Pelicans which crossed the ditch to make the Kaipara region their new home have disappeared.
In August 2012, 14 pelicans made New Zealand their home, settling on the banks of the Northern Wairoa River, near Dargaville.
But where have they gone?
According to some, the birds were shot dead.
"The word in this part of Northland still is that most of the pelicans have been shot to safeguard future fish stocks in the river. This from people who with pride will tell you of the numbers of spur winged plovers and harriers that they have shot over the weekend", according to an unnamed member of bird watching group, birdingnz.
However, fellow member Pat Miller discounted this theory saying, "There may be gun-happy idiots out there, but it's just as easy to shoot off your mouth (easier actually) as to shoot the pelicans. And there's not exactly a shortage of fish in the Kaipara, so I don't know why anyone would be too concerned with the amount 14 pelicans could eat."
Curator of vertebrates at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Dr Colin Miskelly is an ornithologist (bird expert) and has been recording pelican sightings. He was unaware of any recent sightings, the last confirmed sighting he knew of was in March of 2015 by a Mr Crossland.
"And so I fear they are long gone. I suspect it is most likely that the birds flew away. Whether that means back to Australia or eastward in the hope of finding suitable habitat is anyone's guess."
Kauri Coast department of conservation biodiversity supervisor Megan Topia confirmed the lack of sightings.
"There have been no recent sightings of pelicans reported to our DoC office and as far as we are aware the pelicans are no longer in the area."
According to Associate Professor in Zoology Dr Phil Battley, "Anything that gets here by its own efforts is considered native and therefore are protected under the Wildlife Act".
According DoC if anyone is found to be deliberately killing/ wounding protected species they will incur fines and/or imprisonment.
The maximum penalty for killing protected wildlife is a $100,000 fine and up to a year in jail.
Feedback on rubbish wanted
Dargaville residents have been calling for wheelie bins to replace controversial rubbish bags and now the district council is wanting their feedback.
Last year the Advocate reported that locals were calling for wheelie bins to replace expensive blue rubbish bags that "constantly broke and fell apart".
Now a council spokesman is saying that within the next month via a People's Panel (online survey), which all residents can sign up for via www.kaipara.govt.nz/panel, council staff will be undertaking an initial investigation into how rubbish, waste and recycling will be collected, managed and paid for across the district.
"As you can imagine, it's a fairly large project, so the starting phase will be to gauge what the district wants as a whole, then to refine options for further consultation."
In a recent online poll , residents were asked if they wanted wheelie bins. Of 377 respondents, 98 per cent or 370 said they wanted wheelie bins, just seven said they did not.
The comments also supported the switch.
Local resident Bill Kerr said, "If they (council) are really serious about cutting down on the usage of plastic bags - they will bring in bins - just my thoughts."
Many others agreed. "Well, a wheely bin would stop the cats that walk the streets from ripping my plastic rubbish bag apart," said Marz Rika.
Dargaville councillor Karen Joyce Paki encourages residents to take part in the People's Panel feedback process.
"This review provides the platform for ratepayers to give feedback and suggestions on how we deal with solid waste, which is a far greater issue and may or may not include introducing wheelie bins.
"In my opinion wheelie bins are an option however the associated behaviour with wheelie bins causes me concern. It becomes very easy for people to dump all sorts of waste in a wheelie bin and I have seen this personally; car batteries, kids' plastic toys etc. This would need a good education advocacy programme wrapped around it to ensure that type of behaviour doesn't occur.
"At this stage I feel it would be premature to introduce wheelie bins to Dargaville prior to the review being undertaken. Once we have all the feedback, information and facts highlighting the risks, opportunities and any associated costs to the ratepayers we'll be in a far more informed position to make decisions that benefit the whole community. "
To place your feedback head to: www.kaipara.govt.nz/panel
Good old fashioned fun at Donnellys Crossing Picnic Sports Day
It's been 95 years since the very first Donnellys Crossing Picnic Sports Day was held and very little has changed to the "good old-fashioned, fun event".
Besides the odd tweak here and there, Gareth Williams, one of the event organisers, said "apart from the longer-distance running and the wood chopping, that is no longer part of the day's activities, there has been little change over the years".
"It's like an old-time traditional family day out, without all the bells and whistles, but still heaps of fun."
Williams, a Donnellys Crossing resident for over 30 years, said he had attended at least 20 picnic/sports days and reckons the format was "a successful one".
This year visitors can expect to enjoy the usual "crowd-pleasers" such as the Donnellys dunker. "Kids get to throw a ball at a target and dunk their friend, family member or teacher," said Williams.
There will also be spud and spoon races, three-legged races, gumboot throwing, colouring in competitions, lolly scrambles, tug-of-war, mini put, running races, raffles and sack races.
Williams said the top-team events are a favourite and this year a shield will be presented to the winning team in honour of Ian and Michelle Cobb, for all the time and effort that they put into the sports days in previous years.
"Sadly, Mrs Cobb passed away last year, but she will always be remembered as a great lady and supporter of this event."
For just a $2 gold coin entry or $5 for a carload – it's an affordable day out for all the family, tomorrow from 10.30am at Donnellys Crossing.
■ Email Rose Stirling — if you have news that you would like to share with Northern Advocate readers. Rose.email@example.com.