Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Pukeko and fog

I always try to leave home a few minutes early on foggy mornings.  For two reasons - the first is to do with my own safety.  I need to drive a little more slowly when visibility is low.  Last week I hadn't seen a pukeko come up from the creek and walk onto the road.  I had to resist the urge to swerve to miss it.  I would have ended up in the creek!

The Pukeko, is New Zealand's Swamp Hen . It is one of the few New Zealand native birds to have flourished since the arrival of man, and can be found in almost any grassland area, especially in swampy locations.  We rarely see them here on the farm but there are a few areas of swampy land down along the road where they like to hang out, just past where the peacocks are and before you get to the ducks. They are usually easy to see as with their bright blue plumage and red beaks, they easily stand out against the New Zealand greenery, particularly when their white tail feathers begin flashing in alarm.  With their long skinny legs they look kind of goofy (and to be honest I don't think they are the brightest sparks in the bird kingdon) and their images appear on all manner of art and craft works.  They even make an appearance from time to time in our TV commercials.  This is one of them. We all love the pukeko and I felt a bit sick when I felt the thunk that told me I'd hit it.  

The second reason for leaving early is because I know chances are I will be tempted to stop to take a photo somewhere between here and the corner.  I love how the world looks when softened by fog. 

But one morning last week I didn't even make it out of my driveway before I stopped to take a photo:

A Church on Sunday - Pakanae

At the Waiotemarama turnoff, about 2 kilometres north of Opononi, is the small historic maori settlement of Pakanae.  We could see a church from the road and there was even a sign directing us to it and the Marae which shares the driveway.  

The Marae is central to the Maori way of life, it is a focal point for groups who share kinship, whanau, hapu, iwi. Here they can meet to discuss and debate, to celebrate, to welcome the living and bid farewell to those that have passed on. There are over one thousand Marae throughout New Zealand in rural areas and in cities. In former times it was the open space and buildings in a settlement or pa (fortified settlement) where the community gathered. Today a Marae is a complex of buildings and open space, with facilities to cater for and accommodate a community and its visitors. In many cases they are not occupied continuously, or only by a small number, and are mainly used for hui (meetings) of many forms of the group sharing kinship and their guests. 

There's a protocal surrounding visits to marae so we did not approach but were impressed by the pristine surroundings. It was in a much better state of repair than the church.

Guarding the approach to the marae were three canons, looking back down the Hokianga Harbour.  And I think in the background is the monument to Kupe the ledgendary maori explorer who discovered New Zealand. Kupe is believed to have settled in the Pakanae area before his journey to Hawaiki to start the migration of the maori people to this land. Making the Hokianga truly the Cradle of the New Zealand.

Searching the internet for more information about Pakanae I found the following that I thought was interesting:

Maori Deeds of Land Purchases in the North Island of New Zealand: Volume One

Pakanae No. 3 Block, Hokianga District

1875. 18 June.Hokianga District.This Deed made the eighteenth day of June 1875 Between Her Majesty Queen Victoria on the one part and Te Waharoa, Rawiri Te Tahua, Wiremu Pakanae No. III. Rangatira, Wiremu Taui, Timo, Ngawati Remo; Keroama Tauehe; Hauraki Rewha, and Tawio Pouroto of Hokianga aboriginal Natives of the Colony of New Zealand (hereinafter called "the Vendors") of the other part Witnesseth that in consideration of the sum of one hundred and ninety nine pounds six shillings and three pence by Her Majesty paid to the Vendors Receipt for £199 . 6 . 3. on the execution hereof (and the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged) the Vendors do and each of them doth hereby surrender convey and assure unto Her said Majesty all that block of land containing Three thousand one hundred and eighty nine acres or thereabouts known or called Pakanae No. 3 as the same is more particularly described in the Schedule hereto and delineated on the plan drawn on this Deed and colored red together with all rights and appurtenances thereto belonging or appertaining. To hold the said land and premises with the appurtenances unto Her said Majesty Her Heirs and successors for ever. In Witness whereof the Vendors have hereunto set their names the day and year first above written.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

The old Mangawhai

 Mangawhai markets itself as Magical Mangawhai.  It's a fast growing, popular beach holiday destination.  The area has a permanent population of 1800 people but I swear there must be a holiday home for every permanent resident, with still more sub-divisions being developed.

