Motorists from all over the country and some from overseas converged in Havelock North at the weekend to take part in the Targa rally.

For Sydney-based driver, Heather Worth, the event was special because she has strong roots in the area.

In 1893 her great grandmother, Mary Hobbs, camped overnight outside the Havelock North post office so she could be the first woman in the village to vote in the general election on November 28 as soon as the doors opened.

"It's a very special place for me and the people have been so welcoming and friendly."
Ms Worth has been driving a 1968 Volvo 122S Amazon, nicknamed "Xena", with co-driver Glenda Lawrence.


She bought the car with her Auckland-based daughter four years ago and while "Xena" has been in a number of Targa rallies they mainly drive in international endurance races.

"I saw a programme on TV where people did some endurance races in 1997 and I thought I'd love to do that," Mr Worth said.

Last year she took part in the 36-day Peking to Paris Motor Challenge.

Event director Peter Martin said most drivers and their families were from outside the region with about 20 from Hawke's Bay out of more than 90 competitors.

"The hospitality and the fantastic feel that the Havelock North village has created has been the talk of the town."

The new two-day event incorporates 15 closed special stages covering 378.5km and a total of 585.2km of touring stages across Hawke's Bay.

A single-day event within Targa Hawke's Bay, the Rally of Hawke's Bay, was held today and was organised in conjunction with the Hawke's Bay Car Club.