Kaipara Community rallies to help those affected by the Australian bush fires
While across the ditch our Australian neighbours are experiencing the devastating impact of massive and highly destructive fires - here in the Kaipara residents are coming together to help.
In Dargaville Sharneece Joyce and her friend Taylor Martinovich are organising a Swim Down Under swimathon at the Kauri Coast community pool to help raise funds for the Salvation Army Disaster Appeal and Australian Wildlife Rescue (WIRES).
''It really hit home for us when the sky turned orange a few days ago, just how bad the situation must be for them, for it to affect us here. So now it's not about wanting to help anymore, it's that we need to help,'' said Joyce.
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Joyce who use to be a lifeguard at the pool said it made sense to do it there because she knew the location well and what sort of events could take place.
At present the duo are looking for volunteers and event sponsors to help make the day possible but so far the response has been great.
''The response has been really positive from the community, a lot of businesses and locals are looking to get involved. And a lot of sponsors as well.
''For a small community like Dargaville it's great to see that we can offer such great support for those in Australia affected by the bush fires.''
The event will be hosted at the Kauri Coast swimming complex on January 26 and will also include a bake sale on the day as well as entertainment.
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Over in Maungaturoto Megan Denize has spent the past week collecting new animal supplies ready to be shipped to Australia later today.
''The response has been wonderful, we have received a large number of donations from across the Kaipara which are all being delivered to the shipping container today.''
Denize who runs Mangawhai's Helping Paws said she chose to help collate supplies for Australia, "as we have an established network of animal lovers and volunteers who already transport rescued animals and supplies from Kaiwaka through to Auckland to and from our Rescue Centre. It was easy for us to use our established network to lend a hand to Australian Rescue Centres who are struggling to obtain the supplies they need to cope with an enormous influx in rescued animals."
"Our call for animal supplies finishes this week, but we are still looking for used flannelette sheets and polar fleece blankets. These are being repurposed and sewn into pouches for orphaned koalas, joeys, possums and sugar gliders by a team of sewers. Sheets and blankets can be dropped into Mangawhai's Helping Paws at 92 Pebblebrooke Road in Mangawhai."
Furthermore, she has another project in the pipeline to help affected wildlife.
''Next week we have a sewing bee where we are producing pouches for koalas, joeys, possums and sugar gliders. All these pouches are being made from old flannelette sheets and fleece blankets donated by the local community. The response has been wonderful," she said.
Also in Dargaville Maree Chapman has helped co-ordinate another drop-off point for new animal supplies at Farmlands. With reports of upwards of 500 million animals perishing in the bush fires she said she had to do something.
''I love animals and the animals are the ultimate sufferers in all of this.''
She too said the response from the public had been great.
''It's been very positive, people want to help and the donations I've received so far have been pretty awesome.''
Donations for the cause close today and Chapman said she will be taking items to the Saddlery Warehouse in Whangarei where they will then be transported and shipped to Australia.
For further inquiries regarding the swimathon email: NZEvents@hotmail.com
Cooler than usual summer - sees decline in cicada numbers
Kaipara residents have noticed something - the sound of summer is missing.
And an expert says a cooler than usual summer may be to blame.
Cicadas are known for noisy performances at this time of year - but locals agree that this summer has been, well, rather quiet.
Gail Farr posted to the Dargaville Grapevine page on Facebook asking if anyone had heard from the usually vocal critters.
''Has anyone heard the cicadas yet? I miss their sound,'' she posted.
This resulted in many responding similar concerns. Susan Tremain said, ''Haven't seen much of anything actually.''
Colin Brown said, ''I saw one on our azalea but that's all, no noise.''
Jenny Sloan said, ''Probably too bloody cold.''
Dr Phil Sirvid, entomology curator at Te Papa, agrees with people's observations in the region.
''I don't know what it's like where you are, but here in Wellington we've had a much cooler summer than last year.
"I don't know of any formal monitoring, but from what I have observed around home, insects that are common when it's warm like monarch and yellow admiral butterflies are not as abundant as last summer.
''Even my veggies haven't come along as much as at the same stage as last year. This is entirely speculation on my part, but my guess is that the cool spring and summer so far are not helping.
''Here in Wellington, they're also more of a late summer thing. It may be that with a bit of warmer weather we'll hear them singing as they should.
''In answer to your questions, it's hard to know why cicada numbers vary from year to year given their long life cycles. A cicada nymph might live underground from two to nearly four years, so anything that might affect them in that time such as drought or flood might impact on the emergence of the adult cicadas in years to come. It can be very patchy too. I can have people calling to ask where the cicadas are one day and then the next day someone is asking why there are so many.''
Sivid also said although the Australian bush fires caused temperatures to drop across the country it was only for a short period of time.
''I would think the bigger impact might be from the cool spring and summer in general given that's a longer term situation, than the odd smoky day.''