Sunday 10 February 2019

History & Heritage, Bay of Island- Part 3


Continued on from Part 2

I had read about a camping site north of Kerikeri at Takou Bay, so we went for a drive to check it out.

Cavalli Islands on the horizon
Towards the end of the gravel road, a steep rough dirt track dropped down to the edge of the Takou River estuary with what looked like the camping area beside it but with not a camper in sight.

We drove a little further on and parked on the edge of a stunning beach. 

We had a wander along the beach...

...and explored the rocks and pools at the southern end of the beach.

Then made our way back to the ute parked on the dunes and started to head back up the track.

As we pulled away we saw another vehicle on the edge of the estuary; a man, his child and a pack of dogs going for a swim. He called out to us so we stopped.  And that's when we found out that this was private land and hadn't we seen the sign at the top of the track near the small settlement. Oops! David apologised profusely and we high-tailed it out of there.

Actually, David had seen a sign but he thought it was for a side road that passed through the settlement not the one we drove down on. And I totally missed it, looking through my camera at the beautiful coastline in front of us. It would seem that the road has been closed to the public for a number of years so perhaps they open the camping area to locals & regulars over the height of summer. But it definitely wasn't open when we were there.

We next drove to Lake Manuwai,  a manmade water reservoir which supplies Kerikeri's citrus & kiwifruit orchards and farmland with irrigation water. The lake is New Zealand's most northern lake holding trout and each year about 500 fingerlings are released by Fish & Game. Lake Manuwai is also used for whaka ama (outrigger canoe) training and racing.

And a Kerikeri public reserve wouldn't be complete without the obligatory colourful rooster strutting by with his girlfriend. 

From the lake we headed out towards the coast again, 20kms down a very long and mostly gravel road, out past the Kerikeri Inlet, skirting around the edge of the Te Puna Inlet, out to the far reaches of the north side of the Bay of Islands, out along the Purerua Peninsula.

Finally stopping just before the road ran out where we were greeted- after all the farmland we'd been passing through- by the slightly surreal sight of a huge bank of beautiful pink & white roses. 

The roses formed the carpark border for the Rangihoua Heritage Park and historic Marsden Cross Walkway, a kilometre long track that winds down the hill in front of us, passing a small wetland, then follows a short stream to Rangihoua Bay. Along the way there are numerous information panels which tell the life, times and loves of the local Maori and early settlers.

It was here on Christmas Day, just over 200 years ago, that Maori joined European missionary settlers including the Rev. Samuel Marsden, to celebrate the first Christian service in New Zealand. It was also here that the first European school was built and the first Pakeha child was born. Along with the information panels there are several metal map reliefs pointing out the historic sites.

This one has the names of all the visible islands in the Bay of Islands.

I was more interested in the beautiful park like grounds and private beach of this property along with their own tiny islands just off shore. The Landing has upmarket accommodation  available in several secluded villas ($5,500 - $15,500 per night!) including one on the beachfront tucked around the corner of the hill in front of us.

David sets off ahead of me while I take time to read the panels (ok, some of the panels)

This panel is interactive, there's a square cut in the panel and the view is of the Rangihoua Maori Pa on top of the hill across the valley.

Don't forget to click the photo to enlarge if you'd like to read the information (hopefully).

Towards the bottom of the walk many of the panels are about the people, both Pakeha & Maori who lived and worked at the Mission.

Once in the bay there are more panels showing the layout of the settlement and also a memorial to the settlers.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the bush on the small bluff in this photo was set on fire at night by some idiots, luckily a boat that was anchored in the bay, saw what was happening and was able to call for help.

The large Marsden Cross sits high on a terrace above the beach.

And a track through the bush beside the Cross leads to another memorial...

...erected by the descendants of Thomas Hansen, the first European non-missionary settler at Rangihoua.

