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

Hokianga hapū ends year with race day on the beach

As many as 2000 people are expected to descend on a remote Hokianga settlement on Monday for a day of horsemanship, sporting challenges and catching up with the whānau.

Pawarenga's United Marae Sports Day, held on December 31 every year, features wood chopping, iron man and woman challenges, tug 'o war, a volleyball tournament, kai and kids' rides.

For many, however, the highlight is a series of horse races on the beach beside Whangape Harbour plus a gruelling cross-country horse race over rugged hills, on metal roads and through a mangrove swamp.

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The sports day is a fundraiser for Pawarenga's three marae — Morehu, Ohaki and Taiao — and helps cover costs such as maintenance and insurance.

Most of the money comes from the sale of merchandise, especially the coveted sports day T-shirts.

Just as important as fundraising, however, is the chance for members of the far-flung hapū Te Uri o Tai to come together for a day of competition and whanaungatanga.

The action starts about 10am and usually winds down early in the afternoon. There's a small fee for entry and parking (kids under 12 are free). Bring plenty of cash, especially if you want the some of the T-shirts.

It's a long, dusty drive if you're coming from the east coast so be sure to set off early. Head to Mangamuka Bridge on State Highway 1, then take the turnoff to Broadwood. A few kilometres beyond Broadwood turn left on to Pawarenga Rd and follow it to the end. You can also get to Broadwood from Ahipara via Kaitaia-Awaroa Rd.

Explosive start to 2019

The Bay of Islands will welcome the New Year with the traditional midnight fireworks show launched from a barge moored between Paihia and Russell.

The show, which is in its 17th year, is organised by Business Paihia and paid for by local businesses.

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Revellers watch the fireworks from Maiki Hill during last year's New Year's Eve festivities in Paihia. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Revellers watch the fireworks from Maiki Hill during last year's New Year's Eve festivities in Paihia. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The best vantage points are along the waterfront at Russell, Paihia and Waitangi but it can be seen as far away as Haruru and Opua.

Note that a liquor ban applies to all public places along the waterfront and, after the chaos of New Year's Eve 2016, it's likely to be strictly enforced. We'd hate you to spend your first hours of 2019 in a police lock-up.

As in previous years the Biggest Little Circus will provide entertainment on Paihia's Village Green earlier in the evening. They will then perform daily until January 7.

Tractor Spectacular

Tractor fans need to get up to Taupo Bay this Sunday, December 30, when the beachside settlement holds its annual Tractor Spectacular.

The event attracts dozens of tractors — some of which are meticulously restored classics while others are extravagantly decorated or boast more rust than metal — which will take part in a parade from 5pm along Marlin Dr, Mako St, Tuna Place Reserve and back for prizegiving and a get-together next to the playground.

A Trump-themed tractor representing a Mexican border wall was one of the more political entries in Taupo Bay's 2016 Tractor Spectacular. Photo / Peter de Graaf
A Trump-themed tractor representing a Mexican border wall was one of the more political entries in Taupo Bay's 2016 Tractor Spectacular. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Prizes will be awarded for the best original pre-1970 tractor, best original post-1970 tractor, most pimped tractor, best decorated, best team effort and overall most loved tractor.

Taupo Bay's love affair with the tractor came about because the settlement has no boat ramp so anyone who wants to launch a boat off the beach needs a robust piece of agricultural machinery to get it into the water.

The event is now in its fifth year. Go to www.facebook.com/Taupo-Bay-Tractor-Spectacular for more information.

Sailing Week approaches

If you're thinking of entering the upcoming Bay of Islands Sailing Week — New Zealand's biggest multiday keelboat regatta — you'll need to hurry if you want to avoid the late entry fee.

As of late last week 63 vessels had entered with good numbers in most divisions promising competitive racing.

The Opua-based regatta runs from January 22 to 25. Entries will be accepted even on registration day, January 22, but any received by December 31 will avoid the $75 late entry fee and go in the draw for a Gill soft shell jacket. Go to www.bayofislandssailingweek.org.nz for more information.

College kids clean-up
By Teina Reid, Year 10, Bay of Islands College

Four girls from Bay of Islands College, with the help of teacher Mr Higgins, decided to take action about the large amount of litter dumped along footpaths, roadsides, beaches and even in our beautiful river.

This is very unhealthy for our environment so we started right where we were and cleaned all the way to the Kawakawa park.

We started picking up rubbish at the top of Derrick Rd, Kawakawa, and continued down the road and footpath to Johnson Park. By the time we arrived we had filled two black rubbish sacks with rubbish.

We knew there would be a large amount of rubbish, but were not prepared for the amount which we found. Most of this we felt was caused by school students, as the type of rubbish corresponded with the food and drink which school students consume.

Once we'd cleaned up in Kawakawa we headed over to Ti Beach in Waitangi. This time we only half-filled one rubbish bag. We expected to find more rubbish here, but perhaps there was more in the water.

Overall we felt like this day opened our eyes to the amount of rubbish in our communities. It has made us more passionate about making a difference in our communities in future by encouraging others to use the bins, and to keep our environment clean.

■ Students involved in the November 2 clean-up were Aimee-Leigh Kelly, Pearl Croft-Hita, Grace Maioha, Teina Reid. All are in Year 10.

Music at the Duke

The Duke Tavern in Russell — sometimes also called the back pub, to avoid confusion with the Duke on the waterfront — is hosting a summer music series starting this Friday and running through to New Year's Eve.

Blues legend Billy TK Jnr is playing at Russell's Duke Tavern every night from Friday until New Year's Eve. Photo / Chris Rudsdale
Blues legend Billy TK Jnr is playing at Russell's Duke Tavern every night from Friday until New Year's Eve. Photo / Chris Rudsdale

Every show features blues legend Billy TK Jnr and the Groove Shakers, along with Ronan Kavanagh and Coco Blues Band. Friday's gig also features Jason Kerrison (ex-Opshop) and Fiona Cosgrove; Saturday sees a Steve Ray Vaughan tribute band take the stage while Sunday's line-up includes Harry Lyon (of Hello Sailor) and James Reid (The Feelers).

All four events start at 5pm; tickets from eventfinda.co.nz or at the door.

Trains running

The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is running trains from Kawakawa railway station to Taumarere four times a day right through the holidays until February 10.

Departure times are 10.45am, 12 noon, 1.15pm and 2.30pm. The return trip takes 50 minutes. There are no trains on Christmas Day.

Antiques fair

The Turner Centre is hosting an antiques fair from 10am to 4pm this Friday and Saturday, December 28 to 29. Items for sale will include jewellery, china, retro, linen, glassware, crystal, silverware and tools. Entry by donation. The door takings from last year's fair, $724, were donated to Alzheimers Northland.

■ Do you have news or an upcoming event you'd like to see in this column? Send it to us, including your full contact details, to baynews@northernadvocate.co.nz