Okaihau celebrates its 150th anniversary this Easter weekend with three days of events including theatre, a country dance, grand parade and bike ride.
The festivities begin at 6pm this Friday with a meet-and-greet in the Okaihau College hall followed by a performance of Alice D in Puketi, a localised version of Alice in Wonderland.
Saturday's attractions include food stalls, historic displays, a slide show in the community hall and a cake cutting ceremony from 10am followed by a grand parade along Settlers Way, Okaihau's main street, at 11am and displays of wood-chopping, pit-sawing and dog-trialling.
For the kids there will be a treasure hunt and Thomas the Tank Engine rides, while at 7pm the Okaihau Lions will host a country dance in the college hall.
On Sunday an interdenominational church service will be held in the college hall at 10.30am before a tree planting ceremony at 11.30am and a ride along the Twin Coast Cycle Trail as far as the Harrison farm in the Utakura Valley, where Snow Harrison has assembled a veritable outdoor museum of vintage machinery.
A book detailing the town's 150-year history has also been produced to mark the occasion.
Okaihau Community Association secretary Lindy Mason hoped for a turnout of more than 1000 people with former residents travelling from as far away as Perth to take part.
Tickets to the theatre performance and the country dance will be available at the door only if they don't sell out beforehand. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you don't want to miss out.
A place in history
Okaihau occupies a particularly significant place in New Zealand's transport history.
In 1923, a railway line was opened from Otiria, near Moerewa, to Okaihau, making it New Zealand's northernmost railway terminus.
Construction of the railway was supposed to continue all the way to Kaitaia but the project was abandoned as too difficult and costly when the line got to the bottom of the hill at Rangiahua. The tracks north of Okaihau were eventually pulled up but a tunnel, never used by trains, remains at Two Ponga Park.
Passenger-only railcars ran on the Okaihau Branch railway until 1967 and even became the subject of a popular song, The Okaihau Express by folk singer Peter Cape.
Mixed trains continued until 1976 when the line was converted to freight only. The line limped on for a few years after deregulation of the transport industry in 1983 but closed for good in 1987.
Part of the route is now used for the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, which is fast becoming one of the town's main attractions – especially with the Okaihau-Utakura leg said to be the most attractive section of the 85km ride.
Okaihau can be translated as Feast of the Winds, a reference to the town's location on a ridge 200m above sea level.
The town's 100th anniversary celebrations in 1968 were reportedly attended by 5000 people.
Jimmy Cliff hits the Bay
Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff – whose 50-year music career includes hits such as Reggae Nights, The Harder They Come, Many Rivers to Cross and You Can Get It If You Really Want It – is playing what is likely to be his last ever New Zealand show at the Bay of Islands Music Festival this Saturday.
The new festival, which will take place in the grounds of the Copthorne Hotel in Waitangi, will also feature Northland soul sensation Teeks, Kiwi reggae act Katchafire, Australia's island-style soul man Bobby Alu, Kerikeri singer-songwriter Troy Kingi, country star Tami Neilson and more.
The event starts at noon. Go to boimusicfestival.com for more information or www.eventfinda.co.nz for tickets. If you enter the promo code MUSIC you'll get tickets at the locals-only price of $99, if any are left.
If you happen to run into Jimmy Cliff this weekend be sure to wish him a happy birthday – the legend turns 70 on Sunday. This will be his third visit to New Zealand after playing Womad in 2012 and 2014.
He recorded his first hit 56 years ago when he was a teenage boy growing up in Kingston, Jamaica.
Market now on Sundays
Kerikeri's Old Packhouse Market – which has grown from nothing to the town's top weekly attraction in just three years – will now open on Sundays starting this weekend.
The Sunday market from 9am-2pm will have a different flavour to the established Saturday market.
To avoid clashing with the farmers' market in town there won't be produce but there will be an emphasis on vintage items, creativity and fun, with a car boot sale, a second-hand car fair, kids' entertainment, arts and crafts, locally produced craft beer and wine, and more.
As with the Saturday market it promises to be a social occasion as much as a shopping expedition.
The Old Packhouse Market is at 505 Kerikeri Rd opposite the Makana chocolate factory.
Easter rock hunt
Trefoil Park, on Mangakahia Rd south of Kaikohe, is hosting an Easter Rock Hunt this Saturday and Sunday.
