Site Index: A-F G-M N-S T-Z
+64 7 306 9009

Media releases from Kawerau District Council

Council extends CEO contract

September 14, 2017

Kawerau District Council re-appointed Russell George as its chief executive officer at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday, September 12.

The Local Government Act requires councils to advertise the CEO position every five years, with a possible two-year extension. LGNZ Equip was engaged to provide external, executive recruitment services and the CEO position was advertised in July.

Mayor Malcolm Campbell says there was a large volume of high-calibre responses to the advertisements but Russell proved to be the top candidate. “Council recognised his strong financial stewardship, institutional local government knowledge and experience, as well as his long-term service, loyalty, and leadership, and his commitment to maintaining stability within Council while pursuing future growth opportunities for the community of Kawerau.”

In agreement with the council, Russell has been re-appointed for a four-year term instead of five years, to avoid clashing with a local body election and a CEO review in the same year. The four-year term also gives council staff assurance of the operational leadership of the organisation throughout the local body election period, a time where the views, preferences and opinions of the community decide the make-up of the community representation and governance responsibility for Kawerau.

“Russell will continue to keep the council tracking in the positive direction it’s been taking under his tenure,” Malcolm says.

“We've been stable and successful financially, and are well-positioned to meet the current and new challenges of local government for Kawerau.  With the Long Term Plan, which focuses on key services i.e. three waters (water supply, stormwater and wastewater), industry growth and jobs coming online, we need experience and energy to lead us. We’re confident we have the right man to do this."

Russell says the council has been working very hard on opportunities to grow employment in the district while continuing to deliver high-quality services. 

“I look forward to continuing that work. There are exciting times ahead for Kawerau and I am honoured I have been selected to be part of that.”

Woodfest 2017 set to celebrate Kawerau’s forestry links

September 6, 2017

The iconic Kawerau Woodfest event is once again gearing up to showcase the town’s proud connection to the forestry industry. This year’s event runs from September 22 - October 1 and offers a fantastic range of activities for all ages.

It kicks off on Friday, September 22 with the Woodbugs Symposium on the Circus paddock outside the Ron Hardie Recreation Centre. Inside the centre will be Woodfest’s cornerstone event, the National Woodskills Competition, which showcases carvers and wood-turners from around Australasia.

All the crowd favourites will be back on September 30 and October 1, including the Pacific Toyota Big Dig World Champs, Diddy Dig competition, Ash & Oak Pro Logger races, wood chopping competitions with the Rotorua Axemen and members of the NZ Stihl Timbersports team, market day, craft and food stalls, entertainment and amusements.

This year Scott Forrest, current tree climbing national and three-time world champion, will also be involved. Kawerau-born-and-Scott is hoping to add another accolade to his belt. He is one of three sportsmen nominated for the New Zealand Rural Sportsman of the Year award and is  the Husqvarna ambassador.

Family-friendly events returning to the schedule include the BMX freestyle show, dog trick show, amazing race, charity truck pull and emergency services demonstration.

This year there’s an increase in prizes up for grabs at the Big Dig and Diddy Dig. These competitions are unique to Kawerau and event organisers are hoping to see them grow as the premier features for Woodfest.

Woodfest director Amy Hayes says schools, clubs and businesses from outside the district have shown interest in participating. “We are keen to accept all applications from those who think they’ve got what it takes to compete against our Kawerau crews. But people need to get their entries in soon because we have a limited number of team slots.”

For more information on Woodfest check out the Facebook page or visit

Locals and MPs urge young people to vote

August 29, 2017

Kawerau locals are preparing to face off against a panel of Parliamentary candidates and local councillors in an event urging young people to vote in this year’s election.

The Do you even vote? event aims to encourage 18-29-year-olds to have their say on election day and promises to be a battle of wits. 

“Think 7 Days meets Back Benches,” says organiser Jacqueline Godfery. Participating will be local councillor Nandor Tanczos, Labour candidates Tamati Coffey and Kiri Allan and Green MP Gareth Hughes.

“This is a chance for everyone to meet the candidates, enrol and have their say on the issues that matter. Plus it’ll be fun and we have a box of prizes up for grabs.”

Families and older people are also welcome to attend, she says.

Do you even vote? will be on from 5-7pm on Friday, September 8 at the Kawerau Concert Chambers.

Local kids get chance to meet literary heroes

July 26, 2017

A group of Kiwi authors will visit Kawerau on August 11 as part of the 2017 Storylines National Festival Story Tour.

Kawerau locals will be familiar with award-winning author/illustrator Nikki Slade Robinson’s books. Opotiki-based Nikki has written children’s books such as Ruru’s Hangi and The Little Kiwi’s Matariki. She will be joined by Kiwi writers David Hill, Dawn McMillan and Gareth Ward.

David is an award-winning author who has written more than 40 books and is known for his outstanding contribution to New Zealand literature. Dawn writes entertaining picture books and readers for children, and Gareth (aka the Great Wardini) is a magician, hypnotist, storyteller, bookseller and author whose first children’s book was published recently.

