Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Kai Cooker

Traditional Māori - the indigenous people of New Zealand - believed that the earth was the giver of all life. From the soil, came food and that same food was cooked beneath the earth in ovens called hangi.

Kai is the Māori word for food. 

In traditional life, New Zealand's Māori people were hunters, gatherers and crop farmers who harvested their food from the forest, stream, sea and garden.  Contemporary New Zealanders still enjoy traditional Māori foods and delicacies, and Māori kai continues to develop.

Hangi actually refers to the method of cooking in the ground with hot stones, to the underground oven itself,  and to the food cooked.  Various types of meats and vegetables, such as kumara or sweet potato, are wrapped in leaves but a modern hangi is more likely to substitute with aluminium foil and wire baskets.

Putting down a hangi is a time consuming process. Dig the pit for the food, heat the hangi stones for a couple of hours in a roaring fire, dig out the stones and all the ash from the pit, places the heated stones back in the pit. The baskets of food are placed on the hot stones at the bottom of the hole. The food is covered with wet cloth and a mound of earth that traps the heat around the food.

The food is in the ground for about three to four hours, depending on the quantity being cooked.

More and more often these days you see modern technology at work with cookers made that cut out most of the heavy work.  My friend Chris' neighbour, he who made the windmill in yesterdays post, turned his creativity to making himself a Kai Cooker.   Here he is with his invention.  The whole thing was made with bits and pieces he had around the place, the only purchase being a couple of fittings for the gas hot plates he used to apply the heat.  The outer layer was actually the surrounds from his childrens' first swimming pool, 30 years ago.  He chose his birthday celebration for the "dummy run".

The first time the meat was lifted out the cooks decided it wasn't cooked so back in it went for another hour.  A lot easier to do than with the traditional method.  The meat was resting on cabbage leaves, the vegetables wrapped in muslin cloths. 

The second time everything looked perfect.  Johnny's grandson, Jack and I agree.

Then, as the steam rises, it was carve that meat.  The lamb was cooked to perfection.

And then .... we all enjoyed the feast.  Well done, Johnny.

Thanks for the photos, Chris.  I was a bit too engrossed.

Monday, 30 August 2010

A birthday party instead of a church on Sunday

It was my friend, Chris' birthday on Friday.   Look at the company she keeps when she goes out to dinner!  The hearts of girls half her age would be pounding to receive yellow roses from her companion, don't you agree?  Young Nick, the film-maker, is usually found on the other end of a camera (which is a shame for those of us who appreciate a smile)!

Chris has a neighbour with hidden talents.  While Johnny was on holidays he spotted an ornamental windmill in a garden in Brisbane, Australia and brought the idea home with him.  He then set about making a windmill for his wife and one for Chris for her birthday.

I'm more than a little envious!  Only about the windmill, of course! 

Friday, 27 August 2010

FSO - My Choice

The topic for FSO this week is My Choice, what I'd like to show/others to know about my town. 

I have a new boss at work, a newcomer to the north.  My post today is for her, to help her enjoy the place she has chosen to live.

Hi Carol,

As someone who has moved into a town where you know no-one, I know the first months are difficult, getting to grips with a new job and new staff, making new friends, coming to know your way around - and it can be a bit difficult in the main shopping area with its one way streets. But there are so many pleasures ahead of you, so many lovely places waiting for you to discover them.

I know you're going to love living in Whangarei. All in all, the climate is good with typical summer temperatures ranging from 22 to 26 degrees celsius (71 - 79 Fahrenheit), but seldom exceed 30 (86 F).  Winter daytime temperatures range from 12 to 17 degrees celsius (53 - 62 F), with the occasional early morning frost, although you may not have any where you are living. 2000 hours of sunshine every year. OK, it can rain a lot, the countryside wouldn't be so lush if it didn't! Around 1,500mm (59 inches) a year, although we get more where I live.

To get an overall view of the town, take a drive over the river towards the Heads and you will see a sign on your left to Mt Parakaki. At the top you will get a good view of the town.

