The business of minding superyachts
It's been a superyacht summer at the Opua wharf with a line-up of large and luxurious maritime craft sufficient to resemble a mini Monaco.
Latest to arrive from Australia on Monday was the 37.19-metre motor yacht Masteka 2, built in Taiwan.
It was listed for sale late last year at a shade under AU$10 million ($10.7m), discounted at just over AU$2 million. It sold, but to whom is a mystery.
Hemisphere has just departed Opua. At 44.2m it is one of the largest catamarans in the world, built in the United Kingdom and registered in the Cayman Islands.
At a quoted US$260,000 ($360,000) a week to charter it's bigger and dearer than Sir Michael Hill's The Beast to hire so size, apparently, does matter.
Behind it at the wharf was Dardanella, also registered in the Cayman Islands and described as a "trawler-style motor yacht" of a "mere" 37m. It can be hired for a "mere" US$100,000 a week.
The yachts all mean business for the marina, owned and operated by Far North Holdings Limited.
The Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) and Customs have increased staffing levels for the arrival of the luxury craft, and and FNHL has taken on a full-time staff member to handle the incoming marine traffic.
Most of the boat crews don't have to Covid-isolate for the full 14 days because their time at sea is taken into consideration.
Dardanella, for instance, took five days to sail from Tahiti so her crew stayed on board for just nine days. If they needed to relax, there's an onboard jacuzzi among other luxury fixtures and fittings.
Customs and MPI staff inspect all craft on arrival. There is 24/7 security on the wharf and a locked gate. The Opua wharf as a Covid quarantine facility is deemed more secure than many of the land-based isolation hotels because it's not land-locked.
Chris Galbraith, general manager for FNHL, says the two main ports for handling superyacht clearance are Auckland and Opua.
The Bay of Islands' port was to handle any Auckland overflow but has become the "go to" port of entry for superyachts and many smaller craft.
"Most of them would have gone to Auckland previously and did so for years because of the MPI quarantine requirements.
"Auckland had a temporary facility for clearance but that's now closed because of port-related work," he said.
Ancillary businesses in the Bay of Islands benefit too, even if it's just delivering groceries but at least two of the superyachts are known to be having major refits at local marine companies.
Rewa's Village revitalised
The full-scale reconstruction of a Māori village in Kerikeri is being transformed.
The unfortified village, kaingā, is on a ridge opposite the Stone Store and strategically opposite Honga Hika's fortress Kororipo Pā, across from Te Awa O Ngā, the River of Chiefs.
The village had fallen into disrepair some years ago and was handed back to Ngāti Rēhia, around six years ago, when it became an educational centre that included displays of Māori art and a healing home for Rongoā Māori.
The concept was sound, but lack of resources hindered progress. But that changed when money was granted from the Provincial Growth Fund.
Months and hard work later and the village has been revitalised, reworked, renewed and renamed and is set to open on February 4 with a dawn blessing and opening ceremony before opening to the public on February 9.
The village recaptures the atmosphere of a kaingā in pre-European times. Traditionally each sub-tribe built a pā on a hilltop or some other easily defended position.
Kaingā were unfortified and built close to kumara fields and other food sources.
In times of peace most would live in the kaingā but in times of danger people would head to the fortified pā site for greater safety.
The new name, Te Ahurea, means "cultural knowledge". Ngāti Rēhia spokesman, Kipa Munro, says the village is where people will develop cultural and historical knowledge and learn new skills.
"We also have a fantastic group of young people who have come home and want to do things for their people."
A main attraction will be the 11.5m waka being carved from a kauri that fell in Ōmahuta Forest seven years ago.
A purpose-built whare waka is beside the river at the end of Landing Rd.
Kipa Munro says he envisages "waka tours up and down the river so visitors could arrive in Kerikeri the same way people did centuries earlier".
A mangrove walkway has a pourewa (sentry tower) that matches the tower at Kororipo Pā on the other side of the river. Carvings by Renata Tane adorn the new whare.
Visit teahurea.co.nz for more information:
Taking a breather at Long Bay
A free snorkel day was held at Russell's Long Bay in the middle of January. It's a regular event usually held at Tapeka Pt. This year, however, it was changed because of strong winds and the new location held a few surprises.
Senior snorkel guide Geoff Buttirini says the beach was a "surprising little gem like an oasis in the desert" just 50m offshore in a small reef.
"We saw octopus, large and skulking among the rocks and kelp and it wasn't shy. There were juvenile snapper, eagle ray, sea hare, goatfish and a couple of kina.
"There were a couple of large fish hiding in the kelp and they were shy, they may have been parore and one of my group saw a small school of squid so it was a little ecosystem all by itself and the bonus was the water was pretty clear," he said.
The day was organised by Experiencing Marine Reserves and Fish Forever.
Wetsuits, masks, snorkels and fins are provided along with volunteer snorkel guides. More than 60 people took part.
EMR event organiser Ray Downing says the day provides locals and visitors with a unique opportunity to explore the rocky reef in their backyard, as a safe experience that raises awareness about the importance of looking after the marine environment.
The free snorkel day is supported by Foundation North.
Waitangi prepares for big day
A lot of the preparatory work for Waitangi Day 2021 has already begun. "Day" is something of a misnomer, and it is now referred to officially as a festival.
Ceremonial activities begin as early as February 4 with a pōwhiri for the Governor-General followed by a pōwhiri for the Prime Minister.
Police and other security personnel will have discussed this for weeks.
The band of the Royal New Zealand Navy will have been practicing
along with those who are marching in the official retreat that follows the lowering of the flag on the Upper Treaty Grounds.
New Zealand Defence Force personnel will have been on parade duties before Waitangi Day and naval personnel will have rehearsed firing the guns from an off-shore vessel – they have 21 shots to get through and strictly on time at noon on the 6th.
Caterers and restaurants have been working on requirements for months in advance. That includes the ministerial barbeque on the morning of the 6th.
It wouldn't do to run out of sausages, which happened in the past when caterers expected 1000 to line up for the free feed but 2000 came along.
Various church vicars, priests and other religious leaders of various denominations give carefully worded and thought-out addresses and, in some cases, practise behind closed doors beforehand.
Others appearing on the main stage and the waka stage won't be leaving routines to the last minute either. These include a Cook Island dance troupe, solo singers, a dance crew, a covers band, a hip-hop group and one of the old boys of folk rock, Timberjack Donoghue.
For the Waitangi Marae down the road from the Treaty Grounds, it's a huge amount of work for the committee and anyone else available. They are now calling for volunteers to start work on February 1.
They play a key role in safety, logistics, cleaning, laundry, mārae sleeping arrangements and kitchen duties.
They say the work "is not glamorous but meaningful". As well as helping hands, they welcome donations of food and services.
Anyone interested can contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone Ngati Kawa, the chairman of Waitangi Marae on 020 4079 3908. Visit waitangimarae.co.nz/
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