A spark from a power line is thought to have started a fire in farmland near Kerikeri yesterday. The blaze broke out in long grass about 12.30pm off Inlet Rd, opposite Edmonds Rd, and spread quickly over an area of about 30m by 20m. One crew from the Kerikeri Fire Brigade, backed up by a water tanker, doused the fire before it could threaten livestock or property.

Deputy fire chief Kevin Graham said the only explanation he could find was a spark from a powerline, which a farm worker said had been buzzing a short time earlier. ''We were just lucky there was no wind today,'' he said. Line company Top Energy was notified. Police attended but quickly established it was not suspicious. The fire is yet another reminder of the tinder-dry conditions across Northland, where a total fire ban has been in force since January 13.

Girls rescued from sea
Two 15-year-old girls were rescued after they were blown out to sea on an inflatable bodyboard at Te Kohanga (Shipwreck Bay), Ahipara, on Sunday afternoon. Lifeguard Tony Walker said the southerly breeze blew the pair "a good half a kilometre" out before Far North Surf Rescue got to them and delivered them back to the beach. "They were very happy to see us. They would have been in serious trouble without us," Walker said. Later that afternoon Surf Rescue also went to the aid of a "very ill" local man on a boat moored off the beach. Family members took over once he was ashore, taking him to Kaitaia Hospital.

Boat stolen
Police are investigating the theft of a 5.7m Smuggler 570 Multi-Sport boat, on a trailer registration number 3P158, from an address at Cooper's Beach. One of only seven of its kind in New Zealand, it had a 130hp Evinrude outboard attached.


Music festival ticket winner
Aimee Cooper won a double pass to see the Bay of Islands Music Festival at Waitangi in the Northern Advocate's ticket giveaway.
The Bay of Islands Music Festival on Saturday features performances from Jamaican superstars Shaggy and Toots and the Maytals, Shihad, Aussie rockers Wolfmother, Black Seeds, Ladi6 and Northland band Otium.

Child brought to court
A Northland judge asked a woman standing in the dock at Whangārei District Court why she had brought her 6-year-old daughter to court with her. The girl was crying for her mother when Judge John MacDonald directed the mother go down through the courthouse cells to complete the paperwork after she appeared on a charge of breaching her community detention. The judge was not convinced that if she was released to go through the court to the front counter she would sign the papers. A woman in the public gallery said she was a "neighbour" and could take the girl with her.

A&P show on February 15
The North Hokianga A&P Association has released the schedule for its 106th show at Broadwood on February 15. Horse, pony and livestock entries close on February 12, while indoor entries close at 10.30am on show day. Contact secretary Heather McCready on (09) 409-5857, or nthhokiangaaandp@hotmail.com