Northlanders have a rare chance to peek into history this weekend as a team of archaeologists unearth New Zealand's first shipyard.
Since Monday the 20-strong team, led by Matt Carter, a Kiwi archaeologist based at La Trobe University in Melbourne, have been excavating what is now a paddock opposite Horeke Tavern in South Hokianga.
However, about 190 years ago it was a bustling shipyard where Maori and Pakeha built a 40-tonne schooner, a 140-tonne brigantine and a 400-tonne barque.
Called the Deptford Dockyard, the enterprise was set up by a trio of Sydney merchants who bought a block of land at Horeke form Maori chiefs in 1826. Their business was declared bankrupt in 1830 but shipbuilding continued at the site until 1842.
A magnetic survey of the site last year provided evidence of intensive shipbuilding and milling activity.
Mr Carter said the aim of the excavation was to find out how shipyards of the 1820s were laid out and how ships were built there.
"The excavation will also reveal the living and working conditions at the shipbuilding yard, and also how Pakeha and Maori interacted throughout the process of building ships," he said.
An open day will be held at the site from 10am-2pm on Saturday, January 16.
Horeke can be reached by taking the Horeke Rd turnoff from SH12 west of Kaikohe (unsealed) or the Rangiahua Rd turnoff from SH1 north of Okaihau.
While you're there it's worth checking out Horeke Tavern, said to be New Zealand's oldest pub.
For more information go to thefirstshipsproject.wordpress.com.
Jug band festival
The Hokianga Jug Band Reunion and Messaround in Rawene this weekend will bring together far-flung members of New Zealand acoustic bands going as far back as the 1960s.
Jug bands form a unique chapter in New Zealand music history when young musicians forged basses out of bathtubs, jugs and tea chests, made guitars from wire fences and produced percussion from washboards to create foot-tapping, good-time dance music.
Saturday's reunion will feature acoustic bands and other performers in Rawene's pub, cafes and hall from 2pm until late. All will be performing for koha to cover the cost of their petrol and food. The event starts at Al Fresco Landing and Lawn at the Masonic Hotel.
Organisers hope the family-friendly street festival will become an annual event. Go to www.hokiangajugband.com for more information.
How's your lifejacket looking? Did you inherit it from your granddad, or is it a relic form the Ark?
If so it may be time to trade it in for a new model which is more likely to keep you afloat when you really need it.
Coastguard is bringing is popular Old 4 New lifejacket upgrade programme to the Bay of Islands this week, offering discounts of $30-40 on new lifejackets if you trade in your old one. Five types will be available, from an inflatable jacket to one designed for toddlers.
The Old 4 New van will be stationed at the Kerikeri New World car park from 7.30-11.30am on Friday, January 15, and at Paihia wharf from 7.30-11.30am on Saturday, January 16.
Life beneath the waves
Marine expert Vince Kerr is giving a talk in Kerikeri next week about the "ecological gem" of Waewaetorea Island and surrounding waters in the eastern Bay of Islands.
An astonishingly diverse array of habitats and huge range of marine species means the area's biodiversity is of international importance, he argues. The presentation will focus on his many dives in the Bay of Islands and the tools of his trade. He will also present some alarming findings relating to retreating crayfish and ever-encroaching kina barrens.
Called 'Life beneath the waves: Waewaetorea, a very special place', it will be the third talk in the Voices of Land and Sea series hosted by Fish Forever and Living Waters.
Doors at the Turner Centre theatre bar will open at 7pm on Thursday, January 21. The talk starts at 7.30pm. Entry by koha.
Quilts on show
The Kerikeri Quilters Club is holding its annual exhibition from Friday, January 15, to Monday, January 18, in the Kerikeri Primary School hall on Hone Heke Rd. Opening hours are 10am-4pm daily; entry $2. Quilt raffles and refreshments will be available.
More holiday fun
The Waitangi Treaty Grounds' school holiday programme continues every weekday until January 29.
The free events take about two hours; kids must be accompanied by a grown-up. Adults pay the usual Treaty grounds entry fee, though Far North folk can buy a Friends of Waitangi card for $5 entitling them to free entry (bring ID and proof of address).
Mondays: 10am traditional Maori games; 1pm sand creations.
Tuesdays: 11am flax weaving; 1.45pm kapa haka.
Wednesdays: 10.15am, 10.45am, 11.45am, 12.15pm, Waitangi Amazing Race.
Thursdays: 10am 1840s games; 1pm chalk art competition.
Fridays: 10am make a natty knotter; 1pm scavenger hunt selfies.
The winner of a TradeMe auction for the right to name a kiwi chick hatched in the Mahinepua-Radar Hill Landcare Group's predator control area, north of Matauri Bay, bought it as a Christmas present for his wife.
Bruce McNamara of Auckland placed the winning bid of $470; his wife, Ann McNamara, chose the name Hiringa, which translates variously as 'perseverance, energy, determination, inspiration and vitality'.
Wining the auction also entitled the couple to a night's stay at the Barracks Bed and Breakfast, a former radar station, where they were treated to an early morning concert by the North Island brown kiwi that live in the area.
Proceeds from the auction will help pay for the group's predator control programme in 2400ha of kiwi habitat. TradeMe donated the success fee back to the group.
Do you have news or an upcoming event you'd like to see in this column? Send it to us, including your full contact details, to email@example.com.