Piano contest

The 2018 Kerikeri International Piano Competition gets under way in the Bay of Islands in two weeks. From Wednesday, September 26, to Sunday, September 30, 15 exceptional international pianists will battle it out for a piece of the total prize pool, which has reached an all-time high of $32,500. The contestants, aged between 16 and 27 and from seven countries, have all studied at some of the world's finest music institutions. Carrying the New Zealand flag is Auckland-born Delvan Lin, 19, the youngest winner of the Wallace National Piano Competition.

Community winners
The 2018 winners of the Trustpower Far North Community Awards will be announced at the Copthorne Hotel in Waitangi next Tuesday, September 18. Eleven community groups will be honoured for their contribution to the district along with a number of outstanding youth. The supreme winner will represent the Far North at the national awards in Tauranga next March. Last year's Far North winner was the Kerikeri-based Bald Angels Charitable Trust.

Kauri dieback closures
Seven tracks in the Bay of Islands will be temporarily closed while they are upgraded to help prevent the spread of kauri dieback. The Department of Conservation (DOC) upgrades from September to January include new gravelled tracks, boardwalks, stairways and handrails. They are the Kerikeri River Track, Lower Waipapa River Track, Oromahoe Traverse, Pukatea Track, Te Araroa Trail, Wairakau Stream Track and Whangamumu/Te Toroa Track. The closure and opening dates for each will be posted on the DOC website. For more information, contact DOC at the Pewhairangi/Bay of Islands Office.

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Armed standoff
A Northland man was taken into police custody after a five-hour standoff involving the Armed Offenders Squad. Officers negotiated with an armed man threatening people inside a Northland property after being notified about 7pm on Monday. A police spokeswoman said a family member was threatening people with a weapon inside an address on Tavinor Rd, near Otaika, Whangārei. She said police were called to the incident before 7pm and members of the public were not being threatened. The incident was resolved about midnight. The 27-year-old man had not been charged but was being given mental health support.

Byelection vote closes
Voting in the South Hokianga subdivision byelection for the Kaikohe-Hokianga Community Board closes at midday on Friday. There is still time to have your say - just drop your ballot papers off at the Rawene Service Centre on Thursday only, or the Far North District Council's main office on Memorial Ave in Kaikohe. There are five candidates contesting the by-election which was forced by the resignation of Robert Cassidy. The candidates are: Mervyn Gray, Alan Philip Hessell, Fred Hohua, Amanda Phillips and Collin Rameka.