As the signs war has been zooming around on local facebooks for the last few days, TRM inmates and TRM Daily Report junkies deserve a full explanation of the historical events behind this issue – if only to demonstrate how petty and abusive councils can be… To avoid fake news or just for pure entertainment we prepared the following sad explanation for concerned readers…TDC (Taupo District Council) have declared war and fined TRM (again!) $750 for not removing the directional signage – see black signs above (TURN LEFT TO TONGARIRO RIVER TURN RIGHT TO TOWN CENTRE).As the signage issue is now public on facebook etc. the following is to provide a chronological photo history and explanation for the record. Previously we were fined $300 in 2016 for not having a resource consent but that was withdrawn when a retrospective resource consent (cost RaftingNZ $1500) for the sign was granted. So to start at the beginning…Originally TDC (Taupo District Council) signs on SH1 and SH41 welcomed tourists and visitors to Turangi. Their sign is below.Then DGLT’s ambitious new General Manager, Scott Pearson, decided to rebrand Turangi with Taupo’s new logo and a new sign – “Turangi – Source of the Lake”) Turangi was insulted by the new signage and the lack of consultation. After they removed old sign, TRM pinched it and re-erected it on the corner of Link Road (now Piri Road) to protect and maintain the Turangi reputation as the “The trout fishing Capital of the world” – as indicated below. Everyone, even the Mayor (Rick Cooper) loved it!This replaced old tired signage advertising the motel. These signs have been regularly changed and/or refreshed for over fifty years without complaint.
TRM has three road frontages – all with signs on the main entrance on Taupahi Road, before SH1 and Turangi township were even developed, from Piri Road corner where most main road traffic access the motel.The old late 1950’s photos below indicate our humble beginnings with access from River Road – now Taupahi Road. There was no Link Road back then.When Link Road was formed new Motel signs were added to the corner of SH1 but this was prior to the Resource Management Act.The image below is SH1 being developed in late 1960’s when Link Road (now renamed Piri Road) was formed to create a corner site on SH1.A few years ago RaftingNZ erected a large sign in front of the visitor centre entrance. For this they had signed a contract to pay the sign rental etc.On right is TRM’s original corner sign after the stone wall was erected about 2005 – without a resource consent!)We were advised that following a complaint from a commercial competitor they were requested to remove it – despite the contract with Taupo Council. When I heard about the Council’s “about face” action I too was disgusted and suggested, rather than waste it, the large sign could go on our more prominent corner – largely to brighten up the main approach to the town which lacked welcoming signage. Back then it replaced an older tired Motel sign which needed refreshing.We never heard anything from Taupo Council as we understood that replacing an existing sign – even though it was larger – did not need a resource consent. So the mixture of signs was below:Obviously the RaftingNZ sign was not designed for main road exposure so Luke designed a new sharper image.(NOTE the directional signage which was never questioned back then. But the mix of signs was a bit messy. Also note the MOTEL sign which was replaced about ten years ago – also without any Taupo Council interference or need for a resource consent. Late at night someone set fire to the old sign which just about set off all the trees and the old brushwood fence as well. We cannot help but wonder if the same person(s) is behind this present complaint?)(On right is the old brushwood fence which was replaced after the arson attempt with a beautiful much admired pumice wall extending around the three street frontages at the same time as the signage was improved.)Then TRM were approached by Go Tongariro – acting for Taupo Council – who offered to remove the old Council sign to refresh it with the new Council logo at their expense. Naturally we agreed. They lied! Council employees from Go Tongariro removed it but did not return it. So RaftingNZ then designed a much improved new sign to incorporate the same wording as on the old council sign.The day after the new sign went up we were fined $300. Obviously someone was behind this waiting to pounce on TRM?. The only Council employee who approached us at that time was the Chairman of Go Tongariro who was delighted with the fine as he claimed the sign was too close to the main road?. (Fortunately he has since resigned) So much for encouraging tourism…We reiterate the signage is not advertising the motel but is designed as a welcoming sign to tourists. The Taupo Council or their Turangi representatives have never once complimented us for our noble public service. We wonder why we bothered…Instead our situation got worse. Soon after this the TRM listing was removed from the Council website promoting tourist accommodation in Turangi. Coincidence? Then all TRM brochures at the visitor centre went missing. Another coincidence? We complained about the website and DGLT (Damian Coutts) replaced it. Eventually we managed to get our brochures displayed back into the iSite at Taupo. Then TRM was assessed to be located in a “red zone” flood risk? This was too coincidental. I met with Taupo Council engineers who claimed it was due to a swimming pool on site (?). As the swimming pool had been filled in about ten years ago they advised the flood hazard designation would be reduced to a low risk flood hazard?. We appealed as the property has never flooded in over 60 years.(Needless to say, this Flood Hazard Zone has a major negative influence on our property values and insurance, etc. If it remains in place then we will request a review of our land value and refund of excess rates charged?.)We did meet with a council compliance officer last year – in 2017. I argued that the sign had nothing to do with TRM. RaftingNZ had leased the land occupied by the sign, we had no part in designing or erecting or paying for the sign, yet Council was fining us?. RaftingNZ generously agreed to prepare a “retrospective” resource consent for the new sign – cost approx. $1500 – which included the existing directional signage that had been in place for several years without any complaint. In the meantime I had added the “TURN LEFT TO TONGARIRO RIVER” to balance the sign layout and hide the timber supports at the rear.Then in 2018 “TRM Holdings Ltd.” receive a further “abatement notice” for five existing signs requesting we remove the directional signage and 0800 number from the rafting sign. We have never met with the “Enforcement Officer – Resource Consents Planner – Monitoring” who sent all this mail. The only time the signs were discussed over the phone I requested the removal of the “flood hazard” zoning as previously agreed, before TRM would remove the directional signage.Taupo Council latest communication received 22 March now fines us $750 for our infringement. We argue that Council have infringed and reneged with their Flood Hazard zoning. What a storm in a teacup!.
TRM cannot understand or explain why Taupo Council are being so vindictive and bullying over such a minor directional sign to assist tourists. It can only be interpreted as a personal vendetta. The officer responsible is guilty of gross abuse of his powers. The lack of any reasonable consultation is not acceptable. TRM and RaftingNZ and Turangi deserve a full apology.