A Tarte au Citron (lemon tart) has taken out the top prize at the annual Russell Bake-off and its maker says the humble delicacy represents the best of Russell's cultural diversity.
Peruvian-born Maria Garcia is the force behind Pompallier Mission's French Coffee House, along with colleague Angela Maioha. She drew on local heritage and connections to inspire her award-winning delicacy.
"Northland is famous for its citrus fruits, which are currently in season, and a lot of our neighbours and local people have a lemon tree in their garden," she said.
"At Pompallier Mission we have a close historical connection to the French culture and an awareness of the importance of hauora through Māori culture so we came up with the idea of the lemon tart."
The recipe for the award-winning tart came from Maria's husband Daniel, who is a chef – though both Maria and Daniel were a little surprised when the winning dish was announced.
"We knew that most of the participants would have produced some amazingly rich cakes with cream and everything else you could imagine," she said.
"We never guessed that our simple lemon tart could ever have a chance of winning, we just never saw that coming."
The prize for coming first in the annual competition is a hand-made wooden medallion which will take pride of place in the cafe. The prize package also included a cookbook, a restaurant voucher and a voucher for a chocolatier in Kerikeri.
BOI Jazz and Blues Festival an all-Kiwi affair
The Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival has been going for 35 years and were it not for lockdown last year, it would be 36 years this year.
Furthermore, in the past, the festival has had a respectable line-up of Australians. But because of their Covid-19 restrictions, the Aussies aren't here this year so it's an all-Kiwi line-up.
One of the headline acts is the Nairobi Trio. Richard Adams (violin/vocals) John Quigley (guitar/vocals) and Peter Koopman (bass/vocals) have years of international touring experience under their belts and have made 10 albums in their 32 years together.
Another headliner is the perennial Midge Marsden who a couple of years ago threatened to quit altogether. But he's back with Chet O'Connell and he is selective. He no longer does "sticky carpet pubs" he said.
They are joined by The Fleetwood Max Experience, Lady Larisa and Kokomo and locals who include The Orongo Bay Garage Band from Russell with lead singer Thera van Poppel.
There's the Legacy Band from Whangārei, the Musika Collective from Kaitaia, Jam Sandwich from Kerikeri and, for the sixth time, the jazz band from Tauraroa School.
All up, 36 musicians will perform at various venues around Paihia and Russell. For more information: jazz-blues.co.nz
Parliament goes to school
Parliament's Outreach programme, which started in 2018 encourages MPs from across Parliament to accompany Speaker Trevor Mallard on day trips to various towns around the country.
The objective is to bring Parliament to the people. The programme aims to make six visits a year and provide an opportunity for people around the country to meet MPs and learn about Parliament.
Last week it was the turn of Kerikeri Primary School. They hosted Mallard, Dr Shane Reti (deputy leader of the Opposition, Whangārei) and Parliamentary Services staff. The school's deputy principal, Rosemary Murphy, worked with 20 school leaders to determine a debate topic and the rules required in a Parliamentary debate.
The debate was based on a third reading of a mock bill, which was The Device Reduction Bill 2021, aimed at reducing the amount of time spent on devices at school. The bill was supported by the Government and fiercely opposed by the Opposition.
Mallard worked alongside the Speaker of the House and Reti joined the affirmative. The children debated vigorously but, in the end, it was a tie. Swara Kharche played the role of Prime Minister.
"It was truly an amazing experience," she said. "And it made me think I was actually in Parliament so now I am keen to study politics when I go to university."
Trapping rats, stoats on Russell Peninsula
Russell Landcare Trust started about 20 years ago to protect one of the very few places in New Zealand where wild kiwi and weka live side-by-side with people.
Five years ago they began the Russell Kiwi Protection project with a goal to protect and enhance the native biodiversity on the 3000-hectare Russell Peninsula.
More than 2000ha have now been trapped for stoats and on more than 550ha there is intensive rat control. All the traps are serviced by three professional trappers together with dozens of volunteers. Serviced each month are 200 stoat traps, 30 possum traps and 1000 rat traps.
Around 100 landowners are part of the project, 40 Trust members and more than 30 volunteers caring for the peninsula. Eoin Harwood, who heads the team, says the results have been amazing.
"In 2016 there were an estimated 500 kiwi on the peninsula and now there is an estimated 700 to 800. Tui, fernbird, tomtit and many other birds have also benefitted from getting rid of the pests in their environment."
Their current project is setting possum traps because possum numbers have increased over the past year. There will be 20 single-setting traps and 10 self-setting AT220 possum traps with 20 more to come.
"Nearly 95 per cent of Russell's possums are caught on the boundary of the peninsula at Manawaora and our existing trapping system is under pressure from possums trying to get onto the peninsula," said Harwood.
"The self-setting traps are catching up to six possums per month, which compares with the single-set traps where only one possum can be caught at a time."
The advantage of the AT220 traps is that they also catch rats and can be reset 50 times between charges of the battery. Most of the AT220 traps will be put at the neck of the Russell Peninsula to create a "virtual fence", some will be set in the Russell Eco-Sanctuary area of Te Wahapu and in the Tapeka area.
Russel Landcare Trust is seeking donations to help them protect the biodiversity on the Peninsula.
Contributed via Westpac, account number 03 0394 0112557 01 or go to russellkiwi.org.nz or call Eoin Harwood 021 173 1130.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Holiday Park finalists
After a hiatus period because of the coronavirus pandemic, the NZ Tourism Awards are back with a record 150 entries across 11 categories. A total of 23 businesses from around the country are in the finals.
Among them is the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which is a finalist in the He Kei Aku Ringa Māori Cultural Tourism category. The Treaty Grounds previously won the category in 2016.
"As custodians of a significant place and kaupapa, the team is focused on providing a world-class visitor experience that upholds the mana and wairua of Waitangi," said the chairman of the trust that administers the Treaty Grounds, Pita Tipene.
Orongo Bay Holiday Park in Russell has made two finals - the Community Engagement Award and the Resilience and Innovation Award. Last month the holiday park won the Supreme Award at the Far North Go Green Awards.
The winners will be announced at an awards dinner on September 1 in Hamilton after Tourism Summit Aotearoa.
The New Zealand Tourism Awards are separate from the Qualmark 100% Pure New Zealand Experience Awards, which were announced last week in Christchurch. Carino Wildlife Cruises, which operates catamaran-based dolphin-watching trips from the Bay of Islands, was one of the major winners.
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