Annual Wood Fest celebration hopes to change Kawerau's sleepy image

Even the locals admit there's not too much to do in the small Bay of Plenty town of Kawerau, however one event is slowly helping to change the town's sleepy image.

The annual Wood Fest is a three-day celebration of all things wood.

First held in 1989, Wood Fest has grown into the country's premier wood skills event, with 12,000 people descending on Kawerau each year.

They come to see competitions and wood skills, as well as wood craft.

Heather Kennedy is one such crafter, specialising in painting saws and blades.

"Well I personally like animals, but unfortunately I get to paint an awful lot of trucks and trains and tractors and things like that," she told Newshub.

Wood Fest is a yearly highlight for the town, which some say often gets a bad rap.

"Kawerau tends to get negative comments in the news media all the time - usually by people who don't realise what a neat little town it is," chief judge Roy Buckley told Newshub.

Film actor Lawrence Makoare, who's played roles in everything from Lord of the Rings to James Bond, says Wood Fest also has a positive impact on the local youth.

"With small towns like this, there's nothing here really, unless they use their imagination," he told Newshub.

"It's opening up their minds as well."

And now they've got plenty of time to come up with ideas for next year's Wood Fest.