Kawerau is one stop on the annual national tour, which celebrates and promotes writers and illustrators of New Zealand children’s literature and extends Storylines’ reach to more metropolitan and regional centres. By bringing New Zealand writers and illustrators into schools, homeschool groups, early childhood centres, community groups and libraries, Storylines aims to get kids excited about books and increase literacy.

Kawerau Library assistant librarian Jacqueline Godfery says the Storylines event is guaranteed to appeal to local children.

“It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to get Kawerau included on this nationwide tour to give our children a chance to meet their literary heroes.”

The four authors will be in Kawerau from 9am – 12 noon on Friday, August 11. Locations have yet to be finalised but Jacqueline says the likely stops will be the library, concert chambers, Tarawera High School and Putauaki School.

For more information contact the Kawerau Library, phone (07) 306 4032 or email, or visit

Story-tellers needed for Kawerau’s first PechaKucha night

July 20, 2017

PechaKucha 20x20 is coming to Kawerau and the search is on for speakers.

The September 26 event, to be held at Kawerau Library, is a presentation-style evening at which 8-12 people speak to Powerpoint slides. According to the PechaKucha format 20 slides will be shown for 20 seconds each.

Kawerau Library is calling for locals with stories to participate. Any topic ideas – holiday tales, work projects, personal experiences, for example - are welcomed. This will be the first PechaKucha 20x20 night in Kawerau, but the idea is not new to the Eastern Bay, with events already held in Whakatane and Opotiki. These events have received positive feedback from attendees, says Kawerau Library’s adult activities officer Wendy Montrose.

“We’re looking forward to hosting our own event and encourage Kawerau locals to get behind it. There are plenty of people in our district with amazing stories to tell.”

Architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham founded PechaKucha in Tokyo in February 2003 to attract people to their experimental event space and to allow young designers to meet, show their work and exchange ideas. In 2004 the idea caught on in Europe, and PechaKucha nights have now been held in more than 900 cities worldwide. PechaKucha is Japanese for chit chat.

The inaugural Kawerau PechaKucha 20x20 night is an adults-only event limited to an audience of 50. Entry is $5, with beer and wine available for purchase and nibbles provided. The event is part of the 2017 Kawerau Woodfest and National Woodskills Competition, on from September 22 – October 1.

For more information contact Wendy Montrose, phone (07) 306 9041 or email  or visit

Iconic mountain race offers support to Edgecumbe residents

June 7, 2017 

Participants in this year’s Kawerau King of the Mountain race have the chance to purchase limited-edition singlets and t-shirts, thanks to former Eastern Bay photographer Jason Wright.

Jason has given race organisers permission to use his stunning image of comet McNaught hanging over Putauaki (Mt Edgecumbe). This well-known photo was taken in 2007, when the rare sight of the comet was evident in the night sky. Proceeds from the sale of the garments will go towards the Radio 1XX charitable fund, which was set up to help people affected by the April floods.

The design will be produced this year only.

Kawerau District Council events and venues manager Lee Barton says the garments will be a collector’s item not to be missed. “With so many people badly affected by the recent flooding, we felt it was important to do what we could to help out. The garment depicting Pūtauaki is breath-taking and we hope people will take the chance to buy them, and do their bit for people in need.”

The garments are available online ( from now until race day on October 28. Orders must be in by August 31 to ensure they’re ready for race-day collection.

This year sees the 62nd running of Kawerau King of the Mountain. Entries are now open, with a residents’ rate again available to locals. This is limited to 50 spots. General entries into this year’s King of the Mountain and Prince and Princess races are limited to 200; early bird rates close on August 31.

Race day starts at 9am with school relays, followed by the Prince and Princess of the Mountain events at 10am. The main event starts at 12 noon.

“Once again we can all look forward to another exciting race day in Kawerau,” Lee says.

“In 2016 we witnessed one of the great races in the event’s history, ending with Shay Williamson setting a new record. Early indications are that Shay may not compete this year, as he has moved to the South Island for work. While his absence will be disappointing, it does mean the king title will be up for the taking,” Lee says.

For more information or to enter visit Residents’ entry forms are available at the council office.


Special event to recognise volunteers during flood response

June 7, 2017

A volunteer appreciation night is being held next week to thank everyone involved in the response to the April floods in the Eastern Bay.

The event, on Monday, May 12, will see performances by singers Howard Morrison Jr and Russell Harrison. Local radio personality Colin Magee will be the master of ceremonies.

Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell says volunteer efforts during the April floods were amazing, and a wonderful thing to be part of.

“It’s at times like that the community pulls together to help those in need. I’ve never been prouder of Kawerau and its people.”

The Kawerau Welfare Centre at Rautahi Community Marae was open from April 6-18, supporting people affected by the flooding. In total 654 people registered there for help, whether it was for food parcels, accommodation, clothing or other support.

