New Zealand's wars remembered

History will be made in the Bay of Islands this weekend with the first official commemorations of the New Zealand Wars, more than 170 years after the outbreak of armed conflict between Northern Maori and colonial forces.

Events will focus on Waitangi, Kororareka/Russell and battle sites such as Ohaeawai and Ruapekapeka, starting this Friday.

Pressure for official recognition of the conflict has been building for some years. In 2015, hundreds of Otorohanga College students marched to Parliament with a petition of 13,000 signatures calling on the Government to set aside a day to remember the 19th century wars.


The students argued the conflict was an important part of New Zealand's past but had been marginalised in school curricula and historical accounts.

The Government of the day didn't grant a state holiday but did agree to an official day of commemorations on October 28 each year, the anniversary of the signing of He Whakaputanga o Te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni (the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand).

The first commemorations are, however, being held on March 9-11.

On March 11, 1845, Hone Heke's men famously chopped down Russell's flagpole, signalling an attack on the town and the start of the 10-month-long Northern War.

Co-ordinator Mori Rapana said a mass haka powhiri by hundreds of warriors at Te Tii Marae in Waitangi would ignite commemorations at 3pm on Friday. Practice sessions had been under way around Northland for weeks, he said.

Activities will continue at Te Tii Marae on Saturday morning with a bus tour to the battle sites of Ruapekapeka, also known as the Bat's Nest, and Ohaeawai, leaving at noon and returning about 5pm.

Bookings for the tour should be made via the Facebook page Te Putake o te Riri.

Sunday's day of remembrance will start at Russell wharf at 7.30am and centre on Christ Church, around which most of the battle raged 173 years earlier.

Government and Defence Force representatives will take part.

The commemorations will also feature speakers and panel discussions with experts and historians. All events are open to the public.

Organising committee chairman Aperahama Edwards said the aim was to remember the past, acknowledge differences and aid reconciliation between the two cultures.

The catalyst for the Northern Wars was disregard of He Whakaputanga and the Maori version of the Treaty by colonial forces, he said.

The commemorations, called Te Putake o te Riri, would help build a better understanding of those agreements and the subsequent conflict.

Waitangi's Te Tii Marae is calling for volunteers to lend a hand this Friday and Saturday as it hosts visitors taking part in the first official commemorations of the New Zealand Wars.

Marae chairman and Focus Paihia Maori representative Ngati Kawa Taituha said helping out behind the scenes was a great way for Paihia residents to get to know their neighbours and support tangata whenua.

The marae was also offering community groups a chance to hold fundraising kai stalls on Saturday when large numbers of visitors were expected. Anyone keen to volunteer at the marae or hold a kai stall should contact Mr Taituha at or 020 4022 9517.

Tatiana Hiku Korewha makes it over the high jump at the 2015 Rawene Races while her mount decides to stay put. PHOTO / DEBBIE BEADLE
Tatiana Hiku Korewha makes it over the high jump at the 2015 Rawene Races while her mount decides to stay put. PHOTO / DEBBIE BEADLE

Other upcoming events...

'Brumbies Alive' returns to Rawene

Two years after the demise of Rawene's popular Brumby Races, organiser Rob Pink is back with a new event testing the skills of riders and their mounts while offering loads a fun family day out.

Mr Pink said this Saturday's event, called Brumbies Alive, was a get-together for "horsey people and their whanau" with a day of mounted games-style challenges dreamt up by Hokianga riders.

The programme included a "bendy pole" slalom relay, barrel races, a racquet and ball relay, horse and tyre team relay and the famous horse high jump.

There would also be Ironman races for boys, girls, men and women, a saddle trot – which was not easy on a brumby — and a 1km relay.

The finale would be a 4km cross-country race starting and finishing with a full circuit of Rawene racecourse, similar in length to the Pawarenga event but without the hill climb.

The event would be ''much tamer" than the race day it was replacing but would be good fun all the same, Mr Pink said.

There would be no food stalls so families should bring their own picnic lunch, and no entry fees because Mr Pink was covering the costs using prize money he won in an ASB Good as Gold Award last year.

"Silly me, on national TV I said I'd give the money back in some shape or form," he said.
Brumbies Alive will be held at Rawene Racecourse from 10am to about 3.30pm. Any farm or backyard horse can take part but not thoroughbreds.

The Rawene Races, last held in 2015, raised money for Mr Pink's charity Hokianga Treks 4 Kids, which teaches children to ride and takes them on multi-day horse treks.

The races folded due to ever-increasing health and safety and food safety regulation.
Mr Pink is Rawene's school bus driver when he isn't teaching kids to ride.

