The oldest country show in New Zealand celebrates its 175th birthday with all its usual rural attractions, a food and wine festival, an extra focus on history and some special one-off prizes.

The Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show is only a few years younger than the Treaty of Waitangi but has lost none of its ability to pull the crowds.

In fact, P&I Association president Don Jack wouldn't be surprised if this year's show - which opens at 10am on Saturday on Showgrounds Rd in Waimate North - sets a new attendance record. An extra car parking area will be opened up just in case; another field has been added just for horse trailers, with more than 200 entries expected in three days of equestrian events which run in parallel to the show.

In a nod to the show's long history the Riding for the Disabled shed will house an exhibition of vintage machinery from Kaikohe's Pioneer Village while a steam-powered traction engine will huff its way around the grounds.

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The Whangarei Highland Pipe Band will perform at noon and lead the 2pm grand parade of anything that moves, including classic cars from the Packard Museum.

Future Masterchefs will compete in the Kids Can Cook contest while Northland top's winemakers and food producers will show off their wares in Savouring the Source, a boutique food and wine festival.

Covers band JPG will provide entertainment along with Skew Whiff, a pair of roaming clowns from Hawke's Bay.

Just like the previous 175 years, however, the show will centre around livestock competitions and tests of domestic skills in the indoor competitions, while city kids will be able to cuddle a range of farmyard critters in the small animals tent.

Mr Jack said to mark the 175th anniversary the Royal Agricultural Society had given its blessing to two royal events, with royal ribbons to be presented to the overall champion horse and the best animal in the cattle section.

"They don't give out royal warrants easily. We're thrilled to be able to award these ribbons, and it'll be extra prestigious for the winners," he said.

Entry is $10 for adults and free to kids under 12. The grand parade will take place at 2pm.

About 6000 people attended last year, fewer than usual due to poor weather in the morning. The record to date is around 10,000.

Befuddled witness Doris Simpson (the cleaning lady, played by Les Robinson) is challenged by prosecuting counsel James Hassle (Lloyd Jerome) and defence counsel Mary Rillington (Claire Braiden) while a confused Judge Loosely (Malcolm McMillan) looks on.
Befuddled witness Doris Simpson (the cleaning lady, played by Les Robinson) is challenged by prosecuting counsel James Hassle (Lloyd Jerome) and defence counsel Mary Rillington (Claire Braiden) while a confused Judge Loosely (Malcolm McMillan) looks on.

Guilty or innocent? Up to you

The audience will decide the ending - and the fate of one of the main characters - in a novel theatre production opening in Kerikeri this weekend.

The Trial of Dr Millicent Malville, by the Kerikeri Theatre Company, aims to recreate a court of law where a doctor is accused of murdering her husband, also a doctor, with a lethal shot of morphine.

Like a real trial, the audience will be sworn in as members of the jury; then they will have to listen to the prosecution and defence as they dissect the evidence and cross-examine the witnesses, some of whom let their emotions boil over. At times His Honour Judge Loosely has his work cut out keeping the court under control.

At the end of the trial the audience will decide if Dr Millicent Malville is guilty or innocent, which will determine which ending the actors perform.

The adult drama-comedy is written and directed by Kerikeri's David Crewe. It has been performed in Australia but this will be its New Zealand premiere.

It was inspired by Mr Crewe's past as a journalist in London when he had to sit through "far too many" court cases, starting with driving offences and eventually progressing to murder trials.

The play is being staged downstairs in the Turner Centre event centre with audience numbers limited to 90 to make sure it feels like a real court. The sets, including the dock and the judge's bench, have been built by members of the Kerikeri Men's Shed.

It will feature some familiar faces for those who seen previous Kerikeri Theatre Company productions, including Claire Braiden (whose role as the defence lawyer is not far removed from her day job at Ngawha Prison), dentist Lloyd Jerome (the prosecutor) and former newspaper editor Malcolm McMillan (the judge). The accused will be performed by Isa Hackett in her first major role.

In total the trial features a cast of 17 from Kaikohe, Ohaeawai, Russell and Kerikeri.

The performances are this Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7pm, and Sunday at 4.30pm. More shows will follow on Friday, November 17, at 7pm and Sunday, November 19, at 4.30pm. Tickets are $25.

The Duke turns 190

In 1827 ex-convict come good Johnny Johnston opened a grog shop on the waterfront at Kororareka, then known as the Hell Hole of the Pacific.

Johnny's good relationship with Maori and fluency in te reo meant he was able to buy the grog shop's site freehold, one of the first land sales to a European in New Zealand.

He renamed his shop the Duke of Marlborough to lend it a little class, a name which stuck even as hotel buildings came and went.

In 1840, with the ink on the Treaty barely dry, the Duke was issued New Zealand's first liquor licence.

The latest owners - Otago University friends Jayne Shirley, Riki Kinnaird, Bridget and Anton Haagh - bought the then neglected hotel in 2010 and started a long campaign of improvement and renovation.

The latest stage, adding balconies and French doors to the six waterfront rooms and creating a courtyard garden in an area once squandered on car parking, will be unveiled this weekend as part of the 190th birthday celebrations.

Fireworks postponed

Springbank School's fireworks show will now be held on Saturday, November 25. The show was to have been held last Saturday but was postponed due to forecast bad weather. The gates will open at 5pm for an evening of kai, live music, rides and raffles, with the fireworks at 9pm. Entry costs $5; under-fives are free. No alcohol, drugs or smoking. The school is on Waimate North Rd, just off State Highway 10 north of the Kerikeri roundabout.

Wearable arts in Paihia

The creator of the best costume in a wearable arts contest at Paihia Ex-Services Club this Saturday will win a premium ticket to WOW (World of Wearable Arts) Wellington 2018 as well as return airfares and accommodation.

The competition categories are advanced, have a shot and whacky kids. For more information go to www.paihiaxservcies.co.nz or the Facebook pages Paihia Ex Servicemens Club or Joyces Paihia. All proceeds from the fundraising show will go to Paihia and Opua primary schools.

Springbank School deputy principal Phil Webb is retiring after more than 40 years in education.
Springbank School deputy principal Phil Webb is retiring after more than 40 years in education.

Farewell Phil

Springbank School deputy principal Phil Webb is calling time on a teaching career that has spanned 44 years, the last 17 of those at Springbank.

Principal Mike Warren said the school was hugely grateful to Mr Webb for helping shape Springbank into the school it is today.

"Phil has led from the front and has been an inspirational role model, not only for our students, but also for staff. He has continued to commit above and beyond what is expected of a teacher. Phil is passionate about science and has made his lessons practical, fun and engaging. He cares for our students and takes a genuine interest in them, regardless of whether he is their teacher," he said.

"Phil walks the walk - even though he's slightly past his prime fitness years, he was recently inducted into the 100 Club for having walked/run 100km over the duration of a term during middle/senior school fitness sessions. Is there anything this man can't do?"
A farewell assembly will be held in the school hall at 1pm on Friday, November 17, to thank Mr Webb for his service to the school and education as a whole. Past and present Springbank families will be invited, as will former staff and students of Okaihau College, where Mr Webb taught before starting at Springbank in 2000.

"He is an absolute legend and will be missed," Mr Warren said.