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

"Granddaddy of Puketi" thrills forest trust

The discovery of a North Island robin which has reached the grand old age of 10 years — more than three times the species' normal life expectancy — has caused great excitement among members of the Puketi Forest Trust.

The trust has been working to eliminate pests and bring back native wildlife in the forest, midway between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga, since 2003. Part of the restoration involves re-introducing birds such as the small but sociable North Island robin.

Every August members of the trust carry out a survey of robin numbers and health.

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This year trustee Tricia Hodgson was very excited to see one of the original birds, nicknamed Yob — short for "yellow over blue", a reference to the identification bands on its legs, but also to the slang term for a noisy and aggressive young man.

"In the first year he was always about and often followed you to get more mealworms … Unlike other robins Yob was always very noisy, especially if you didn't notice him. And, if we went along the track into another robin's territory he would follow. He still wanted some mealworms, so he would try to fight the other robin off," Hodgson said.

"Seeing him was a real thrill for me as I was part of the capture team in 2009 and carried out the monitoring after they were released into Puketi Forest. He is now at least 10 years old."

Despite his advanced age Yob is apparently still doing his bit to boost the forest's robin population because he was accompanied by his mate, an unbanded female. A lack of leg bands means the female was hatched in Puketi.

Trust secretary Cherry Beaver said ''the Granddaddy of Puketi'' was remarkable because robins normally lived only about three years.

The annual surveys showed the Puketi robins were healthy and increasing in number, which meant they had plenty of food and pest control was working.

Comic ballet comes to Kerikeri
A comic ballet featuring more than 100 dancers aged 3 to 70-plus opens at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri this evening.

Coppelia was the first full-length ballet performed by the Northern Dance Academy and received rave reviews in 2010. Now it's back with a new cast but the same magic.

Krista Hardcastle as Swanhilda in the Northern Dance Academy's production of Coppelia, which starts tonight at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri. Photo / Gwyneth Hulse
Krista Hardcastle as Swanhilda in the Northern Dance Academy's production of Coppelia, which starts tonight at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri. Photo / Gwyneth Hulse

Academy principal Liz Russell said Coppelia was an ideal first ballet for anyone who'd never been before, because it was a comedy and the music was so uplifting.

"It's beautiful, beautiful music."

The academy's dancers had been rehearsing once or twice a week for a year and travelled from as far away as Mangonui. They would be joined by guest dancers from Wellington and Christchurch, as well as actors from Kerikeri theatre companies.

No two shows would have exactly the same cast with the smallest dancers in particular rotated so they wouldn't be tired out by five performances.

The ballet is set in a village in Poland and revolves around sorcerer/inventor Dr Coppelius, who creates a magical life-size doll so lifelike the lead character, Franz, forgets his real sweetheart, Swanhilda, and falls in love with the doll instead.

The original version ends badly for Dr Coppelius but Russell has tweaked the storyline to give the inventor a happier outcome.

"I just felt it needed a much lighter ending, for the magic side of life."

The female lead roles of the Coppelia doll and Swanhilda will be shared by Krista Hardcastle (Russell), Danielle Hoffmann (Kerikeri) and Rosey Robb (Paihia); while Franz will be performed by Alex Bishop (Christchurch) and the tavern owner by Salem Foxx (Wellington). Kerikeri fisherman Simon Howard will play the part of Dr Coppelius, as he did eight years ago.

The costumes were designed and made by Therese Wickbom of Kerikeri for the academy's first performance of Coppelia eight years ago.

Coppelia was first performed in Paris in 1870 and originally choreographed by Arthur Saint-Léon to the music of Léo Delibes.

Performances will be at 6pm tonight, 6pm Thursday, 11am and 6.30pm Saturday, and 2pm on Sunday. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 students/children, and $65 families (two adults/two children).


Top economist to speak
Well-known business commentator and newspaper columnist Rod Oram will be the guest speaker at this weekend's AGM of Vision Kerikeri, a town improvement and lobby group.

Oram will give his take on what a future New Zealand might look like. The meeting is open to all and starts at 2pm on Saturday, August 25, in the St John Hall at 357 Kerikeri Rd.

Business commentator Rod Oram will be the guest speaker at this weekend's Vision Kerikeri AGM. Photo / Stuart Munro
Business commentator Rod Oram will be the guest speaker at this weekend's Vision Kerikeri AGM. Photo / Stuart Munro

The meeting will also provide an update on the group's proposal for a carbon-neutral Kerikeri while chairman Rod Brown will share some thoughts on Kerikeri Domain and consider the outcome of the Far North District Council's recently passed Long Term Plan.


Glasses for the Pacific
Do you have any old, unwanted prescription glasses or reading glasses lying around? You could put them to use in the Pacific by donating them to Kerikeri Lions.

Member Marian Andrews said the club collected on average 1500 pairs of eye glasses a year. They were collected by Papakura Lions, recalibrated by an optometrist in Auckland, and sent to the islands of the South Pacific for people who couldn't afford glasses.

Kerikeri Lions Bruce Henderson, left, and Keith Andrews sort out donated glasses. Photo / Supplied
Kerikeri Lions Bruce Henderson, left, and Keith Andrews sort out donated glasses. Photo / Supplied

"This is a wonderful project that New Zealand Lions have been doing for a number of years," she said.

Glasses can be dropped off at your optometrist, St John, hospice and SPCA op shops, Kerikeri Retirement Village, Kerimed or the Kerikeri Medical Centre.

