Gritting teeth over sandbags
Russell resident and Long Beach dog walker Louise Irvine is horrified at the erosion of the sandbags that were placed there by Far North District Council as recently as December.
"I first noticed the bags starting to break down about two or three weeks ago and now bits are going everywhere both on the beach and into the water," she said.
"The dog walkers have to pick up pieces every day and there is no way we can keep up with the degradation."
The sandbagging was a collaboration between Kororāreka Marae, Heritage New Zealand and council. They were designed to protect pre-Christian burial sites at Oneroa/Long Beach in Russell.
The two kōiwi pre-Christian burial sites had eroded out of part of the beach with the possibility that further kōiwi could be exposed. The sandbags were designed as temporary support along with a waratah fence, geotech cloth and signage to protect the site from further erosion until archaeological investigations could take place to retrieve and reinter them in a cemetery or urupā.
Ken Lewis, senior communications adviser at Far North District Council, said the sandbags will be removed this week and wire hoops will instead be used to pin the geotextile cloth down.
"This will then be covered with sand and the area temporarily fenced off," he said.
An investigation of the site and possible uplift and reburial of the kōiwi, which had been delayed because of Covid19, is now planned for mid-February.
In the meantime David McKenzie, on behalf of Hāratu Mārae, has asked Russell residents if they see people on the bank itself or the beach edge, to "respectfully ask them to stay off".
Flute fundraiser concert
A concert will be held in Kerikeri to raise funds for local flautist Samantha McSweeney who is about to head to Germany for further study.
Samantha was a pupil of flautist and chamber musician Clare Ellis, who is hosting her at the Flute Farm Studio.
She attended Kerikeri High School and successfully auditioned to Victoria University in Wellington where she studied, and has just completed her Bachelor of Music degree with First Class Honours.
In March she will perform the concluding recital of her master's degree, supervised by Uwe Grodd through the University of Canterbury. In April she leaves for Berlin to continue her postgraduate studies.
For the Flute Farm fundraiser, she is being joined by baritone Will King and pianist David Codd. Will has studied for his honours degree and masters in music at Victoria University.
He is living in Auckland and will move to Berlin with Samantha in April. David Codd has studied for his honours in music at Victoria University and is still living in Wellington and freelancing as a pianist and French horn player.
Together they will perform a programme of works by Vivaldi, Schubert, JS Bach, and more. There will be complimentary bubbles and nibbles after the concert.
Flute Farm Studio concert, Saturday, February 12, 7.15pm. $40.
Spotlight on heritage firearms
Recent changes to the Arms Act have put the spotlight on the firearms stored in the collections at Kerikeri Stone Store and Te Waimate Mission Station.
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Collections adviser Belinda Maingay said the firearms at properties nationwide have all been disabled and cannot fire and their age is generally not a concern to the police, who vet the act.
Firearms manufactured before 1899 that are not capable of firing ammunition are classified as antiques and therefore exempt from the recent changes to the Arms Act.
"It means the artefacts can be kept at the historic places safely and legally," she said.
At Te Waimate there are some muskets, a flintlock pistol, and a cartouche (ammunition belt) from the Northern Wars.
"After the disastrous 1845 attack on Pene Taui's pa at Ohaeawai during the Northern Wars, the surviving British troops returned to Te Waimate where they commandeered the mission as a military camp and proceeded to make a nuisance of themselves," says Alex Bell, Hokianga Properties lead.
The troops had been ordered to charge the Ohaeawai Pā by Colonel Henry Despard, only to be cut down by musket fire from defenders shooting from trenches and loops in the palisades. The charge left 120 British soldiers dead or injured.
In Kerikeri, extensive cultivations of potatoes established by Ngāpuhi at Waimate North and beyond – coupled with the constant demand for spuds for shipping provision – meant Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika was able to trade them for muskets.
"One of the muskets in our collection is inscribed "1663 Tower" on an iron plate above the trigger, showing it was made by Tower Armouries in London. There is no provenance around the gun, though it may well have belonged to the missionaries here," says Liz Bigwood, Kerikeri Mission Station property lead.
Missionaries owned muskets but these were used for hunting and included fowling pieces. Another musket, a Mortimer rifle with an octagonal barrel, is marked with the initials "CK".
"Again, there isn't much provenance, but its age would place it in the missionary era," she says.
Armaments in the collections are often an important part of the bigger stories specifically associated with the district.
Blue penguin rescue in Russell
Travis Barnett and his family were walking on a track that borders the land owned by former World No.1 tennis player Thomas Muster. It's at the tail end of Long Beach and the land is subject to pest control and native restoration.
It was there they saw a blue penguin, a kororā, hiding in a shallow cave accessible at only low tide.
"He had injury marks on top of his head, they looked a little older, and I thought with all the big swells we have been having lately we had better take him to the Bay of Islands Bird Rescue Centre," said Travis.
Gill Jackson, who runs the centre, said he was feisty and strong but he had a badly infected eye. She gave him some eye cream and antibiotics and settled him down for the night.
The following morning he wasn't improving so Travis Barnett loaded him into his truck "for a bumpy ride" and took him to the Whangarei Native Bird Recovery Centre in Maunu.
"The guys there are so good and he is now surviving and thriving and, hopefully, one day soon we will be able to set him free."