Friday, November 6, 2009

The Pathway to the Sunrise

It was a sunny morning at 10.30am when I finally pulled into this rest area overlooking spectacular Waiotahi Beach not far from Opotiki. I had set off that morning from Rotorua and was heading for Te Kaha at the top of East Cape for my first overnight cape stay. It was a 4-5 hour journey that ended up taking me nine hours, due to the fact that I kept stopping to photograph marae, churches and the stunning beaches that make up this beautiful coastline. On that note, may I add that if you haven’t been around East Cape, you really must – especially if you’re interested in Maori culture. You’ll see dozens of marae and some of the most spectacular Maori carving in all of New Zealand.
But back to these beautiful powhenua, also called pou, or poupou (carved poles), which I didn’t photograph all that well thanks to the bright morning sun in my eyes. Standing side by side on the rise above the beach at Paerata and called Te Ara kit e RawhitiThe Pathway to the Sunrise, they tell the story of both the Pakeha and Te Whakatohea histories of the area. They were carved by local Master Carver, Heke Collier of Opotiki and were originally unveiled in 1991 near the Waiotahi River Mouth. They were moved to this location, just off State Highway 2, in 1996.
I spent some time here. There was no one else about but for a few passing cars and the lone seagull that looked down on me from the top of one of the pou. Waves were crashing onto the beach and I had plenty of time to think about the Te Whakatohea iwi (tribe), its six hapu (sub-tribes) and the rich bounty – fish, birds, shellfish, forest, eels – that have sustained its people over generations. Like much of the East Cape region, there’s a lovely sense of ‘paradise lost’ about the place and it’s always a wonder to me that more people haven’t discovered it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin