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

How's your dog's dog-paddling? If you think your Fido has the makings of an aquatic champion take him or her to Opua Community Regatta, where prizes (and glory) will be awarded to the winners of a series of dog swimming races.

The annual fundraiser for Opua School, from 9am to 2pm this Saturday, the regatta also features human swimming races, a kids' fishing contest, raffles, rides, kai and cake stalls.

The pooch races involve pets swimming to the beach from a barge about 50m offshore. Registration opens at 9am with racing from 10am. Competitors in the fishing contest need to register at Burnsco by 10.55am.

The Opua Cruising Club will host a series of kayak races and Opti sailing lessons/races from 11am-1pm while the Opua Hall Committee will hold its regular market day with stalls, food and music.

Proceeds from this year's regatta will go towards a series of fitness stations around the school grounds. The stations will be available for public use outside school hours.


Hundertwasser scholarship winners

Hannah Rogers of Okaihau College and Finn Forstner of Kerikeri High School are the winners of this year's Hundertwasser Arts Scholarships.

The scholarships are worth $1000 and are awarded by the Kawakawa Hundertwasser Park Charitable Trust, which is developing a park and visitors centre in memory of the Austrian-born artist.

The scholarships, open to Mid North high school students wishing to further their studies in the arts, are funded by visitor donations at the Hundertwasser toilets.

Trust chairwoman Noma Shepherd said the high standard of applicants made choosing the winners difficult, though it helped that two scholarships were awarded this year instead of the usual one.

Hannah is studying 3D animation and visual effects while Finn has started his first year of architecture at Auckland University, where he hopes to combine his passions for the environment and visual arts.

Finn Forstner (Kerikeri High School) and Hannah Rogers (Okaihau College) are this year's winners of Hundertwasser Arts Scholarships. PHOTO / SUPPLIED
Finn Forstner (Kerikeri High School) and Hannah Rogers (Okaihau College) are this year's winners of Hundertwasser Arts Scholarships. PHOTO / SUPPLIED

Trustee Johnson Davis said it was a pleasant surprise to discover, after the awards had been presented, that Finn's grandfather Franz Forstner was born near the Austrian town of Zobern, Hundertwasser's original home.

Originally only Bay of Islands College students could apply for the scholarship but it was this year expanded to take in all the Bay of Islands plus Whangaroa and the Kaikohe-Hokianga Ward. Nominations are limited to one per school.


Actors, dancers, professional singers, an orchestra and a top harp player are coming together this Saturday, April 9, to take audiences on a rollicking journey through the life of George Frideric Handel.

Handel-u-jah!, a light-hearted look at the German-English composer's life and music, will be performed at 2pm and 7.30pm in the Turner Centre Plaza in Kerikeri.

The two-hour show will feature seven actors (including a 10-year-old boy), about 35 musicians, any number of dancers, and singers Mike Burch and Vera Dirkson-Pluijlaar, both of whom have performed professionally.

Highlights will include Handel's Harp Concerto, played by Therese Wunrow, formerly of the Seattle Symphony, and a chance for the audience to sing along with the Hallelujah Chorus.

The script is adapted by Kerikeri's Carol Dee from the original by Steve Danby. The musical director is Roger McClean of Whangarei; the musicians hail from Auckland, Whangarei and all points north. Tickets are available from the Turner Centre, (09) 407 0260.

African warlord speaks

A former Ugandan warlord trained to kill from the age of 13 is bringing his message of transformation and renouncing violence to Kaikohe in a series of meetings starting tomorrow.

Former Ugandan warlord Richard Esolu with Mike Shaw (left) and Jonathan Cargill. PHOTO / SUPPLIED
Former Ugandan warlord Richard Esolu with Mike Shaw (left) and Jonathan Cargill. PHOTO / SUPPLIED

Richard Esolu was kidnapped by rebel soldiers while still a boy, taken into the jungle and trained to kill. By the age of 17 he had risen to the rank of commander. After decades of fighting, murder, rape and mayhem, he laid down his arms and handed himself over to the Ugandan army.

The 50-year-old is now a pastor caring for orphans and overseeing several churches in northern Uganda.

Kaikohe church leader Mike Shaw met Mr Esolu in Uganda last year and invited him to Northland to give a series of public talks.

The first, at Kohewhata Marae, on Mangakahia Rd south of Kaikohe, will start with a powhiri at 5.30pm tomorrow and be open to everyone. A "no holds barred" hui tane for men only will start at 7pm at the same venue on Friday. Another talk will follow at Kaikohe's Celebration Church on Saturday evening and two more on Sunday.