The volunteer appreciation night is on Monday, June 12 at the Kawerau Cosmopolitan Club. Doors open at 5.30pm, with formalities beginning at 6pm.


Amazing volunteer efforts recognised

April 21, 2017

Kawerau’s Civil Defence Centre at Rautahi Community Marae officially closed on Tuesday, April 18 after 11 days supporting victims of the Edgecumbe floods.

At a ceremony held to recognise and thank everyone involved, Kawerau District Council Civil Defence manager Chris Jensen said his team was very special in the way they had come together.

“It was incredible. When I walked into the centre everything we’d practised was being done and (welfare managers) Hannah (Edwardson) and Sandy (Hohepa) gathered everyone around them. It was a wonderful thing to be part of.”

Chris paid special tribute to Te Waraki (Chic) Te Ruki and the trustees of the community marae for opening their doors to neighbours in need and for allowing the centre to get up and running.

Chris also acknowledged the work of the Kawerau Youth Council, which helped organise activities for the children of affected families and were there to lend a hand with anything put their way.

“Many other agencies and a dynamic crew of volunteers also contributed to the efforts,” he said.

Special thanks were given over to the work of the Maori Wardens who managed security and parking and kept the centre safe overnight.

Kawerau’s Civil Defence Centre opened its doors on Thursday, April 6, after Edgecumbe was flooded when the Rangitāiki River burst its banks. In total 654 people registered there for help, whether it was for food parcels, accommodation, clothing or other support.

Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell and some of his councillors were joined at the ceremony by Whakatāne mayor Tony Bonne and deputy mayor Judy Turner. Whakatāne councillors Mike van der Boom, Gerard Van Beek and Andrew Iles also attended, as did Bay of Plenty Emergency Management director Clinton Naude. Each of them thanked the volunteers involved for the amazing work under trying circumstances.

“It’s all about people,” Tony said. “On behalf of the Whakatāne district I can’t thank the volunteers enough.”


New plant to boost jobs in Kawerau

April 11, 2017

A particle board plant planned for Kawerau is expected to bring 100 jobs to the district.

The Chinese-based Guangxi Fenglin Wood Industry Group has announced plans to establish the plant, to be built on Putauaki Trust land adjoining SH34, within two years. It will produce 600,000 cubic metres of panel boards a year for export to China.

The announcement comes following a recent visit to China by representatives of Kawerau District Council, the Putauaki Trust, Toi-EDA, Eastern Bridge, New Zealand Trade and Enterprise and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The delegation visited the Fenglin Group’s Mingyang MDF (medium-density fibreboard) and Huizhou particle board plants, and met with group founder Mr Liu, chairman Mr Cui and chief executive officer Mr Wang.

Council economic and community development manager Glenn Sutton says a number of factors led to the group’s decision to invest in Kawerau. “The district location and proximity to the Port of Tauranga, the rail connections and the available land all played a part. Putauaki Trust had the foresight to rezone 70ha of land as industrial, and it’s great to be working with them on this exciting venture.”

The plant will be built next to the intended site for the proposed container terminal, also on Putauaki Trust land, and will be as environmentally friendly as possible. “The Fenglin Group has a strong sense of social and economic values, and makes every effort to ensure its plants have low environmental impact,” Glenn says.

This was important to the Putauaki Trust, in terms of kaitiakitanga and cultural standards. Trust chair Tiaki Hunia says the trust was very impressed with the Fenglin Group’s commitment to environmental sustainability and looks forward to a positive long-term partnership.

Overseas Investment Office approval and other consents now need to be obtained, but if everything goes to plan the plant should be fully operational by 2020.

The Fenglin Group is very committed to training for its local employees, and a dedicated programme will be implemented closer to the project’s completion. Kawerau mayor Malcolm Campbell says this will be of huge benefit to the Kawerau district, where there has traditionally been a shortage of training and job opportunities.

The group is also committed to becoming part of the Kawerau community and will work closely with local representatives into the future.

Additional information

The Fenglin Group is a leading wood industry group in China.  It has four production bases, including three medium-density fibre board (MDF) facilities in Guangxi’s Nanning and Baise, and one particle board (PB) facility in Guangdon’s Huizhou City. The plants’ total capacity is 780,000 cubic meters a year. To ensure secured supply of wood material, the company owns 14,000ha of plantations. 


Inaugural youth event supports canoe slalom nationals

March 29, 2017 

A fun event in Kawerau next month will add an extra element to the annual Canoe Slalom New Zealand National Championships.

The FLOWQUEST Fun Day 2017 is a free interactive family fun festival being organised by the town’s youth council. It is on April 15 and will run alongside the slalom event, on from April 14-17. FLOWQUEST Fun Day will give people attending the slalom event a chance to enjoy great family entertainment.

