Test of tactics

Today's Coastal Classic looks likely to be a test of tactics and perseverance rather than speed with light headwinds forecast. About 170 vessels will start in Auckland about 9.30am with the first boats expected in Russell this evening. MetService lead meteorologist Mark Todd said the race start would see a 15 knot easterly swinging around to a northeasterly headwind as the fleet made its way up the coast.

Later today the wind would drop to 10 knots, still from the northeast, and stay light through Saturday. The PredictWind marine forecasting app has the first boats arriving between 4pm and 6pm today. The slowest boats just hope to arrive before sunrise on Saturday. The course record for New Zealand's biggest coastal yacht race, 5 hours 13 minutes, was set by Team Vodafone Sailing (now Frank Racing) in 2014.

Workshop blaze

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An electrical fault in a bank of solar power batteries is thought to have started a blaze which destroyed a workshop in Panguru in North Hokianga. The fire broke out about 4.50pm on Wednesday while the property owner was present but there was little he could do. Firefighters responded from Kohukohu, Broadwood, Ahipara and Kaitaia.

Kohukohu fire chief Neil Matheson said the brigade had to drive an hour to reach the remote location on Rangi Pt Rd. When they arrived the workshop was burning fiercely and the blaze had spread into pampas and native bush covering about 50m x 50m. A helicopter was placed on standby but was not required.

Whitehead survey

The team at Bream Head Scenic Reserve have completed the 2018 whitehead (popokatea) survey and found 39 individual birds. A high percentage of the count were unbanded progeny from last breeding season.

In May last year around 100 whiteheads were released at the reserve at Whangārei Heads. Ranger Adam Willetts said he experienced a wonderful event on the reserve recently —several key bird species in one large matai tree, all singing at once, including a whitehead/popokatea, a North Island robin/toutouwai, a bellbird/korimako, a grey warbler/riroriro, a kaka, a tui and a North Island tomtit/miromiro.

Pests removed from forest

Water testing and carcass removal is under way after last month's 1080 drop over Russell State Forest and part of Cape Brett. Complying with Northland District Health Board requirements, Department of Conservation (DoC) has conditions in place for water monitoring and clearing the public tracks of bait and carcasses.

DoC will complete its post-operational monitoring in the next few weeks to index rodent and possum numbers following the operation. No dead wildlife has been taken to DoC for testing by people concerned it was an accidental kill of the poisoning programme.

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Show will go on

Talented young Northlanders will again get the chance to sing as a series of popular performing arts shows for schools is rolled out for another. RockQuest Promotions was selected by the Ministry of Education to run Showquest this year after Stage Challenge was canned. Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced yesterday that after a successful run of Showquest shows and positive feedback from participants, the show will go on in 2019.