The railway line between Dargaville and Whangārei should reopen, says Albert Barr, chairman of the Northland branch of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union.
Barr said it's a no-brainer because the benefits of bringing the line back to life after being mothballed by the previous government are huge.
"As a result there will be significantly less damage to the roads and a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions."
Barr also said there will be economic benefits.
"Wherever there is rail, there are businesses who will want to set up close by."
However Barr admits the Government has still yet to officially approve the paperwork.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has said he is looking forward to KiwiRail putting an application forward to the Provincial Growth Fund to get the work done.
Barr said that Peters' comments give him a lot of hope.
"I think it's pretty conclusive it will go ahead.
"The odds are very good. I believe the intention is that the Dargaville line will reopen."
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Furthermore, Barr believes there is potential for a passenger train.
"There are quite a few people who travel from Dargaville to Whangārei and vice versa every day, so it is conceivable."
However Barr said that before the line can reopen a rail hub needs to be built.
"Stage one would be a road/rail hub at Tangowahine, there is a vast amount of forestry there."
Furthermore, he believes work is most likely to start on the Otiria line before progressing out to the west of Northland.
Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith also supports the reopening of the line.
"Upgrading rail through Kaipara District, including the mothballed link to Dargaville, would be significantly transformative to what's already the fastest-growing North Island district. For Kaipara, the light at the end of the tunnel is even brighter than it already was."
Fur seal rescued
A furry face may have been spotted by locals in the back of police car in Dargaville recently but this was not the usual offender - it was a fur seal.
The seal had made the mistake of relaxing on a stretch of busy open road, but thanks to a fast thinking local its safety wasn't compromised.
Dargaville resident Josh Stevens said he was heading home along Pouto Road about 1km from town at dusk when he thought he saw a fat possum on the road.
"I was about to run it over, when I realised it was a fur seal and I pulled over."
Stevens said it wasn't long before a few other members of the public stopped to help also.
"So I grabbed it in my jacket, then I rang Doc [Department of Conservation] which said to find a way to get it to the water, to get it to safety."
Stevens said another passerby had at that stage called police.
"The policewoman somehow thought that a cow had been run over, so she was really relieved when she saw it was a fluffy little seal."
"She said come with me and so I got in the cop car and we drove into town and found a safe spot on the river road to release it."
The Department Of Conservation normally advises members of the public not to touch or handle fur seals.
"I really just had to make a quick decision, which was pick the fur seal up and relocate it somewhere safe or leave it there to become road kill."
"I just had to make a decision and hope that it was the right one."
Stevens said the seal was quite happy to oblige and despite being "pretty wriggly" managed to stay still for the entire cop driven ride.
"About halfway through the drive, it just poked it's head out of my jacket and looked out the window. We were lucky we didn't have to drive to far before releasing it."
DoC Kauri Coast operations manager Stephen Soole said the public would not normally be advised to handle a fur seal. However he said in situations like this where a fur seal is in immediate danger then they do advise people to contact them for advice on whether or not to uplift them. In this instance he said the right decision was made.
Wheelie bins wanted
The people have spoken and in a survey conducted by the Kaipara District Council the majority of people have said they want wheelie bins.
Results from a People's Panel survey on waste were shown to staff and councillors at a recent council briefing meeting.
The survey was responded to by 523 residents throughout the district and showed that 39 per cent of respondents would like to pay a specific rate for a wheelie bin or recycling bin. A further 16 per cent said they would like the option of a wheelie bin and stickers. Fifty-five per cent combined.
Just 15 per cent wanted to keep the status quo, while 16 per cent said they wanted blue rubbish bags and for rates to pay for refuse. A further 13 per cent said they wanted another option which they then had to write down. Only 1 per cent did not know.
Respondents to the survey were asked to name one thing the council could do to make waste recycling better.
Comments ranged from, "Wheelie bins and recycle bins all the way, I cringe at having to buy plastic bags for all our rubbish and especially for recycling."
Another person also suggested more rubbish bins need to be made available to visitors to the region.
Some people just said that the council needed to make the current rubbish bags stronger.
"Blue bags have gotten smaller, weaker, seems council is making a profit from waste collection."
A council spokesman said the next step will be for council to review more information at a council briefing in August before making any final decisions.
"There will be more discussion around consultation and options then."
Rare look inside factory
Fonterra Maungatūroto is opening its gates to give the community a chance to see how they turn raw milk into dairy deliciousness that's enjoyed around the world.
Maungatūroto operations manager Hannah Croad said her team is excited to offer the public a rare chance to look behind the scenes and see how proud they are of what they do.
"We take the best milk from Northland and turn it into products such as whole milk powder and buttermilk powder that make their way across the globe to places like South East Asia and the Americas.
"Our site has been around for over 100 years and we want to share our story.
"Come along for a guided site tour, a chance to look inside a tanker, and of course we'll have some of your favourite dairy products available to try."
Maungatūroto is one of Fonterra's oldest sites, established in 1902. Its 112-strong team can process up to 2.1 million litres of milk a day – that's 75 tanker loads.
Because of security on site, people planning to attend must RSVP.
For Health and Safety reasons, all guests must wear closed-in shoes or bring a pair of clean gumboots.
RSVP with names of attendees to the site administrator (09) 431 0814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org today, July 12.
Fonterra Maungatūroto is at 1 Hurndall St East, Maungatūroto 0541. Gates open at 2pm and close at 5pm on Friday, July 19.
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