The Oruaiti School team bravely battle wind and driving rain at the start of a previous Kiwi Can Whangaroa Raft Race. PHOTO / PETER DE GRAAF
The Oruaiti School team bravely battle wind and driving rain at the start of a previous Kiwi Can Whangaroa Raft Race. PHOTO / PETER DE GRAAF

Whangaroa raft race

The annual Great Kiwi Can Raft Race returns to Whangaroa Harbour this Saturday with schools and community groups from around the Mid North competing to paddle their craft from Clansman Wharf to Whangaroa Marina in the shortest time.

Regular competitors Totara North, Hato Hohepa, Matauri Bay, Kaeo, Oruaiti, Mangonui and Kaingaroa schools will be joined this year by new entrants Peria, Oromahoe and Taipa Area schools, with Bay of Islands International Academy aiming to defend the title it won last year. Whangaroa College also hopes to enter a team.

Prizes will be awarded not just for the quickest vessels but also for team spirit. Every year much effort goes into decorating rafts, making costumes and ensuring opponents are properly soaked by the time they reach the finish line.

The school race starts at 10am with the open division for community groups and businesses at 11am. The organisers promise plenty of sponsored prizes including fishing rods and mini golf vouchers.

Byelection No. 2

Kelly Stratford's win in last month's Far North District Council byelection means another byelection is being held to fill her place on the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board.

Nominations have opened for the position of Kawakawa-Moerewa representative on the community board and will close at noon on March 28.

Candidates must be New Zealand citizens and enrolled to vote anywhere in New Zealand. They must be nominated by two people who are registered on the Electoral Roll in the Kawakawa-Moerewa area.

If there is more than one nomination postal voting packs will be delivered to about 2500 voters in the Kawakawa-Moerewa subdivision from May 2.

Mrs Stratford, of Kawakawa, was elected on February 17 to replace councillor Willow-Jean Prime, who resigned after being elected to Parliament in last year's general election.

Nomination papers can be obtained from the council's Kawakawa Service Centre or downloaded from Papers can also be requested by phoning 0800 922 822.

Police open day in Moerewa

Northland Police are holding an open day in Moerewa's Simpson Park from 10am-4pm this Sunday.

Northland's top cop, Superintendent Russell Le Prou, said the open day was a chance for people to meet their local officers and learn about career options within the police force.

"We really want people from Northland to come and join us. We need good people who care about helping to keep this great part of New Zealand safe," he said.

While the event had a recruitment focus, there would be other attractions such as a barbecue, police cars, a police dog team and kids' activities.

Open days will also be held at the Whangarei and Dargaville police stations.

Land wars in Kaikohe

Kaikohe's Willi Maihi is organising a separate commemoration of the New Zealand Wars on the Northland College grounds this Saturday. The programme includes a re-enactment of Hone Heke's felling of the flagstaff, sports activities, a hangi, kapa haka and music.

Opua plans revealed

Opua residents are invited to a get-together today to learn about council-owned company Far North Holdings' plans for the town over the next 12 months.

The meeting, which starts at 4.30pm, will be followed by an escorted walkabout of the marina and surrounds.

The event is hosted by community group Love Opua and Far North Holdings. It will be held in the Cruisers Lounge above the Opua Marina laundry (entry via the door and stairs on the south end of the building).

Same but different

In February 2008, 18 students from Kaikohe and the Hokianga enrolled in an applied arts course at NorthTec's Rawene Campus under the tutelage of art educator Sue Daly-Hughes.

Ten years later the same students and tutor are coming together again in an exhibition at Village Arts Gallery in Kohukohu called Orite...rite...he rereke, in which they were asked to explore ideas of sameness and difference.

The show, which encompasses painting, mixed media, carving, jewellery, ceramics and photography, will open at 11am on Saturday and runs until April 8. The gallery is open 10am-4pm daily.

Frank Leadley performs the Gendarme's Duet at the Concert at the Station, a fundraiser for the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway. PHOTO / WARD JAMESON
Frank Leadley performs the Gendarme's Duet at the Concert at the Station, a fundraiser for the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway. PHOTO / WARD JAMESON

Station concert 'best yet'

"The best yet" – that's the verdict from Frank Leadley on the February 25 Concert at the Station, an annual fundraiser for the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway.

The railway stalwart said there were concerns the detour around the slip on Lemon's Hill might deter some concert-goers, but the event in the big green carriage shed was a near sell-out.

"And they certainly got their money's worth from the wide range of talent on show," he said.

The line-up included light opera from Auckland's Ellen Callister, close harmony from New Zealand's top small chorus Bella A Capella, toe-tapping country and western from Whangarei's Brent Stephen, and the bass baritone voice of Daniel Morrison from Opua – who was joined on stage by Mr Leadley himself in a rendition of the Gendarme's Duet, claimed by some to be the highlight of the concert.