The Smashed Pipi Cafe is a popular spot for my friends and I to meet occasionally for lunch followed by a stroll through the adjacent art gallery, then perhaps a walk along one of the nearby beaches.  On Sunday Chris and I met Twink and Pete there for a celebratory birthday lunch for Twink.  The weather meant a beach walk was off the agenda but we strolled around the corner to the new Bennett's Chocolate Factory.  Their new premises are very impressive and would at home in any city.

But right next door sits a reminder of the old Mangawhai.  I wonder how long before this prime real estate is sold and these buildings knocked down to make way for progress?


 I was amused by the old brick tied to the water pipe to hold it in place:

Sunday, 27 June 2010

A Church on Sunday - Waimamaku

While trawling for information about our church this week I came across a lovely story, written by a man who was born in nearby Rawene hospital in 1916 and lived in Waimamaku.  From him I learned that in Maori, Wai means water (I knew that bit) and Mumaku means Big Black Fern.  His story is here.

The modest little plaque on the front of this church tells us who laid the stone but nothing more about the church.  Thanks to the powers of the internet I’ve discovered that Alfred Walter Averill was the Anglican Archbishop of New Zealand in 1931 so it appears either he was a modest man who was known to one and all  by his Christian names (the reference I found said he was “beloved of the people”) or someone got a bit over familiar.  If there was another Archbishop at the time I could find no reference to him.  


So it appears this is an Anglican Church.  One thing Chris and I noticed on our old church hunt was that every Catholic Church we found was unlocked (except one I think) and most of the others were locked tight. 

Trees from the neighbouring property where barking dogs were announcing our arrival (the hounds of heaven maybe?) almost hid the church from our view and the fence had seen better days.  It’s miles from anywhere, up a dirt side road from State Highway 12.  We’d left the road north west at the Waiotemarama  turnoff to visit The Labryinth, a little rural enterprise that Chris has visited before and on our way, up the road  a few miles, we came across this little gem.   (Usually in rural NZ you can tell the distance from the nearest main road by the number at the gate, but not in this case.  The 927 must stand for something else.)



The little bell tower stood above the main door which was to the left hand side of the building.  But the door itself was held firmly shut by an upturned broom which was nailed to the door.  The church was well cared for it’s obviously not often used judging by that broom. 



Further up the road we came to where we had originally been headed.  The proud lady proprietor of the little front building informed us this was only the third puzzle museum in the world.  There were hundreds of puzzles, of every description, housed is beautiful highly polished glass paned wooden cabinets but unfortunately the glare of all that glass and polish lead to lousy photos. 

puzzle museum

Saturday, 26 June 2010

The Gift and World Cup Fever

Kiwi kids, along with a lot of the rest of the population, are gripped with Soccer Fever since New Zealand’s soccer team, The All Whites did so incredibly well in the Football World Cup.  I know we are all supposed to call soccer 'football' these days but you know how old habits die hard. 

Yesterday afternoon the three girls and Georgia’s Best Friend Ever, Archer arrived at my house in search of muffins.  There weren’t enough left from the batch baked on Wednesday so Krystal set to work to make some more.  

The other three, after a bit of an argument, finally agreed they would make something for me first and then they would play soccer.   Armed with cellotape they headed out to the paddock at the back of the house with instructions to me not to look. 

Well, nothing whets my appetite more than to be told to not look, so I grabbed the camera I am learning to use.  I don’t like everything about it but I do love it’s zoom.  Without being detected I took photos out of the bathroom window.

Deep thought was required at the planning stage:the planning stage
Archer looks to be giving the measurements:archer
Love it when they co-operate:the wrok begins
many hands
Krystal didn’t want to go far from the oven (she knows I probably won’t hear the timer when it goes off!) and draws quietly at the dining room table.krys
Their timing was just about perfect, the gift was completed at the same time as the muffins finished baking, so the soccer game could commence.

