The Bay of Islands Rotary Club is used to guest speakers at their monthly meetings, but few who take the stage to relate their adventures would be as young as 13. Not every teenager, though, walks more than 100km for charity during a break from school.
Sam Godsiff Johnstone completed the walk towards the end of August. It began at Ahipara and finished five days later at Cape Reinga. During that time he raised more than $10,000 for Mike King's I Am Hope charity via the Gumboot Friday unit, which specialises in the mental health and wellbeing of kids.
If Sam thought he was fit enough before he started the walk, he soon learned otherwise.
"Most of my aunties and friends said it would be easy but it was quite hard, especially for the first three days when I got sore.
"After that we adjusted and got into the hang of it for the last two days."
He was accompanied by his mother, Steph Godsiff, who made it clear before the walk she was unfit but would "tough it out".
Sam said she did "really well and cracked along".
After the walk was completed the charity's founder, Mike King, made a surprise visit to the rural campus of Dilworth School in Mangatawhiri, south of Auckland, where Sam is a Year 9 student.
Mike King presented Sam with an I Am Hope jersey mounted in a frame and donated some "hoodies" to give to the boys at the school. The framed jersey will remain at the school.
Strewth about cats and dogs
There is one sector of the hospitality industry that has been seriously impacted by Covid-19 lockdowns yet barely rates a mention in mainstream media.
Catteries and the colloquially named "doggeries" (boarding kennels) have taken a financial hit in the past six months - and not just by a whisker.
The owner of Cats in Clover in Kerikeri, the aptly-named Andrea Catterall, said her business is down by 60 per cent over last year.
"As soon as the borders closed, most of my bookings were cancelled and when the second wave hit, that just created more cancellations," she said.
Many of her long-term bookings came from "swallows", the international residents who live in the Bay of Islands for part of the year and whose cats usually stay for up to six months as owners head back to the northern hemisphere during our winter.
That business dried up overnight. With borders remaining closed since then, and with local business opportunities restricted, there is little opportunity to make up the shortfall.
"When people now decide to take a break, it's generally for just a few days as opposed to a few weeks going overseas," she said.
When Auckland was under level 3 lockdown the problem was exacerbated. Northland essentially became an island because travel to and through Auckland's level 3 zone was severely curtailed.
Visitors stopped coming north and cats and their owners stayed put.
Boarding kennels also found lockdowns tough. Bill Humphries, owner of Doggies and Moggies in Haruru Falls, said under level 4 lockdown business halted completely, while various other levels of lockdown produced varying results.
"When the restrictions were relaxed we booked dogs whose local owners were travelling south, rather than going overseas.
"But when Auckland was locked down, we didn't get out-of-town bookings because no one could drive through there."
The bottom line may be affected but until borders are open again Tootles, Holly and Buttons can enjoy relative peace and quiet at Cats in Clover, with fewer neighbouring guests than normal. In fact, if the enticing website description is anything to go by, this form of accommodation could potentially appeal to two-legged critters.
"Twenty large private apartments and four semi-communal rooms overlooking subtropical stream-side gardens."
The publicity blurb goes on to say the gardens are "rich with birdlife". At the risk of sounding catty, don't tell the furry private apartment dwellers. It might give them paws for thought.
Walking and cycle tracks go digital
The dozens of walking and cycle tracks scattered across the Far North are now all in one place – on a website.
The initiative comes from William Fuller, former principal of Russell School, Bob Bingham from the Bay of Islands Walking Trust and Grant Adams, who has experience in mapping through Search and Rescue.
The website boiwalkways.co.nz includes all the walking tracks around Russell and the Russell peninsula, Paihia, the Opua-Kawakawa track, the three islands of Ipipiri (eastern Bay of Islands) and all tracks in the Kerikeri area.
The cycle trails are the Mountain Bike Parks of Kerikeri and Waitangi and the Twin Coast Cycle Trail.
Fuller said other tracks will be included as they are completed.
Information on the website includes a detailed map that can be downloaded for an expanded view. Location can be pinpointed from the downloaded map. If a walker or cyclist has GPS on their phone they can know at any given time where they are on the track and if necessary, can be guided out by satellite.
