At least twice a week for the past seven years Keith Earl has donned his gloves, grabbed a rubbish bag and cleaned up Kerikeri.
On Mondays the 80-year-old does the town centre — the main street, the one way system and sometimes the bypass as well — and on Fridays he cleans up Kerikeri Rd from Ranui Gardens to the roundabout on State Highway 10.
He starts early, while many are still in bed, and returns home with bags bulging with rubbish about two and a half hours later.
"I take my time, I don't rush. I do it because it offends me when I see it. And if I do it someone else might do it as well."
He calls Monday "McDonald's day" because he picks up mostly fast food wrappers. Beer bottles are another common blight.
"They just throw it out the car windows. I think they just can't be bothered."
On Fridays he picks up litter that has blown around from rubbish collection day. Not only does the sight annoy him, he also doesn't want it to be the first thing visitors see when they arrive in Kerikeri.
Earl's current role as volunteer rubbish collector is quite a change from his former life when he worked as a property manager for the Sultan of Brunei with a staff of about 1800.
He moved to Kerikeri from Omaha, north of Auckland, in 2005.
Earl might not be paid but his efforts are not entirely unrecognised.
One business along his route gave him gloves and a "picker-upper", a waste company gives him a supply of rubbish bags every month, and the local Lions Club shouted him dinner.
"And I found 50 cents the other day," he said.
"I'll do it as long as I can. I'm doing it for Kerikeri, and the lovely people that live here."
The New Zealand Blood Service will be at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri from 1pm-6pm on Monday, September 14, and again on September 15 from 9am-3pm. To book an appointment, or to register as a blood donor, go to www.nzblood.co.nz or call 0800 448 325.
Beach clean this weekend
Volunteer group Bay Beach Clean will be out in force around Paihia this Sunday on a mission to keep litter off the shoreline and out of the sea.
Team A will start at Waitangi Bridge at 8am while Team B will start at Te Haumi Beach, near the toilets, at 9am. The two teams traditionally meet in the middle for coffee once their work is done, so it's a social as well as an environmental event.
Go to www.baybushaction.org.nz/BayBeachClean to register or for more information.
The next clean-up will be on October 11.
New playground for Kerikeri
The group which administers Kerikeri Sports Complex has been given the green light to develop a new children's playground at the Heritage Bypass site.
Kerikeri Sports Complex Inc, which is supported by Kerikeri Netball Centre and Kerikeri Rugby Club, was earlier granted $10,000 from the Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board's Placemaking Fund to help with design costs.
However, because the Far North District Council owns the land and lists the complex as a district-wide significant asset, the council needs to approve any new development at the site.
That approval was granted at a council meeting last month.
Kerikeri Sports Complex Inc will pay for the new playground, although the council also agreed at its August 13 meeting to include $600 a year in its next Long-Term Plan for maintenance.
It is not yet known when the playground will be built.
Sign language session
Have you always wanted to learn the basics of New Zealand sign language?
Later this month you can do just that when sign language teacher Eddie Hokianga holds a session at the Treaty Grounds.
The lesson, from 1pm-2.30pm on September 20, will take place in the new Tahuaroa Function Centre. Participation is free to Friends of Waitangi and experience pass holders; register by emailing email@example.com.
Hokianga (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahungunu) has 25 years' experience of teaching sign language around Northland.
New Zealand sign language is one of the country's three official languages alongside English and te reo Māori.
Orchid show canned
The Bay of Islands Orchid Society has cancelled this year's spring show at the Turner Centre because of uncertainty around the Covid-19 pandemic. The society hopes to be back in spring 2021.
New landmark for Paihia
Paihia has a new landmark which may prove useful to those rushing for a ferry or a dinner date or simply looking for a spot to organise a rendezvous.
A new clock, the brainchild of Bay of Islands Rotary Club and Paihia man Denis Orme, was installed at the wharf late last week and will be dedicated once it's hooked up to the wharf power supply.
It is based on a ship's wheel in keeping with the town's maritime theme.
Kerikeri rocker sells out
A one-off show by Kerikeri dairy farmer turned social rocker Merv Pinny at the Turner Centre on September 18 has sold out. If you missed out on a seat, all is not lost — more tickets will be released if Northland's Covid alert drops to level 1 before the show takes place. The current seating conforms to level 2 social distancing requirements.
Textile show in Kohukohu
The latest exhibition at Village Arts Gallery in Kohukohu, Material Issues, showcases works in fibre, thread and textile by 25 Northlanders.
Items on show range from the practical to the symbolic, from garments to art for art's sake.
The gallery is open 10am to 3pm, Wednesday to Sunday. The show runs until October 25.
Ōpononi public meetings
The Ōpononi-Ōmāpere Ratepayers Association is hosting a public meeting later this month to discuss how all parts of the Far North — especially small rural communities — can be treated equitably.
The meeting will be facilitated by Far North District councillor John Vujcich and community development adviser Ken Ross and will take place at Ōpononi Hall from 10am on September 19.
The Ōpononi Hall, or to give it its official name, the South Hokianga War Memorial Hall, will hold its AGM at the same location at 5.30pm on September 16. Nominations for chairperson, secretary, treasurer and committee members should be emailed to Opononi.Hall@gmail.com before the meeting.
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