Website of the Year
It was a mostly peaceful, good-natured start to 2019 in Paihia where a few thousand tourists and locals gathered along the waterfront to see in the New Year with the traditional fireworks display launched from a barge. A large contingent of police was on hand to enforce the liquor ban and transport anyone arrested, mostly for fighting, to the police cells in Kaikohe. Photos by Peter de Graaf and Stephen Western.
When Hana Kōkō (that’s Santa Claus in te reo Māori) comes to Northland he leaves the sleigh behind and arrives by waka ama instead. The big guy was the guest at a fun day on December 20 on Ti Beach organised by Waitangi Waka Ama Kaihoe and police Blue Light. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Pamela-Anne Simon-Baragwanath wanted her mokopuna to enjoy the kind of community Christmas celebration she remembered as a child growing up in Moerewa – and because no one else was going to organise it, she did it herself. Hundreds of children turned out on Saturday for a day of games, entertainment, kai and a visit from Hana Kōkō (Santa). Everything at the event was free – from the ice creams to the bouncy castles, the Harley Davidson rides to the sausage sizzle – to ensure it was accessible to all. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Christmas production Charlie's Xmas Adventure had its opening, and closing, shows last weekend with 19 local children performing a limited run of the show at the Dargaville Little Theatre. The production, written and directed by Dargaville's Eryn Wilson-Collins, was about a little girl who is disenchanted with the Christmas season who learns lessons about what's really important in life.
A train robbery, horse riders who looked like they’d galloped in from the Wild West and dogs in costumes — all that and more featured in Saturday’s Christmas parade with a difference in Kawakawa. In another departure from the usual, a response to controversy in Auckland about whether Santa could be a woman, was that the star of the parade wasn’t a bearded old man from the North Pole but local identity Tracey Wells. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
More than 300 people - including DOC staff, locals, schoolchildren, iwi and whale rescue groups - descended on Rarawa Beach in the Far North on November 27 in a bid to save eight survivors of a pod of pygmy whales which had stranded on the opposite coast a day earlier. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Skaters aged 9-55 from as far away as Christchurch descended on Kerikeri last Saturday, November 17, for the inaugural Vert Jam skateboarding contest organised by Dave Crabb, a former pro skater now living at Mahinepua in the Far North. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Thousands packed Kerikeri Rd on Saturday evening for the post-half-marathon Street Party, which has grown into the town’s biggest — and most eagerly anticipated — social event of the year. A new layout and fine weather, a welcome contrast to last year’s washout, ensured a successful, fun-filled event. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
The popular cattle displays and competitions may have been absent from Saturday’s Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show due to concerns about the disease M. Bovis, but that didn’t stop thousands of people flocking to picturesque Waimate North for the first show of the summer. Kids competing for best pet lamb took the place of calf club events while a series of Young Farmers and AgriKids challenges boosted youth involvement in the nation’s oldest country show, founded 176 years ago when the ink was barely dry on the Treaty of Waitangi. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Zombies, mummies, witches, bloodied accident victims, even a boy with his own head on a plate — all those and more turned out for the annual Monster Mash at Kerikeri Primary School on Wednesday evening. The event is organised by the school PTA as a fundraiser and a way to give kids a chance to dress up and enjoy Halloween without trick-or-treating. Entertainment included a zombie-themed performance by DDF Dance Studios and Kerikeri Primary School’s Got Talent in the school hall. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Armed with cream pies, splurge guns and slapstick, the kids of Kerikeri Youth Theatre dragged the Turner Centre back to the days of gang rivalries in prohibition-era New York. Their first production, the musical gangster comedy Bugsy Malone, featured a cast of 55 aged 7-16 in seven performances packed with songs, dance and gags, culminating in a last giant splurge gun fight in Sunday afternoon’s finale. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Dogs of all shapes and sizes converged on Simson Park in Moerewa on Friday for Ngā Kurī Auau o Moerewa, a Far North District Council initiative in which dog owners were given free microchipping, neutering and registration. The SPCA and a team of vets were also on hand offering pet health checks and free parvo vaccinations. It was the council’s third such dog day following the success of previous events in Kaikohe and Kaitaia. Peter de Graaf met a few of the pooches waiting patiently in line for their turn. Dogs of all shapes and sizes converged on Simson Park in Moerewa on Friday for Ngā Kurī Auau o Moerewa, a Far North District Council initiative in which dog owners were given free microchipping, neutering and registration. The SPCA and a team of vets were also on hand offering pet health checks and free parvo vaccinations. It was the council’s third such dog day following the success of previous events in Kaikohe and Kaitaia. Peter de Graaf met a few of the pooches waiting patiently in line for their turn.