A highlight will be a Youth Café, which offers young people a safe space to meet and share ideas, and potentially gain hospitality and business skills while serving the community. This initiative may lead to the establishment of a permanent youth café; developing such a space is one of the actions laid out in the new Kawerau Youth Strategy.

Other activities include a Giant Easter Hunt, a Nerf War and a Mega Inflatable City and obstacle course provided by Funworks.

In the Easter hunt, painted rocks and stones will be hidden in a closed area. Participants will compete to find and as many as they can in 20 minutes. They can then trade their stones for a small Easter egg. Special stones will be painted different colours and will account for a large Easter egg, and there will be a giant chocolate egg for whoever finds the rare glass black stone.

The Nerf War will feature 10 Capture the Flag games. Briefing and rules will be announced before every game. Each team keeps a flag near their ‘base’. The aim of the game is to take another team’s flag and bring it back to your base. Games have a 20-minute time limit. All Nerf equipment will be provided.

The FLOWQUEST Fun Day event is designed to attract a large number of Kawerau residents, as well as people from the wider Eastern Bay and outside the region. Kawerau District Council youth projects co-ordinator JJ Rika says organisers are expecting a large turn-out to the event, with 70 percent of them children.

“Many people are likely to flow over from the National Canoe Slalom Competition running adjacent to the festival,” he says. “FLOWQUEST Fun Day promises to be a fantastic event and we’re really looking forward to it.”

FLOWQUEST Fun Day is on April 15, from 10am-3pm at the Waterhouse St Reserve.


Council to keep i-SITE in-house

March 3, 2017

Kawerau’s i-SITE is now permanently under in-house council management.

It has been run in-house since October 2016, when council took over the management from an external contractor. This arrangement was to be reviewed in October this year. The decision to review the operation was brought forward due to the fact significant progress had been achieved with the centre since council brought it in-house in October 2016. This progress included achieving i-SITE membership very quickly and a considerable refurbishment of the building, which is almost complete.

“The i-SITE and its staff have received numerous positive comments from the community and visitors and continue to develop close relationships with other i-Sites,” council economic and community development manager Glenn Sutton says.

“The centre is increasingly pivotal in promoting Kawerau and has an important role in delivering Council’s strategies for marketing and growing the district. It was therefore appropriate the review was brought forward so we could build on this early success.”

The review was also brought forward due to the fact all centre staff were on fixed–term employment agreements, most of which were due to expire at the end of March.

“To ensure the continuity of quality service that the i-SITE’s team currently provides, it was of huge advantage to council that we give staff a degree of long-term job security and confidence by establishing their roles as permanent positions.”

Council approved the recommendation at a meeting earlier this week, and the move cements the organisation’s approach for utilising the i-SITE as a key tool for encouraging growth in Kawerau. 

“Councillors were very complimentary of the i-SITE, particularly the quality of service the team are providing the public,” Glenn says.

The i-SITE and its staff have also received numerous positive comments from the community and visitors.

Another benefit of the i-SITE is its growing contribution to supporting community activities and events, for example the Kawerau community wall inside the centre. This wall displays a stunning picture of the Ruranga Stream, and features brochures on local businesses, groups and activities as well as cards for local businesses. 

Urban Food Forest project gets under way

February 28, 2017

Kawerau’s Urban Food Forest (KUFF) project launched in February and will become a source of fresh produce for everyone.

The project will see thousands of fruit and nut trees, berries and herbs planted in the Monika Lanham Reserve. People can help themselves to the produce at no charge. A nursery and glasshouse will be built and workshops held on seed gathering and sowing, and a community garden planted to provide fresh vegetables year-round.

“The long-term goal is to plant more fruit, berry and nut trees around all the reserves in Kawerau,” KUFF project co-ordinator Hannah Edwardson says. “We want to enable Kawerau locals to help themselves to fresh food from the reserve just as they would from a supermarket.”

The project is largely thanks to funding support from Bay of Plenty Regional Council’s Environmental Enhancement Fund (EEF), which contributed $20,000.

“We really appreciate the regional council’s support,” Hannah says. “It’s a fantastic community initiative and we couldn’t do it without the generosity of our partners. We’re really excited the project is fully under way.”

Regional council EEF co-ordinator Eddie Sykes says the Kawerau Urban Food Forest project is a great example of a community-driven idea that will enrich people’s lives and increase their sense of wellbeing.

“Our vision is to raise environmental awareness and use the enthusiasm and skills of the community. Enabling communities such as Kawerau to share fresh, healthy food is a way of bringing people together and building stronger neighbourhood networks.

“EEF – and the regional council - is delighted to support this project. We hope other Bay of Plenty towns will be inspired to follow Kawerau’s example.”

The KUFF launch went really well, with 50 people attending and volunteering to help, Hannah says.

“Everyone was excited by the project. “There’s a job for everyone somewhere, whether it’s digging a hole or helping out in the nursery, and we hope this project will involve every person in Kawerau.”