The hunt starts at 10am both days with families challenged to search the bush, find a painted rock and claim a prize. There will also be games, a campfire and a barbecue.
Participants are welcome to bring a tent and marshmallows for the fire.
Tickets are free and available from Kaikohe Library, Tony's Butchery or from The Flying Kiwi Northland Facebook page. Proceeds go to Far North Search and Rescue.
Easter Stampede returns
One of Northland's most anticipated motor racing events of the year returns to Kaikohe Speedway this weekend.
The Easter Stampede will feature three days of mayhem, spills and racing in club and national titles, culminating in the famous demolition derby on Sunday with $1000 prizemoney up for grabs for the last car still going.
Racing starts at 10am daily with the CTRA national titles contested on Friday. Entry is $10 for adults, $5 for kids aged 5-15 and free for under-5s. Go to www.kaikohecarclub.com for more information.
The demo derby famously spawned a movie, Kaikohe Demolition, by Paihia-born film-maker Florian Habicht. The speedway is on State Highway 12 a few kilometres east of Kaikohe.
Kerikeri Easter egg hunt
Excite Christian Centre is holding its annual Easter egg hunt at Kerikeri Domain from 10am to 1pm this Sunday.
Family-friendly activities include a chocolate egg hunt, gigantic chocolate egg prizegiving, activity booths, bouncy castles, carnival rides, free refreshments, cupcakes and candy floss.
All welcome; free entry. Last year up to 2000 people turned out.
Golfing success at Waitangi
The naming rights sponsor made a clean sweep of the teams event leader board at the recent Ramada Resort Taipa Waitangi Pro-Am golf tournament by taking out the top two places out of 30 teams.
While Ramada one and two were blitzing the Waitangi Golf Club course in the teams' event, finishing with 130 and 128 Stableford points respectively, Hawke's Bay professional Doug Holloway clearly enjoyed his trip north as he posted a 64 - the lowest score by a pro at Waitangi since the course was extended just over five years ago.
The win sees Mr Holloway move up seven places to number one on the NZPGA Order of Merit while Waitangi professional Pieter Zwart used home course knowledge to post a 65 and remain in second place on the Order of Merit. Taupo pro Troy Ropiha posted a 67 for third place and moved up five places to third.
The mild conditions took away some of the Waitangi course's defences to allow some low scoring with 18 of the 30 professionals scoring par or better.
The welcome function prior to the March 22 tournament raised $2380 for the Starship Foundation.
The Ramada Resort Taipa Waitangi Pro-Am is the final event in the NZPGA Northern Swing which started on March 15 with tournaments at Mangawhai, Omaha Beach, Warkworth, Sherwood Park and Waitangi golf clubs. Between the five tournaments a total prize pool of $88,000 was up for grabs for the pros.
Raft race winners
Pouring rain failed to deter entrants in this year's Great Whangaroa Kiwi Can Raft Race with a whopping 19 entries in the school division and 10 in the open division.
The race was held between Clansman's Wharf and Whangaroa Marina on March 17 with Bay of Islands International Academy at Te Tii successfully defending its title, followed by Spitfire (home school group) in second place and Dr Seuss (Kaeo School) third.
The best Kiwi Can flag award was won by Kaingaroa 2 (Kaingaroa School), the most creative raft (Maungamanihi Mokihi) was built by the home school group and Crafty Caramels (Oromahoe School) had the best team spirit.
In the open division the Bath Tub Boys won a spot prize for sinking before they even reached the start line, greatly pleasing some of the other contestants because the bath-tub-based vessel had won many years running.
The other open division results are:
1: Spitfires (Hackett family); 2: Moana no 1 (Moana Fisheries); 3: Cat in the Hat (Sutherland/Robinson families); most creative raft: Queen Anne's Duct Tape; best team spirit: Pupuke Valley.
Borrow a librarian
You're probably familiar with the concept of going to the library to borrow a book – but did you know you can also borrow a librarian?
Kaikohe Library is now offering one-on-one time with a librarian to help with research, project proposals and CVs to name a few.
For more information about the Book a Librarian service, email email@example.com or pop into Kaikohe Library on Marino Court, also known as Library Square.
■ Do you have news or an upcoming event you'd like to see in this column? Send it to us, including your full contact details, to firstname.lastname@example.org