In this week's round-up of news snippets, events and oddities from the Bay of Islands and Mid North, Jenny Ling reports on a community initiative gaining national recognition, a flourishing foodbank, and art and food events happening now and next week in the area.

The Bay of Islands Community Foodbank is flourishing in Paihia, helping struggling families with food donations and fresh produce from a recently established community garden.

The Friends of Williams House Paihia Library committee has given the foodbank approval to use the vacant garden near the library, so families can also have access to fresh vegetables along with the packaged staples already provided.

The foodbank is now seeking help from locals to help in the garden, watering, weeding, planting and harvesting.


It is also seeking community funding for extra-large storage units to hold non- perishable food items, a lockable filing system, a laminator and regular monthly cash donations to supplement the shortfalls of the food donations.

The community foodbank provides supplementary emergency support by way of food parcels for struggling families who can show that they are suffering undue hardship.

Since it officially opened in December 2018, it has provided Christmas food parcels for 17 families including nearly 50 children, youth and elderly people.

Children even received a couple of gifts kindly donated and lovingly wrapped by members of the community.

The foodbank also helped 12 families at the start of this year.

If you would like to get involved or donate, please email

Kaeo community playground wins national award

A Kaeo community playground created on the "smell of an oily rag" has won the hearts of judges at a national awards ceremony.

The colourful Kaeo playground project picked up the People's Choice award at the LGNZ Community Board Best Practice Awards in April.
The colourful Kaeo playground project picked up the People's Choice award at the LGNZ Community Board Best Practice Awards in April.

The Whangaroa Community Playground project was the People's Choice winner of Local Government New Zealand's Community Board Best Practice Awards in April.

The project saw the whole town chip in and revitalise the decrepit playground and public toilets that used to service the little town of around 450 people.

Bay of Islands-Whangaroa Community Board member Bruce Mills said the toilets were "horrible" and the playground left lacking before the revamp in 2017.

They are now both "bright and fantastic" thanks to a team effort led by the Whangaroa Community Trust.

Trust co-ordinator Angela Norman organised a raffle which raised $5000, and additional funding came from the community board and district council.

Help also came from lots of local families and businesses.

During one working bee more than 80 people turned out with their wheelbarrows and rakes to help spread the bark floor on the playground, while others helped paint the climbing frames, slides and swings.

A competition was held for the best mural, which was painted on the toilet block and is now hugely popular with locals and visitors.

Mills said he was proud to be part of the project, which came about when community stalwart Eljon Fitzgerald and his granddaughter visited Kaeo's old playground which only contained two swings and a climbing frame.

Fitzgerald made contact with the Kerikeri Lions Club which knew of a second-hand playground sitting in storage.

"The community has really taken ownership, it's something fantastic for our area," Mills said.

"The whole thing was done on the smell of an oily rag.

"I was blown away when they gave the awards out; we didn't have a huge budget so to get it was pretty staggering."

The awards take place every two years at the New Zealand Community Board's Conference, held this year at the Devon Hotel in New Plymouth from April 11-13.

Te Runanga o Whangaroa, Pub Charity, Glen Foster Contracting and the local Kaeoannes group also supported the project.

More food news

People with a penchant for wine and cheese can head to the Foodie Workshop; Wine and Cheese Edition on May 23.

The event is hosted by Bay of Islands Physique and Four Square Waipapa and runs from 7-9pm at Four Square Waipapa, 1993 State Highway 10.

Check out Facebook for more information and tickets.

Strange Hokianga art

Strange and beautiful artworks based on relationships with nature and India are featured in the latest exhibition at No 1 Parnell gallery in Rawene.

An affinity with other cultures has provided artist Judith Blade with inspiration for her latest exhibition at No 1 Parnell gallery in Rawene.
An affinity with other cultures has provided artist Judith Blade with inspiration for her latest exhibition at No 1 Parnell gallery in Rawene.

Judith Blade's exhibition "Suggestions for Mud and Paint: strange and beautiful art pieces for a divergent mind" is showing until June 11.

Blade said she drew on inspiration from her five-acre forest block in the Hokianga, with her recent works highlighting an extensive relationship with plants and animals.

Her art sensibilities have also been shaped by a decade-long relationship with India, including a three-year stint living in the colourful southeast Asian country.

Blade also has an affinity with traditional forms of tribal communities which also comes through in layers of colour and patterns in her abstract paintings and clay works.

The gallery would also like to welcome Mark Carey, a new member of the gallery volunteer team who last year was one of the two winners of the Hokianga Book Festival and Essay Award.

Check out for more information.

Thrilling music

Aroha Music Society is proud to present Duo Col Legno at the Turner Centre on May 23.

The show is touted as a "thrilling and unusual performance", with Yoshiko Tsuruta on the largest marimba in New Zealand, and Heleen du Plessis on cello.

Along with well-known works by Tchaikovsky and Fauré, the programme will include a new commission by revered New Zealand composer Gareth Farr.

Duo Col Legno was formed in 2014 to perform the New Zealand premiere of Peter Klatzow's "A Sense of Place".

The show, also presented in association with Chamber Music New Zealand Regional Series, starts at 7.30pm at the Turner Centre's New World Theatre Bar.

Tickets cost $30 adults and $25 friends with 18 and under free.

Visit or phone 09 407 0260 for details.

* If you have an upcoming event or a snippet of news you'd like to share, please email along with your full contact details, for consideration.