Trial date to be set

A Kaipara man charged over the deaths of three of his fellow Brethren Church members - including his wife and daughter - will be back in court early next year to set a trial date. Russell Stewart, 49, briefly appeared in the Dargaville District Court on Thursday for a case review hearing and was further remanded on bail. He pleaded not guilty to seven charges of driving under the influence of alcohol causing death or injury and one of failing to remain at an accident. Suzie Stewart, 48, her daughter Sadie, 16, and family friend Jamie Wearmouth, 18, died in a fatal crash on Baylys Coast Rd on June 6 when a ute they and five others were in crashed into a tree. Stewart will re-appear in the Whangarei District Court on February 17 when his trial date is expected to be set.

Crash witnesses sought

Northland Police are seeking witnesses to a fatal crash on State Highway 1 at Mata, near Ruakaka, on Sunday, November 13. The crash between three cars and a light truck occurred about 4.40pm, just north of the roundabout, killing one of the car drivers. Police are looking for witnesses, especially the driver of a curtain-sided truck travelling north on State Highway 1 behind the blue light truck involved in the crash. Email Senior Constable Llew Smart on, reference file number 161115/0106.


Chinese ancestors

The Rawene woman who brought the story of the Ventnor shipwreck to national attention is giving a talk at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds tomorrow. The ship was carrying the bodies of 499 Chinese goldminers to their homeland for burial when it sank off Hokianga Harbour in 1902. The caskets that washed up along the west coast were buried by iwi alongside their own dead. Liu Sheung Wong's talk, called Wandering with Ancestors, will be held in the learning centre of the new Waitangi Museum at 2pm. Entry is free to Friends of Waitangi (joining costs $5 for Far North residents).

French tourists case

Sentencing for a young man who admitted robbing French tourists in Dargaville has been put off. Te Ahu Belle, 19, pleaded guilty to two charges of aggravated robbery, one of possession of cannabis and another of possession of cannabis for supply. He was scheduled to be sentenced in the Dargaville District Court yesterday but the matter was adjourned to January 19. He is on bail. Belle threatened a male and a female tourist sleeping in their car on April 24 and made off with about $300. The money was recovered.

Santa's grotto

Kaikohe Community Arts Council's Santa's Grotto opened last week and will continue up until a few days before the man in the big red suit visits. The Santa's Grotto will be held at 87 Broadway in Kaikohe to December 21. The theme is Kiwi summer. Contact Linda 021 0245 6263 or Karla Tawhai 027 451 2440 for more information.

Mayor becomes JP

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai will become a Justice of the Peace on Tuesday, along with three other newly appointed Northlanders. Ms Mai, Paea Paki (Takahiwai), Sara Ball (Ruawai) and Ralph Correa (Whangarei/Ngati Hine) will be sworn in before a Whangarei District Court judge at 11am.

Renal outpatients meet

More than 30 people attended a recent get-together in Kerikeri for remote renal outpatients who require home dialysis. Among the 30 people at the Contact Energy renal fund seminar were 16 patients who shared their experiences of living independently while being prepared for emergencies, especially the impact of power cuts on dialysis equipment. Social isolation was another theme discussed. Contact Energy created the endowment fund in 2009 to support home-based dialysis.