Driving charges

A Waikato man is facing two driving-related charges and a bill for a new park bench after a crash in Russell during the weekend. The driver lost control on Long Beach Rd and demolished a concrete seat at Russell cemetery about 5pm on Saturday. While alcohol was not thought to be a factor the man was legally required to only drive vehicles with an alcohol interlock device, Russell police Senior Constable Mike Gorrie said. He would appear in Kaikohe District Court charged with careless driving and driving contrary to an alcohol interlock licence. Reparation for a new bench would also be sought. Gorrie urged drivers to slow down around Russell and said in many cases the 50km/h maximum was too fast. ''It only takes an elderly person or a child to step out and you've got a serious injury. We shouldn't be a town in a hurry.'' Speed limits in Russell, and everywhere else in Northland, are being reviewed.

AOS callout locks down school
A mid-North school was briefly placed in lockdown as police continued to look for a 19-year-old man wanted for arrest after a firearms incident. The armed offenders squad helped with the search in Moerewa where police carried out three warrants on residential properties yesterday but David Mane was not located. Moerewa School on Otiria Rd was in lockdown for about 10 minutes while the police operation was under way in nearby streets. Police Far North area commander Inspector Riki Whiu said several people in Moerewa knew where Mane was and urged them to help keep their community safe by coming forward with information. Anyone with information on Mane's whereabouts should call 111 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

House fire prevented
Quick work by locals and the Cavalli Fire Brigade stopped a porch fire sparked by cooking turning into a full-blown house fire, Kaeo fire chief Lindsay Murray said. The alarm was raised about 2.30pm on Sunday after a pot a youngster was using to cook something caught fire at a home in Matauri Bay. It was thought he had tried to carry the pot outside, instead of using a chopping board or plate to smother the flames, and in the process an enclosed porch had caught fire. Murray said locals did a good job of controlling the blaze until the Cavalli brigade arrived to extinguish it. Damage to the porch was extensive but the house had only minor damage. The Kaeo and Kerikeri brigades also responded with Kerikeri stood down while still en route.


Doc hut bookings
The Department of Conservation (DoC) is introducing a new booking system for the upcoming season on Thursday. Although many sites are operated on a first-come first-served basis, some accommodation can be booked in advance online. This helps DoC manage popular facilities and encourages greater use of these facilities by a wide range of people, including families. Alongside accommodation on the Great Walks, all DoC's lodges, cabins and cottages, about a quarter of DoC campsites (200 in total) and a small fraction of DoC huts are bookable. To book, customers will need to create a user account online on www.doc.govt.nz.

Port public meeting
Former Far North Mayor Wayne Brown is holding a public meeting in Kerikeri next month about a proposal to shift Auckland's port to Northland. Brown, who chaired the Upper North Island Supply Chain Study that recommended the move, said people kept asking him about the proposal so he decided to hold the meeting to share what he knew. ''It's the biggest thing that could happen to Northland.'' The event is on July 21 from 5.30pm at the Cornerstone Church, corner of Kerikeri Rd and the Heritage Bypass.

Road speed review
The Kaitaia-Awaroa and Kohukohu-Broadwood areas are next in line to have their speed limits reviewed on all council-controlled roads, after speed reviews on 55 local roads in Kaeo, Waipapa, Waimate North and Ōkaihau. The new limits will come into force once the Far North District Council amends its Speed Limits Bylaw and signs on the affected roads are replaced, where possible as part of regular maintenance contracts. Go to bit.ly/2AZk3uVA for a full list of the new speed limits. The third tranche of speed limit reviews will take place in the Bay of Islands-Kerikeri area, which includes contentious roads such as Kapiro Rd.