Fireworks spectacular returns to Kawerau

December 12, 2016 

Fireworks are back at this year’s Kawerau Christmas in the Park after a two-year break.

The 2015 event featured a laser show rather than the usual fireworks spectacular after dry weather meant the New Zealand Fire Service couldn’t authorise the display. Different weather conditions mean the organisation has approved it this year

Event organisers are delighted fireworks will once again be permitted.

“The fireworks finale has been a highlight of Christmas in the Park in previous years,” Kawerau District Council events and venues manager Lee Barton says. “Having it back on the schedule this year means we can round off the Christmas celebration in style.

“Thanks to the Fire Service for all the advice and support around the event.”

Kawerau Christmas in the Park is on December 17. It kicks off at 11am with the New World Kawerau Santa parade, starting (and finishing) at the Ron Hardie Recreation Centre. A prize-giving will be held at Prideaux Park at 12.30pm.

The Radio 1XX Community Christmas Concert follows the parade at 1pm, with the evening variety show running from 7-10pm, concluding with the fireworks. Ardijah, Beau Monga, the Yandall Sisters and local acts Made Alive and Nikau Chater are in the musical line-up. For full details visit

Kawerau's Christmas in the Park is the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s showcase festive entertainment event and organisers encourage locals and visitors to come along. The event is family-friendly – drugs, alcohol and gang regalia are not permitted. Prideaux Park is a smoke-free venue.

Evening acts announced for Kawerau Christmas in the Park

December 5, 2016 

Composer and pianist Carol Doy, Kiwi rhythm and blues band Ardijah, singer/beatboxer Beau Monga (2015 NZ X Factor winner), soul singer Whirimako Black and kapa haka group Toka Tu will wow audiences at this year’s Kawerau Christmas in the Park on Saturday, December 17.

Special guests the Yandall Sisters will also grace the stage.

The evening variety show will again be directed by Chris Powley, a veteran performer who has sung alongside John Rowles, Sir Howard Morrison, Leo Sayer and Bonnie Tyler, among others. Well-known entertainer Frankie Stevens will MC the evening. Frankie has been singing and acting for more than 30 years and has performed all over the world.

Kawerau District Council events and venues manager Lee Barton says it’s great to secure such high-profile acts for this year’s event.

“Kawerau Christmas in the Park attracts people from all over the Eastern Bay, as well as from outside the Bay of Plenty, and it offers something for everyone. We’re delighted to have Chris involved for a second year and look forward to what promises to be a fantastic event for all the family.”

“This is an amazing line-up that will cater for all interests and age groups.”

A 20sq m screen will ensure all spectators can fully enjoy the range of acts. The evening variety show runs from 7-10pm on December 17.

Organisers are working alongside the New Zealand Fire Service and Van Tiel Pyrotechnics to deliver the firework display, which, if confirmed will add to this incredible evening show line-up.  An announcement is expected during event week.

Kawerau Christmas in the Park is the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s showcase festive entertainment event and organisers encourage locals and visitors to come along. The event is family-friendly – drugs, alcohol and gang regalia are not permitted. Bag searches may take place at the venue entrances. Prideaux Park is a smoke-free venue.

For more information visit


Commercial driving training plans under way

November 30, 2016

Commercial driver and distribution training may be introduced in Kawerau to help people into employment.

Industrial Symbiosis Kawerau plans to offer training courses, in partnership with Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology, following a recent visit to the latter’s Tokoroa campus where similar programmes are already in place. These courses include a certificate in commercial road transport and a national certificate in distribution.

Kawerau District Council economic and community development manager Glenn Sutton says many businesses are struggling to find skilled drivers as the existing workforce in that field is ageing.

"There is a clear need for young people to develop these skills so they can meet the employment needs of such businesses. The introduction of this initiative will be a strategic move for the Kawerau district and one that will also benefit the wider Bay of Plenty, particularly with the container terminal project nearing completion and potentially growing industry in the region.”

The level of interest from local industry and possible training locations are currently being assessed. 

Family-friendly Kawerau Christmas in the Park

November 29, 2016 

This year’s Kawerau Christmas in the Park will feature top local acts Made Alive, soloist Nikau Chater, The Hine Kingi band, Zumba Fitness, Putauaki Primary School kapa haka and TJ Taotua (Auckland-based rhythm and blues line-up), with more acts to be announced.

These acts will perform in the Radio 1XX Community Christmas Concert, at Prideaux Park from 1pm on Saturday, December 17.

Kawerau Christmas in the Park kicks off at 11am, with the New World Kawerau Santa Parade. Starting from the Ron Hardie Recreation Centre, the parade will do two laps of town before ending at Prideaux Park. The prize-giving will be on stage at 12.30pm. Anyone interested in having a float in the parade can collect entry forms from New World Kawerau, Kawerau District Council and the Kawerau i-Site (Plunket Street). Floats must be entered by December 12.

