One of Northland's longest running disputes has reached the highest court in the land. The Supreme Court hearing before five of New Zealand's top judges centres on a decades-old dispute over Walls Bay, a small bay at Opua which is home to a public reserve and a commercial boatyard. The two-day civil hearing has been brought by Doug's Opua Boatyard owner Doug Schmuck against the Opua Coastal Preservation Society and the Far North District Council, and seeks to overturn an earlier Court of Appeal judgment which quashed easements granted by the Conservation Minister in 2015. Schmuck contends that the Court of Appeal made three errors when arriving at its decision. The hearing was to end yesterday with the judges' decision likely to be released at a later date. The disputed easements allow, for example, boats to be moved across a public reserve on to boatyard land.

No meth lab arrests

No arrests have been made in relation to the discovery of a well-established methamphetamine lab in Northland bush. Police were alerted to a missing man in the Russell State Forest but when they went searching they made the drug lab discovery on June 29. A team of specialist scientists from ESR in Auckland were called to the remote location to help with the removal of items. Acting Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Dalzell said family of a missing 52-year-old man told officers he had not been seen since going into bushland in Russell State Forest and his vehicle was found at a property on the outskirts of the bush. Police said the hut was well hidden and had clearly been used to manufacture methamphetamine. ESR are continuing to test the items and police continue to work on establishing who was involved.

Rates rise less than forecast

General rates in the Far North District are set to go up by 3.07 per cent, less than the 4.0 per cent forecast in the council's Long Term Plan. The rates rise is part of the council's 2019/10 Annual Plan adopted at a recent council meeting in Kaitaia. The lower-than-expected rates rise is due in part to a drop in forecast capital spending, which is understood to be caused by delays in capital projects such as Kerikeri's new sewage plant. The Annual Plan also sets operating expenditure of $126 million, $89m of which will be funded though rates with the rest from fees, charges and government subsidies; capital expenditure of $64m, $4m less than originally forecast; and forecast debt by the end of June 2020 of $81m, considerably less than the forecast $104m.

Yacht refloated

The owner of a yacht which hit rocks near Kerikeri on Sunday managed to free the vessel on yesterday's high tide. The concrete-hulled yacht ran aground on Sunday near Hauparua Inlet on the south side of Kerikeri Inlet. Initial attempts to refloat it were unsuccessful. Northland harbourmaster Jim Lyle said he had put the owner in touch with a local contractor to arrange a salvage but he was able to free the yacht early yesterday afternoon.

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Police show features North

In tonight's edition of the popular television series Police 10/7 a Whangārei woman finds herself up on a roof needing police help to get down. On a recent trip to Northland the television cameras spent a night shift on the beat in central Whangārei and it proved interesting. Promoters of the show said the most interesting part was how the woman got off the roof. In the process she bit one of the officers. To watch how it all worked out tune into TV2 at 7.30am.