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

Boating club hosts 44th Tall Ships and Classics race

One of the Bay's most anticipated sailing events returns this weekend when the Russell Boating Club hosts its 44th Tall Ships and Classic Invitational race.

While there's no way of knowing how many boats will turn up until race day, past years have drawn as many as 100 vessels dating back as far as the 1880s.

Although trophies are awarded for line honours and handicap winners in tall ships and classic divisions, the day is really about catching up with old sailing buddies and checking out each other's lovingly restored boats.

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It's a great spectacle – organisers describe the event as a "celebration of sail" rather than a serious race – but don't expect a whole fleet of big old square-rigged sailing ships.

So far the only confirmed square rigger is the Bay's own R Tucker Thompson; the Spirit of New Zealand isn't coming this year and the Auckland-based brigantine Breeze has yet to RSVP.

For the purposes of Saturday's race the definition of a tall ship is any monohull with two or more masts measuring more than 30 feet (about 9m) on deck, while the invitational is open to classic boats of at least 22 feet (6.7m) with any rig.

An all-comers fleet will be open to any other sail-powered vessels, including multihulls, but they won't be eligible for prizes.

Long-time organiser Christine Hall said she was hoping for a good breeze and a continuation of the fine weather of recent days.

"We're already noticing a lot of very big, elegant boats in the Bay, which is a good sign."

Last year's winner of both the tall ship and best gaff-rigged vessel trophies was Marie Tomasia, a Waiheke-based ketch. First across the line, in a mere 82 minutes, was the racing trimaran Ave Gitana owned by Russell wine maker Antonio Pasquale, who also won the Cock of the Bay trophy.

Prizegiving will be followed by a hangi for as many as 800 people at the boating club's Matauwhi Bay headquarters. Many of the volunteer hangi cooks aren't even sailors but are dedicated to making the event a success nonetheless.

Those with energy left for dancing can head for the clubrooms, where the Bay Windjammers will be performing old-time music, while the rockier Gold Cloaks from Whangārei will play in a marquee.

The racing starts at noon off Russell. For those who don't have boats but still want to catch the spectacle, try the lookouts at Waitangi Golf Course or Maiki (Flagstaff) Hill and Tapeka Pt in Russell. The best viewpoint, however, will depend on the course, which is weather dependent and only set on the morning of the race.

The sailors will face an extra challenge this year with the Sun Princess parked in the middle of the Bay on Saturday, though the race will be a treat for the roughly 2000 passengers on board.

Another milestone for Wairoa Stream walkway

A long-running project to create a walkway the length of Kerikeri's Wairoa Stream – while also restoring the waterway's natural environment – has taken another major step with the opening of a vital bridge.

A walking track from the bottom of Pā Rd to the Cobham Rd bridge, via the long-hidden Wairere Falls, was opened in April 2017.

The newly built Rod Brown Bridge extends Kerikeri's Wairoa Stream track and creates a loop from Cobham Rd along the stream and back via Shepherd Rd. Photo / Peter de Graaf
The newly built Rod Brown Bridge extends Kerikeri's Wairoa Stream track and creates a loop from Cobham Rd along the stream and back via Shepherd Rd. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Since then work has quietly continued to extend the track along the stream on the other, southern side of the Cobham Rd bridge, through Sammaree Reserve and around the back of Placemakers in Kerikeri's industrial area.

The main obstacle facing Vision Kerikeri, the community group behind the trail project, was the need to build a sizeable bridge across the stream.

A sturdy footbridge has now been completed thanks to members of Kerikeri Rotary Club, who also built the other bridges along the walkway.

The extended track emerges on Campbell Lane, which is off Shepherd Rd. Walkers can then loop around Shepherd Rd and back to the Cobham Rd bridge if they don't want to walk back the same way.

Rotary named the new structure the Rod Brown Bridge, in honour of the former Vision Kerikeri chairman who remains the driving force behind the Wairoa Stream Track.

While the bridge can be used, it has yet to be signed off or officially opened. It is limited to five people at a time.

For more information about the Wairoa Stream Track, or other walkways in Kerikeri, go to www.kerikeriwalks.kiwi.

Construction of the track through Sammaree Reserve involved removing vast amounts of weeds and rubbish. The stream had, it appeared, been used as an illegal dump for decades.

McCahon comes to Village Arts

The latest exhibition in the small room at Village Arts Gallery in Kohukohu is called McCahon 101 by artist Antony Ellison.

The show features 100 images of Colin McCahon presented as brooches made of engraved coloured metal, each individually numbered and signed by Ellison. It runs from tomorrow until February 15.

Print show in Russell

Russell Museum is opening the New Year with the return of Toi Whakaata, the Māori Printmakers Collective, with an exhibition called Tuia Toi Whakaata celebrating the voyaging traditions of their tupuna.

The show is part of Tuia 250, a series of events marking the arrival 250 years ago of Captain James Cook on the Endeavour and the first meaningful contact between Māori and Europeans in New Zealand.

Whakamahere or Star Chart by Faith McManus is part of a new exhibition by Māori printmakers at Russell Museum marking 250 years of meaningful contact between Māori and Pākehā. Photo / supplied
Whakamahere or Star Chart by Faith McManus is part of a new exhibition by Māori printmakers at Russell Museum marking 250 years of meaningful contact between Māori and Pākehā. Photo / supplied

The prints reflect the different approaches of Māori and Pākehā to the world around them in matters of navigation, the study of the stars, map-making and the natural world. They also reference the role of the Tahitian high priest and master navigator Tupaia, who was on board the Endeavour and played a crucial role in the first contact with tangata whenua.

Artworks include a red and white woodcut on harakeke paper by Faith McManus, called Whakamahere or Star Chart, which she describes as a mihi to more than 1000 years of voyaging by the great Polynesian navigators.

A series of watercolours by Vanessa Wairata Edwards, Organic Colonisation, contrasts the plants and animals that naturalists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander discovered on arrival with the destructive invaders that came with and after them.

The exhibition is open from 10am-4pm until March 24.


Traditional bookbinding on show

A steel ruler, cutting board, sharp knives and a strong cup of tea – those are just some of the tools of the trade for traditional bookbinder Gill Carlsson.

With 15 years of traditional bookbinding experience behind her, Carlsson is volunteering at Pompallier Mission in Russell over the summer break, demonstrating bookbinding techniques every Monday.

Traditional bookbinder Gill Carlsson demonstrates the use of a bone folder. PHOTO / HERITAGE NZ
Traditional bookbinder Gill Carlsson demonstrates the use of a bone folder. PHOTO / HERITAGE NZ

"A number of tools are necessary for bookbinding. Besides obvious things like knives and cutting boards, there are tools that are used specifically for this work, such as the bone folder — originally a flat of bone which was used for fine finishing work like tucking flaps of paper and flattening,'' she said.

''Another is the awl, a seriously effective looking darning needle used to stitch the pages to the book's spine. The stitching is always linen because it is strong and durable."

The cup of strong tea is also important, and not just for sustenance.

"One of the techniques with book art is to use a tea wash over a white page to give it an aged look," she said.

Pompallier Mission, now a Heritage NZ property, once housed a printery where Bishop Pompallier's Marist brothers produced just under 40,000 bound books in 1842-47.

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