Burn-off starts fire near Whangāroa

A burn-off by people clearing a section is thought to have started a fire which swept through pines near Whangāroa during the weekend. Kaeo fire chief Lindsay Murray said the brigade was alerted about 4.30pm on Saturday when a rubbish fire spread into scrub next to Wainui Rd and from there into 10-year-old pines. Kaeo firefighters fought the fire, which was about the size of a rugby field, from both flanks while the Kerikeri brigade attacked the head. It was fortunate there was pond nearby to take water from. Ground crews were aided by three helicopters filling their monsoon buckets from the harbour. They handed the scene to rural fire crews from Hihi and Taupo Bay to mop up and were called back on Sunday morning when residents reported fresh smoke. Just days earlier Northland's top rural firefighter, Myles Taylor, had warned anyone planning a fire to pay close attention to wind conditions. ''The wind is catching everyone out,'' he said.

NorthTec head resigns

The chief executive of NorthTec has resigned. Mark Ewen has worked at the Northland polytechnic for 10 years and has been in the chief executive role for the past two years.
He and his family are moving overseas, a statement said. NorthTec council chairman Wayne Jackson will take on the role of interim chief executive, and the current deputy council chairwoman, Jane Hindle, will step up as interim chairwoman. Jackson will be based in Whangārei, at the request of the NorthTec Council, as he takes up the chief executive position until a permanent appointment can be made.

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Musician's funeral on Wednesday

Well-known Northland musician and teacher Bob Denham will be farewelled at Kerikeri's Cornerstone Church at 11am this Wednesday. Denham taught music, maths and other subjects for many years at Northland College in Kaikohe, where he raised his family, and Bay of Islands College in Kawakawa. He was a keen sailor and musician and was until recently a mainstay, playing sax and singing, with acoustic band The Windjammers. He suffered a heart attack on November 11 while performing at a house concert in Kerikeri with his son, Prague-based musician Craig Denham, and Jon Sanders. He died in hospital on November 16 surrounded by family. Craig Denham said his father's death was ''sad and unexpected but a poetic and beautiful way to go''. He is survived by his wife Jenny, three children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Two detoxed in Kerikeri

Police say there were no problems at Kerikeri's street party on Saturday evening but they took two people back to the station for detoxing for their own safety. The heavily intoxicated youths were found in the area near the McDonald's carpark, where there had also been reports of fighting. It was not clear if the youths had been at the party beforehand. No charges had been laid.