There are so many lovely spots along the road out towards the Heads.  I took this one out near the airport - go straight ahead where the road veers right to the airport.

Have you been to Reva's in the Town Basin yet?  There's an award winning restaurant in town but, for me, nothing compares to sitting on the deck at Reva's, with coffee or a pizza (and their soups are marvellous) looking out at the boats from all over the world. 

I suppose you have already found the library!  It's well stocked and the staff are very helpful.  They also have a nice little coffee shop and space to enjoy your coffee and read.

Adjacent to it is the Old Library where there are often art exhibitions. 

Are you joining the rest of our team next week for dinner and to watch our team-mate, Terri, appear in a play at the Octogon Theatre?  I was lucky when I called to take a photo to find a couple there who were happy for me to go and take a photo of the set.  An old house has been remodelled to serve as a theatre.  I love it when good use is found for old buildings.

There's a bit of something for everyone in Whangarei but I do hope you like beaches.   The Whangarei area has 100 bays and beaches, and rarely are any of them crowded. Most of them, most of the time, are pretty well deserted. For me, it's always about the beaches.  

There are wild, rocky beaches:

and long sandy beaches just made for walking:

I could go on and on and over time, no doubt will. 

Just one more thing for today.  I know you like to walk.  There are lots of lovely walks around and one of my favourites is right in town, A H Reed Park. A 5 minute walk from the car park takes you over an elevated walkway where you can look down on a natural, fern edged stream and wander on to touch a giant kauri.  Or you can carry on for a much longer walk.  Sometimes, if I've had to sit a lot at work, I go here for a walk to ease my back before heading home.  Somehow touching that kauri always helps.  Yesterday I was there after rain, the tree was freshly washed and the colours of the bark were glorious.  And I was lucky enough to come upon a pair of young English tourists who agreed to pose for me.

I hope you have many happy hours discovering more about your town.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

A rational child

"Oh, you're a little monster!"  I declared.

She looked up at me with a grin on her face and replied, "I can't be a monster.  I'm a girl!"

Don't you love the logic?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Still working at it

I was thinking last night what a lousy tourist I would be.  Unless, of course, my photography improved a hell of a lot.  You may have seen my earlier attempts to capture a decent photo of the Bottom Waterfall.  I keep going back again and again, each time hoping that this time I will get it right.  Imagine me a tourist with an itinerary...."No, no, I can't possibly catch that plane/bus/train.  I have to go back for another photo".  And another.  And another.

Early Saturday afternoon I decided the light might be better than on previous visits, so little Georgia and I ventured down to the creek.  I think this photo is an improvement on my previous efforts.  (And Adrian will no doubt tell me if it's not.)

Georgia was keen to visit the footbridge again so we headed that way but the little dairy farmers' daughter did not like the look of the cattle on the other side of the creek.  They were a lot more interested in us than she was in them.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Two Churches on Sunday

And so we come this week to two of my favourite churches on our Churches of the North Tour back in mid June.  After a little navigation error the previous evening, on the Sunday morning we'd headed west and north to Mangamuka Bridge.  (I blogged about this here.)   As we were heading south again, along the northern edge of the Hokianga Harbour, as we rounded a bend, we caught a glimpse of a church on a hill.  We managed to pull off the road, turn around and find our way back to the side road, over a little bridge and up a hill to a large grassed area with a marae on one side and a church on the opposite side. 

The outlook was very rural, not a soul in sight (which was the norm at all the churches we visited), a small cemetry on an adjoining hill.  There was an air of wonderful serenity about the place. 

The little church was enclosed by a neat picket fence.

We figured we were at Te Karae and after a little research I found a little information about the marae but nothing about the church.  (Te marae ko Pateoro: Got its name from the sounds that echoed off the surrounding hills. Hence the name Pateoro pertaining to the echo but with the passing of time and the growth of numerous trees this echo has all but disappeared.)