The digital map project has been launched in time for the popular Bay of Islands Walking Weekend, October 16-18. Walks take in local cultural and historical points of interest and guides accompany walkers.
Each walk is limited to no more than 20 people and this year Russell Boating Club is the designated headquarters for the three-day event.
Be in to win: Te Moana Glow Show
Hey kids — do you want to go on an underwater voyage with a bunch of glow-in-the-dark characters?
Te Moana tells the story of courageous Kina as she goes on a journey of discovery across the Pacific to Aotearoa, and the adventures she has along the way.
The giant-scale puppet show features more than 40 glow-in-the-dark puppets and will be performed at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri on October 12 and 13 with shows at 10am and 11.30am.
The 45-minute show, followed by a Q&A session with the actors, is rich in te reo and Māori legend. It's recommended for ages 2-10 and is suitable for special-needs children.
To be in to win a double ticket, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, phone number and address by 5pm on Friday. Don't forget to tell us the date and time of the show you want to go to.
We'll draw two winners at random and notify them by phone. We'll also publish the winners' names next week. Good luck!
Best dressed in Russell
The Op Shop fundraiser fashion show held in Russell in late September resulted in $3000 going to St John. Two major prizes awarded on the night were for the Best Dressed Man and the Best Dressed Woman.
Jenny Yang from Okiato won the Best Dressed Woman award. She chose a cheongsam-inspired full-length gold evening dress in sheer satin and with a thigh-length split on the side. In fact, her win shows there is an upside to lockdown.
Under "normal" circumstances Jenny would not be in Russell during our southern winter. She is married to Josef Sepp Koch and the couple usually spend many months of the year in Germany. This year they are just two of the many foreigners known as "swallows" who have remained resident in Northland.
The Best Dressed Man award went to local lawyer Peter Jones, who opted for a top hat ensemble complete with sartorial embellishments.
"The dinner suit was op shopped but the trousers and jacket were from different places and cost $50 in total.
"The top hat is an op shop item borrowed from a friend, the scarf is a Wellington Club one and they don't do second-hand. The bow tie is second-hand in the sense it is made anew every time I retie it," he quipped.
Judges for the awards were Suzanne Doyle, owner of Preloved and New Clothing in Kerikeri; Janet Planet, owner of South Sea Art in Russell; and Leigh Knightbridge, St John territory manager.
The Artworks of Opua
Ōpua author Greg Philpott will launch his new book on art at the Ōpua Cruising Club - and there's a reason for the nautical connection.
He has a special interest in boats that have plied the waters of the Bay of Islands over many years and his Facebook page Boats of the Bay has a strong following.
This new book, however, is not strictly maritime. The Artworks of Opua features 40 artists who have either depicted Ōpua through their art, or who live there, or both. More than 100 artworks are featured across 128 pages and because of the location, many are naturally of boats and the sea.
The author says his motivation to write the book came from his interest in history.
"The definition of artwork for the purpose of this compilation covers as wide a spectrum as possible and includes paintings in all mediums, murals, sketches, fabric design, graphic designs and photographs from the late 1800s to the present day.
"I started out seeing a couple of nice paintings and began digging, which resulted in capturing these 40 artists and I believe there are still more out there.
"Ōpua definitely punches above its weight in terms of the number of artist residents and the awesome calibre of their talented artwork, which is well represented in this book."
Regarding his own artistic abilities, the former owner of Ōpua General Store says he doesn't have a single bone of art talent in his body and he candidly admits the writing process was "too bloody long".
He began putting the book together around three years ago and things "dropped off a bit" until the beginning of this year. From then until the launch date, the self-published project has been "all-consuming", he said.
The book launch is on October 19 at the Ōpua Cruising Club from 5.30-7pm. A special introductory book price is offered and will be limited to 200 numbered copies.
Kerikeri Quilters Exhibition will be held at Kerikeri Primary School, Hone Heke Rd, Kerikeri from October 8-10, 10am-4pm daily. Entry $2.
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