Bringing hope to Northland — on a scooter

Comedian turned mental health campaigner Mike King is bringing his message of hope to Kaikohe in a bid to reduce Northland's alarmingly high youth suicide rate.

Mr King and seven like-minded people are driving from Bluff to Cape Reinga on 50cc motor scooters with stops at 50 towns along the way.

The aim of the four-week I Am Hope tour is to break down the stigma associated with youth suicide and give communities a way of connecting with young people who are struggling.

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Read more: Mike King to stop in Northland for youth suicide talks

While in the Mid North Mr King will give a free public talk, suitable for all ages, from 6pm on Thursday, March 29, at the Kaikohe Memorial Hall on Memorial Drive.

The co-host of the Nutters Club radio show on Newstalk ZB said his unorthodox methods and openness allowed him to connect emotionally with young people who faced the highest risk of self-harm.

"We can help our young people when they feel like they've hit rock bottom. By listening to them without judgment, without perpetuating the old Kiwi 'toughen up mate' attitude, we can show them it's okay to feel down, lonely, and sad, but that there's a light at the end of tunnel, there is hope," Mr King said.

''Our youth want to feel connected, understood and not judged. We know that shame is a huge factor in talking about depression and mental illness. We're here to say there is no shame in battling mental illness and many people suffer from it, but something can be done about it. We can help our young people by showing them that we care.''

One of the campaign's strategies is a wristband signalling the wearer is a safe person to talk to, encouraging young people to open up about their struggles.

Well-known New Zealand artists including Dick and Otis Frizzell and Kerikeri's Lester Hall have hand-painted the eight scooters with their own interpretations of the I Am Hope message.

Mr King will also stop at 2pm on March 29 at Kamo Intermediate in Whangarei. Go to www.keytolife.org.nz for more information.


Waterfront Festival returns

As many as 5000 people are expected to farewell summer in style in Mangonui's annual Waterfront Festival this Saturday.

Up to 5000 people are expected at Mangonui's Waterfront Festival this Saturday. PHOTO / SAM MOODY
Up to 5000 people are expected at Mangonui's Waterfront Festival this Saturday. PHOTO / SAM MOODY

The town's waterfront road will be closed between the Old Oak Hotel and the wharf with traffic replaced by more than 100 stalls offering a wide range of food, wine, art and fun and more than 20 bands and dance groups spread over three stages.

The food stands will offer national dishes from Thailand, South Africa, Mexico and Aotearoa while other stalls will offer everything from bromeliads to nail painting. Sporting challenges will include tug-o-war and tennis or paddle board and sailing races on the water.

Entertainment will include musical acts Thelonious Punk, Penny Royal Tea, Kurfew, Moondog Blues, September Moon and the Titanics as well as line, hiphop and belly dancing.

A separate stage will feature the young talent of the Be Free music mentoring programme.

The event will start at noon and run until 6pm. Entry is $10 for adults, a gold coin for children and free for under-fives.

With so many people expected you can save yourself a parking headache by leaving your car in the public parking areas next to Mangonui ITM or Mangonui School (parking at the school grounds limited) and catch a free Lions shuttle bus to and from to the festival.

Shuttles will also leave Taipa on the hour from noon (departing from the cafe area at Ramada Resort Reia) and return on the half hour until 6.30pm.


Latin jazz comes to Kerikeri

The intoxicating sounds of Brazil are coming to Kerikeri this Friday when Afro Tropical plays the Turner Centre Jazz Club.

Afro Tropical will bring the intoxicating sounds of Brazil to Kerikeri this Friday.
Afro Tropical will bring the intoxicating sounds of Brazil to Kerikeri this Friday.

The band is built around the voice of Ge Luz, the passionate guitar playing of Ricky de Medeiros and the percussion of Herbert Souza, with the three native Brazilians backed up by guest pianist Mark Baynes and the dynamic rhythm section of Alex Griffith and Lance Bentley.

Together they will perform a variety of Brazilian music styles — including samba, bossa nova, forró, and salsa — with a sprinkling of well-known tunes.

Doors open at the Turner Centre Theatre Bar at 5pm this Friday with live jazz from 6pm. Entry is $5.


Opua gala moves to land

You may have heard the furore over Opua School being forced to cancel this year's regatta and dog-swimming races due to health and safety regulations.

You can, however, show your support for the school by going along to their replacement event, a more traditional, land-based gala at the school grounds on Franklin St.

The gala will run from 10am-1pm this Saturday, March 24, and will feature old-fashioned games such as sack and three-legged races, kai, coffee, bouncy castles, face painting, swimming races in the pool (humans only, sorry), kids' stalls, and the irresistible dunk the teacher.

