House saved from fire

A major scrub fire at Ahipara forced the evacuation of three homes and came close to Roma Marae. Ahipara fire chief Dave Ross said the blaze started in scrub and bush behind the marae about 10.40am on Monday and at one point jumped Roma Rd, directly threatening a home. The three occupants were evacuated and the house was saved by volunteers from the Kaitaia Fire Brigade. Tankers, fire appliances and support vehicles responded from Ahipara, Kaitaia and Karikari along with two helicopters using monsoon buckets. Ross said the marae would have been in danger if the wind had changed direction. Firefighters were on the scene for more than 10 hours. Ross said the blaze, which covered about 2ha, was ''a sign of things to come'' if the summer was as dry as had been predicted. The cause is being investigated.

Cannabis firm draws crowdfunding
Enough people see cannabis as a good investment for medical cannabis company Puro, which has begun growing low-THC hemp in Marlborough, to smash PledgeMe's previous crowdfunding record. By late last week $2.9 million had been pledged by more than 700 investors. The Equity crowdfunding campaign is now fully subscribed, there are still a few days to go in Puro's Wholesale campaign, which has a minimum investment of $50,000, and has so far raised $900,000.

Baby Shark, don't, don't, don't
Parents are being warned to return bottles of Baby Shark hand wash children's soap due to the risk of the container breaking open and exposing a small button battery inside. The disc-shaped batteries are small enough to swallow or fit up a toddler's nostril.

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Taxpayers Union backs bill
Northland MP Matt King's Private Member's Bill, calling for the declaration of criminal convictions by all who seek election to public office, has support from the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union. "When someone is trying to get their hands on the special powers afforded by elected office, it's reasonable to expect a high level of transparency, and accountability to the public who will pay their salary," executive director Jordan Williams said. "Ratepayers and taxpayers need information to judge whether candidates can be trusted with power. That's especially true in the case of convictions that may reveal a dishonest or reckless character."

Teachers pay equity enthusiasm
Teacher aides have welcomed the Ministry of Education's agreement to begin pay equity negotiations next week. On Monday, The Ministry of Education and NZEI Te Riu Roa signed a framework for the pay equity bargaining for teacher aides. The framework addresses both short-term issues such as pay rates and allowances as well as the need for more comprehensive, longer-term changes to address job insecurity, career pathways and the way funding is delivered to schools for teacher aides. The pay equity claim is a separate process to the support collective agreement negotiations. Members will vote on a collective agreement offer from the ministry, which includes the living wage as a new minimum rate, over the coming week.

RSA building doesn't sell
The former Kaikohe RSA building and property was passed in at auction on November 1. Harcourts agent Alan O'Brien said the property passed in at $700,000 and was still on the market. The RSA closed its doors earlier this year due to increasing bills the club's income could not cover. The site area is 14,527sq m including two buildings totalling 1280sq m. The property has a rateable value of $780,000 according to QV. Originally built as the DB Northland Hotel, the complex was bought by the Kaikohe RSA 23 years ago.