Mr Shaw said he wanted to support campaigns like Men Against Sexual Violence and It's Not OK in helping men take responsibility for their own actions. Mr Esolu's transformation form trained killer would give any man hope and the knowledge of how to make permanent, positive change, he said.

Electric road trip

A convoy of electric cars taking part in the second annual Leading the Charge Road Trip leaves Cape Reinga today, April 6, and passes through three Far North towns on its way to Bluff 17 days and 2000km later.

A Tesla Model S will be among the electric cars taking part in a road trip form Cape Reinga to Bluff from today.
A Tesla Model S will be among the electric cars taking part in a road trip form Cape Reinga to Bluff from today.

The vehicles, including four Teslas and a BMWi3, will stop in Kaeo from 11.30am-12.30pm, Paihia from 1.30-2.45pm and Kawakawa from 4-6pm today. They will be in Whangarei from 7am-7pm tomorrow for a gala event at the Canopy Bridge and Cameron St Mall.

A Tesla Model S will take part in the road trip. In "Ludicrous Mode" the Model S accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 2.6 seconds, faster than almost any other production car. It has a battery range of more than 400km and costs about $12 to charge.

Whangarei's Joe Camuso, owner of New Zealand's first electric taxi, said electric vehicles saved money on fuel and operating costs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and ran on Kiwi-made electricity instead of imported oil.

With 80 electric vehicles on the road so far Northland boasts the highest per-capita uptake in New Zealand. Nationally the number is just over 1000.

Northland also has the country's best electric vehicle infrastructure with Charge.Net fast-chargers in Kawakawa, Dargaville, Kaiwaka and Tikipunga, and Northpower's free fast-charger in central Whangarei.

Hupara garden opens

A hupara garden for playing traditional Maori games is due to be officially opened in Kaeo this morning.

The garden, which consists primarily of painted stumps called hupara, is located on Waikare Rd near the old tavern. The section, at Kaeo's Theosophy Centre, has been donated by Alf and Maureen Paterson for school and community use.

Alf and Maureen Paterson in Kaeo's hupara garden while it was still under construction. PHOTO / SUPPLIED
Alf and Maureen Paterson in Kaeo's hupara garden while it was still under construction. PHOTO / SUPPLIED

Maori games expert Harko Brown, of Puketona, said the garden had been installed by volunteers of the KaiMatariki Trust and was a template for a larger te mara hupara (hupara garden) in Kerikeri and the "mother of all hupara gardens" due to be installed in Auckland next year.

The Kaeo garden featured ten types of hupara, rakau, a central te huihui-a-matariki (circular games court) and tama taiki (children's baskets).

Tryathlon comes to the Bay

The Weet-Bix Kids Tryathlon is coming to the Bay of Islands for the first time this Sunday.

As of last week 1200 children aged 7-15 had registered for the event. It will be headquartered next to Waitangi Treaty Grounds with a swim in Te Tii Bay, a bike ride across the bridge towards Paihia and around Te Tii Marae, and a run at the event base.

The distance will depend on the competitors' age up to a maximum 200m swim, 8km cycle and 1.5km run.

It is one of a series of 16 "tryathlons" organised by Sanitarium around the country but the first north of Auckland. It replaces a locally-run kids triathlon held at Onerahi in Whangarei for the past 12 years.

Sporting stars expected to help present medals on Saturday include netballer Irene van Dyk.

The impetus came from Business Paihia member Anne Corbett who contacted Sanitarium about holding a local event like the ones her grandchildren enjoyed in Auckland.

Company officials came up for a visit, liked what they saw and the rest is history. Business Paihia and the Far North District Council are major sponsors; Sport Northland is the local coordinator.

A class act

An exhibition of paintings by students of Mike Nettmann will open at the Turner Centre's Theatre Bar at 5-7pm today, April 6. Called A Class Act, it will be open 9am-4pm daily until the end of April. Free entry.

Lunchtime jazz

This week's Friday lunchtime concert at the Turner Centre Theatre Bar will be by the Gracenote Jazz Quintet, playing standards from the swing era along with "some very tasty bossa grooves".

The lineup is Bob Denham (sax, clarinet, vocals), Archie Grayson (drums), John Drake (bass), Reuben Topzand (piano) and Jim Makaweo (guitar).
The show starts at 12.30pm; suggested donation $5.

Do you have news or an upcoming event you'd like to see in this column? Send it to us, including your full contact details, to baynews@northernadvocate.co.nz.