Farewell to Orongo Homestead
After 26 years, the owners of the iconic homestead in Orongo Bay near Russell, are saying farewell. And they did it in style.
They held a picnic lunch on the expansive lawn, entertainment was from a trombone quartet and funds raised went to the Russell Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Wine writer Michael Hooper and teacher Chris Swannell have owned the 151-year-old homestead since 1995. They retained it as private quarters and built an accommodation lodge on the property for guests.
They accommodation attained Five Star Hallmark status within four years of opening and since that time 80 per cent of guests have been from overseas. That was pre-pandemic. Now it's domestic guests who make up the majority.
They are not moving far away, just over the bay to Puketona Rd, Paihia, where they have bought the former Morepork Lodge and will rename it Riverside Homestead Waitangi.
Chris will retain his connection with Christ Church in Russell where he is a priest. He was the first openly gay priest in New Zealand ordained in the Anglican Church.
As for the entertainment on the day, the Bonanza Trombone Quartet bill themselves as New Zealand's premier trombone quartet. Actually, they are New Zealand's only trombone quartet and were formed in 1997.
Being back in the Bay of Islands brought to mind an early gig which was on Gabriel, the historic steam train out of Kawakawa.
Two members of the group are with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra based in Wellington and two are with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and there's a connection with the owners of Orongo Homestead.
Chris and Michael sponsor a chair with the APO.
The Russell Volunteer Fire Brigade demonstrated what not to do in a kitchen fire. They brought along their 1957 Ford truck which is not commissioned and is used for special occasions.
It has been used as a wedding vehicle on occasions and has been known to be used as a hearse.
Wedding anniversary redemption
When Dave Connell wanted to celebrate his 50th wedding anniversary, he remembered celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary.
"I had an old wallet that I had kept and in it I found a Fuller's GreatSights voucher dated 30th June 1996 for a free Fuller's cruise in the Bay of Islands.
"During our 25th wedding anniversary celebrations we went on a dolphin-watching cruise and since we didn't see any dolphin or any whales that day, they gave us this voucher for a trip in the future and I kept it in my wallet all these years.
"Since we were going to go there for the 50th anniversary I thought I would see if I could redeem it."
He could. Fuller's GreatSights vouchers are valid for a lifetime and Amy Cooper, communications manager for the company, said she thinks it may be a record for redemption.
Dave and Krys Connell headed out on the Hole in the Rock cruise. They stopped over at Otehei Bay on Urupukapuka Island and the skipper of the cruise, Taira Peters, made them some flax birds to commemorate the occasion.
Jade String Quartet to perform
Aroha Music Society is presenting the Jade String Quartet for their first concert in 2021 on Sunday March 28, from 5pm.
The quartet consists of Miranda Adams (violin), one of New Zealand's leading performers, who is assistant concertmaster with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Liu Yi Retallick (violin) is associate concertmaster with the APO. She freelanced with both the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra.
Robert Ashworth (viola) is principal viola for the APO. He has been guest-principal viola for the Sydney Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, and assistant-principal for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Edith Salzmann (cello) is in high demand internationally as a teacher, soloist and chamber musician. She is a senior lecturer in music at the University of Auckland.
They will perform works by Mozart, K458 "The Hunt" and Beethoven's SQ#14 Opus 131.
They will also perform the String Quartet by the late Russ Garcia, a much-respected resident of Kerikeri for many years who was once described as "the most famous Northlander you've never heard of".
Visit turnercentre.co.nz for more information.
Sea Change survey
The community group, Sea Change, is conducting an online survey to establish how well Far North Holdings Limited is meeting the needs of residents.
The survey is open until the end of the month. Already about 200 people have completed the survey and Sea Change is keen that the widest range of people get the chance to respond.
Jane Banfield, from Sea Change said the group called on the district council to redirect Far North Holdings away from its "out-dated profit-driven corporate model".
"It's high time council took seriously its legal obligations under the Local Government Act (2019) to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of communities in the present and in the future," she said.
The summary of results will be made public. Banfield said it will also be given to Far North District Council "to support their decision-making so they govern the organisation in the best interest of all in the district."
Visit seachange.kiwi for more information.
Residents go boating
Radius Baycare residents had been fundraising since December last year with a calendar for 2021 that told the stories of people who live there. The objective was to pay for a boat trip on the Bay.
They won't have to do that now. An anonymous donor has stepped in and paid for a trip on Darryl's Dinner Cruises.
The boat picked the residents up at Waitangi and cruised up the harbour towards Opua, then followed the coastline around to Russell and back to Waitangi. Activities co-ordinator Pauline Ferris said Darryl was an excellent host.
"He would stop the boat and ring the bell then share a little bit of history about the different bays the boat called into."
They fished, took photos and drew sketches. The boat trip coincided with Race 9 and 10 of the America's Cup so the residents sprinkled good luck on the waters. It must have worked.
The funds raised by the calendar will go towards something else.
Outward Bound for Far North youth
If a 21-day adventure at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds for free sounds like fun, you can apply.
Councillors Moko Tepania and Rachel Smith, The Far North District Council and the three Community Boards have collaborated to provide a scholarship to attend an Outward Bound course.
The scholarships are available through the collective membership of the Mayors Taskforce for Jobs, which has a partnership with the Outwards Bound Trust.
The three community boards will cover the additional costs the scholarship doesn't cover.
They are looking for three young people (rangatahi, 16-25 years old) to apply. Write a letter or send in a video stating what your strongest qualities are, what are the qualities you want to develop and what you'd like to see the future of the Far North.
Councillor, Moko Tepania, said a quick turnaround is required.
"The scholarships are given on a first-in first-serve basis and we wanted to ensure that the Far North got in there, so are trialling it for this year."
Visit videoask.com/fkwuquydp for more information.
Update on roundabouts
The next stage for the Puketona Junction roundabout work is to construct the State Highway 11 leg of the intersection.
It involves rebuilding the old road to meet the new section.
The road will be covered in loose metal at times and the lane layout will shift regularly as layers of metal are laid, compacted and stabilised.
Sealing the new road and applying fresh line markings is planed for late March. Drainage work continues across the entire site, including a pipe and retaining wall structure to assist with drainage under the highway.
The intersection improvements at SH1 and SH11 are nearing completion, with the backfilling of the new retaining wall, fencing of the top of the hill above the intersection and bringing the road surface up to its final height and finish.
Wooden panels in the retaining wall now define the base of the hillside and the first test panel of a series of carved concrete panels will be delivered shortly. These will become part of the completed wall.
A draft landscape design has been delivered aimed at transforming the entrance to Kawakawa township into a showcase for native planting.
Rawene Road intersection
Work is in the pipeline to improve safety at the intersection of SH12 and Rawene Road, with plans to upgrade the road shoulder and install sections of safety barrier along the state highway.
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