Kawerau's Christmas in the Park is the Eastern Bay of Plenty’s showcase festive entertainment event, which sees up to 10,000 people packing into Prideaux Park for the celebration. Kawerau District Council events and venues manager Lee Barton says this year’s event promises to be fantastic. “Kawerau Christmas in the Park attracts people from all over the district, as well as from outside the Bay of Plenty, and it’s a great way to wrap up a successful year of events. There’ll be something for everyone and I encourage everyone to come along for a fun family day out.”

The event is family-friendly – drugs, alcohol and gang regalia are not permitted. The organisers would also like to politely remind event comers that Prideaux Park is a smoke-free venue.

The afternoon concert is followed by a professional line-up of evening entertainment, directed by Chris Powley. Details of this will be announced soon.

For more information visit

Kawerau students’ hard work recognised

November 25, 2016

Lane Walker-Foreman, Manaaki Teirney, Roger Niao, Raydyn Kingi, James Te Riini and Sherraijka Bruintjes each received a certificate of achievement for completing the Work Experience Programme 2016, a joint initiative between Industrial Symbiosis Kawerau and Tarawera High School. Their families were also invited to the ceremony, held at Tarawera High School.

These students were matched with roles in participating businesses to gain valuable work experience. The businesses involved were Kajavala Forestry Limited, Sequal Lumber, Kawerau District Council, CHH Woodproducts and SLH Contracting.

Kawerau District Council economic and community development manager Glenn Sutton says the programme aims to support the community and build bridges between them and local industry.

“The feedback from businesses and the students/high school was very positive. We tried to make the work experience as realistic as possible and all the students enjoyed themselves. A great example of the success of the programme is that Lane Walker-Foreman, who completed his experience at Kajavala Forestry Limited, is now permanently employed by the company,” Glenn said.

“A big thank you to Deanne Butler, Robyn Cannell and (deputy mayor) Faylene Tunui, who got this year’s programme off the ground and prepared and mentored the students.”

Another programme is planned for 2017, with dates to be confirmed.

Information centre joins national network 

November 18, 2016

Kawerau’s information centre is now an i-SITE.

Representatives of the national visitor information network approved Kawerau’s application at a meeting this morning (November 18), and the town’s information centre can begin using i-SITE branding immediately.

The change will give the centre access to training, booking and marketing support, among other things, and will mean it can better meet the needs of the community and a growing number of visitors. The new-look centre will support Kawerau District Council’s increased marketing initiatives to attract new residents to the district.

To coincide with the branding change, the information centre has undergone a complete revamp that sees it equipped with repainted walls to reflect Kawerau’s iconic scenery, new furniture and an all-new team of four, headed up by Hannah Edwardson.

The team - Monique Raj, Matthew Joss and Eunice Rameka, and team leader Hannah Edwardson - looks forward to working as part of the i-SITE network.

“We’re delighted we can increase the services we offer the community, and that we’ll have the support of the national i-SITE network,” Hannah says. 

“Staff from other Bay of Plenty and Waikato i-SITES have provided invaluable support and this is much appreciated.”

The revamped centre will also feature free wifi, a refreshed customer service area, seating areas for customers and a souvenir shop.

An official launch of the i-SITE will be held in December.

Competition heats up for mountain running title

October 19, 2016

Records look set to be broken at this year’s Kawerau King of the Mountain race, with top athletes from both sides of the Tasman lining up to compete.

Ben Duffus, Daniel Jones, Shay Williamson and Sjors Corporaal, all big names in mountain running, are confirmed for the starting line-up.

Australian Ben Duffus will defend his title, which he nabbed in last year’s race. He proved himself the fastest competitor since 1988, when current record holder Barry Prosser finished in a blistering 45.54. Daniel Jones has not competed in the race since 2008. His surprise return could mean big upsets in race results, organisers say.

Shay Williamson last won the title in 2014 and is making another attempt in his last year running in the open category, while Sjors Corporaal placed third in 2015.

King of the Mountain event organisers are excited to see so many top runners taking part.

“I think this year has to be the year the record goes,” race director Lee Barton says. “The level of elite entrants is astonishing.”

“However, there is an entire field of competitors of all different levels of ability taking on this massive challenge; it is everyone together with the same adventurous spirit that makes this race something really special.”

Also entered are Mark Bourne, current King of Pomona (the sister race to Kawerau’s event in Australia King (Australia’s answer to the Kawerau event) and Australian mountain running champion, multiple Pomona king Neil Labinsky, current Pomona queen Leslie Saunders and Chris Morrissey, who will defend his veteran’s title.

Young talent Kaya Henderson-Corporaal is also expected to be a strong contender.

For more information see the King of the Mountain Facebook page or visit

New faces on Kawerau District Council

October 10, 2016

Two new people - David Sparks and Sela Kingi - have been elected to Kawerau District Council in the 2016 local elections.

Along with the six returning councillors, the newly elected members will help steer Kawerau into a positive future and guide the district’s direction for the next three years. David and Sela replace Alistair Holmes, who did not stand for re-election, and Stephen Tuhoro.