Just under 1800 people piled into Paihia’s Village Green on Saturday for a day of sunshine, music, food, wine and good vibes. This year’s It! Bay of Islands Food and Wine Festival featured covers bands JPG and Automatic 80s along with award winning singer-songwriter Troy Kingi and 12-strong ‘‘super group’’ Fly My Pretties. The event, now in its ninth year, aims to lure people to the Bay for a weekend before the summer tourist season kicks off in earnest. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Northland’s future entrepreneurs tested their products and marketing skills on the public last Sunday when Springbank School, near Kerikeri, held its annual market day. Student businesses sold everything from garden sculptures and phone holders to kawakawa balm and bath bombs, and donated 25 per cent of their profits to charity. Stalls were judged on presentation and innovation with the winners due to be announced at a school assembly on Tuesday. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Hundreds of Northlanders joined a nationwide day of protest on Saturday against the use of the pesticide 1080 with events in Whangarei, Kerikeri, Dargaville, Kawakawa and Kaitaia. In Whangarei, protesters gathered at Mander Park and waved placards and umbrellas with anti-1080 messages, while in Kerikeri more than 100 people marched through town chanting "Ban 1080" and "Department of Conservation, destroying our nation". Protesters scattered fake 1080 pellets and took part in a haka on the Domain at 1pm, timed to coincide with other mass haka around the country. Opposition to 1080 is largely based on claims it kills native animals and birds as well as the pests it targets, poisons domestic animals which ingest it, and gets into waterways. Counter-claims are that the pellets can be dropped accurately and safely, and that 1080 is the only effective way of reducing pest numbers enough to give native birds and forests, some of which are on the brink of collapse, a chance of survival. Photos by Peter de Graaf and Tania Whyte.
More than 100 dancers aged 3 to 70-plus are performing Coppelia, a full-length ballet by the Northern Dance Academy, at the Turner Centre in Kerikeri this week. Set in a Polish village it tells the story of a sorcerer who invents a doll so life-like it threatens to steal the heart of a village lad, but the plan is undone by the cunning of his real-life sweetheart. The final shows are at 11am and 6.30pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
A great dane named "Ruperta" dressed in a fetching wig and petticoat made Russell Birdman Festival history as the first canine competitor in Friday evening’s drag race. Contestants were required to sprint the length of Cass St with high heels and a handbag, while negotiating tyre and haybale obstacles, downing a shot of a mystery drink, skipping a rope, and completing a ball challenge; earlier ladies dressed as blokes contested the Fred Dagg dash along the same route. Everyone went home with a prize but first across the line and best bloke overall in the dash went to Jules "Bazza" Mills of Auckland, while the petite 6-foot-2-inch Paul "Shazza" McBride, also of Auckland, won the prize for best performance in the drag race. Ruperta seized the crowd favourite title. Photos by Peter de Graaf.
Dismal weather coinciding with Saturday afternoon’s Birdman jump, the highlight of the two-day Russell Birdman Festival, failed to dampen the creativity or enthusiasm of a dozen teams bravely taking the plunge from the end of the town wharf. This year’s supreme winner was Russell skipper Tim Grant, whose entry was a warning of the harm caused to sea life by plastic waste. Other attractions included a spaghetti-eating contest, pancake flipping, stilt walkers, a Corflute boat-building challenge and a wok cook-off. Photos by Peter de Graaf.