Bella a Capella wows the crowd at the February 25 Concert at the Station in Kawakawa. PHOTO / WARD JAMESON
Bella a Capella wows the crowd at the February 25 Concert at the Station in Kawakawa. PHOTO / WARD JAMESON

Next came a display of guitar playing talent with Choko Tautari, Robert Lemon, Jack Tane and Jack Maunsell performing as Te Mia Te Mia, and a finale by Whangarei country and western singer Carleen Still. She was joined on stage for the last number by MC and Mayor John Carter, whose singing and sense of rhythm Mr Leadley described as "unique".
It would be a miracle if next year's concert was any better, he said.

Creative consultation

Arts funding organisation Creative Northland is holding a regional consultation session at Kaikohe's War Memorial Hall from 9.30am-12.30pm today. The meeting has been organised to meet artists of all genres and find out about the needs and aspirations of Northland's creative community. Further sessions will follow in Dargaville (March 27) and Mangawhai (March 28); email for more information.

Inspired by fire walking

The current exhibition at No. 1 Parnell gallery in Rawene features a series of hand-drawn "pictures of the universe". Bruce Anderson's Peace Mandala exhibition was inspired by the artist's time spent living in Fiji with a veteran fire-walker and the Buddhist tradition of sand mandala painting as practiced in Tibet and Nepal. Mr Anderson has visited Nepal five times, staying up to four months each time.

Mayor John Carter and deputy Tania McInnes (right) with last year's winners of the Trustpower Far North Community Awards, Therese Wickbom (2nd left) and Inky Vink of the Bald Angels Charitable Trust.
Mayor John Carter and deputy Tania McInnes (right) with last year's winners of the Trustpower Far North Community Awards, Therese Wickbom (2nd left) and Inky Vink of the Bald Angels Charitable Trust.

Community awards open

It's that time of year once again to share a little love and recognition with the volunteer groups striving to make the Far North a better place.

Nominations opened on Monday for the 2018 Trustpower Far North Community Awards, with an increased prize pool to celebrate the awards' 25th anniversary.

Trustpower spokeswoman Abbie Siely said the prize money for a community award would double to $1000 while the regional winners would go home with $2000, up from last year's $1500.

"The Far North boasts some incredibly talented and effective community organisations. Previous supreme winners Bay Bush Action continue to make a huge impact for their community and the environment.

"This year, we're excited to have Bald Angels Charitable Trust representing the Far North. We know that increasing prize money will help groups like these bring real change to their communities."

This year's Far North awards will take place in Paihia in September with transport provided for groups travelling from other towns.

The awards are open to all community organisations with a voluntary component and are presented in five categories: Heritage and environment, health and wellbeing, arts and culture, sport and leisure, and education and child/youth development.

Anyone can nominate a group and groups can nominate themselves. Entries close on May 31. Go to to enter.

The 2017 Far North supreme winners, the Bald Angels Charitable Trust, will attend the national awards in Queenstown on April 13-15.

Marae heart-starters

Life-saving defibrillators have been installed at three Northland marae as part of a project by St John to reduce the number of deaths among Maori caused by heart attacks.

Waiora Marae at Ngataki (north of Kaitaia), Waitaruke Marae (Whangaroa) and Whitiora Marae (Te Tii) are the latest to benefit from the initiative, which followed a St John report revealing Maori are much more likely to suffer a cardiac arrest than other ethnic groups. Fifty have been installed so far at marae around Aotearoa.

St John northern region community programmes manager Peter Hoskin, who installed the defibrillators and provided training, said the visits were an excellent opportunity to establish relationships with marae at a local level.

The initiative was backed up by the Three Steps for Life programme, which taught participants how to perform CPR and use defibrillators.

About 1800 people a year are treated for heart attacks that occur outside hospital. Survival depends largely on bystanders initiating CPR and using a defibrillator within the first few minutes. For every minute without CPR or defibrillation a patient's chance of survival falls by 10-15 per cent.

A defibrillator works by delivering a short, powerful electric shock to the heart, helping it regain its natural rhythm. Automatic voice prompts guide the user through the procedure.

Coming up

Piano lovers, mark your diaries: One of the country's top concert pianists is performing in Kerikeri on March 16.

Michael Houstoun, patron of the Kerikeri International Piano Competition, will play a concert at the Turner Centre with all proceeds going towards this year's contest on September 26-30.

Tickets cost $40 ($36 KIPC Friends/$20 students) from the Turner Centre. See or next week's Bay News Bites for more information.

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