The returning councillors are Berice Julian, Carolyn Ion, Faylene Tunui, Rex Savage, Warwick Godfery and Chris Marjoribanks. Malcolm Campbell, Kawerau’s mayor of 15 years, has also been re-elected. This will be his sixth term.

Kawerau District Council chief executive Russell George said there were often mixed emotions at election time.

"It's sad to note that two of our existing councillors - in this case Stephen Tuhoro and Alistair Holmes - won't be returning.  On the other hand it's great to welcome two new faces and we look forward to working with the new council.”

Sela Kingi is married with three children. A qualified mental health clinician, she is Tuwharetoa Ki Kawerau’s infant, child, adolescent and youth's social worker. Sela is delighted to be elected.

“I’m confident I bring valuable experience to Council and look forward to playing a part in continuing the growth and development of Kawerau,” she says. “Thanks to all those who supported me during this election campaign.”

David Sparks has lived in Kawerau on and off for 16 years. He is a community Lawyer with Baywide Community Law Service, vice-president of Kawerau Grey Power and a trustee at Mountain View Rest Home. David has been interested in local politics for a long time and decided the time was right now.

“Council has been on a very good track and I want to help keep up that momentum,” he says. “Kawerau has been undergoing a renaissance and I’d like to see that continue. It’s very important to project a positive image of Kawerau.”

David and Sela both look forward to bringing fresh ideas to the council table.

The new council will have its initial meeting on October 25. 

Council to manage information centre in-house

September 28, 2016

The Kawerau Information Centre will be managed in-house by Kawerau District Council from October 1.

Management of the centre has been brought in-house to enable better communication between Kawerau and other districts, and to help the council and its partners continue to positively promote and develop Kawerau. Previously the centre was managed by a contractor.

“We are quite excited about the changes,” Council economic and community development manager Glenn Sutton says. “It represents a pivotal step in promoting Kawerau.”

He says the move also brings Kawerau into step with other Eastern Bay districts; Whakatane and Opotiki District Councils already manage their respective information centres.

“Both these councils have been very supportive of Kawerau regarding these changes. It’s a great example of successful collaboration between Eastern Bay councils,” he says.

Plans are to refurbish the centre using a wood theme that stays true to Kawerau’s forestry origins.

Hannah Edwardson will take over as team leader of the information centre on October 1. Hannah is currently Kawerau District Council’s Neighbourhoods of Healthy Homes co-ordinator and will continue in this role. The Healthy Homes project will now be based at the information centre.

New activities for 2016 Woodfest

August 24, 2016 

The iconic Kawerau Woodfest event celebrating all things wood is on from September 19-25 and organisers have added some exciting new activities that will appeal to people of all ages.

There’ll be a new BMX Freestyle show that will feature New Zealand’s best freestyle riders, including Paul Langlands, who holds the dirt jump world record. There’ll also be the Hubbard Contracting FMX Pro show and new motocross trials featuring national champion John Hayes.

This year’s Woodfest will feature the Waikato/BOP regional tree-climbing comp. Event co-ordinator Amy Hayes says it’s fantastic to host this activity in Kawerau, as it’s the first time it’s been held outside Tauranga, Rotorua or Hamilton. Kawerau-raised man Scott Forrester is a multiple world champion in this sport and is expected to demonstrate his skills at the competition.

The National Woodskills Competition is Woodfest’s cornerstone event and this year it includes two new categories for first-time entrants (woodturning and furniture). There is also a change to the college-age category, with wood-crafting of any sort being encouraged by students in years 9-13.

Another new addition this year is an Amazing Race, which will give participants a great chance to check out some amazing places in and around Kawerau, learn the history of the town and enjoy a family day out. The Amazing Race will comprise a two-hour rogaine competition around the town and surrounds. Get a team of up to five people together and join in this exciting challenge.

For the first time Woodfest will also incorporate the Kawerau Young Achievers’ awards, which recognise youth who have excelled in a sport, cultural or academic event in the past year or who have made a  significant contribution to the Kawerau community over the same period. The awards will be judged on Wednesday, September 21.

Woodfest is a popular festival celebrating Kawerau’s forestry industry. The week-long event attracts about 12,000 people and also includes attractions such as the Pacific Toyota Big Dig world champs, Woodbugs Carving Symposium, Ash & Oak Pro Logger races, Wood Chopping Competitions, craft stalls, family amusements and much more. Visit for more information and activity dates.

Inaugural health event achieves goals

July 26, 2016

The inaugural Kawerau on the Rise event has been a huge success, with plenty of good feedback received about the various activities over the week.

The week-long event from July 18-25 aimed to raise awareness about the importance of a healthy lifestyle, and organisers say that goal has definitely been achieved. Keri Topperwien of the Dream Chaser Foundation, which organised the event in collaboration with Kawerau Youth Council and Kawerau District Council, says activities such as a Pokemon Go race and a police physical competency challenge were designed to appeal to a wide audience and get Kawerau locals and visitors moving.

