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

Arts upsurge in the Bay

All this week arts lovers will be treated to a smorgasbord of events ranging from a world premiere by the New Zealand Dance Company to a Māori showband, talk panels and death-defying stunts.

The Upsurge Bay of Islands Arts Festival started yesterday and runs until Sunday with 27 events at venues around the Bay of Islands and as far away as Rawene.

Festival director Sophie Kelly said changes to this year's festival included extending it to six days instead of five and the introduction of Upsurge Talks, a writers' programme featuring poets, journalists, doctors, a cook and a historian.


One of the aims of the 2019 event was to build audience engagement. As part of its brand-new piece The Fibonacci, for example, The NZ Dance Company had recruited local residents to perform in a choir as part of the show.

A low-fi, foam rubber puppet named Bruce could be one of stars of this week's Upsurge Festival. Photo / Jamie Breen
A low-fi, foam rubber puppet named Bruce could be one of stars of this week's Upsurge Festival. Photo / Jamie Breen

The festival was also offering more free events, including roving street theatre in Kawakawa, Kaikohe and Paihia, a mural on Paihia's Bluff, and interactive art with a global message in the gardens of Kerikeri's Kemp House.

Other likely highlights include the award-winning Wild Dogs Under My Skirt, based on the poetry of Tusiata Avia; a lo-fi puppet show starring a character named Bruce made from a block of foam rubber; and alt-folk singer-songwriter Nadia Reid, who will perform in the old showgrounds hall at Waimate North.

The biennial festival, now in its third edition, is a revitalised version of the Bay of Islands Arts Festival, which folded after running out of funding in 2012. The event was rebranded and an external director hired in 2015.

Upsurge shares acts with Wanaka's Festival of Colour, allowing the two events to split costs and attract overseas shows that would otherwise be beyond either festival's budget.

Go to upsurgefestival.co.nz for the full programme.

100 x 100 arts show

Just under 100 artists have taken up the challenge to create a masterpiece on a tiny 100mm x 100mm canvas.

Called the 100x100 Art Show, the annual exhibition was a highlight of the Bay of Islands arts scene in the 1990s but fizzled out when its founders left Northland.

It was revived in 2017 by Mike Nettmann and instantly embraced by artists and the public. Every work, regardless of whether it's by a big-name artist or a high school student, is priced at $100.


Nettmann said 95 artists were taking part this year from the Bay of Islands, Hokianga and Auckland.

The works ranged from exquisite pointillism to fine fabric art with the artists ranging in age from 16 to 92. Three generations of the Irving family of Kerikeri had submitted artworks.

The small format put creativity and ingenuity to the test, Nettmann said.
Opening night was on Monday in the Theatre Bar at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri. The show will run until the end of April.

Stone Shed museum opens

Northland's newest museum is about to open in Paihia's historic Stone Shed.

The museum will be open from 9am-5pm seven days a week, and can be found behind Williams House/Paihia Library on Williams Rd in central Paihia. There is no entry fee.

Artefacts in a display cabinet illustrate the shed's many uses, which are thought to have included Paihia's first school, a trading house and a garden shed.

The exact construction date is not known but it is thought to date from the earliest years of Paihia mission.

Community group The Friends of Williams House worked for many years on the project, which was overseen by Heritage New Zealand and Far North District Council staff.

Workshop e, the same company which created the displays at Waitangi Museum, designed the exhibition while the Williams family provided photos and items for display.

The project was funded by the volunteers who sell second-hand books from the Williams House garage and a grant from Foundation North.

The formal opening, by mayor John Carter, will take place at 10am on April 13.

Opua School gala

Opua School is holding an Easter gala at the school grounds on Franklin Rd from 10am-2pm this Saturday, April 6.

Attractions will include "dunk the teacher", a slime bath, food stalls, white elephant, second-hand books, face painting, raffles, a bouncy castle, plants, children's games and an Easter egg hunt. The school pool and a water slide will be open (kids, bring your togs).

The gala is one of the school's biggest fundraisers of the year.

Hospice trivia night

Hospice Mid North's annual trivia night returns to the Homestead Tavern in Kerikeri on Tuesday, April 9.

Prizes will be awarded for first, second, third and last place; organisers also promise plenty of spot prizes. Entry costs $60 per team with a maximum of six people per team.
Contact Adele on (09) 407 7799 or fundraising@hospicemn.org.nz for tickets or more information.

Catalina visit postponed

Last weekend's visit to the Far North by a World War II Catalina was postponed due to forecast high winds. Instead the 75-year-old flying boat is due at Kaitaia Airport this Friday afternoon and will be open to the public all day Saturday. It is expected to land in Kerikeri for refuelling around noon on Sunday (exact time to be confirmed).

Rawene gym re-opens

Hokianga Community Gym, in a building shared with the Hokianga Sailing Trust and Coastguard Hokianga on Rawene Domain, has re-opened and is seeking members.
The gym was formally blessed and opened on Monday evening.

Membership costs just $100 per year with access at any time using a swipe card.
Equipment is limited but the new committee is applying for funding for new weights and machines.

For more information contact Dallon August on dallon.teuma@gmail.com or 021 0738669.

The gym originally opened in 2016 and was run by a local karate club with the intention that it would be available for community use.

For reasons which are not clear to Bay News, Rawene residents were until this week unable to access the gym as planned. The gym is now back in community hands but the job of equipping it has to start from scratch.

An Cultural group represents Far North

The Far North was represented at last weekend's Trustpower National Community Awards by the KaiMatariki Trust, a cultural group which seeks to create opportunities for local youth while promoting traditional Māori games.

KaiMatariki Trust won the Far North awards late last year, qualifying founder Harko Brown of Puketona and his daughter Yves, 16, to compete at the nationals in Tauranga against 25 other regional finalists. They were supported by mayor John Carter.

