Plans are in place to evacuate people living between the Kaimaumau fire and Houhora in case winds brought by Cyclone Cody push the flames further north. Incident controller Peter Clark told a public meeting at Wharemaru Marae o Kaimaumau on Thursday that firefighters had strong containment lines in place and eight helicopters onsite but they were prepared for a worst-case scenario nonetheless. He urged residents to follow instructions from Fire and Emergency, Police and Civil Defence if they were asked to evacuate. Any evacuations would be from the northern end of the fire ground, not Kaimaumau village, due to the southerly winds.
Mangonui firefighters were alerted on Tuesday night to what appeared to be a fire in the middle of the harbour. Fire chief Mark Donnelly said it appeared someone had started a fire in a dinghy then pushed it out into the water about 9.15pm. When the brigade arrived it was about 30m offshore so several firefighters went out in another dinghy to put it out using fire extinguishers. It was then left in the hands of police to find the owner and track down the offenders.
Conserve power calls
People in the top half of the Far North are being asked to conserve power for two days later this month as lines company Top Energy switches to generators while it carries out essential maintenance on the main power line supplying Kaitaia and surrounding areas. The power line shutdown, from 7.30am-5.30pm on the weekend of January 22-23, will affect the Aupōuri Peninsula, Kaitaia, Ahipara, the west coast north of Hokianga Harbour, and Doubtless Bay. Top Energy says emergency generators at Kaitaia and Taipā will be operating but residents are asked to limit power usage at that time to avoid overloading the generators and potentially triggering a widespread outage. As a precaution people who rely on electric pumps for water should store drinking water in advance, and anyone who relies on powered medical devices should seek advice from their health provider.
Rāhui in place
A rāhui has been declared at the Doubtless Bay settlement of Rangiputa following a death in the water caused by a medical event on Monday. The rāhui, which will last until January 16, has been declared by Haititaimarangi Marae as a mark of respect for the deceased. Marae trustees ask that no one gathers kai moana in the area adjacent to Rangiputa until the rāhui is lifted. Swimming and boat launching are permitted.
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Death inquiry ongoing
Police are continuing to investigate the death of a Tikipunga teen hit by a car as he lay on Vinegar Hill Rd in the dark. Jahsdis Raynard Ngaruhe, 15, died on November 30 after he was struck by a car about 11.30pm. A police spokesperson said because their investigations were ongoing police were unable to comment on the circumstances around the fatality, such as how Ngaruhe came to be lying on the road at the time.
Water pipeline laid
FNDC contractors have completed 10.9km of a 14km pipeline that will connect a council aquifer bore at Sweetwater near Awanui to the Kaitaia Treatment Plant in Okahu Rd. Directional drilling crews will start building the Okahu Rd section of the pipeline on Pukepoto Rd (near Kaitaia College), Norman Senn Ave and Okahu Rd on January 17. This will involve installing a 30cm underground pipeline past the frontages of properties on these roads. Contractors will need to reduce traffic to single lane at times, but will try to minimise disruption.
The Northern Bass music festival in Northland has been cancelled with organisers citing low vaccination rates and the growing threat of Omicron as reasons for their decision. Northern Bass was originally scheduled to run on New Year's Eve, but was then postponed to January 28-30. The Government is not due to review the traffic light setting for Northland until next week, but organisers have decided they no longer want to wait for the region to shift out of red. Northland's low vaccination rates, the growing threat of the Omicron variant, the number of other music festivals which have ended up as locations of interest and headliners who could not travel due to having tested positive for Covid-19, were reasons cited for the cancellation.