Wild West returns
One of Northland's most unsual festivals returns this Saturday, February 27, when the South Hokianga settlement of Waimamaku is invaded by cowboys, gun-toting bandits and cheese.
This year's Wild West Fest will feature the now traditional cheese-rolling races (with tyres painted yellow standing in for the real thing, a nod to to the town's past as a cheese-making centre), keg-throwing contests, food stalls, live music from the Urban Cowboys and the Hokianga Country Music Club, and a 1pm shoot-out with lots of cowboys, bad guys on horseback, noise and smoke.
Festival chairman Bruce Lomas said he was trying to introduce a wearable arts element with a parade open to everyone and their creations at 11am - but the shoot-out, by the South Hokianga Riders, remained the crowd favourite.
"People seem to love that," he said.
Every year the riders dreamt up a different scenario such as a cheese heist, a grocery store robbery, or an attempt to kidnap Waimamaku's ladies.
Some of the action takes place on State Highway 12 but Mr Lomas said traffic would still be able to get through. Motorists are, however, likely to be stopped by highway robbers demanding donations for Rawene Hospital.
Money raised would also pay for maintenance of the the town's defibrilators, based in a house next to the Four Square and about 2km north of town.
The health theme would be continued in the hall with static displays from Hokianga Health.
Mr Lomas said the event started 14 years ago as a Far North version of Hokitika's famous Wild Food Festival.
"But somehow along the way it morphed into a cowboy thing," he said.
The action starts around 9.30am and runs until 2pm.
Music on the tracks
Kawakawa Railway Station will be transformed into a concert venue this Sunday, February 28.
Starting at 3pm the annual Concert at the Station will feature up-and-coming Moerewa singer Zoe King-Samuels, Whangarei country singer Carleen Still and blues band Bootleg, along with hip-hop dancing by the Diamond Divas, ladies' barbershop with Bella a Capella, kapa haka by TBK Whangai Entertainment, and sax by Wallace Johnson.
Far North Mayor John Carter, a long-time supporter of the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust, will be the MC. Bring your own chair because the station platform is the stage with the spectators on the tracks. The show will run until about 6pm rain or shine.
Tickets cost $10 for adults, $5 kids, free for under-5s, or $25 per family. The station cafe will be open. The concert is one of the trust's main fundraisers.
The Kurbside Rodders, a Bay of Islands car club, is holding its annual Street Meet this Saturday.
Kerikeri Rd will be closed to traffic between Homestead Rd and Fairway Drive from 9am and 12.30pm to make way for a displays of more than 120 prized hot rods, classic cars, motorbike and muscle cars.
Prizes will be awarded for best-dressed adults and kids (rock and roll/hillbilly theme) as well as people's choice car, best shop window display and best "junk rod" (a kids' competition to built a model hot rod from recycled materials).
The show is free to the public; entering a car costs $20, which includes a mystery run in the afternoon. Trophies in 17 classes will be awarded in Waitangi after the run. Grant Clearwater, one of the organisers, said he expected entries from as far away as Te Awamutu and Tauranga.
"So the news is spreading and the event is growing," he said.
If it's motorcycles that spin your wheels rather than classic cars, Mangonui Hotel in Doubtless Bay is hosting the annual Mangonui Bike Show from 10am on Saturday, February 27.
Prizes will be awarded for best soft tail, twin cam, paint, British, Japanese, Harley, European, trike and more. Other attractions will include live music and spot prizes.
Bay of Islands hapu Ngati Manu is celebrating its awa (river) this Saturday, February 27, with the inaugural Taumarere Festival.
The event will place at Te Tauranga Waka, also known as Derrick Landing, beside the Taumarere River and accessed from Waikare Rd east of Kawakawa.
The programme includes waka rides, kapa haka, putaiao (science) displays and food stalls from 9.30am-2.30pm; in the evening, 7.30-9.30pm, the festival will shift indoors for an evening of wine, cheese and poetry with poet Robert Sullivan at nearby Karetu Maare.
For more information contact Meretini Wynyard on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deep sea talk
The urgent need to protect the wildlife of the deep sea is the theme of the latest talk in the Voices of Land and Sea series organised by conservation group Fish Forever.
Speaker Dean Baigent-Mercer said kiwi and kakapo were regarded as iconic native wildlife, but the deep sea around New Zealand was also home to unique, but little known, native species such as dumbo octopus, ghost sharks and forests of bamboo coral.
All were under threat from deep-sea bottom trawling for orange roughy and possible future oil drilling, he said.
The talk will be at the Scenic Hotel, on Paihia's Seaview Rd, on Monday, February 29. Doors open at 7pm; the talk starts at 7.30pm. Free entry; koha welcome.
Short ships race
If you've always wanted to take part in Russell Boating Club's annual Tall Ships Race but your vessel was far too small to qualify, now is your chance.
This Saturday, February 27, the Russell Lady Kayakers will hold the inaugural Short Ships Race, which will be open to anything powered by oars or paddles.
Prizes will be awarded for fastest kayak and waka in men's and women's divisions; paddle boards and rowing boats will compete on a shorter course but, according to organisers, with "some tricky bits" thrown in.
Staggered departures from the Russell Boating Club, at Matauwhi Bay, will start at 10am. The course is expected to take about an hour to complete. BYO picnic; the club bar will be open.
Half the $10 entry fee will go to the boating club's renovation project.
The current exhibition at Village Arts Gallery in Kohukohu, called Te Whiringa, features abstract paintings by Yvonne Manuel and Maori carvings by Lewis Manuera.
The show is open 10am-4pm, seven days a week, until March 8.
The retirement commissioner is holding a free public seminar in Kerikeri to equip Northlanders thinking of moving into a retirement village with the information they need to make financially sound decisions.
The event, at the Turner Centre on Friday, February 26, will cover the personal, financial and legal implications of becoming a retirement village resident and will include at least four question and answer sessions. Joining the commissioner will be the head of the Retirement Villages Association and a lawyer specialising in retirement villages.
Doors open at 10am for refreshments; the 90-minute seminar starts at 10.30am. Register via www.cffc.org.nz/retirement/retirement-villages or by calling 0800 268 268.
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