Far North Mayor John Carter with KaiMatariki Trust members Yves and Harko Brown during the Trustpower National Community Awards in Tauranga last weekend. Photo / Trustpower
Far North Mayor John Carter with KaiMatariki Trust members Yves and Harko Brown during the Trustpower National Community Awards in Tauranga last weekend. Photo / Trustpower

Trustpower spokeswoman Abbie Siely said the Far North group didn't come away with any awards, but they made a huge impression on the other contestants.

"Harko and Yves brought so much energy to the weekend. Together with Mayor Carter, they put on a fun, entertaining and interactive presentation that revitalised the audience towards the end of a full day of presentations," Siely said.

"Members of the audience were invited up to learn Māori games and skills challenges, while Harko shared the cultural meanings behind them. It's fair to say they made a huge impression on us all and we've all come away with a better appreciation for Māori culture."

This year's national winner was Matipo Community Development Charitable Trust from Whanganui with South Catlins Charitable Trust from Southland the runner-up.

Fire station open night

All 22 fire stations across the Far North will open their doors to the public from 5-7pm this Thursday.

The aim of the open night is to encourage new volunteers to join up and to show people the wide variety of roles available, which go well beyond firefighting.

In particular Fire and Emergency NZ is keen to recruit people who are available during the day.

Northland has a total of 42 fire stations from Tinopai to Pukenui. All but Whangārei central and the rural fire base in Kaikohe are run entirely by volunteers.

Kids' "TRYathlon" this weekend

More than 1300 kids are expected to compete in this Sunday's Bay of Islands Weet-Bix Kids' TRYathlon at Waitangi.

Held next to the Treaty Grounds, the event is aimed at kids aged 7-15 of all sporting abilities, who will swim, cycle, and run around age-appropriate courses, as individuals or in teams of two.

Everyone who finishes gets a medal from a guest sports star. Go to tryathlon.co.nz/locations/bay-of-islands/ to find out more.

Art show honours Swedish botanist

A new exhibition opening in Russell this weekend is inspired by the Swedish scientist Daniel Solander (1732-82), who sailed into the Bay of Islands with Captain James Cook on the Endeavour 250 years ago.

Solander is most famous as a botanist but he was a man of many parts. Paradise Lost: Daniel Solander's Legacy is a collection of images, each by a different artist and capturing a different part of the scientist, explorer and inventor's complex character and achievements.

The artworks range from a mystical landscape by Jenna Packer and Michael Tuffery's wildly colourful depiction of Cook's visit to Opoutama (Cook's Cove) to Jo Ogier's delicate rendering of black beech flowers and leaves.

Russell Museum board chairman Terry Greening it wasn't every day an exhibition from a top Wellington gallery was shown at Russell Museum.

"I've had a sneak preview and it's fantastic, we are very proud to have it on show here."

The exhibition is part of Russell's contribution to Tuia 250, a series of events around the country commemorating Cook's visit in 1769. The Swedish Embassy is also supporting the show, which will tour New Zealand, Australia and Sweden.

A powhiri at Kororāreka Marae, next door to the museum, will welcome the Swedish Deputy Head of Mission to New Zealand, Henrik Grudemo, at 5.30pm on April 5.

As part of the official ceremony Grudemo will make reference to the shooting that took place at Motuarohia (Roberton Island) on November 29, 1769. Cook, Joseph Banks and Solander were among those who fired their weapons that day. There was no further bloodshed during the Endeavour's visit to the Bay.

Russell's small Swedish community will attend the powhiri and opening along with iwi representatives and children from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Waikare and Russell School.

The exhibition will be open from 10am-4pm daily from April 6 to May 16.

Citrus woman

One woman's tale of growing up in Kerikeri with mixed Ghanaian-Pākehā heritage has been made into a solo stage show.

Grace Bentley is the writer and performer of Woman of Citrus, a coming-of-age story about a young woman who returns to her hometown and is caught up in a deep existential crisis.

Grace Bentley is the writer and star of Woman of Citrus, a solo show about growing up in Kerikeri as a young Ghanaian-Pākehā woman. Photo / Diana Simumpande
Grace Bentley is the writer and star of Woman of Citrus, a solo show about growing up in Kerikeri as a young Ghanaian-Pākehā woman. Photo / Diana Simumpande

During her quest for answers in Kerikeri she meets five "women of citrus" who, through movement and poetry, give her a new perspective on life, identity and self-empowerment.

Bentley described the show as an uplifting tale weaving together rural life, prejudice, womanhood, the complexities of mixed race identity, and the connections that can be formed between people through laughter.

"Woman of Citrus intends to bring forward a conversation about finding your identity, especially for mixed kids. I hope this show can stimulate cultural exchange and help people develop shared understandings with each other and what it means to call Aotearoa home," she said.

The show, Directed by Jo Randerson, will be staged at Auckland's Basement Theatre from April 9-20. It was first performed in Wanaka last year. Go to basementtheatre.co.nz for more information.

Kerikeri residents will remember Bentley as a regular performer in the town's ballet and drama productions.

Pinny strikes again

Kerikeri dairy farmer turned social action rocker Merv Pinny has released a new radio single on the theme of gun violence and people's refusal to face up to the world's social problems.

The indie-rock single Twisted Minds includes parts of every song on Pinny's 2018 EP of the same name.

Merv Pinny performing at last weekend's Mangonui Waterfront Festival. Photo / Peter de Graaf
Merv Pinny performing at last weekend's Mangonui Waterfront Festival. Photo / Peter de Graaf

The former farmer now has 25,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and more than 20 million streams and views on YouTube and other online platforms. Go to www.mervpinny.com/radio-promo to hear the new single.

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