Remembering the battle
The Battle of Kororāreka will be commemorated on March 11 at Flagstaff Hill, Te Maiki, Russell. A karakia and service will start at 7am, followed by a get-together at Christ Church in Russell to remember those who fell in the battle.
What were the motives for the fighting? They were complex. Hōne Heke Pōkai wanted the Māori language version of the Treaty to be honoured and he wanted to preserve Māori independence in the face of what he saw as increasing interference by the government.
There was also Māori discontent at moving the New Zealand capital to Auckland and the consequent economic decline of the Bay of Islands although it was still the fifth largest town in New Zealand and a major trading and ship-provisioning centre.
Three successful attempts were made to chop down the flagstaff, which resulted in Governor FitzRoy building a blockhouse around the base of the flagstaff and place a guard of 20 solders there as they erected the fourth flagstaff.
Shortly before dawn on March 11, 1845 Hōne Heke and several hundred fighters attacked the town. Te Ruki Kāwiti created a diversion at the southern end of the settlement and that enabled Heke to seize the blockhouse defending the flagstaff, and the offending pole was cut down for a fourth time.
The British had begun to withdraw to the safety of the ships in the bay and evacuate the civilian population when Lieutenant Philpotts of HMS Hazard ordered the bombardment of Kororāreka.
Māori began looting the town, sparing the Anglican and Catholic churches on Heke's orders.
Heavy skirmishing lasted for a while until a large explosion destroyed the defenders' reserve ammunition. Soon afterwards the powder magazine in a central stockade exploded and set the surrounding buildings on fire.
The British ships sailed for Auckland the next day, effectively surrendering Russell to Heke and Kawiti.
On April 27, 1845, the British were back at Kororāreka; 470 officers and men with 50 volunteers were sent from Auckland under Lieutenant-Colonel William Hulme to reclaim "Queen's sovereignty".
They shelled nearby Māori settlement, including Ōtuihu pā, which was mistakenly thought to be harbouring Heke sympathisers. Most of Heke's supporters had long since moved inland.
With Kororāreka mostly destroyed, some settlers sold the land for whatever they could get for it and fled the colony.
A year like no other
Spare a thought for the 70 students of Russell school. They've had a year like no other.
First came the fire. Just on a year ago an early-morning fire in a prefab resource room between two classrooms meant the school had to be closed for a week until the prefab could be demolished.
Then came the work that had been earmarked for 2019 but was started in March 2020. Asbestos was found throughout the school so the entire school had to be decontaminated.
Rather than close again, the school held classes at various places in the community. Teachers and pupils went to the RSA, The Duke of Marlborough Hotel, the Russell Bowling Club and the Russell Playcentre - all housing classes for the two or so weeks it took to get rid of the asbestos.
Then came Covid 19 and lockdown and the school closed again.
A year down the track and it's back to normal except refurbishing the classrooms is ongoing. Parts of the walls have been replaced, bits of the ceiling needed to come down and were replaced, the floor in one room is due for a makeover, the lights in the hallway are now LED.
After a year of disruption, the children and their teachers are looking forward to some peace. Office administrator, Lara Tauri, said the new lining makes everything seem quiet and the hallway has turned from being dingy to being bright.
"Compared to what it used to be like, it's bliss," she said.
Local children learn about endangered wildlife
Children are leaning about the critically endangered bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands as part of a new educational programme by Carino Wildlife Cruises.
"We want local kids to experience something that is outside of their day-to-day life and maybe to push some boundaries, and maybe consider a career on the ocean in working on boats to marine or wildlife conservation," said owner Vanessa McKay.
"The focus is to bring awareness to the declining population of the bottlenose dolphins in the Bay of Islands and what can be done to stop the decline through understanding how a marine mammal sanctuary works and changes in vessel behaviour."
They have received help from the marine biologists at the Trioceans Research Centre, local schools, Department of Conservation and local supporters.
McKay said several local companies and individuals were willing to sponsor more trips out with the kids.
They hosted 12 kids in December and 14 in February. They are hosting 14 early this month and hope to host more later in March, depending on the weather.
"There is so much wildlife on the brink of extinction here in New Zealand and worldwide, we don't want to lose the bottlenose dolphin from the bay on our watch.
"We hope to be able to cruise at least once a month and to create an ongoing relationship with the local community groups and hāpu," she said.
Richard and Helen Horrobin of Waimate North are used to saving wildlife. They live on a lifestyle block and control the "nasties" that kill kiwi like possums, weasels and feral cats.
But even they were surprised when a neighbour knocked on the door and presented them with a kiwi in a bucket.
"The neighbour's dog started getting a little bit excited about something near their decks they went to investigate and found this little kiwi," said Horrobin.
The kiwi was estimated to be about 5 days old and weighed just 179 grams.
The Horrobins called in DoC who agreed it wouldn't survive if it was released back to the natural environment so it is now at the Whangārei Native Bird Recovery Centre until it's big enough to be released.
The neighbour's dog had had kiwi aversion training just a few weeks before discovering the little bird.
"I can't stress enough just what kiwi aversion training does for dogs," said Horrobin. "It's free and this proves it really does work."
Slip repairs force partial closure of Waikare Rd
Waikare Rd near Kawakawa will be partially closed over the next three weeks to allow contractors to stabilise a section of road that has subsided.
Three sites near 1320 Waikare Rd slipped as a result of a storm in July 2020.
The Far North District Council has contracted geohazard mitigation specialists, GeoStabilisation International Ltd, to "pin" the road edge together using "soil nails".
The work should take up to three weeks to complete. During this time, the road will be closed for various periods - up to 45 minutes - outside peak traffic times on about six days.
On days when it is necessary to close the road, it will be reopened to vehicles for 15 minutes at the top of each hour (e.g. 11am). The road will be closed for the rest of the hour (45 minutes) to enable works to progress.
At all other times, a stop/go traffic management system will be in place, resulting in delays of up to 10 minutes.
Road works will stop immediately to allow emergency services vehicles to pass.
Periods of road closure will be outside the peak hours of traffic when people are travelling to and from work and school.
Water restrictions reduced
Water restrictions are now reduced for Kaikohe and Kerikeri, although level 3 restrictions will remain in place for Kawakawa-Moerewa and Kaitaia.
Level 3 restrictions applied to Kaikohe will be reduced to level 2, banning the use of irrigation systems and sprinklers. Meanwhile, level 2 restrictions applied to Kerikeri households and businesses will also be removed.
Glenn Rainham, acting general manager – infrastructure and asset management, says the council will reduce restrictions for the Kaitaia and Kawakawa-Moerewa supplies as soon as conditions allow.
"We are not at that stage yet. Water levels in Kaitaia's Awanui River and Tirohanga Stream near Kawakawa climbed dramatically in response to rain in the middle of the month.
"Unfortunately, they have fallen again just as rapidly and until we are certain flows in these two waterways have stabilised above consent levels, we must continue with the current restrictions."
At Kaikohe, the council has increased supplies sourced from its groundwater bore at Tokareireia (Monument Hill). Kerikeri can source raw water from the Waingaro Reservoir and Puketotara Stream.
With the latest changes, water restrictions will remain in place for just three of the council's eight town supplies.
• Email Sandy Myhre at email@example.com if you have any news you'd like to see in Bay News.