Monday, November 16, 2009
It was mid-morning when I drove into the Bay of Plenty town of Opotiki. The skies were impossibly blue and I was on the lookout for interesting things to photograph. Amazingly, I drove right past these spectacular gates at Opotiki Primary School. It wasn't until I was on my second circuit of the town photographing something else entirely, that I happened to glimpse them in my rear vision mirror.
It goes without saying that I made a hasty U-turn and pulled up outside the school. My wandering was short-lived though as a huge white bull terrior came bounding towards me. It was just one more of these hideous dogs that seemed to think I looked like a tasty snack. They're one of the few dog breeds that really frighten me. I leapt back in the car and took my remaining photos from the car window and I was unable to get the details about the carvings - other than the fact that the European figure represents Sir Bernard Fergusson, Governor General of New Zealand from 1962-1967. I loved the fact that so many primary and secondary schools from Opotiki onwards on my journey around East Cape to Gisborne, feature stunning carvings and ornate gateways. You rarely see such overt expressions of traditional Maori culture and craftsmanship - in the South Island especially - and I think it's marvellous that the kids in these areas grow up in the midst of it all. Like all kids though, I guess many take it for granted. www.opotikinz.com