A weekly round-up of news snippets, events and oddities from the Bay of Islands and around the Mid North

The cattle disease Mycoplasma bovis might have put the kaibosh on the beef and dairy events at this Saturday's Kaikohe AP&H Show but organisers promise there will be plenty of other attractions to take their place.

The usual beef and dairy area will instead be put to use for a series of tug of war challenges for teams of six representing sports clubs, businesses, families or mates, as well as a throw 'n' catch competition in which pairs of contestants will compete to throw a raw egg the greatest distance and catch it without breaking.

There will also be Agri-Kids-type challenges for adults and children, and NZ Royal Agricultural Society youth ambassador Courtney Davies will demonstrate animal handling techniques throughout the day. The pet lamb events will still be contested and are expected to draw more entries than usual with calves forced to stay at home.

Visitors to this Saturday's Kaikohe AP&H Show will be able to take a free tour of the nearby Ngāwhā geothermal power station. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Visitors to this Saturday's Kaikohe AP&H Show will be able to take a free tour of the nearby Ngāwhā geothermal power station. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Photography, baking, horticulture and handcraft competitions will be on display in the indoor exhibit hall while power company Top Energy will put on free tours of the nearby Ngāwhā geothermal power station. Buses will leave from the showgrounds.

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Other popular attractions will include woodchopping, shearing, small animals and rare breed displays, equestrian events and an animal petting area for the kids. The Kaikohe show is known for having the biggest miniature horse and horse and buggy section north of Auckland.

The gates open at 9am on Saturday; entry is $10 per person 15 years and over. The showgrounds are at the corner of State Highway 12 and Ngāwhā Springs Rd just east of Kaikohe. Go to www.ras.org.nz for the full schedule.

Open day at Wharepuke

The subtropical gardens, sculpture trail and gallery at Wharepuke in Kerikeri will be open free of charge from 10am-4pm this Sunday.

The new restaurant at Wharepuke, called Māha, will also be offering free finger-food tastings from its Japanese-inspired menu while guitar legend Luke Hurley will perform in the restaurant garden from 11am-3pm.

Māha chef Ming Poon (left) with partner Diane Langman and Wharepuke owners Tania Booth and Mark Graver. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Māha chef Ming Poon (left) with partner Diane Langman and Wharepuke owners Tania Booth and Mark Graver. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Tania Booth, who owns the property along with her printmaker partner Mark Graver, said the open day aimed to "give locals a chance to look around".

"It's partly a celebration of a new venture and partly to remind people of everything else that's here, to give people a taste of what goes on at Wharepuke," Graver added.

Entry to Wharepuke's 2ha garden of significance, as designated by the New Zealand Garden Trust, normally costs $10. The garden specialises in rare and subtropical species and includes a 1km-long sculpture trail with a current 41 artworks, some permanent and created by artists in residence, others for sale on behalf of the artists.

Sunday's open day at Wharepuke will include free tastings at Māha restaurant. Photo / supplied
Sunday's open day at Wharepuke will include free tastings at Māha restaurant. Photo / supplied

The open day will also feature an exhibition of new prints by Graver and ceramics by Richard Parker, one of New Zealand's top ceramic artists. Both will be on hand to answer questions about their work.

The restaurant, formerly Food at Wharepuke, has been leased to new operators Ming Poon and Diane Langman. The couple has built a new open kitchen and renamed the restaurant Māha (te reo for the sensation of being satisfied after eating) with an east-meets-west menu Poon describes as "the original fusion".

The land has been in the Booth family since 1938. Robin Booth opened a plant nursery and started planting the garden in 1993; in 2003 daughter Tania Booth and husband Mark Graver added accommodation and in 2009 an art gallery.

The building housing Māha was originally a community hall in Auckland. It was transported to Whangārei and from there to Wharepuke in 2004, where it hosted concerts and plays – Luke Hurley was one of the first performers – before it was converted to a restaurant.

Wharepuke is located at 190 Kerikeri Rd on Kerikeri's Stone Store Hill.

Calling all Shreks

Have you always fancied yourself as a friendly green ogre?

Kerikeri's Stage Door Theatre Company is looking for someone to perform the lead role in Shrek the Musical with auditions this Sunday, January 20.

Do you have what it takes to be Shrek? If so, Kerikeri's Stage Door Theatre Company wants to hear from you. Photo / George Novak
Do you have what it takes to be Shrek? If so, Kerikeri's Stage Door Theatre Company wants to hear from you. Photo / George Novak

If you think you have what it takes, email producer Kim Bailey at kim.bailey.224@gmail.com to secure a time slot and receive an information pack.

The company will also be holding open auditions on Sunday for lesser roles. You don't need to register for those but you should still email Kim for useful information. Make sure you include your phone number, age and the part(s) you want to audition for.

Open day at Mangahawea Bay dig

A dig at what is believed to be one of New Zealand's earliest human settlements will be open to the public tomorrow.

Archaeologists, hapū members and volunteers have been busy at the site, at Mangahawea Bay on Moturua Island in the Bay of Islands, since last Monday and now they're ready to share what they've found so far.