Their father’s little cattle pup (Beau) was keen to join in the fun.  He’s adorable, so fat and fluffy.race

Shayde declares a foul after being tripped by Beau.
Time for team tactics - Archer is distracted by the media:
rainy day 114
Beau decides he’s not ready for the World Cup just yet and comes to sit it out with the press.
rainy day 136

Friday, 25 June 2010

The girls did well

I just have a few not very good photos from last night’s Wearable Arts Competition at my grand-daughters’ school. 

They came home happy with two second places and a Highly Commended.  My daughter-in-law, Heather had done an amazing job of their costumes.  We are going to have a costume re-run next weekend when my youngest daughter and her husband come up to watch the International Car Rally which will be going past my house.  Hopefully I will get some better photos in daylight, I couldn’t cope with the stage lights last night.

Krystal looks pensive as Goldilocks (she’d left the three bears behind when they came back on stage for the winning announcements) waiting for the announcement of second  place.   The coloured squares on the Madhatter’s costume (the winner) were dyed tea bags.  Clever, huh?  (The theme was Nursery Rhymes.)


Shayde’s Pinocchio puppet strings were slightly awry but she still won a H.C.


Georgia couldn’t manage a smile for her Mirror, Mirror on the Wall.  It’s pretty scarey when you are only six and you’re up on stage all by yourself. 


Well done, Heather!

FSO Water/Lakes/Streams

This week I am staying really close to home.  We don’t have a lake but we do have our lovely little stream with many moods.

Although in places where the water is deep, it can take on the appearance of a small lake:

In summer it sparkles as it rushes over rocks:

It’s a magical place for children and dogs to explore:

In places, up the mountain, close to its source, beautiful ferns line its banks:


Late last summer, when we were in the grips of a drought, it became choked with weeds:

Then the rains came, and the bridge to somewhere:

1bridge to somewhere 25 May 2010

Became the bridge to nowhere:

Murky floodwater spread from the creek across the farmland:

But even before the floodwater recedes, when the blue skies returns, occasionally you catch it in a reflective mood.  It always seems to me that this is when Mother Nature takes a deep sigh, having spent her forces, and rewards us with beauty to compensate for the damage done.   (I admit it is a bit harder for the farmer to be so appreciative!)

And after the rain we find lovely little waterfalls:

I love this stream in all it’s moods, there is always something to delight the senses.

Hope you enjoyed your visit to "the creek".  Thanks to Nicole Howard for the topic.

If you'd like see some amazing photos of Water, Lakes and Streams, just head over here.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

It’s Wearable Arts night

Come to think of it, the past year has rolled around pretty quickly.  It doesn’t seem like a whole year since my three grand-daughters who live here on the farm decided they all wanted to take part in their school Wearable Arts Competition.  Last year my daughter, daughter-in-law and I got together at my house and decided who would make  for whom and we had a lovely day with the six of us girls making costumes.  This year my wonderful, creative daughter-in-law, Heather, has made all three costumes!  So tonight when I go to the show  I won’t be holding my breath hoping this feather or that leaf doesn’t fall off!

Georgia, the youngest granddaughter, usually comes to my house when she gets off the school bus but this afternoon I knew she would be going straight home to prepare for the big event. 

I was sitting on the deck shortly before the school bus was due playing with a borrowed camera which I am to use at work shortly for an official function.  Georgia’s little dog, Sammy was sitting on the seat beside me, waiting for the school bus.  Smart litttle creature, he knows the best place to wait!

He was completely ignoring me as I got familiar with the camera and its zoom function.  I liked what it did with the few flowers in the garden at the moment:


And how it captured the cows in a paddock off at a distance.  The light rain hardly made any difference:


Sammy sat and waited patiently:


Then his head came up and he looked towards the road, he heard the bus coming well before I did:


That was the last I saw of him, he was off to meet his mistress and I was left to take photos in the rain.

rain in hills

Sunday, 20 June 2010

A church on Sunday

Not far north on Dargaville, on SH 12, closer to Mamaranui than anywhere else,  sits St Mary’s Anglican Church.   There is no name on the church or the gate. It stands surrounded only by open  farmland, with no village or town nearby.