We head back to the carpark after a very interesting and thought provoking visit to Rangihoua Bay.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

History & Heritage- Bay of Islands; Part 2


Continuing on from Part 1 (and in time for Waitangi Day)

I was keen to check out the Waitangi Treaty Grounds & Museum, a little less keen to pay $50 to do so but happy when they halved it for a 'NZ Resident'. In fact visiting the recently opened Museum of Waitangi (Feb, 2016) alone would have been well worth the full fee. It really is a masterpiece and done extremely well, allow at least an hour to walk through it or more if your are a history buff. Unfortunately I have no photos to show you, it's very dark inside and I was moving quite fast through the exhibits. 

From the museum is a short walk through native bush and up a gravel track to the Upper Treaty Grounds. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds is where Maori chiefs first signed their accord with the British Crown- the Treaty of Waitangi- Te Tiri of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document.

Te Whare Runanga (the House of Assembly) the magnificently carved meeting house at Waitangi stands facing the Treaty House, the two buildings together symbolising the partnership between Maori & the British Crown.

Carving for for the Meeting House began in 1934 and it was opened on 6 February, 1940, 100 years after the first signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.

The flagpole at 34 metres high, takes centre stage on a huge expanse of Flagstaff Lawn overlooking the calm waters of the Bay of Islands. Since 1974, three flags have usually been flown on it- the New Zealand flag, the Union flag, and the flag of the United Tribes of New Zealand which was chosen in 1834.

The story of New Zealand's flags explained (click the photo to enlarge)

A tour guide explains the in and outs of the Treaty (he's going to be there a long time!) 

The Treaty House was originally known as 'the Residency'. It is where James Busby conducted much of his official business as the British government's representative in New Zealand from 1833 to 1840. It was also home for James, his wife Agnes & their six children.

It's been interesting to see Sir Hekenukumai Busby formally receiving his knighthood at Waitangi yesterday, he has his own special connection to Waitangi. James Busby, the British government representative became godfather to Teripi Temaru, one of Sir Hekenukumai's ancestors, when Temaru converted to Christianity, gifting him the Busby surname.  

As I walked back down the track to the Lower Treaty Grounds and Hobson Beach, I stopped to photograph this beautiful tui feeding on the Flax/Hakakeke flowers. He/She was displaying the iridescent blue of it's feather to perfection.

The waka house near the beach shelters the iwi Ngapuhi's ceremonial war canoe, Ngatokimatawhaorua, the world's largest.

At 35 metres long, the canoe needs a minimum of 76 paddlers to handle it safely on the water. It weighs 6 tonnes when dry & 12 tonnes when saturated. The waka was built as part of Ngapuhi's contribution to mark the centenary of the Treaty signing and was launched in 1940. It was then laid up for 34 years in a canoe shelter alongside the meeting house.

In 1974, the waka was renovated for the Queen's visit to Waitangi and a canoe shelter built to house it near the shore. After the Queen rode in the waka she designated it 'Her Majesty's Ship', which makes the waka part of her Royal Navy! The waka is launched every year on the 6 February as part of the Waitangi Day celebrations.

To be continued...Part 3

Tuesday 5 February 2019

History & Heritage- Bay of Islands; Part 1


Kerikeri- 'It's So Nice They Named it Twice!'

With so much to see and do around the Bay of Islands, the NZMCA Park at Rainbow Falls
in Kerikeri made an ideal base to explore from.  The park is located just a few kilometres from the Kerikeri Basin Reserve where a number of historic buildings including the iconic Stone Store, New Zealand's oldest stone building (1832) are. A Mission Station was established here in 1819 and it is one of the first places in New Zealand where Maori invited visitors to live among them.

The last time I visited the Stone Store the road ran past the front of the store and over the Kerikeri River, that's been removed and now a rocky weir cuts across the river where the bridge used to be. The Heritage Bypass (I like that name) now connects the town that a river divides.

You can still access the Reserve from the south side via road or the north side from a carpark and over a lovely wide pedestrian bridge...

...which delivers you to right outside the Honey House Cafe, the perfect place to have a bite to eat or buy a large icecream on a hot summer's day! Once the administration building for Historic Places Trust, the 1970s building was turned into a cafe and transformed in keeping with it's historic neighbour, Kemp House.

