That's a wrap
Mitimiti on the west coast of the Far North sits between the entrances of the Whangape Harbour to the north and Hokianga Harbour to the south. It is Te Rarawa territory, rural and relatively remote.
The distinctive white church, Hāto Hemi (St James) is similar to many of the mission- style churches that dot the Far North landscape (Waimate, Pakaraka and Russell for example) and is the only church in New Zealand built on marae land.
Now Mitimiti can lay claim to another distinction. The new public toilets have been wrapped in vinyl. That doesn't mean the outer walls are plastered with long-playing records from the 60s and 70s so the toilet block turns into something like a Mexican cantina bordering the Badlands. Far from it.
Kaitaia sign-makers, Signs of Life, have produced a vinyl wrap specifically for the exterior wall of the toilets and the shower block that features harakeke (flax) flowers embedded into the PVC.
According to the associated publicity, these are "silhouetted against the sky and ocean at sunset" and the artwork on the wrap "blends with the natural environment".
Put another way, it's a building catering for the call of nature enveloped by a depiction of nature. Well, in plastic form.
The Far North District Council completed the building project in August under a programme of capital works partly funded by the Government's Tourism Infrastructure Fund.
FNDC is also undertaking to upgrade or build new toilets at Waipapa, Waitangi, Opononi and Haruru Falls with money from the same fund.
What's next for the arty cling wrap treatment? Kōwhai on a khazi in Kaikohe? A Waitangi waka in, pardon the expression, relief?
Pōhutukawa on a Pakaraka pissoir?
Trying to track down Signs of Life to find out, proved there were remarkably few signs and not much life. The phone went unanswered and there doesn't appear to be a website.
Local artist going to the dogs
Kerikeri's Angela Croft spends her days doodling - and not just any old doodle but very specific doggie digital doodles.
She calls it "doggieology" and her depictions of canines of all shapes and sizes have grown to the extent they now take up most of her time and she is selling internationally from her website.
Her limited-edition prints are marketed via social media, while the Bay of Islands Trading Company in Russell displays her work instore. That's in addition to the traditional pencil drawings she will create on commission.
Angela is a qualified high school art teacher. Her first degree was a BA in Illustration and she began drawing "doggieology" style just after she had completed a diploma in dog grooming.
"I was house-sitting in the UK and as a small way of thanking each host I would do a free pencil drawing of one of their pets and would leave it behind when I moved on to the next house-sit.
"That helped me get more house-sits and I ended up sitting consecutively for nearly a year," she said.
Doggieology began as something of an experiment - but she soon realised she had found a way of representing different kennel club breeds that was unique, contemporary and yet still gave her the opportunity to express her love of all things canine.
She works in collaboration with artist Lester Hall, who has helped her artistically and also in terms of production and presentation to a business standard.
The end result could be one-off portraits or limited-edition prints. She has learned to create from what the owners tell her about the dog and she will draw by looking at several photos to get the feel, the personality, of the canine she is drawing.
Where will it lead? She is not sure but her artwork is gaining traction both here and overseas. What appeals to her is that the process is "carbon sensitive" because there is no air or vehicle freight required in the process, no footprint destructive to the environment.
From "doggieology" style could grow "bovineinity", because she recently drew a digital cow. And cats might be a-mews-ing. Indeed, the whole animal kingdom beckons and alongside that, entirely new words could enter the lexicon.
Looking to the future with rubbish
Russell Museum is curating an exhibition made from a load of old rubbish.
Some of the artists are local participants including Stella Haagh, Lia Kammerer and Alice Bremner, who are former pupils of Russell School. In total, 22 people of all ages from Kerikeri to Dunedin took part in creating the visual depictions.
The participants were asked to make two collages each using discarded materials or recycled rubbish to illustrate how they feel about the world today, their place in that, and how they envisage the future.
The collage concept is part of a research project being conducted by Helen Ough Dealy, who is working towards completing a PhD in Applied Conservation through AUT in Auckland.
"I wanted to see the role that hopefulness has to play in conservation and if people are carrying out conservation work.
"As a result of people putting these collages together we have had many in-depth conversations about the future and sustainability and I can use that in my research and analyse the results."
The public can participate in the exhibition. There will be an opportunity for visitors to the museum to leave their comments about what they see and what they think about the subject. The comments will become part of the exhibition and will add to Helen Ough Dealy's research.
All of the collages that will be exhibited at the museum have been framed. The Russell Museum, Te Whare Taonga o Kororāreka. Exploring Hopefulness exhibition opens on December 14 at 6pm and will run until January 30, 2021.
A cracker for Christmas
Just before Christmas and the stage beckons. Kerikeri's Stage Door Company is calling on local talent to perform comedy, song and dance with a comprehensive variety show.
As well as Stage Door regular cast members, the production will include award-winning Kerikeri group Bella a Capella and dancers from the Northern Dance Academy.
Director of Stage Door, David Crewe, said the show will raise money for Mid North Hospice and "raise our spirits from Covid 19".
The packed and eclectic programme will be performed over two nights. There are songs from Phantom of the Opera, La Cage aux Folles and a reprise of the "Three Fionas" from Shrek the Musical, accompanied by comedic sketches including "Romeo and Juliet", "Better Late Than Never" and as if to prove variety, there's a chaotic dinner party thrown in.
Pre-show and interval entertainment with music will take place in the Theatre Bar, Friday December 4 and Saturday, December 5, both nights starting at 7.30pm. Tickets from the Turner Centre, $20, and a portion of the ticket price goes to Mid-North Hospice.
Friday December 4, Paihia Christmas parade, 5.30–7pm, Williams Rd.
Sunday December 13, Paihia Tennis Club Open Fun Day, 10am-2pm or longer if necessary (weather date December 20). Open to residents of Paihia and the surrounding towns of the Bay of Islands, both young and old. No registration required, just turn up on the day. For those trying tennis for the first time, a limited number of racquets can be supplied by the club on the day. There will be a full range of age-appropriate spot prizes donated by local organisations.
Sunday December 13, Russell Christmas parade, 3pm from Haratu Marae. The theme is the 12 days of Christmas. For a small town it's a big parade - 20 floats are expected. Afterwards there will be a sausage sizzle, face painting, a lolly scrambles and a visit from the man in red.
Wednesday December 23, Carols@Pompallier, Pompallier House, Russell waterfront, 6pm. Bring a picnic tea. Gold coin donation will go to Hospice Mid-Northland. Hosted by the Combined Churches with guest musicians Myles Frunkum and Steve Southworth.
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