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

Reggae rules as UB40, Marley Allstars, 1814 play the Bay

If you haven't been getting enough reggae so far this summer your problems are about to be solved — legendary UK band UB40 is performing this Anniversary Weekend at Waitangi.

Ali Campbell and Astro, two of UB40's original members, will be joined by an eight-piece band and guest artists Maxi Priest (also from the UK), Kiwi supergroup the Marley NZ Allstars and Whangaroa reggae band 1814.

The January 26 show, dubbed Reggae by the River, will be staged on the sports fields opposite the Treaty Grounds' entrance.

With band members celebrating 40 years since they first played together — you could call it a UB40th — the reggae icons will perform a greatest hits set with songs such as Red Red Wine, Cherry Oh Baby, Rat In Mi Kitchen and Kingston Town.

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For the Waitangi show the Marley NZ Allstars will feature Tiki Taane, Laughton Kora, Annie Crummer, Ria Hall, Anna Coddington and others.

The festival gates will open at 4.30pm with the first act on stage at 5pm and UB40 at 9pm. Tickets are available from www.UB40.nz, the Pioneer Tavern in Waipapa, Collards Sports Bar in Kaitaia or the Sound Lounge in Kerikeri. There will be some gate sales ($130) but it's cheaper to buy in advance.

Parking on site will be limited, as anyone who's been to Waitangi Day knows, but you can book a return bus from various locations around Northland — see the Reggae by the River survival guide at www.jacman.co.nz.

Paid parking will be available on the fields opposite the Copthorne but Bledisloe Domain at Haruru Falls ($10 parking fee includes a return shuttle) might be a better bet because you'll dodge the delays on the one-way bridge. Some Fullers ferries to and from Russell will make an extra stop at Waitangi.

UB40's Astro shares a hongi with Treaty Grounds visitor experiences manager Mori Rapana during the band's 2016 visit to Waitangi. Photo / Peter de Graaf
UB40's Astro shares a hongi with Treaty Grounds visitor experiences manager Mori Rapana during the band's 2016 visit to Waitangi. Photo / Peter de Graaf

Promoter Jackie Sanders ran Reggae by the River on the banks of the Waikato in Taupō for four years but she was keen to bring the event to her home in Northland, where it will become an annual fixture.

''It's my favourite festival and I really wanted to have it up here. The venue's stunning,'' she said.

About 5500 people are expected; the venue has a capacity of 7000.

Ali Campbell and Astro already have a connection with Waitangi thanks to a formal welcome at the Treaty Grounds at the start of a previous tour in 2016. At the time Campbell told the Advocate he found the experience deeply moving.

Hellhole returns to Russell

The unruly tourists might be making headlines elsewhere in New Zealand but the town of Russell — with a proud tradition of drink and debauchery — has no need to import unruliness.

Once known as the Hellhole of the Pacific, the former whaling town is set to relive the unruly days of the 1800s this weekend with two days of street theatre featuring local residents and actors from Kerikeri's Stage Door Theatre Company.

Strumpets Adriana Kurz, left, Les Robinson and Milli Owen do their best to distract Reverend Bob Drey during a previous Hellhole re-enactment in Russell. Photo / John Stone
Strumpets Adriana Kurz, left, Les Robinson and Milli Owen do their best to distract Reverend Bob Drey during a previous Hellhole re-enactment in Russell. Photo / John Stone

The performances, also called the Hellhole of the Pacific, started during the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and have since become an established part of the Bay of Islands calendar.

Director Cris Aronson said this year's cast of about 30 would have quite a reputation to build on. Last year's skits had been sufficiently convincing for some cruise ship visitors to inquire whether the ''strumpets'' really were for hire.

For the first time this year actors will use cordless microphones, bought with a Creative Communities grant, so it will be easier to hear the dialogue.

Performances will take place at 10am, 12.30pm and 2.30pm on Saturday and Sunday on the wharf and along The Strand, while the duel between Joel Pollack and Ben Turner will be re-enacted on the beach.

Jazz in Doubtless Bay

Top Kiwi jazz musician Nathan Haines is playing his first concert in the Far North next Monday in the historic grounds of Hihi's whaling museum.

Jazz musician Nathan Haines is performing in Doubtless Bay this weekend. Photo / Adrian Malloch
Jazz musician Nathan Haines is performing in Doubtless Bay this weekend. Photo / Adrian Malloch

An eight-piece band will feature his brother Joel Haines on guitar and Tama Waipara on vocals, plus a bunch of Haines' closest friends and collaborators performing three hours of jazz, soul and funk, while Kerikeri's Kainui Rd Vineyard will offer a selection of wines and craft beers.

You can find the museum at 31 Marchant Rd at Butler Pt in Hihi, a 10-minute drive from Mangonui.

