Website of the Year
Photos: Life’s a beach for Hana Kōkō in Northland
Northern Advocate

Photos: Life’s a beach for Hana Kōkō in Northland

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.

Photos: Christmas comes to Moerewa
Northern Advocate

Photos: Christmas comes to Moerewa

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.

Charlies Xmas Adventure comes to town
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Charlies Xmas Adventure comes to town

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.

Photos: Kawakawa's Christmas parade
Northern Advocate

Photos: Kawakawa's Christmas parade

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.

Photos: Kerikeri Street Party 2018
Northern Advocate

Photos: Kerikeri Street Party 2018

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.

Photos: Showtime in the Bay of Islands
Northern Advocate

Photos: Showtime in the Bay of Islands

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.

Photos: Ghouls come out for Kerikeri's Monster Mash
Northern Advocate

Photos: Ghouls come out for Kerikeri's Monster Mash

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.

Photos: Gangs, gags and splurge guns
Northern Advocate

Photos: Gangs, gags and splurge guns

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.

Photos: Dog's day out in Moerewa
Northern Advocate

Photos: Dog's day out in Moerewa

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.

Northlanders protest use of 1080
Northern Advocate

Northlanders protest use of 1080

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.

Classic ballet Coppelia returns to Kerikeri
Northern Advocate

Classic ballet Coppelia returns to Kerikeri

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.

Birdman drag race 2018
Northern Advocate

Birdman drag race 2018

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.

Russell Birdman Festival 2018
Northern Advocate

Russell Birdman Festival 2018

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.

Oromahoe lights up for Matariki
Northern Advocate

Oromahoe lights up for Matariki

A record crowd turned out for Oromahoe School’s Light Festival on Saturday evening, an annual celebration of Matariki, the winter solstice and all things warming. This year’s attractions included music mediaeval and modern, a lantern walk full of surprises, kapa haka and light poi, with lots of kai and blazing braziers to keep festival-goers warm on a crisp mid-winter’s night. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Bayleys Premier rugby: Kamo vs. Old Boys Marist
Northern Advocate

Bayleys Premier rugby: Kamo vs. Old Boys Marist

Kamo took on Old Boys Marist in a top of the table clash at Kamo Recreation Ground as both sides searched for a statement victory. Kamo held a 15-14 lead with half an hour to go but a trio of tries gave them the 39-14 bonus point win, keeping their unbeaten season alive. <i>Northern Advocate</i> photographer <strong>Michael Cunningham</strong> went along to capture the action.

Kids' creativity celebrated in Kaeo
Northern Advocate

Kids' creativity celebrated in Kaeo

Hundreds of children turned out for Kaeo’s inaugural Nga Purapura Festival on Saturday, a day-long celebration of creativity with free kids’ activities including story telling, drama workshops, mud monster making, African drumming, hula hoops, cartoon drawing, dress ups, bag making, flax weaving and much more. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Okaihau marks a milestone
Northern Advocate

Okaihau marks a milestone

The Mid North town of Okaihau, population 700, celebrated its 150th anniversary over Easter weekend with three days of festivities including a grand parade, a theatre production, a country dance, a bike ride to the Utakura valley, and plenty more. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff plays Waitangi
Northern Advocate

Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff plays Waitangi

An estimated 2500 people turned out for the inaugural Bay of Islands Music Festival on the waterfront grounds of the Copthorne Hotel in Waitangi on Saturday. The one-day festival featured top Northland musicians such as Teeks and Troy Kingi along with roots-reggae veterans Katchafire and country-rocker Tami Neilson, but the man people really came to see was Jamaican reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, possibly playing his last show in Aotearoa. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Pawarenga sports day reaffirms ties
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Pawarenga sports day reaffirms ties

Whanau from all over Australasia gathered at isolated Pawarenga, by the Whangape Harbour in North Hokianga, on Sunday to see out 2017 with a day of sporting challenges, kai and catching up. Peter de Graaf captured some of the action.

Record turnout at 175th Bay of Islands show
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Record turnout at 175th Bay of Islands show

Record numbers of spectators and entrants turned out to celebrate the 175th anniversary of New Zealand’s oldest country show on Saturday with crowds boosted by sunshine instead of the forecast rain. The Bay of Islands Pastoral and Industrial Show at Waimate North, first held in 1842 when the ink on the Treaty was barely dry, still centres around farm animals, horses and tests of traditional domestic skills, but has expanded in recent years to include a funfair, a food and wine festival and all manner of stalls and entertainment. To mark the anniversary this year’s show featured historic displays from the Pioneer Village in Kaikohe and rarely awarded royal ribbons from the Royal Agricultural Society for overall champion horse and farm animal. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Monsters come out in Kawakawa and Kerikeri
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Monsters come out in Kawakawa and Kerikeri

