New tsunami sirens for Far North in plan
The Northland Regional Council is planning to upgrade the entire tsunami siren warning system.
Many of the sirens in the network are close to 15 years old and will need replacement.
The regional council has allocated $2.02 million in its draft Long Term Plan and says the new sirens will last 20 to 30 years, be more easily heard and will be less likely to be confused with fire and other alarms.
Far North District Council (FNDC) has earmarked $79,485 for the project in its Long Term Plan 2021-31. Of course there's no guarantee it will happen, but it's in the plan.
In the meantime, a 10-minute siren test traditionally conducted at the end of daylight saving will be reduced to two minutes on Sunday, April 4. FNDC says since the sirens were used in March following the three massive Pacific Ocean earthquakes there's no need for another prolonged test.
That creates a problem for some Civil Defence volunteers. In Russell, for instance, there are three volunteers. One will be away on the weekend, leaving two people the impossible task of monitoring five sirens in two minutes.
This volunteer group, and others like them, do the job of maintaining the sirens in place of paid staff who can't always get to the entire 205 sirens in the region.
They do not receive any money for doing this and there is no ancillary funding, such as a petrol allowance, for going to check on the sirens.
In overall charge of the siren system is the Northland CDEM Group comprising Northland's four councils, emergency services, lifeline utilities, social agencies and Government departments.
The sirens are owned and funded by the region's three district councils and operated in partnership with the two electricity networks (Northpower and Top Energy).
Northland's CDEM Group co-ordinates installation, maintenance, testing and issues instruction to activate them, with the physical work done by Northpower and Top Energy.
Murray Soljak, from Northland CDEM Group, says they've been working on a proposal to upgrade the siren network regionally with fewer sirens with a greater reach. He says the cost of the upgrade has been estimated at $4.5 million and is being progressed through the LTP process.
"Once the outcome of those processes is known we can work on a plan for what will be a multi-year project."
Record-breaking clean-up at Waitangi
More than 30 volunteers and 10 staff led the battle against waste at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds on Waitangi Day.
With around 90 per cent of waste diverted from landfills, it's believed to be the highest diversion rate at an event of its size in New Zealand.
CBEC EcoSolutions is an environmental consultancy business that has partnered with the Waitangi National Trust for the previous 12 years to provide recycling and waste reduction services at Waitangi Day celebrations.
They are assisted by volunteers from Resilient Russell and other community groups who act as "waste ambassadors" directing waste into the correct bins. A three-bin system with colour-coded lids was used to manage the different waste streams.
Manager Jo Shanks said it was a positive result for the whole of the Far North.
"This shows the recycling ambassadors and staff did a great job assisting the public, ensuring materials collected were fit for recycling and composting."
Of all the food stallholders, 99 per cent complied with compostable packaging. Most of the compostable and recyclable rubbish was taken to Waipapa Landscape Supplies in Waipapa for commercial composting.
The landfill-generated rubbish consisted of a few non-compliant items such as plastic spoons and polystyrene cups, waste from non-food stalls, waste from outside the Treaty Grounds and items brought from home.
The recycling and landfill materials were taken away by Waste Management.
EcoSolutions also offers waste minimisation lessons to around 75 schools in the Far North and work with businesses and event organisers to raise awareness of waste minimisation.
Big bike film night
A man losing his sight determined to compete in a gruelling bike race across Finland's frozen tundra.
A transformative bikepacking journey through the Canadian Rockies.
An eccentric group of riders resurrecting the penny-farthing bicycle on London's busy streets.
Four adventurers bikerafting and exploring historical trails along one of Aotearoa's most significant rivers.
Those are just a few of 13 short films, ranging from two to 24 minutes long, which will screen at the Big Bike Film Night coming to Whangārei and Kerikeri later this month.
Described as ''a feast of short films devoted to the bicycle and all who ride'', the festival has been running for seven years but 2021 is just the second time the two Northland towns have made it onto the itinerary.
The one-night festival is curated by Brett Cotter, from Taupō, who spends much of the year watching bike movies from around the world and picking out the best.
The screenings will be at Whangārei's Captain Bougainville Theatre, Forum North, on April 13, and at Kerikeri's Cathay Cinemas on April 14. Both start at 7pm.
Go to www.bigbikefilmnight.nz for more information or to buy tickets. Door sales will be available on the night unless it sells out beforehand.
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Vintage railway needs volunteers
The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is seeking volunteers to help them improve services. It includes shopkeepers and guards, metalworkers, woodworkers, mechanics and general labourers for track work.
On the operational side, volunteers are needed as drivers of the diesel locomotives, guards who have a responsibility for the safety of the train and shopkeepers for the small gift shop.
It is expected that volunteers for this side of operations commit to coming in on a particular day of the roster to run the trains.
On the maintenance side, metalworkers, woodworkers, painters and mechanics (steam and diesel) and general labourers are needed.
There is a large amount of work to do to refurbish the existing rail vehicles, both locomotives and carriages, to bring them up to running standard.
There is also the requirement to rebuild wheelbases to create a cycle carriage, revamp a 1917 carriage and get Gabriel the steam engine back on track.
There is the ongoing need to maintain the track so that trains remain safe, which involved repacking the track, cutting back encroaching growth and checking on the bridges.
Volunteers for this kind of work can be more flexible with attendance. Many volunteers are retired and with the skills required or they can be matched to the work in hand.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 021-171-2697.
Snorkel day experience
The community-guided snorkel day at Maunganui Bay near Deepwater Cover proved a great success.
A rāhui had been put in place in 2009 by the two resident hāpu, Ngati Kuta and Patukeha ki Te Rāwhiti, which has seen an increase in species numbers and diversity. It runs until 2022 and event organiser Isabel Krauss says the fact they can see so many different species so close to shore is a sign the rāhui is working.
"By focusing on getting locals and young people from Rāwhiti out on the bay, we are hoping to raise further awareness and support for the rāhui.
"Huge credit goes to Ngāti Kuta and Pātukeha ki To Rāwhiti for continuing it," she said.
Participants were able to spot many different reef fish including sand-daggers, wrasses, snapper, red moki and eagle rays. One group of snorkellers spotted a flounder on the seafloor.
The day was funded by Foundation North, the Department of Conservation, Fish Forever and supported by Seashuttle Bay of Islands and Marine Environmental Field Services. It was run by volunteers from Experiencing Marine Reserves (EMR) and Fish Forever.
Kiwi Can Raft Race
Homemade watercraft of wildly varying design — and seaworthiness — took to Whangaroa Harbour on Saturday [March 20] in the hope of claiming glory in the Kiwi Can Raft Race.
This year's supreme winners, as judged by their display of Kiwi Can values, were the Turbo Turtles from Totara North School while in the open division the volunteers of Kaeo Fire Brigade showed they can be better trusted to put out their fires than build boats.
Alas, their vessel sank even before it reached the start of the Clansman's Wharf to Whangaroa Marina race course.
The annual event is open to schools in the wider Whangaroa area teaching the Graeme Dingle Foundation's Kiwi Can programme as well as community organisations, businesses and groups of mates.
Supreme Award: Turbo Turtles, Totara North School; 1st across the line: Hawaiian Slingshot, Kaeo School; 2nd: Team Peria, Peria School; 3rd: Mad Duckers, Kaingaroa School; most creative: Oruaiti School Team 1.
1st: Karakore, representing Hikoi Productions; 2nd: Moana NZ; 3rd: Brydie and Friends; most creative: Bush Fullas; best team spirit: Kaeo Fire Brigade.
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