House blaze

Firefighters saved a house in Waitangi's Te Kemara Ave early yesterday after a fire started inside a wall in an upstairs lounge. The alarm was raised about 12.40am when a man sleeping in the lounge was woken by the sound of the fire before smoke alarms went off. All occupants got out safely. Paihia Fire Brigade station officer Michael Fayne said flames were ''creeping up the wall'' when the first crew arrived and started attacking the fire from inside and outside. ''The guys were in there pretty quick,'' he said. The lounge was badly damaged and there was some damage to an external wall and deck, as well as smoke damage throughout, but the house could be repaired. A manager of the Te Tii B3 Trust, which owns the house, was on the scene making sure everyone was accounted for. The house was well equipped with smoke detectors. The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear but possibly electrical. A fire safety officer was due at the scene yesterday to investigate.

Skateboard title
Wellingtonian Chris Wood has won the Kerikeri Vert Jam skateboarding competition for the second year in a row. Last Saturday's event drew more than 40 skateboarders from as far away as Wanaka — including one of the standout competitors, Zedyn Fellows, who finished second in the open division against New Zealand's best and first in the under-16s, despite being just 12 years old. The other winners were Krysta Ashwell of Christchurch in the girls' division and Andrew Morrison, 51, of Auckland, in the masters.

Mussels ban proposed
Fisheries New Zealand is proposing a new bylaw banning the harvesting of three species of mussels in part of the Bay of Islands amid concerns over declining populations. If it goes ahead the bylaw would ban taking of green-lipped, blue and black mussels from an area known as Te Puna Mātaitai, which roughly encompasses the waters between Moturoa Island, the Purerua Peninsula, including the Black Rocks, out as far as Cape Wiwiki or Nine Pin Rock. Mussel or kūtai populations would be re-assessed in three years' time to determine whether the closure needed to continue. Submissions on the proposal close on December 13.

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Beach clean-up
Kaitaia environmental organisation CBEC is holding its annual Beach Clean Up of Te Oneroa A Tohe (Ninety Mile Beach) this Sunday. Starting points are from Ahipara, Waipapakauri and Hukatere, all at 11am and there will be a free litter drop-off at Waipapakauri ramp, and a barbecue from 1pm at Waiapapakauri. Self-confessed "eco warrior" Jo Shanks advised those taking part to bring water and water bottles (organisers are adamant they will not be buying single-use water bottles), hats and sun safety and bins to separate out any clean recyclables like glass, tin, scrap metal and plastic soda bottles. A spade and scissors are also useful for buried treasure, Shanks advised.

Open day at Ruatuna
Ruatuna, an important Northland historic building, is having an open day tomorrow. A nationally significant Category 1 historic place and birthplace of New Zealand's first elected New Zealand-born Prime Minister, Gordon Coates, the building will be open between 10am and 4pm. Located at 441 Tinopai Rd and cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, Ruatuna is not usually open to visitors. Admission will be free on Saturday, however, and people will have the chance to explore the house and grounds on a self-guided tour. Thanks to the donations of a huge number of supporters — including many Heritage New Zealand members — Ruatuna has been completely re-roofed, and its sagging or broken supports and beams fixed. "With the recent repairs and maintenance work completed, the open day will provide the perfect opportunity for people to visit this amazing heritage property," says Heritage New Zealand's manager heritage assets north, Natalie McCondach. "Ruatuna has been cherished for generations of the Coates family and has remained mostly unchanged from its earliest times. It's a treasure trove of stories and collection items spanning over 140 years." Visitors can make a day of it by exploring other nearby attractions, including Matakohe village with the church, Kauri Museum, historic Totara House and a local cafe.