The dig is a continuation of excavations carried out last year which made some tantalising findings, backing up the hapū's long-held views of the bay's significance.

Volunteers at work during last year's archaeological dig at Mangahawea Bay on Moturua Island, possibly one of New Zealand's earliest human settlements. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Volunteers at work during last year's archaeological dig at Mangahawea Bay on Moturua Island, possibly one of New Zealand's earliest human settlements. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Transport to the island is not provided but visitors who make their own way to the bay on Thursday, January 17, between 9am and noon will get a guided tour of the site with explanation of any artefacts uncovered so far.

Visitors should land at Waiwhapuku Bay (also called Camp Bay) and walk over the hill to nearby Mangahawea Bay.

Previous finds at the well-preserved site include a pā kahawai fishing lure thought to be made of local material (pāua) but to a Polynesian design, which suggests it was made by some of the first people to arrive in New Zealand.

Record entries for Sailing Week

Organisers are predicting a record-breaking number of entries in this year's Bay of Islands Sailing Week at Opua on January 22-25.

Late last week the number of boats registered stood at 101, compared with 87 at the same time last year. The event is already New Zealand's biggest multi-day regatta.

Opua yacht Wetherly - owned by Bay of Islands Sailing Week founders Tony and Nina Kiff - rounds Nine Pin Rock during last year's event. Photo / Will Calver
Opua yacht Wetherly - owned by Bay of Islands Sailing Week founders Tony and Nina Kiff - rounds Nine Pin Rock during last year's event. Photo / Will Calver

Sailing Week chairwoman Manuela Gmuer-Hornell said the volunteer-run event was ''a regatta by the people, for the people''.

The committee tried to keep the event fresh and interesting without straying too much from a format that had proven popular with competitors.

"We're always looking for ways we can make little changes to make each year a bit different, like bringing back the beach party this year. I'm really looking forward to that,'' she said.

CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week offers a variety of racing options for monohulls, multihulls and sport boats. Entrants can also choose between windward leeward racing or a single, longer bay race each day with or without spinnakers. There is also racing for Young 88s, Weta Trimarans and Tornadoes.

Entries will be accepted until registration day (4-6pm on January 22) but online entry at www.bayofislandssailingweek.org.nz is recommended.

Rap duo in Kerikeri

Rising Kiwi rappers Church & AP will be playing an all-ages gig tomorrow at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri.

The duo, aged just 18 and 19, got their start though community hall music programmes in Auckland; their new single Ready or Not is getting airplay everywhere from Mai FM to BBC Radio 1xtra.

Tickets are $15 from iticket.co.nz or the Turner Centre box office. The show starts at 8.30pm.

UB40 coming to Waitangi

Don't forget legendary UK reggae band UB40 is coming to Waitangi for a January 26 gig on the fields across the road from the Treaty Grounds.

Support acts for the Reggae by the River concert will be Maxi Priest, the Marley NZ All-Stars and Whangaroa band 1814.

The current tour marks the band's 40th anniversary. The band coming to Waitangi includes Ali Campbell and Astro from the original UB40 line-up.

Go to www.ub40.nz/waitangi for tickets or more information.

Smelling the roses at Kerikeri Mission

The roses currently in bloom around Kerikeri Basin don't just look pretty — they're also a living link to people who kept gardens at the Stone Store and Kemp House in the distant past.

Manager Liz Bigwood said roses had graced the Kerikeri Mission Station since its earliest days, featuring in Samuel Marsden's list of plants he saw growing in the garden in 1821.

"As well as adding their own fragrance and visual appeal when they're in full bloom over summer, they also have their own special connection to this place,'' she said.

Just some of the missionary roses growing at Kerikeri Mission Station. Photo / Heritage NZ
Just some of the missionary roses growing at Kerikeri Mission Station. Photo / Heritage NZ

One of the roses, the Slater Crimson China rose, was said to have been brought to New Zealand as a cutting by missionary Thomas Kendall and was first planted at the original mission settlement at Rangihoua.

After Kerikeri Mission was established in 1819, a cutting was planted near the front door of Kemp House. The same rose can be seen there today.

Another rose, the Cabbage Rose or Rosa Centifolia, was brought to New Zealand as a cutting by missionary George Clarke and first recorded as growing in the Kerikeri Mission garden in 1828.

"The rose has a poignant story behind it. Clarke's son, George Clarke Junior, recalled in his memoirs how his father plucked a bud from the bush growing in the garden and placed it in the hand of his 4-month old baby daughter as she lay in her coffin upstairs in the Mission House. The little girl had died of whooping cough earlier that morning."

More recently a series of rambling roses were established by prominent breeder Ken Nobbs. The roses are named after the wives of missionaries including Hannah Butler, Charlotte, Kemp, Harriet Shepherd, Dinah Hall, Hannah King, Mary Davis and Hannah Baker.

The Ken Nobbs Ramblers were planted in 1986 and can be seen growing on the fence line along Kerikeri Rd. Kerikeri Mission Station is looked after by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

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