Social credit conference

Last week's Social Credit conference elected Whangārei political activist Chris Leitch as the new party leader. Leitch has contested five general elections, most recently in Whangārei in 2014 and last year.

He was the Northland organiser of a 2015 campaign opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and another last year opposing Chinese involvement in financing and building Northland infrastructure. He was party president from 1988 to 1993, and is the finance spokesman.

Stormy weather blows in

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Isolated heavy showers and gale force winds in exposed areas are on the cards for Northland tomorrow as a low pressure systems sweeps over the region.

MetService meteorologist Mark Bowe said there would be scattered showers across Northland today and these would increase overnight, when a low pressure system would hit, bringing a strong easterly flow over Northland and Auckland tomorrow.

Bowe said isolated heavy showers were possible tomorrow, particularly in Northland, with strong east-to-southeast winds likely to reach gale force in exposed areas. Rain would continue into Thursday then ease on Friday. Temperatures will stay relatively high for the time of year, with daily highs of 14C to 18C over the next few days and overnight lows of between 8C and 12C.

Walking tracks closed for upgrade

Parihaka's Drummond, Dobbie and Ross tracks will be closed today while a helicopter delivers new stairs to the Ross Track. The track closures will be in place from about 8am to 2pm. The Ross Track is the last of the three tracks to receive upgrades. It will be closed for about five weeks while the stairs are installed and the track is resurfaced.

Refugee ration challenge

The Oxfam Ration Challenge has started and Northlanders are experiencing what it is like to survive on the same rations as a Syrian refugee for a week to raise money and awareness of the plight of refugees around the world. The challenge started yesterday and runs until Sunday. The fundraising initiative is called the Ration Challenge and rice is the main food item. Black tea is allowed but no coffee, juice or alcohol. For more information go to https://www.rationchallenge.org.nz

Dinghy's owner sought

Police are looking for the owner of an inflatable dinghy and outboard found adrift in the Bay of Islands on Friday. Sergeant Ross Laurie, of Kerikeri police, said a fisherman out netting found the grey-coloured dinghy among mangroves in the Karetu area, took it home and informed police.

It was not clear if it had been swept away or if someone had fallen out, but there were no people currently reported missing in the Bay of Islands. The dinghy's owner was urged to contact Kerikeri police on (09) 407 9211 to reclaim it.

Fire destroys hunter's vehicle

A hunter's vehicle was destroyed by fire while he was checking pig traps south of Kaikohe. Sergeant Ross Laurie, of Mid North police, said the hunter had gone only a short distance into the bush off Orakau Rd, Tautoro, about 11.45am on Sunday when he heard noises from the area where he had parked his vehicle.

When he returned he found it was on fire with some passers-by trying in vain to put it out. The vehicle was full of dive gear which was also destroyed. The fire was not suspicious.