Te karae te awa was a river with a large tidal flow up to te Mata bridge and landing, where boats towing barges came to unload goods to the community. The gull called karae (no longer seen in the area) used to hover above the flotsam tide line seeking small fish that swam beneath it. A daily ritual for these gulls was to gather where the freshwater met the tidal flow that ended at te Karae creek Hence the name the karae, and from that came the name Te karae.

We were becoming accustomed to the lovely timber lining of the churches in the area, the beautiful pews.  Everything about this little church told us it is used and cherished.  Not a spec of dust, not the smallest sign of neglect. 

Much later that same day we came to St Peters Church at Punguru, with the doors latched back in welcome.  This is one of four heritage churches registered with the Historic Places Trust.
The church sits up a steep drive with a good view over the little township. 

Inside, it was quite ornate in comparison to the simplicity of our earlier church.  There was a lovely mix of English and Maori cultures, the beautiful stained glass windows throwing light on to lovely maori weavings.

There was even a side altar, something we hadn't encounted on our travels.

This was the only bible we saw and there it was open at the page of the last (or next?) reading.

FSO - I am ....

I said I'd come back and post the answer to my mysteries.  Turns out they were crap mysteries, so I shouldn't bother really.  I pretty well mucked the whole thing up right from the start.  I forgot to save the originals of the rooster's rear end and the old truck.  Have just been for a walk to get another shot of the old truck but am not keen on going to find the lovely rooster as it is unlikely he will be so co-operative twice, but that's him at the front of the flock photo below. 

And now....now I discover I didn't even link my Friday's post to our group website.   Why not check it out to see what the much brighter sparks than me came up with.

Friday, 20 August 2010

FSO - What am I?

One of our wonderful administrators for our Friday Shoot Outs, Doreen, has provided us with a few words around this week's topic.  She suggests "mysterious" photos of things that will not be readily recognized.  So jump right in and have a guess at my mysteries.  We will all come back to the same place on Sunday with the whole photo.

It's challenging to have a theme that is different from the usual, it's designed to get us thinking and it sure has done that for me. 

Number 1:

Number 2:

Number 3:

Too easy, I think.  I'm not giving any clues but just bear in mind that I am a rural person (although one of these photos was taken in town).

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

I could have been an exlorer

I think if I'd been born in earlier times I could have been an explorer.  Not a long distance explorer, I don't think I have the resilience for that, but I would have loved tracing small steams to their source. 

Growing up in Australia we were taught all about the early explorers of our country and these stories always enthralled me.  Such brave men (they were always men)!  I always suspected that most of them were slightly crazy and driven but their bravery was never in doubt.

These days I like to do my own interpretation of "intrepid explorer" but it's all been done before and there are always those damn boundary fences that put an end to my adventures.

This afternoon I set out to explore the farm where I am house-sitting in a direction different to one I've taken before.  Sure enough, the boundary fence put a stop to my wanderings.  But close to the boundary I came across this lovely sight.

Fallen logs across the creek.  It was so natural and beautiful! 

Changing the subject a bit .....anyone who reads this blog regularly knows how I love where I live.  But, staying at another farm in the area, I accept now that we are not ideally positioned for sunsets.  At home there are a hill, scraggy pine trees and power lines in all my sunsets.  Here, I just have to walk to the edge of the lawn (to get the power lines out of the shot) and I have lovely sunsets.   Last night I was blessed with this sight:

Monday, 16 August 2010

A Monday instead of Sunday church

I have so far been unsuccessful in my detective work to discover what is the significance of something in the next church on our tour of the churches of the Hokianga.

My work colleague and administrator of the NorthTec campus, the inimitable Ngaire has undertaken to find me the answer but until then I am taking a detour and featuring a little gem of a church right here on my doorstep.  I discovered it up a sideroad when I was out looking for roads and paths last week.  And then, as if in answer to a prayer, there was an article about it in a local paper on Thursday.  This tiny church is one of the oldest buildings in the area, and having achieved the grand old age of 125 years, has just been registered by the Historic Places Trust. 

