Firefighters spent a second day at the scene of a bush fire near Peria in the Far North yesterday. Mangonui Fire Brigade was the first to respond when the alarm was raised about 4.40pm on Monday, backed up by a water tanker sent more than 60km from Kerikeri. The blaze, on Te Karoa Rd, off Fern Flat Rd, was difficult to access. It started in bush and scrub in the Maungataniwha Forest but threatened to spread into a nearby pine plantation. A rural fire crew returned on Tuesday to continue mopping up. The cause was not known at edition time yesterday. Earlier firefighters from Kaitaia, Ahipara and Broadwood responded to a blaze along 20m of roadside at Herekino about 3.45pm. At 8pm on Monday the Kaikohe brigade was called out to what appeared to be a fire at Omapere Rd but turned out to be a controlled burn.

Truck-ute crash

The concrete truck that tipped during a collision with a ute near Kaikohe was set back on its wheels by two truck-bearing cranes able to lift 18 tonnes. The crane operators then raised the truck and slipped a vehicle transporter under to clear the main road west to Kaikohe. It took just 150 minutes from the moment fire crews arrived to deal with the accident until traffic began to flow again. The truck driver was cut free from his cab and flown to Whangarei hospital with moderate injuries. The ute driver received similar injuries yet was able to be freed for medical care almost immediately after the crash.

Solar farm all go

The country's largest solar farm is to be built at Marsden Point after Refining NZ decided to go ahead with the $37 million project. The solar farm will cover 31 hectares and it intended to reduce the cost of electricity for Refining NZ's operations at the Marsden Point Refinery. The solar farm will supply 26.7 MW - about 10 per cent of the refinery's electricity needs. The project was mooted earlier this year but has just received the approval of its board. Chief executive Mike Fuge said the farm would also reduce carbon emissions and improve its edge against larger international competitors. "Tapping into solar generated electricity is expected to shave around $3-4 million from our annual grid electricity bill and will reduce the CO2 emissions associated with the refining operation by a further 18,000 tonnes per year." Construction is aimed to be complete by December 2020.

Scholarship spurs study

A student from Kaitaia College is about to attend AUT University in Auckland to study occupational therapy thanks to a McDonald's scholarship. Year 13 student Terzha-Jayd Blithe said she wanted to study occupational therapy because she'd been volunteering after school and on weekends at a local mental health facility since she was 16 and liked the rewarding feeling she gets after every shift. At the facility she met an occupational therapist who worked with a few of the patients and Terzha was intrigued by the work and began planning her career path. It will be her first time living in a big city and she's a bit apprehensive about the move but is excited for the new experience. After her studies she plans to move back to Northland and find a job as an occupational therapist.


Speed limit changes

Whangārei District Council will be consulting on proposed changes to speed limits in Waipu, Ruakaka, One-Tree Point and Vinegar Hill. The speed review area includes Nova Scotia Rd and surrounding roads, local roads within the area northeast of State Highway 1 from Ruakaka to Flyger Rd, including One-Tree Point, Crow Rd, Yovich Rd, Preston Rd and Sandford Rd, and all connecting roads; Vinegar Hill Rd and all roads connecting with Vinegar Hill Rd; and Te Toiroa Rd. SH1 and 15A are not included in this review. Copies of the statement of proposal and related technical reports, including a submission form, are now available at Forum North, all council service centres and libraries, or online. Submissions must be submitted by December 8.