My friend and I had set out to find as many old churches as revealed themselves to us, one way or another, either through enquiries made before we left or information gleaned along the way.  I’ve admired little country churches for a long time, these rural symbols of our past, of living that once was, when small communities banded together to build for themselves a small places of worship.
Sometimes they stand out, tall and majestic, most times they are tucked away up rough side roads, surrounded by bush.
As with nearly every church we discovered, the lawn at St Mary’s was neatly mowed.  Some of the churches seemed to be no longer used, some were in dire need of some maintenance,  either paintwork or plumbing, but it appears they still mean a lot to at least one person in their area. 

The need for attention detracted from the beautiful blue windows:

blue window 
It was hard to see any inside detail from the photos taken through the blue but after a little playing more was revealed.  I love this photo with its eerie light.  Shows you what a camera can see when you just hold it up to a window and shoot.  

b & w inside

Standing in a corner by the roadside was this lovely simple wooden cross attached to an old tree stump.  We didn’t see anything quite like it in our travels.
cross in stump

The crosses on top of the church were also lovely and simple, and very attractive to moss.


Saturday, 19 June 2010

Arai Te Uru

Kia ora (Hello)

In yesterday’s post I had three photos of a rocky mountain with a dark blur across it and wondered if I’d captured the taniwha of Hokianga.   Thanks to the people who suggested what the problem may have been.  Yes, it may have been dirt, pollen or a smudge on the lens.  I prefer to stay in my romantic world and believe it was the mythical Taniwha of Hokianga.  (When pronouncing taniwha, the wh makes the “f” sound.) 
Taniwha is a mythological creature living in watery places. I equate them to the Australian Aboriginal mythology bunyip which I secretly believed in as a child. Taniwha habitat was near ominous places. These legendary Maori beings are both perceived as hostile beings as well as guardians of individuals or tribes. Taniwha have the ability to shift shape. Once in the water they could appear as sharks, giant squids, or big sea snakes while on land they turned into giant lizzards or even dragons. They were feared by many.

While  they were dangerous beasts, when treated with respect by humans Taniwha could be their guardians. Each tribe had its own Taniwha saving members from drowning, protecting them from approaching enemy tribes and, fighting alongside the tribe.

From a more spiritual point of view the Taniwha was considered a connection between the human life on earth and the spiritual world of the gods, ancestors and stars. In this matter the mythological creature functioned as a link between common daily life and ancestral heritage.

No part of Aotearoa (New Zealand) can claim a more storied past than Hokianga. From both the Maori and Pakeha (European) aspects, it can be said to tell the history of the land.

Arai Te Uru Hokianga Harbour entrance1

Hokianga has two stories of the same taniwha . One is that two taniwha, Arai-te-uru and Niwa, were put in place to guard the harbour entrance. Arai-te-uru made his home on the south head and Niwa (in the other story his name is Hiwa)  positioned himself at the north head. (I was photographing Arai-te-uru when the dark blur appeared.) Their job was to lash out with their powerful tails and stir the waters into such frenzy that invading waka (canoes) would be swamped and rendered helpless in the sea.

The sea below Arai-te-uru, at the entrance to Hokianga Harbour, looks like the work of powerful tails.  I certainly wouldn’t want to be entering that harbour in any sort of craft, least of all a canoe.

Hokianga Harbour entrance1

The other story:
Some say that it was the great waka (canoe) Mamari, others will say Takitimu, that was accompanied by a female guardian taniwha named Araiteuru.  She was pregnant at the time and not long after the great arrival she gave birth to eleven babies, all boys.

As they grew they would set out to explore and would use their noses to dig trenches as they went. This created the many branches of the Hokianga Harbour.

Araiteuru lives in a cave on the south head of the Hokianga Harbour and is regarded as the guardian of that district.  Her Partner, Hiwa resides on the north Head of the harbour.  At earlier times it was thought that her anger would raise storms to wreck ships on the bar and also it was believed that the leading tohunga (priest), Te Waenga, of the Hokianga people had the power to command her to send heavy seas or to calm them.  This was around 1830.

There is a cave not too far away from Araiteuru's own that has been used through the ages to lay to rest the bones of people from that area.  Perhaps they felt that she would guard them in death also.

A few of her children chose to stay with their mother and probably reside in the Hokianga Harbour even today.

Thanks to for the stories behind the legend.

To learn more about Maori culture:

Ka kite ano - Until I see you again