The show will take place from 3-6pm on January 28 on the grass near the museum's giant pohutukawa. Bring a picnic blanket; entry for kids under 12 is free.

Puketi challenge returns

Do you want to immerse yourself in one of Northland's biggest native forests while at the same time contributing to its survival?

This Saturday, January 26, the Puketi Forest Trust is organising its fifth annual Puketi Challenge with a choice of 12km or 21km hikes through the forest.

Puketi Forest Trust's annual kauri challenge returns this weekend. Photo / supplied
Puketi Forest Trust's annual kauri challenge returns this weekend. Photo / supplied

The $50 entry fee for the 21km event gives you membership of the trust and pays for 1ha of pest control for a year. The shorter version costs $60 because it includes four-wheel-drive transport to the halfway point.

Return transport from Forest Pools, off State Highway 1 north of Okaihau, to the starting point at Puketi Forest headquarters is provided.

Anyone who wants to be part of the event but can't do the walk can join the organisers at Forest Pools for a relaxing day by the Waipapa River.

Phone trust secretary Cherry Beaver on (09) 407 8661 or email info@puketi.org.nz for more information. Entry forms are also available at www.puketi.org.nz.

The track is closed to the public while it is upgraded to prevent the spread of kauri dieback but it will be open for the challenge.

Puketi Forest straddles 15,000ha of hills between the Bay of Islands and Hokianga.

Since the trust was founded in 2003 locally extinct species such as kokako and toutouwai (North Island robin) have been re-introduced and tens of thousands of pests have been trapped. The tally to the end of 2018 includes 44,446 rats, 19,278 possums and 2476 stoats.

Love of outdoors drives engineering interest

The latest winner of a Top Energy engineering scholarship worth up to $32,000 is an all-rounder who hopes to be able to use her studies to make a difference for the environment and society.

Lucia Avery, 17, who completed Year 13 at Kerikeri High School last year, believes engineering, particularly chemical and material, will satisfy her curiosity and provide the best platform to make positive change.

A love of the outdoors motivates Lucia Avery, recipient of a Top Energy engineering scholarship. Photo / supplied
A love of the outdoors motivates Lucia Avery, recipient of a Top Energy engineering scholarship. Photo / supplied

She is due to start her degree at Canterbury University next month.
A keen sailor and skier, Lucia said she was aware how privileged she was to have easy access to beaches, bush walks and the ocean.

She wanted to work in a field which would help preserve those resources for future generations and anticipated a demand for environmental solutions through innovation. Sustainable energy sources and eco-friendly materials were fields she was particularly keen to explore professionally.

She also wanted to promote female interest and success in engineering and the sciences, and to introduce more diversity and innovation to a traditionally male-dominated field.

Top Energy chief executive Russell Shaw said Lucia's application on paper was impressive and during conversations with the judges she showed an ease and composure belying her age.

Lucia Avery's talents aren't limited to academia or the outdoors - she also performed in last year's Northern Dance Academy production of Coppelia. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Lucia Avery's talents aren't limited to academia or the outdoors - she also performed in last year's Northern Dance Academy production of Coppelia. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The judges said she knew what she wanted and where she was going, and was determined to get there.

She had also shown a willingness to take on leadership roles at school such as being a Year 9 prefect, a reading tutor, a peer support leader and member of the student council.
Shaw encouraged other Far North students to get their applications in for the next selection round in August 2019.

The Top Energy Engineering Scholarship provides $8000 per year of study for a maximum of four years. It aims to help Far North students with an excellent academic record who wish to study an engineering (honours) degree. Go to www.topenergy.co.nz/sponsorship for more information.

Hokianga art show opens

A new exhibition of work by two well-known Hokianga artists is opening at the Toi Box gallery in Opononi this weekend. The Great View II, with works by fine artist Rachel Miller and potter Robin Anaru Anderson, will open on Sunday and run until February 9. The gallery hours are 10am-4pm daily.

The work of Rachel Miller and Robin Anaru Anderson will feature in a new exhibition at the Toi Box in Opononi. Photo / supplied
The work of Rachel Miller and Robin Anaru Anderson will feature in a new exhibition at the Toi Box in Opononi. Photo / supplied

The Toi Box – a play on the Māori word for art – is an artist-run gallery in a converted shipping container at the i-Site carpark in Opononi.

Jazz at the Turner Centre

This Friday's session of the Turner Centre Jazz Club in Kerikeri features the John Leigh Calder Quartet, whose bass-playing frontman has recently returned from London.

He will be joined by saxophonist Walter Bianco, Matt Watson on piano and Matt Hennessy on drums. The doors open at 5pm with music from 6pm; entry $10 entry at the door.

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