Who says there's no such thing as karma?
Monika Welch is living proof that if you do good for others, occasionally good things will happen to you.
The Kerikeri artist founded Finkk (Families in Need of Kindness Kerikeri) in 2013 after meeting a mum who couldn't afford to buy a second-hand bed for her child, even though it cost just $10.
That led her to a deep vein of hidden need in a supposedly prosperous part of Northland. She founded a charity to help struggling families, especially solo mums, by matching their needs with donations of food, furniture and clothing.
A tireless networker, she also uses her contacts to help them back onto their feet and into jobs.
However, Monika's charity work means there isn't much time left to paint so money can be tight. She also clocks up a fair few kilometres picking up donations and visiting her families.
A few weeks ago Monika gave a talk about Finkk to the Kerikeri Lions Club and mentioned that her faithful Honda Odyssey was on its last legs.
In the audience were several members of the Kerikeri Woodchoppers Group, an informal band of blokes who raise money for worthy causes by cutting and delivering firewood one day a week.
When the group called Monika a few days later offering to solve her transport woes, her car had just "shat itself" on State Highway 10. With a broken transmission repairing it wasn't an option.
By chance her husband had seen the perfect replacement for sale on the roadside an hour before the call, and the asking price for the Nissan Primera stationwagon was exactly the same as the woodchoppers' donation.
That same day Monika was delivering food to her Finkky families again.
"It was meant to be, obviously. I'm very grateful, I was just blown away. It proves to me that Finkk means a lot to the community, it's working and it's bringing people together."
John Worrall, a woodchopper and Lions member, said Monika was "a very special woman" who dedicated herself almost full-time to helping needy families.
"She does so much for the community we thought we'd do something for her," he said.
Chopping for charity
The Kerikeri Woodchoppers Group has been running for the past eight years with its members meeting every Thursday morning on Inlet Rd to cut and deliver firewood.
Most proceeds go to the Fred Hollows Foundation, a charity which provides eye surgery in the developing world, but last year the group decided to support local causes as well.
The volunteers are mostly of retirement age with their weekly fundraising sessions doubling as exercise as good as any gym workout.
If you fancy splitting and stacking wood for charity once a week, or have wood to donate, call Mike Collins on (09) 407 9429 or John Worrall on (09) 407 9791.
Farewell to summer
Northlanders keen to see summer out with a bang rather than a whimper should head to Mangonui for the annual Waterfront Festival this Saturday.
Also called Last of the Summer Wine, the festival will feature more than 100 stalls showcasing Northland food, wine and arts as well as entertainment on two stages and sports challenges ranging from tug-o-war to paddle board races.
The main stage will offer a range of musical styles while the "Chill Zone" under the pohutukawa will have more laid-back sounds.
As well as the annual Tai Tokerau Paddle Board Challenge, Taipa Sailing Club members will hold races and Nga Waka o Taitokerau will hold traditional kaupapa waka demonstrations.
The festival starts at noon and runs to 6pm. The waterfront road will be closed to traffic and kids will have plenty of activities to choose from. Entry is $5 for adults, a gold coin for children and free for infants.
Free parking will be available at Mangonui School from 11.45am and Far North ITM (noon to 5.30pm) with a shuttle bus throughout the day.
Go to www.waterfrontfestival.co.nz for more information. The festival is organised by Doubtless Bay Promotions and Somersault Event Management.
While you're in Mangonui for the Waterfront Festival you could also take a trip across the harbour on the MV Marie May to Butler Point Whaling Museum. The tour takes in the museum, 1840s house and garden. Booking recommended; call Jan Fergusson on 0800 MUSEUM. The boat leaves from Mangonui's main wharf.
Thelonious Punk returns
Among the bands playing at the Waterfront Festival will be Thelonious Punk, a long-running Kerikeri jazz institution with a new line-up and a new EP on iTunes and Spotify.
The EP, simply called 2016, features four original compositions recorded at Earwig studios in Auckland and mixed by Kiwi music icon Billy Kristian at his Taupo Bay studio. Kerikeri artist Scott McFarlane supplied the cover art. The current line-up is Reuben Topzand (keyboards), Derek Hopper (trumpet), Bevan O'Brien (drums) and Victoria Landgraf (bass).
The Auckland Youth Orchestra is performing a free concert at Kerikeri's Turner Centre at 2.30pm this Sunday.
The concert will open with Czech composer Smetana's evocation of the Vltava River (Moldau in German) from its source in the mountains of South Bohemia, through the Czech countryside to Prague.
Next up will be Spohr's Clarinet Concerto No.1 featuring Kenny Keppel, winner of the 2015 AYO soloist competition, and finally Sibelius' grandiose Symphony No.2.
Past performances by the AYO in Kerikeri have been well received with audiences impressed by the young musicians' professionalism.
The concert is free but bookings are essential. Visit the box office or call (09) 407 0260. The AYO will also play at Whangarei's Forum North at 7.30pm on Saturday.
Stay up to date
Vision Kerikeri has launched a new website where the community group will regularly post updates on matters of interest to people living in the Kerikeri area. Go to www.visionkerikeri.org.nz to check it out.
Record entries for piano comp
A record number of musicians are vying for places in the 2016 Kerikeri International Piano Competition at Kerikeri's Turner Centre from June 30 to July 3.
In total 61 entries have been received from 12 countries, with Australia topping the list of countries of origin, followed by New Zealand and China. An entry has been received from Canada for the first time, along with a strong contingent of pianists based in the USA.
Independent assessors will listen to the entrants' recordings and whittle them down to 14 finalists to play in Kerikeri. Their decision will be known by early April.
The adjudicators for the 2016 competition are Jan Jiracek Von Armin from Austria, Albert Tiu from Singapore and Eleanor Wong from Hong Kong.
Art and cancer
Stained glass artist Kathy Shaw Urlich is launching an exhibition of new work tracing her battle with cancer at Kaan Zamaan Gallery on Kerikeri's Hobson Rd this Sunday.
Called Easter Rising: A Journey through Cancer, the opening will run from 9am to noon on April 3. The show continues until April 30 along with works by the colourful, Pacific-influenced Valerie Hunton of Kerikeri. Kathy Shaw Urlich lives on the Karikari Peninsula. Her next round of chemotherapy starts immediately after the opening.
Meanwhile, Kings Theatre Creative's latest exhibition, Working the Grid, is a selection of work by German-born minimalist painter Anna Klekottka. The gallery is open Wednesdays to Sundays in Kawakawa's old movie theatre.
Parkinsons Northland is hosting a public talk at Kerikeri RSA on Monday, April 4, from 10am-12.15pm. The speakers, an Auckland Hospital neurologist and a movement disorders nurse, will discuss management of and living with Parkinsons disease. Morning tea provided. For more information contact Vicki Sadgrove on firstname.lastname@example.org or (09) 437 6876.
Bike park update
In case you're wondering what's up with the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park ... The original aim was to open the trails in Waitangi Forest by the end of this month but delays in getting permission to develop the carpark and trail hub means it's now more likely to happen in mid-May.
As of March 10 just over 16km of trails had been built by Rotorua firm Southstar Trails. Two new grade-3 trails have been completed as well as a "super-easy" loop trail aimed at families and beginners.
The project is driven by volunteers of Focus Paihia. As well as creating another option for healthy outdoor activity, it is hoped the park will boost the Bay's economy by attracting visitors, encouraging them to stay longer, and giving them something to do outside the peak summer months.
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