Today as I stopped to photograph the church I heard a voice coming from the other side of the fence, an elderly man asking would I like to see inside.  He came through an opening in the fence and told me more about the history of the church than had appeared in the paper. 

The church was built by a small group of volunteers, none of them builders or architects. It is described as straightforward and simple, as most of the churches of the north were at the time.  It is that simplicity that I love about them.  

Originally it was on another site and was then moved to it's current position, on what he called drays pulled by oxen.  All went well until the church got to just down the road from its destination, when one of the beasts fell, was badly injured and had to be put down.  And there the church sat until the dead oxen was paid for.    Christian charity went just so far. 

I loved the simplicity of the inside of the church.

Members of the community still mainatain the church and the gentleman who showed me around keeps the lawns mowed and told me with some pride that it is still well used - there were 12 people at the service on 8 August!  It was built as an Anglican Church but as the Anglican community dwindled it has taken on another life and now hosts interdenominational services. 

My guide pointed out the original kauri shingles on the roof.  When the new roof was put on, they just lay the roofing iron over the old shingles:

After chatting for some time with my guide, we discovered he had once lived at our farm.   He arrived in the area to teach at the local school and went to live on the farm for "a few weeks" until he found suitable accommodation - and stayed for 17 years.  The dear gentleman declined to have his photo taken but I don't need a photo to remember his kindness and lovely, gentle sense of humour.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

And the highlight was ....

.... hunting for lizards.  The highlight of Georgia's seventh birthday party, that is.   Three litle boys and three little girls with two sets of eleven year old twin girls organising games for them and the party disintergrates into a lizard hunt.  Talk about best made plans!  

As soon as all the guests had arrived they all wanted to go for a walk to see the ostrich.  But once we got there, Georgia wanted her friends to see the foot bridge, so we traipsed down to the creek crossing.   I stayed on one side and Heather crossed to the other side and back with the kids.  When we were walking back up the hill the little boy in the red jacket told me he was scared of heights.  I think he was very proud of himself for crossing the bridge without anyone suspecting. 

We were lucky with the weather, most of the day it was sunny but every now and then a big black cloud would creep up behind us and the kids would have to scarper back to the house for shelter. 

There were lots of games, lots of noise - seven year old boys are loud creatures, seven year old girls aren't far behind.  But in none of my photos do they look like they are being noisy.  Guess I'm not good at capturing the moment.


My grand-daughters know there are lots of little skinks around here but it was one of the boys who discovered the first one today, I think.  And after that, the only time they all stopped hunting was to cut the birthday cake. 

Could there be any more little fingers trying to catch one tiny little creature:

Neave, the little girl on the right above was heard commenting, "This is the best party ever.  We get to take live lizards home!"  I hope her parents are equally impressed!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

I think it's clearing

My kitchen has been a busy place today with my three grand-daughters and me preparing our contribution for Georgia's small seventh birthday party tomorrow.  The girls didn't really have much choice, they were housebound anyway.  Yesterday the weather was very wet and windy, today was just very wet.   Perfect weather for baking!  Georgia was very proud of the cup cakes she made and iced.  She said, "Can you take my photo and put me in the paddock."  It was a minute before I realized she wanted to appear here.

There was a little break in the weather and Georgia was quick to suggest a short visit to the waterfalls.  Krystal and Shyade came with us briefly but kicking a ball around is more their style.

This was the first time Georgia has seen froth in the creek and crept closer to touch it. 

But when we ventured down to the middle fall she had to promise me she would hold on the a tree.  I didn't have that little branch in mind either!

I have convinced Georgia that there is a little fairy by the waterfall.  Maybe when she's older I will tell her the fairy looks like this:

Just after Heather picked up the girls I noticed signs that the bad weather is clearing:

However, the Weather Bureau hasn't been looking at what I have and predict lots more "wild weather".  I wonder how I will feel this time tomorrow after the party, especially if we are all locked inside.