Anyone who likes a Christmas spectacle is urged to head to Paihia this Friday evening for one of the highlights of the festive season.
Paihia's Christmas parade is not Northland's biggest - that title probably goes to Kamo, followed by Kerikeri - but it usually has the most extravagant floats and costumes.
Past years have seen space ships, a near-lifesize pirate galleon, a slave army pulling a pyramid, and even scandal over supposedly risque costumes and bodypaint.
This year's theme is 'A town full of superheroes'. The Business Paihia-organised parade starts on Kings Rd at 5.30pm and finished on Williams Rd after a circuit of the town.
Prizes are awarded to the best business and community floats, as well as to kids who dress up. An evening craft market will be held on the Village Green.
On Saturday Santa will make his way to Kaikohe, where Hype Youth is organising a Candyland-themed Christmas parade down Broadway from 11am.
Paihia Lanes to open
A new street food market is opening in Paihia this Friday night.
Paihia Lanes will open in the former Paihia Mall from 5-10pm with 10 stalls offering everything from Chilean barbecue and Mexican to kai moana and whitebait fritters.
The night market will then return every Friday night with an official opening on New Year's Day.
The market is the initiative of mall landlords who hired urban planning guru David Engwicht to help revitalise the run-down and increasingly empty mall. Mr Engwicht was the inspiration for Focus Paihia's rejuvenation of the town's public spaces.
The shops are being renovated to lend the mall an industrial, maritime character. It is hoped the number of food stalls will double to 20.
Life's work on show
The life's work of late Ohaeawai artist John Gatti in on show in an exhibition in the Theatre Bar at Kerikeri's Turner Centre.
Mr Gatti trained at the Slade School of Fine Art, at University College London in the 1950s, then painted and carved in the Far North for 50 years.
The show features six of his carvings and 20 paintings in oils, gauche and watercolours.
Called 'Listen with your eyes', the exhibition runs until January 31.
Opening hours are 9am-4pm weekdays. Free admission.
Art prize double win
A prize in an international art competition is a double win for the Far North - the artist is from Doubtless Bay and the model is a young woman from Kerikeri.
Gillian Buckley, of Cable Bay, won the A$2000 Auckland regional prize in the Clifton Art Awards, which is open to artists in New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Prizes are awarded in each of ten regions and an overall winner.
Ms Buckley won the Auckland regional prize for a pencil portrait of Kerikeri teen Jazmyn Welch. Regular readers of this column will know Jazmyn's mum, Monika Welch, an artist and the driving force behind a charity for struggling families called Finkk (Families in Need of Kindness Kerikeri).
Ms Buckley, who works in travel industry, said she learned to draw while taking classes in Kerikeri five years ago.
Emilia's an author
Kerikeri's Emilia Finer has only just turned 11 but she's already a published author.
The budding writer was one of eight winners of this year's Young Authors Challenge in August, a competition open to all primary and intermediate-aged kids in Auckland and Northland. Close to 1100 entries were received.
Her story, Rangi Ruru, about a young morepork that loses its nest and mum in a storm, has now been published in a book called Home Sweet Home and Seven Hearty Tales along with the seven other winners. A different artist illustrated each story; Emilia's was illustrated by Japanese-born Jun Arita.
Emilia travelled to Auckland for the book launch on November 11.
All proceeds from the Barfoot and Thompson Young Authors Challenge go to the Starship Foundation. Copies of the book will be donated to Starship Hospital and the children's ward at Whangarei Hospital. The cover illustration is by All Black Keven Mealamu. Go to www.barfoot.co.nz/storybook to order a copy.
Mountain bike boost
The Bay of Islands Rotary Club has pledged to donate $15,000 towards Focus Paihia's plans to build a world-class mountain bike park in Waitangi Forest - as long as the sum is matched by others.
The club is calling it the Andrew Thomson Rotary Challenge after their former president (2006-07) and active board member until his sudden death late last year. He was also a Focus Paihia trustee and ardent supporter of the mountain bike park concept.
The club said the park would cater to all riders, including families and children, would be a superb facility for the local community, and would boost tourism in the Bay, especially in the shoulder and winter seasons.
The club will match all donations from the local community before Christmas Day to a maximum of $15,000, potentially raising $30,000. Go to givealittle.co.nz/cause/andrewthomsonchallenge to donate.
DDF Dance Studioz, with guests the Diamond Divas, are putting on a dance show at the Turner Centre Plaza in Kerikeri this Friday.
The performance will star Kerikeri and Opua students who have just completed an eight-week intensive workshop with dance instructor Alannah Curtis. Doors open at 6pm, the show runs from 6.30pm-8.30pm. Entry $8 or $25 per family of four.
The Bay of Islands Singers are kicking off the festive season at Kerikeri's Turner Centre with a celebratory concert called 'Gaudete! Rejoice!' this Saturday.
The choir of 60 singers plus nine brass players, drums, percussion and organ will be directed by John Jackets. The show starts at 7.30pm. Tickets $28 or $12 for students aged 18 and under.
Kerikeri flights canned
A new airline offering flights between Kerikeri and Auckland's North Shore - aimed at business travellers and North Shore residents keen to avoid Auckland traffic chaos - has dropped the service after just over a month of operation.
North Shore Air started flying between Kerikeri and North Shore on October 4 (Tauranga flights started a few days earlier, on September 28).
Later that month the daily flights dropped to three a week and on October 30 owner Peter Newman announced the end of North Shore Air's scheduled flights.
The company would still be available for charters.
Newman said it was a case of pulling out while the company could still manage an exit or waiting until it hit the wall.
The airline needed three to four passengers on each eight-seater plane to break even but most flights took off with a single passenger.
Mr Newman said resistance to the $195 fare was one reason for the service's demise.
North Shore Air operated the service for just 33 days but it is not New Zealand's shortest-lived route.
That title, according to the civil aviation website 3rd Level New Zealand, goes to Coastal Airways which operated between Whenuapai, Whangarei, Kaikohe and Kaitaia for just 27 days in 1958.
New trustee named
Focus Paihia has appointed a new trustee, Ngati Kawa Taituha, as its Maori representative.
Mr Taituha attended Paihia Primary School and Bay of Islands College, spent several years in Christchurch and Sydney, then returning to New Zealand in 2001 to complete a diploma in Maori Studies.
He has been a language facilitator at Waitangi Marae and worked at the Copthorne Hotel. He currently works at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds and holds positions on Te Tii Marae, Te Tii (Waitangi) B3 Trust and Te Maungarongo Whenua Trust.
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