“The event was well-placed to attract interest across the community demographic.”

Other activities included a cross fit challenge, an Amazing Race and a health expo. Kawerau on the Rise featured speakers and workshops that gave people a chance to get involved and learn more about health issues that may affect their families, and showcased the various support agencies. Keynote speaker Mike King drew a crowd from around town and the wider Eastern Bay and inspired his listeners to take mental health seriously by talking openly and honestly about it with families and friends.

The event’s key message was that everyone should look after themselves.

“Making good choices is the key to overall well-being. It’s important to know how to be healthy and take care of yourself, mentally and physically,” Keri says.

Council youth projects officer JJ Rika says the event also aimed to encourage Kawerau’s young people to make healthier lifestyle choices.

“With that in mind it was great to see so many young people participating over the week, especially in activities such as the police competency test, which really challenged people’s physical capabilities.”

Planning for a 2017 event is already under way. For photos and video footage from the 2016 event visit the Kawerau on the Rise Facebook page (

Project helping locals into work wins excellence award

July 26, 2016

Kawerau’s Seamless Boundaries initiative has won a Local Government NZ (LGNZ) excellence award.

The project was named a winner in the MartinJenkins Excellence award for best practice contribution to local economic development category at a dinner held last night as part of the annual LGNZ conference.

Seamless Boundaries is a collaborative project between Kawerau and Matamata-Piako District Councils and the Mayors’ Taskforce for Jobs that connects local people struggling to find work with jobs at Silver Fern Farms.

Mayor Malcolm Campbell is delighted at the win. “Everyone involved in this initiative has worked really hard to make it a success. It’s made a big difference to a lot of Kawerau families and we’re proud to have the project recognised on a national stage. Thanks to all involved for the sterling efforts.”

Malcolm and Matamata-Piako mayor Jan Barnes attended the dinner, along with Kawerau district councillor Faylene Tunui, who has been one of the key drivers of the initiative.

A short video in which Malcolm and Jan talk about the project can be viewed on Kawerau District Council’s Facebook page (

The LGNZ awards showcase council projects, programmes and people who have made an impact in local communities. This is the second year running Kawerau District Council has been nominated for an award; last year it was named runner-up in the community impact category for its Neighbourhoods of Healthy Homes project.

Council encourages community involvement in elections 

July 11, 2016

The local elections are on October 8 and Kawerau District Council is encouraging people to ensure they’re enrolled to vote.

People can check their details are up to date from July 15, when the Kawerau electoral roll opens for inspection. Nominations for council also open on July 15.

Council is also encouraging people to stand for election. To ensure potential candidates are fully aware of what’s involved, a candidate information evening is being held on July 20. The event, on from 5.30-7pm in the council chambers, will cover everything you need to know about being a councillor.

Electoral officer Dale Ofsoske will run the event and council chief executive Russell George will give an overview of the election process. Everyone is welcome and no registration is necessary. For more information phone (07) 306 9009.

Nominations for the local body elections close on August 12 and are available from or from the district office.

Kiwi team announced to face Aussies in mountain race

July 11, 2016

Three well-known Kiwi runners will take on their Australian counterparts in the Pomona mountain race on July 24.

Eight-times Kawerau king Chris Morrissey, two-times Kawerau king Shay Williamson and current Kawerau queen Corinne Smit comprise this year’s team.

The race, the sister event to Kawerau’s King of the Mountain, comprises a run up the 439m-high Mt Cooroora, just inland from Noosa on the Sunshine Coast. Many top Kiwi athletes have crossed the ditch in the past 30 years to try their luck, with varying degrees of success.

Chris has won Pomona twice, while Shay has represented New Zealand in the event three times before but has yet to win. The defending Kawerau king is 2016’s Kiwi favourite. This year is Corinne’s first attempt; Kawerau District Council events and venues manager and King of the Mountain organiser Lee Barton says she is a strong favourite. It wouldn’t be the first time a Kiwi has upset the Australians.

“Last year New Zealand superstar Hayden Wilde broke the Aussie hearts after winning the Pomona race,” Lee says.

The relationship between Pomona and the Kawerau King of the Mountain began in 1985, when local runner Rosalie Hyland became the first Kiwi woman to win the former event while on holiday. Her husband Howard had revived the Kawerau race in the 1970s and its profile was growing. The directors of both events then formed a reciprocal agreement to grant the top place getters in each race to the chance to compete in the other event. This agreement has continued ever since.

The Pomona field is limited to just 100 runners, who are selected from a nomination list by the race director according to their experience and past results in the race.

Kawerau on the Rise

Kawerau on the Rise announcement Click 39 kB

Kawerau on the Rise speaker Click 38 kB

King of the Mountain (KOTM) Race

KOTM entries open Click 36 kB