The Opua Community Regatta had been running for 36 years without serious incident.

Teacher aide Alissa Bradley of Horeke, left, and teacher Maxine Cates, of Kerikeri, get a selfie with Former All Black captain Richie McCaw during last week's flying visit to Okaihau Primary School.
Teacher aide Alissa Bradley of Horeke, left, and teacher Maxine Cates, of Kerikeri, get a selfie with Former All Black captain Richie McCaw during last week's flying visit to Okaihau Primary School.

Quiz with a cause

Kaikohe Fire Brigade will be hosting a quiz night this Saturday, March 24, as a fundraiser for the annual Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge. The quiz night will be held at the Kaikohe RSA from 6.30pm. Participation will cost $10 per person with up to six people in a team, organiser Aimee Ruka said.

All money raised by the team as part of its stair challenge campaign will go to Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.

"[The Challenge] is a really good cause, there are people in our community that have this life-threatening disease and it's just a really nice way to help out the community."

The stair challenge, now in its 14th year, involves teams of firefighters racing up the 1103 steps of Auckland's Sky Tower in full firefighting gear as well as competing to raise the most money. This year's challenge will take place on May 14.

The Kaikohe Fire Brigade team has raised a total of $33,000 in three years participating in the event and won the community spirit award in their first year. This year they aim to raise about $4000 or $1000 per team member.
by Shaunee Pene
Hokianga half

The Opononi and Districts Lions Club will host the annual Hokianga Half Marathon this Saturday.

Starting at Rawene and ending in Omapere, the event aims to raise funds for Hokianga Hospital and St John. You can register at the Lions Club website, www.lionsclubs.org.nz/hokianga, or collect a form from Hokianga Hospital.

A prize-giving ceremony will be held afterwards with a trip for two to the Hole in the Rock, a dolphin cruise, cash, vouchers and spot prizes up for grabs.


Le Mur de Merde*

Fine art and $2 shops don't usually go together but the proliferation of $2 emporiums in the Bay of Islands has provided the catalyst for a new exhibition in Kerikeri.

More than 20 local artists were invited to create a work of art using materials sourced exclusively from $2 shops, thereby producing beaux arts from, er, merde.

The show, Le Mur de Merde, is open until March 30 at Studio 19, 1329 Bulls Rd (SH10 at the top of Bulls Gorge). In case you've forgotten your high school French, the show's title translates as "The wall of s***".


New face at Focus Paihia

Award-winning community trust Focus Paihia has appointed Sarah Townsend as its new co-ordinator.

Ms Townsend grew up in Russell and attended Russell Primary School and Bay of Islands College. Later she moved to Whangarei and then Christchurch where she met her partner Gavin and had various jobs ranging from personal assistant to plate mounter for printing presses. After travelling the world they returned to the Bay of Islands in 2008 to raise a family. Ms Townsend is currently the Paihia School PTA treasurer and volunteers for Bay Bush Action.

Outgoing co-ordinator Tiffany Holland plans to spend more of her time developing Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, a Focus Paihia project she and her husband Robin started.


Kawakawa farmer triumphs

A 28-year-old from Kawakawa has won the northern regional finals of the Young Farmer of the Year contest held on Kerikeri Domain on Saturday.

Daniel Bradbury moved to New Zealand to take advantage of better opportunities.
Daniel Bradbury moved to New Zealand to take advantage of better opportunities.

Daniel Bradbury, who grew up near Sheffield in England and moved to New Zealand in 2014 to further his farming career, said he was ''pretty blown away'' by his win.

The active member of Bay of Islands Young Farmers beat six other hopefuls in a day of practical challenges a well as a written exam the night before. It was his third attempt at the title.

Mr Bradbury took home prizes, including a farm bike, worth just under $12,000 and will represent Northland in the national final in Invercargill in July.

He is in his first season contract milking 515 cows on Pakaru Rd, southeast of Kawakawa, and hopes to be 50:50 sharemilking within three years.


Time running out for nominations

Time is running out for people thinking about contesting the upcoming Kawakawa-Moerewa byelection for the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board.

As of Monday no one had put their hand up for the position with nominations due to close at noon on March 28.

Candidates must be New Zealand citizens and be enrolled to vote. They must be nominated by two people registered on the electoral roll in the Kawakawa-Moerewa subdivision.

Nomination papers are available from the Far North District Council's Kawakawa Service Centre, the council website www.fndc.govt.nz or by calling 0800 922 822.

According to the Local Electoral Act 2001, if there are no nominations the community board may fill the vacancy by appointing a suitably qualified person.

The byelection was triggered when community board member Kelly Stratford was elected to the Far North District Council.

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