Everything is looking lavender for a couple who have recently scooped up three silver supreme oil awards from the New Zealand Lavender Growers Association.

They entered just three categories and were blown away to have won silver in every one.
"Not bad for a new business," said Ray Dixon.

Belinda Gummer and Ray Dixon started planting lavender three years ago and only started producing oil two years ago.

The awards were for their Grosso distilled in 2017 and 2018 and for their Pacific Blue distilled in December 2017

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The couple are founders of Bindys Lavender, specialising in lavender oils, plants and aromatherapy products, which they run from their 1ha lifestyle block not far from the centre of town in Dargaville.

Belinda, who has a science degree and a certificate in aromatherapy, and Ray, a background in horticulture, said they got into growing lavender as a way to make a return on their small block of land and to make use of their combined skillsets.

"I was trying to figure out what to do to make some return on 1ha of land. I don't like the idea of planting veges, which you have to put in and then take out the next year, so lavender it was," said Belinda.

The couple, who both hold down other jobs, agree it's been a lot of hard work juggling everything, but to come out with three awards makes it all worthwhile.

After hearing the news Belinda said she was just ecstatic.

"I was bouncing around all day, we received the news on my birthday, so it was a great present".

The oils are said to be judged on smell, texture and various healing properties in what is quite an involved process.

"We were confident we were doing a good job, but with this external recognition coming from expert judges, this meant for certain we were doing well."

The couple also open up their property to visitors to enjoy over summer and already have five garden tours booked.

"One group is going to be having a picnic lunch in the middle of the lavender field, it's going to be beautiful," said Belinda.

To make a garden tour booking with award winning lavender oil makers contact Belinda: 021 293 7332.

Tourism windfall for the Kaipara

The Kaipara District is to receive over $400,000 in tourism funding.

Minister of Tourism Kelvin Davis recently made the announcement stating the funds would come from the government's Tourism Infrastructure Fund.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, at the launch of the Whangārei Māori Tourism Group's Cultural Visitor Guide in June, has just awarded the Kaipara District more than $400,000 in tourism funding. Photo / File
Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, at the launch of the Whangārei Māori Tourism Group's Cultural Visitor Guide in June, has just awarded the Kaipara District more than $400,000 in tourism funding. Photo / File

Kaipara District Mayor Dr Jason Smith welcomed the funding and said "good things come in threes and we've scored a perfect hat-trick here".

"These upgraded facilities to existing Kaipara ones is better than a Royal Flush. The total cost of the projects identified is $917,240 with the TIF providing $486,684. The council's share for each project varied, but in total council is required to fund related resource and building consent costs."

"The projects approved for support were prioritised to improve the visitor experience for those turning left at the Brynderwyns to see what the West Coast of Kaipara has to offer."

A council spokesman said funds would go towards fixing the Matakohe toilet and footpath, connecting the Matakohe township to the cycleway, fixing the Maungaturoto toilet block and carpark, and fixing the Bayly's Beach access boardwalk and toilet upgrade with a boardwalk connecting the carpark to the existing toilets.

The Kauri Museum, at Matakohe, has recently undergone a restructure and seen several job losses because of a huge downturn in visitors.

Kauri Museum Board chairman Mark Vincent said it is great that the council will look to upgrade the toilets across the road from the museum.

"But it would also be good if they were able to come up with a way of supporting and co-ordinating the promotion of the museums and art galleries in the district too."

It is expected, now that funding has been approved, the projects listed above will be commenced within the next calendar year.

Committee awards $100,000 in funding

The Community Grants Committee (CGC) of Kaipara District Council has awarded $100,000 to community organisations across the district.

Committee chairwoman Anna Curnow says she was delighted with the variety and breadth of applications.

"A total of 37 organisations – from the east through to the west applied for various amounts of funding through the Community Grants fund.

"This year there was a total amount of $100,000 available. It was a real honour to be in the position to assist many of these organisations to achieve their goals.

"We do not make these decisions lightly. I would like to thank all those organisations that make applications to us for assistance to continue their work in our communities.

"Council's vision is to build thriving communities working together and these groups are key in delivering that vision." she said.

Grants ranged from $438 for the Northern Wairoa Genealogy Society for operating costs, right up to $13,680 to go towards the Maungaturoto Residents' Association for the construction of a children's bike track on the View Street reserve, incorporating road signage and marking to help educate young people on road safety and awareness.

Speed review for Tara Rd

The district council aims to improve road safety in the district.

As a result it is looking at reducing the speed limit around the Tara Rd in Kaiwaka, at the Mangawhai Rd intersection.

A Kaipara District Council spokesman said the review area extends from Moir St, at a point 280m west of Insley St where the current 50km/h to 70km/h speed limit boundary is located, to a point on the Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Rd, 300m to the west of the intersection with Tara Road.

The review area also includes Tara Rd, from the intersection with Moir St to a point 100m north of Darmah Lane.

The spokesman said the proposed lower speed limit will aim to improve alignment with current and future land uses in the area, significantly increase pedestrian safety, particularly at new crossing points (yet to be installed) and significantly lower the risk of serious injury crashes resulting from direct access onto the main carriage way.

Kaipara District Council acting chief executive Curt Martin said, "The safety of our residents is paramount, and as areas within our district become more urbanised, reducing speed limits helps to achieve this".

Public submissions are sought and must be received by council no later than 5pm on Monday October 15.

■ Email Rose — if you have news that you would like to share with Northern Advocate readers. Rose.stirling@gmail.com .