The bus driver who died on Friday after the bus he was driving went over a bridge north of Whangārei was 70-year-old Aka Rapana, also known as "Danny", police said. "Police's thoughts are with his family at this time and the death has been referred to the coroner," a Police spokeswoman said. The Ritchies bus had gone through a barrier into a creek on State Highway 1, near Piano Hill Rd, south of Hikurangi, around 4.30pm.

Sign Language course

People still have a chance to enrol in a course to learn New Zealand Sign Language - the country's third official language - despite 100 people already registering for the courses. Within less than three weeks of being advertised, more than 100 people enrolled to learn New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL) with tutor Eddie Hokianga. Hokianga said this is the largest number of students he has had in one block course, which will be held at four different locations around Whangārei. ''Fifty students completed a 10 week NZSL block course and it's great to see an increased number of people wanting to learn this year, he said. The NZSL classes are funded with a community grant from Whangārei District Council and run over 10 weeks once a week for two hours starting late May/early June.
People wishing to learn NZSL can still enrol with more details at

SH12 improvements meeting

The NZ Transport Agency is inviting Northland residents and businesses to learn more about potential improvements for State Highway 12 between Rawene and Katui Rd, south of Waipoua Forest. NZTA is holding drop in community events in Rawene and Opononi tomorrow for the public to find out more about the long list options and to provide their feedback. NZTA's Jacqui Hori-Hoult said work undertaken in 2016-2017 identified areas for improvement along the 800km Twin Coast Discovery Route to help grow Northland's economy through safer, reliable and accessible journeys. Funding for the project is from the Provincial Growth Fund and is for the development of the business case. Tomorrow's meetings are from 11am to 1pm at Rawene Town Hall and form 3pm to 6pm at South Hokianga War Memorial Hall, 13 State Highway 12, Opononi.

Project Awards finalists

Three Whangārei companies will find out tomorrow if they are a winner in the New Zealand Commercial Project Awards. McKay, with project partners Hawthorn Geddes engineers and architects Ltd (Architect/Designer) and Trigg Construction (Construction Company), is a finalist in the industrial category at the awards for work on the Hawaiki Cable Landing Station at Mangawhai.