Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis with Kaumatua Arapeta Hamilton at the Waharoa opening in Russell in February. Photo / Supplied
MPs respond to misinformation
Northland MP Willow-Jean Prime and Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis take their responsibilities to their electorate seriously, and are upset it’s been suggested they’ve ignored some Bay of Islands centres
since the election.
The MPS are rightly angry after last week’s Bay News column said Davis and Prime had not been to Russell since at least 2020. This was incorrect, and they have both been to the area on a number of occasions during this time.
“Being the MP for Te Tai Tokerau is a great honour and a responsibility I take seriously,” Davis said.
“Alongside my duties as a minister with four portfolios and the time, both in Wellington and across the country, they require, I spend a large amount of time across my electorate, which stretches from Cape Reinga down to the North Shore.
“Russell is no exception. I have attended several official events in the area since the last election including at least three this year, along with many informal visits, where I always take the time to speak to people who want to chat. Claims I haven’t made a trip there in the past two years are frankly ridiculous and misleading.”
Since the election, Davis’ visits to Russell included: April 8-10, 2021; February 4/5, 2022 (Waharoa Unveiling); 10/11 March 2022 (Battle of Kororareka); and July 5, 2022 (Floating Classroom Project Birdsong).
Prime said she was shocked by the suggestion that she had not visited Russell since the election.
“In fact, I have attended many events in the area, including the fabulous Tamariki Day at Pompallier House and Korareka Community Day, celebrating Puanga/Matariki,” she said.
“Northland is a big electorate to get around, but I attend many events and speak with communities across the region on a regular basis. Russell, Okiato, Ōpua and Paihia are just a few examples of places I spend my time, and any suggestion I have ignored them is plainly wrong.”
Since the election, Prime’s official visits to Russell included: April 9, 2021; (with Minister for Tourism and Regional Development Stuart Nash); April 17, 2021 (Tamariki Day at Pompallier House); February 5, 2022 (Russell Wharf Ceremony); March 25, 2022 (Duffus Memorial Trust Visit) and July 2, 2022 (Kororareka Community Day).
Opera Gala for Kerikeri
Kerikeri is to host a Night at the Opera on December 1 at the Turner Centre, put together by soprano Joanna Foote.
She is originally from the Hokianga, grew up in Kerikeri and has been overseas for the past 13 years. She has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Auckland and gained her Masters degree in Music from the University of California, Los Angeles.
She spent a year in New York, over six years in London, and over four years in Berlin freelancing. She is a recipient of a Dame Kiri Te Kanawa grant and a grant by the Solti Foundation in the USA.
She has toured America and Europe extensively, singing at the Barcelona Liceu, Paris Châtelet and Deutsche Opera in Berlin. Most recently, she sang Susanna for NZ Opera’s Marriage of Figaro.
For the night in Kerikeri, she has brought together an ensemble for her first concert in the main hall of the Turner Centre in 14 years. Also present will be tenor Oliver Sewell, who has just been awarded the Dame Malvina Major award, and won a worldwide opera competition in Spain last month.
He is joined by mezzo-soprano Wendy Dawn Thompson, who has performed at the Royal Opera House, Opera Australia and Portugal’s Nacional de São Carlos, and baritone James Harrison, who has sung at the Royal Opera House and the English National Opera.
This operatic group is accompanied by pianist Lindy Tennent-Brown, who returned to New Zealand in 2020 after a busy freelance career in London spanning more than two decades.
A Night at the Opera will include works from Mozart, Verdi, Rossini, Puccini and Bizet, among others. Visit www.turnercentre.co.nz to find out more.
Trust is afforded Community Housing Provider status
The Duffus Memorial Trust is based in Russell. It was formed in 1986 with funds bequeathed by a late retired surveyor and his wife to establish a centre of aged care housing at a site near Long Beach Road.
The objective was to create a “village within a village”. It now sees six pensioner houses on-site, and there are plans to build more. They are home to those who may not have enough money to buy their own home.
At the annual general meeting held last week, it was announced by chairman David Scoffham that the trust had gained Community Housing Provider status (CHP) through the Community Housing Regulatory Authority (CHRA) within the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development.
“Gaining Community Housing Provider status should assist in us attracting the big funding we need to progress our ambitious development plans,” he said.
It means the trust will now be able to discuss the various financial possibilities for which they might be eligible with government agencies and other funding providers.
Getting to CHP status was daunting. The trust had to list no fewer than 46 mandatory requirements, but they were subsequently advised by the CHRA that theirs was an “excellent application”.
There are 89 CHPs in New Zealand; four of those are in Whangarei. That means the Duffus Trust is one of only six in Northland (outside of Whangarei) to be registered as a Community Housing Provider.
Fireworks on again in Paihia
The annual fireworks display to celebrate New Year’s Eve was in serious danger of not happening this year, for the second year in a row.
The display in 2021 was cancelled because of Covid restrictions, but for this year, cost was the culprit.
The Business Association had invested in the cancelled it! Festival, which was abandoned – not because of Covid, but because of the weather. The trust therefore didn’t have sufficient funds in their coffers for fireworks.
By mid-October, they had $1,700 allocated towards the fireworks and needed quite a bit more to make it happen. The fireworks have been funded in the past by Business Paihia and Pub Charity. Pub Charity no longer had a presence in the town, and because of Covid, the financial viability of many businesses in the town had suffered.
The budget for the display is $20,000, and to raise sufficient funds to enable the display to go ahead, the Business Association reached out to a wider business community.
“We have been very pleased with the response,” said trust chairman Charles Parker, as the budget was reached by the middle of November.
Van Tiel Pyrotechnics have been putting on the night’s display for some years. They activate the fireworks from offshore Paihia on a barge anchored in the bay.
What now for Russell’s police house?
The Russell community policeman, Mike Gorrie, has vacated as a tenant of the historic home on the waterfront owned by the New Zealand Police. He has sought alternative accommodation elsewhere in Russell and is not moving to the house in Paihia offered to him by the NZ Police.
The Russell Protection Society said in a letter to Russell Google Groups that despite a number of assurances from the police hierarchy that they would consult with the Russell community before any decisions are made as to the future of the former Custom House, they have not done so. The police have not made anyone available for discussion since early September 2021.
Bob Drey, chairman of the RPS, said there needs to be a conversation with the Russell community about the future of the Custom House.
“It is a key historic building in Russell and occupies a strategic position, as evidenced by the number of visitors photographing it. It is important to our tourism industry and is an integral part of our local character, as is the much-loved Moreton Bay fig tree located there.”
In response to an email on 21 October, 2021, Inspector Riki Whiu, area commander for the Far North, said Northland District commander, Superintendent Tony Hill, has decided the police no longer wish to be the owners of the Russell police house.
He acknowledged it is a Category 1 heritage building, and said the decision was made for various reasons which included health and safety issues “that continue to impact on the tenants living in it”.
The land on which the historic house is located is believed to be in four titles. There is an old jailhouse at the rear of the property. It is not known if the police intend to sell the four titles as separate entities or to sell the house and land as one package.
Inspector Whiu said no decisions on a sale had been made but a process is being worked through. Two follow-up emails to Inspector Whiu on October 3 and 15 this year asking what progress has been made on the sale of the historic Custom House did not elicit any response.
In the meantime, the community policeman continues to serve the Russell peninsula from the police office in York Street.