than peripheral.

Although square meterage wasn’t discussed in the meeting, it was mentioned that library, artists studio space, and gallery would no longer exist.

A hall with capacity for 40 or so people negates its use as a music venue, so effectively, the new build proposal fails to meet almost all of the community’s requirements.

History and Character
While I’m not a diehard old building preserver, the existing structure does have a quirky presence and a long history in the gulf, having been originally constructed as WWII army barracks on Motuihe Island.

With a budget of $300,000, a new building is unlikely to be an aesthetic and architectural marvel.

It would be less wasteful and, I think, more in line with the values of the island to re-use rather than trash and rebuild. The local board report suggests the hall is basically sound, and good for another 30 – 50 years.

Latest Options for Rakino Hall

Waiheke Local Board Meeting, April 21, 2021

The latest report on options for the Rakino hall come to the same conclusion as the previous one; the only viable solution with the available budget is to lift and shift the hall as in the image above. Don’t forget to have your say here.

Feature image credit Julianne Taylor.

Opinion piece: Further thoughts on Rakino Hall developments…

Vladimir Lennon is quoted as saying “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

This could well be applied to the Rakino Rate Payers Association and the hall where something finally seems to be happening after decades of the same old, same old, trust me I know what I’m doing.

Perhaps the turning point was when Barbara proposed; in the absence of leadership from the Chair, a motion whereby those present at the Easter meeting voted to retain the hall or seek alternatives for the existing structure.

Certainly not a majority vote, but voted by those who could be bothered to attend the meeting which should be a wake-up call to everyone.

There is no point complaining if you can’t be bothered getting involved…and…. accepting in a democracy the majority reaches a decision and those who dissent retire with dignity. We have the opportunity to influence change now. Grasp that opportunity. Get involved. What is being talked about by the Association isn’t particularly inspirational. I’m not sure the Association has a handle on the complexities that present.

The Rakino Hall serves two functions;

  1. Transport
  2. Community

Fortunately, our civic leaders have provided the frame work for each;

In the case of transportation, the following documentation defines the way in which passenger capacity, functionality and operability is to be achieved in ferry Terminal design to meet customer expectations.


Rakino seems to fit into category one and as such this is what we might expect (copied with all spelling errors left as they appear);

4.1 Terminal Type 1 Unstaffed rural, suburban or urban wharf Type 1

Terminals are relatively low patronage Terminal locations but with the potential to grow over time. This potential growth shall be factored into the space planning of the Terminal design. Type 1 Terminals shall: • Provide full mobility access • Provide canopy, enclosed gangway or other suitable shelter structure for waiting passengers • Provide accommodation for at least 50 people with at least 10 seated 03 04 TYPE 1 TYPE 2 TYPE 3 DESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS 7 Ferry terminal design • Provide boarding platforms a minimum of 2 metres wide and 3 meters deep at standard freeboard heights of (900mm 1400mm, 1800mm) to provide near level boarding to the current ferry fleet and standard vessels specified under PTOM • Provide adequate fendering and mooring systems to allow design size vessels to safely berth in all weather conditions • Provide marine-grade non-slip surfacing resistant to scuffing by vessel gangways • Provide a safe passanger environment, fenced and gated to the fullest extent posisble to prevent accidential or unauthorised entry to water • Provide liferings and emergency ladders • Provide LED lighting to provide a safe level of brightness at all times • Provide full CCTV coverage for operational and passanger safety puposes • Provide a Public Adress system for customer service and safety announcements • Provide Emergency Help Points connected to the Auckland Transport Operations Centre (ATOC) • Provide Passanger Information Display screens (PIDS) showing real time service information • Provide AT WiFi connectivity • Provide for advertising screens to beinstalled by AT’s advertising partners • Provide AT HOP card validators (where AT HOP is utilised on services using the facility) • Provide Terminal name sign easily visible from land and water, Terminal location map and wayfinding signage to/from Terminal • Provide suitable shore supply for vessel layover incl. ducts and pipework for wash-down and multi-type/volt power connection(s) • Provide suitable storage facilities to meet ferry operator requirements • Provide litter and recycling bins • Provide timetable and customer information boards • Provide safety compliance signage • Provide cycle storage for a minimum of 10 cycles • Provide landside connections including shelter for bus services (where they are provided) • Provide car drop off point • Provide a means of closing the Terminal to public access after the last ferry service of the day.

In the case of community structures our civic leaders have provided this inspirational framework;

Community Facilities Network Plan (aucklandcouncil.govt.nz)

We are told;

Community facilities are an important part of realising the vision for Auckland to become the world’s most liveable city. They contribute to building strong, healthy and vibrant communities by providing spaces where Aucklanders can connect, socialise, learn and participate in a wide range of social, cultural, art and recreational activities. These activities foster improved lifestyles and a sense of belonging and pride among residents. The Community Facilities Network Plan (the network plan) provides a road map for how Auckland Council will invest in community facilities over the next 20 years

Toilets at the Hall

The Chair disclosed that AT was to upgrade the hall toilets; something I had not been aware of.

He suggested that exercise should be deferred pending a decision on the hall.

That makes perfect sense and suggests that AT recognizes (in part) its responsibility for Rakino’s transportation function.

A logical conclusion

Surely Rakino should simply give a fulsome thank you to our civic leaders…. we like what you’re saying and are happy to accept what you are offering.

Surely the cost should be borne by both Council and AT despite the confused distinction.

Surely any structure should be fit for purpose and inspirational but cost effective.

Surely any structure should become iconic within the Gulf, just as a simple phone box has become.

Surely everyone on Rakino should be coming up with ideas on what this new structure should look like and what function it should provide?