All types of eye glasses in any condition, even sunglasses, were suitable. Lions from Auckland and Northland had also set up an eye clinic in Fiji where Kiwi eye specialists spent part of their holidays helping with procedures such as cataract operations.

Call Keith on (09) 407 5445 or 021 269 2295 for more information about the club.


Kiwi population climbs
Eleven kiwi might not sound like much in an area the size of Opua State Forest — but it's a cause for celebration for the volunteers of Bay Bush Action.

The latest kiwi count inside the conservation trust's pest control area, in the forested hills behind Paihia, represents an increase of 120 per cent in just two years.

Eleven-year-old Lennix Takimoana, Bay Bush Action's youngest volunteer, heads into the bush to listen for kiwi calls. Photo / Supplied
Eleven-year-old Lennix Takimoana, Bay Bush Action's youngest volunteer, heads into the bush to listen for kiwi calls. Photo / Supplied

Trustee Brad Windust said the volunteers were thrilled their hard work was paying off.

''Kiwi nearly went extinct from this forest and are certainly not out of the woods yet.''

Kiwi listening by the group in 2011 resulted in not one kiwi being heard. Since then, the trust has cut 45km of track lines through the bush, raised $80,000 to buy traps, lugged in 2085 traps and set them more than 200,000 times.

Volunteers have also spent more than 60 hours sitting in the bush at night in different spots listening and documenting kiwi, something they do every second year.

"It's not only kiwi doing well, the protected part of the forest is no longer silent but noisy with birds like tui, tomtit, kukupa and even fernbirds," Windust said.

However, he cautioned that large swathes of Northland forests had little or no ongoing pest control and were in a state of collapse.

Bay Bush Action's dream was to double the size of their pest control area but it didn't have the money to do so.

"What would be great is to have a philanthropist come on board to help take this essential work to the next level. Alternatively, DoC Bay of Islands could spend the budget put aside in stalled attempts to save Whangaroa Forest into Opua State Forest instead. At least that way some native forest is being turned around from collapse," he said.

So far the group had killed 2719 possums, 8327 rats, 108 wild cats, 129 stoats and 41 weasels in the pest control area.


Piano virtuoso performs
Pianist Richard Mapp will perform a solo recital at the Turner Centre's Theatre Bar from 7.30pm this Friday, August 24.

His programme will explore the full range and power of the piano from the poetic grief of Chopin's Nocturne to the romantic music of Brahms, as well as Bach, Messiaen, Schubert's Three Piano Pieces and Catharsis by New Zealand composer Kenneth Young.

The concert is organised by the Aroha Music Society in association with Chamber Music New Zealand's 2018 Regional Series.


Focus on waste
Four experts in composting and compostable packaging have been invited to share their know-how at a public meeting in Paihia next Monday.

The speakers will be Marty Robinson, of Kerikeri Organics, on long-term, large-scale composting; Richard Wallis of Auckland's Compost Consultancy Company, on community compost systems; Ecosolutions's Anouk van Donzel, of Kaeo, on composting education; and Damien Eruwera Smith, of Auckland firm Innocent Packaging, on compostable packaging for businesses.

The conversations on composting meeting will take place in the memorial hall on Williams Rd from 5.30-7pm on August 27.

Vegetable soup (BYO mug) and bread provided. The meeting is open to all, including those wanting to learn about effective composting, businesses keen to learn about eco-friendly compostable packaging, and people looking for a ''composting buddy'' to give or receive compostables.


It! lineup announced
The headline act for this year's It! Bay of Islands Food and Wine Festival on Paihia's Village Green will be Fly My Pretties, a "supergroup" project led by Barnaby Weir of The Black Seeds.

Other members of the 12-strong cast of Fly My Pretties include Iraia Whakamoe, James Coyle and Ryan Prebble (The Nudge), Jarney Murphy and Nigel Patterson (The Black Seeds), Laughton Kora (Kora), Mike Fabulous, Bailey Wiley and Ria Hall.

The support acts will be Kerikeri singer/songwriter Troy Kingi, Automatic 80s and JPG. The festival will take place on October 6; tickets at eventafinda.co.nz.


Village Arts show
Village Arts Gallery in Kohukohu is opening a midwinter group exhibition at 11am this Saturday, August 25. Snacks and drinks served. The show runs until September 30.


New trustee needed
Focus Paihia Community Trust is calling for nominations for a new environmental trustee to replace Craig Salmon, who has resigned after four years due to the demands of contracting work and beekeeping.

The ideal candidate would live locally, have links to more than one group and no conflicts of interest.

Bay Bush Action, Fish Forever, Project Island Song, Guardians of the Bay, Living Waters and the Department of Conservation have been approached but anyone can put their name forward. Email info@focuspaihia.org.nz with any nominations.


IT lessons for seniors
SeniorNet Kerikeri is holding a session at the Kerikeri Retirement Village at 10am on Friday, August 31. The introduction to IT presentation will cover the basics of terminology and devices and aims to fill in any gaps in participants' knowledge.

After facing closure due to a lack of officers, SeniorNet Kerikeri has been rejuvenated with a new and enthusiastic committee. Its sessions are open to all and don't require booking.


Community barbecue
Paihia has a new community barbecue beside the playground at Ti Beach. A joint project by Waitangi Lions Club and Focus Paihia, the all-electric barbie can be used by anyone without charge.


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