Tod Thompson comes full circle
Tod Thompson describes himself as a second-generation sailor. He sailed to Tahiti with his parents when he was two, and when he was eight he went on a tall ship to Denmark.
He started building the R. Tucker Thompson with his father - "he was the brains and I was the brawn" is how he described it. He was 19 when his father died and he'd developed a few brains by then because he finished the hull in the backyard of his mother's house.
He joined forces with Russell Harris, moved the RTT to Russell's backyard, took it over the Brynderwyns to Mangawhai and eventually brought her to Russell where he ran her for nine years, cruising the Bay of Islands in summer and the Pacific in winter.
He says the ship "had a lot of character". It starred in a television story filmed by Thames Television and became part of the Australian bicentennial re-enactment of the arrival of the first fleet, the 11 ships that first arrived there in 1788.
"We sailed to England and started out from there. We stopped at the same ports on the same days of the first fleet and sailed into Farm Cove by the opera house on January 26, 1988, when Prince Charles was speaking."
Ten years before that he got involved building a replica of the Bounty out of Whangārei for a movie starring Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins and directed by Roger Donaldson. That's where he learned his craft, he says.
By now the RTT had been half his life so he decided to part company with her and Russell Harris and went to see what the world had to offer. He sailed on the Rainbow Warrior II, went to Mururoa a couple of times, ran the tall ship Soren Larsen, taught the skipper's courses for a year at NorthTech and took cruising jobs around the Pacific.
Fast forward to today and he is the owner's representative on board Sea Eagle II, the largest aluminium yacht in the world. He was the build captain, he is ship's captain and manager of Sea Eagle II.
His wife Robyn Bregmen is one of the co-managers on board and there are two rotational captains, Max Cumming and Andy Birch.
Sea Eagle II was launched in January 2020 in Amsterdam before embarking on sea trials on the Mediterranean. Covid-19 then kicked in so they went back to Amsterdam and decided to leave before winter set in.
"We needed to get some teething issues sorted out and test the systems on board," he said.
They went via the Panama Canal and emerged into the Pacific on January 1, 2021. They were at Ōpua for quarantine and then left for Whangārei because another superyacht was coming in.
Tod Thompson has thus come full circle, in Opua where he was with R. Tucker Thompson and in Whangārei where he helped build the Bounty. Which is more than can be said for the Taiwanese owner of the Sea Eagle II. He has yet to be on board.
Sustainability award for CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week
Conservation group Sailors for the Sea has awarded a Platinum Level Clean Regatta certificate to the CRC Bay of Islands Sailing Week. It is currently the only New Zealand regatta to have been awarded a platinum level certificate this year.
Their sustainability efforts included a push to reducing waste with recycling and composting stations manned by volunteers from Resilient Russell who acted as waste ambassadors.
There were free water bottle refilling stations which organisers estimate saved around 6,000 single-use plastic bottles over the course of the event.
The regatta also went digital, using a specially developed mobile app to distribute important documents to participants.
Other initiatives included reducing emissions by holding committee meetings in Zoom and promoting alternatives to car travel. They also bought goods and services locally, created reusable event signage, educated participants about "green" boating and organised a local beach clean-up.
Co-founder and chairwoman for the 2021 regatta, Nina Kiff, said the organising committee members were thrilled to learn they'd achieved Platinum level certification this year after unexpectedly receiving a gold level award the year before.
Art exhibition in Rawene
The No 1 Parnell Gallery in Rawene is hosting Dr Maureen Lander's exhibition Flat Pack Whakapapa.
Lander (Te Hikutu, Ngāpihi) taught Māori Material Culture courses at Auckland University from the early 1990s until 2007. Flatpack Whakapapa has recently been toured to venues around New Zealand.
After three years the artist wanted to bring it back to the Hokianga where it was first created, with help from local weavers, for a show at the Dowse in 2017.
She draws inspiration from woven fibre pieces in museum collections and early illustrations and uses weaving techniques including whiti (braiding) and whakairo (patterning) and the concept of aho tuku iho (ancestral lines handed down from generation to generation).
Italy meets Russell
An Italian Festival is being held at Hone's Garden restaurant in Russell on Saturday, April 17. It starts with a dress-up competition, the "Best dressed Italian" and a "Sophia Loren lookalike".
There is Italian music, lunch with an Italian twist, a quiz and Italian fashion accessories for sale. The Italian Vintage Car Club will be there and some Vespas from the Auckland motorcycle club.
Why Italy and Italian culture? Organiser Chris Albrecht says although there is no large influence of the Italian culture in New Zealand as there is in Australia, the US or South America, many episodes in history remind us of their presence.
"From sailors navigating with Captain Cook, the mission helpers of Bishop Pompallier, fishing families settling in Wellington are all reminders of the Italian migrant heritage.
"It's also important to note the 28th Māori Battalion in World War II had a great encounter with the Italian population that had a similar family-orientated culture and lifestyle."
• Little Italian Festival - Hone's Garden, York St, Russell. Saturday, April 17 from 10am.
Pompallier House to host a Children's Day
Pompallier Mission, the historic property in Russell cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, is organising a Carnival Day on April 17 with free entry for everybody – big and small.
The carnival is part of Children's Day, Te Rā O Ngā Tamariki, which is celebrated in New Zealand on the first Sunday in March. The event was postponed due to the Covid-19 alert level changes in March but is back with a bang in April. The objective is to encourage Kiwis to share time with children.
"Pompallier Mission has really embraced the kaupapa of Children's Day, Te Rā O Ngā Tamariki, and we are teaming up with Project Island Song to provide a great day for children and their families in the Russell and wider Bay of Islands area," said Pompallier Mission visitor services co-ordinator Kirsty Hofstetter.
There will be superheroes, princesses on stage, kapa haka, vintage fire engines, face painting, ice cream, an art gallery, entertainment stage, heritage tours, and a native bird walk led by Project Island Song.
Other attractions on the day will include free family-friendly tours of Pompallier Mission, flax weaving, a petting zoo and a fire escape room challenge as well as a Scan-venger hunt.
The Te Rā O Ngā Tamariki Carnival Day at Pompallier Mission runs from 10am-3pm. Free entry – everybody welcome.
New coastal maps
New maps showing the coastal areas at risk of erosion and flooding will be released to the public this month by the Northland Regional Council.
The NRC will notify affected property owners by mid-April to make sure they are aware of the maps and what they might mean, before making the maps operative by mid-July.
The letter will include a fact sheet which NRC says answers most of the questions property owners will have.
The new maps make use of LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) aerial survey data. They include updated 50-year and 100-year projections and will help Northland councils to manage new development and establish climate change adaption strategies with the communities.
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