Now this is New Zealand's oldest building. Kemp House was completed in 1821-22 by missionary carpenters and Maoris sawyers for Charlotte & James Kemp and their family of 8 children. Charlotte was a teacher and their home was also used for schooling and residential care, including the daughters of Maori leaders.

Just yesterday, as part of the Waitangi Day celebrations, the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visited Kemp House to be shown two writing slates with the very first example of written Te reo Maori etched on them. The slates were discovered in 2000 under a lean-to at Kemp House and are included in UNESCO's Memory of the World heritage documentary register. One of the slates was used by Rongo Hongi, daughter of the renowned Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika, it is inscribed with lines and signed 'Na Rongo Hongi, a(ged) 16".

Kemp House's heritage garden and orchard is of course NZ's oldest European garden. 

It was lovely to be able to wander amongst the gardens smelling the heritage roses and checking out what vegetables and herbs were being grown; the cafe has a ready supply of produce to choose from.

The Stone Store (1832) was once the base of the missionaries trading post, selling produce to passing ships and European goods to Maori. Stone was used to protect the wheat from rats, for defence against Maori and to reduce the risk of fire. The Store has also been used as a mission library, a magazine & barracks, a kauri gum trading operation and to house a boys' school, before eventually being bought by the Kemp family in 1874 when it became a grocery store. 

The Store, purchased by Heritage NZ from the Kemp Family in 1975, is now an up-market craft and gift shop (click photo to enlarge). Purchased tours can be taken of upstairs in the Stone Store and through Kemp House.

Across the other side of the road from the Stone Store is an old Blacksmiths shop (oldest in NZ of course) and another 'oldest' specimen; a pear tree!

And overlooking all the 'oldest buildings' lining the Basin is the historic (but new based on all it's neighbours) St James Anglican Church built in 1878.

The church is located in a very quite spot, away from the tourist traffic and with peaceful gardens and seats to rest awhile.

Later on during our stay at the Rainbow Falls Park I walked the 4kms River Track which passes right alongside the park and finishes in the Basin.

Sunset- Rainbow Falls
It's a lovely walk alongside the river although in places the edges are rather overgrown with weed and pest plants amongst the native bush. About 2kms upstream from the old river crossing at the Basin, the track passes underneath the Heritage Bypass. I also pass by the remains of a historic power house along the way and then stop to take photos of the woven flax flowers someone has made on a living flax bush.

There is another waterfall, Wharepuke  on the River Walk and some deep green pools known as the Fairy Pools along the way.

The track eventually exits out onto a large grassy expanse dotted with huge shade trees in the Basin Reserve, an ideal place to have picnic. One of the locals didn't seem too concerned with my presence...

... unlike the few dozen handsome roosters who also inhabit the reserve and hang out around the carpark looking for handouts. They really have their wits about them, taking off at a mere sideways glance. I'm sure people will have tried to grab them many times as they are so easily spooked. 

It's one thing we noticed throughout the the Bay of Islands area, every reserve or rest area  has dozens of chickens, mainly roosters but sometimes hens & chicks too. Either the council have a 'no catch & destroy' policy or there are many more than the usual backyard chicken farmers who abandon their rooster chicks in the district.

I crossed the bridge and walked around the river edge, past Kemp House again and along the track up to the Koripiro Pa lookout over the Basin...

...and the Maori pa site where I also had to fight off a couple of dozen school kids who wanted to read every word out loud and then draw their pictures of what they'd learnt while leaning on the information panels! 

That finally sorted, I had to head off another lot on my way back past the Stone Store (lucky I took my photos inside on the previous visit)...

But I did stop to take a photo of these two characters, Te Araroa Trail walkers (the trail passes by the Stone Store), I think they're having a good time, not a quick time over the trail. We saw them again a few days later, they were passing through Waitangi, a mere 22km (on foot) from the Basin. 

To be continued... Part 2