Kawakawa and Kerikeri were invaded by hundreds of ghosts, ghouls, vampires, zombies, Ninjas, scarecrows, witches and trolls – you name it – on Tuesday evening as the two towns celebrated Halloween, a festival which has its roots in the belief that the spirits of the dead return to haunt the living one night a year. In Kawakawa’s event, organised as always by Chevy Taylor even though she now lives in Hamilton, the kids followed a trick-or-treat trail around main street businesses, ran around in a disco and had free train rides, with even Timmy the train decorated in a Halloween theme. Further north, in the Kerikeri Primary School PTA Monster Mash, the kids followed a trick-or-treat trail around the classrooms, competed in a cake-making contest, played on a giant inflatable slide, braved a tunnel of doom, and danced in a glow-in-the-dark disco. Both events aimed to gives kids a chance to dress up and enjoy the Halloween spirit without demanding lollies at strangers’ doors. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

America's Cup trophy in Far North
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America's Cup trophy in Far North

The America’s Cup trophy kicked off a national tour in Northland over the weekend, starting with a parade, formal welcome and viewing at New Zealand’s northernmost sailing club, Taipa Sailing Club in Doubtless Bay, on Friday evening. On Saturday afternoon the trophy was hosted by Kerikeri Cruising Club — where sailors Blair Tuke and Andy Maloney were introduced to the sport — and displayed at Kerikeri Domain before it headed to Whangarei Cruising Club for the evening. Hundreds of locals turned out to each event to see the world’s oldest sporting trophy and meet members of Team NZ. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival
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Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival

The "no vacancy" signs were out all over town as music fans from around the country descended on the Bay of Islands for the 32nd Jazz and Blues Festival, with more than 40 acts performing over three days at six venues. This year's star attractions were a one-legged blues guitar legend from the US, Austin Walkin' Cane, and a Japanese band called Chihiro Yamazaki and Route 14, with the rest of the lineup ranging from classic Dixieland jazz to a hard-rocking blues band that wouldn't have sounded out of place at a heavy metal convention. This year's festival was the 25th organised by Shirley May of Pakaraka. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

School shines a light on mid-winter
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School shines a light on mid-winter

After two date changes due to forecasts of poor weather Oromahoe School’s annual mid-winter Light Festival took place on Friday night with the school grounds transformed into a fairytale scene of lanterns and flickering lights. Attractions included live music, a shadow puppet show, kapa haka, a lantern parade, a pair of wizards and lots of kai. Oromahoe School is off State Highway 10 between Kerikeri and Pakaraka. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Kids brave mud in cross-country run
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Kids brave mud in cross-country run

More than 200 boys and girls aged 8-12 braved mud, deep puddles and the odd cowpat in the annual Kerikeri and Districts Inter-school Cross Country Race, held at Landcorp’s Kapiro Station near Takou Bay on June 26. The 2.4km course included plenty of uphill and downhill, ditches to be jumped and, most importantly, lots of mud. Participants reported the course was extra slippery this year. The children that took part were the top qualifiers form school cross country races at Bay of Islands International Academy, Hukerenui, Kerikeri Primary, Kerikeri High, Oromahoe, Riverview and Springbank schools. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

PHOTOS: Kakariki return to the Bay
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PHOTOS: Kakariki return to the Bay

One of New Zealand’s most striking birds — the kakariki, or red-crowned parakeet — is back in the Bay of Islands after an absence of more than 30 years. Forty colourful birds caught on Little Barrier were released on Moturua Island on Tuesday as part of Project Island Song. If they breed well in their new home they should soon start turning up in backyards all around the bay. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Paddlers splash out at Waitangi waka festival
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Paddlers splash out at Waitangi waka festival

More than 150 paddlers from Waitakere to Kaitaia took part in the inaugural Bay of Islands Waka Ama Festival on Ti Beach over the weekend. Saturday’s events included a relay of four legs of 5km each (won by Ngati Rehia’s Seven Kidneys team, so called because one of the four paddlers gave up a kidney for a sick family member), midget races for the youngest paddlers, and mid-distance races in the W6 (six-seater) class. On Sunday the toughest paddlers competed in a 25km race around Motuarohia Island called Te Taiawhio o Ipipiri, a race founded 25 years ago by waka ama legend Kris Kjelsden and revived after a 17-year absence. Photos by Peter de Graaf.

Photos: Hidden waterfall revealed after 40 years
Northern Advocate

Photos: Hidden waterfall revealed after 40 years

A massive volunteer effort has restored public access to a waterfall which was hidden for more than 40 years despite being just a short walk from central Kerikeri. Last Saturday the track was officially opened along with a footbridge over the Wairoa Stream, paid for by a descendant of a Kerikeri couple who once owned the nearby Pagoda Lodge. Photos by Peter de Graaf.