Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Among the Mangroves

In April-May 2009 I spent about a week working in the Far North. I made sure I programmed in enough time to go exploring – veering down side roads whenever the urge took me, delighting in unexpected finds. It was just 8am on April 30th when I pulled off State Highway One into the tiny enclave that is Kahukuraariki Marae, the Hato Hohepa Catholic School, a handful of houses and a few residential flats that I think may have been retirement homes. There was no one about – just a few cows bellowing in a nearby field.

The whole community – part of the Ngati Kahu iwi (I think!) - is just across the road from a huge mangrove swamp at the southern end of Whangaroa Harbour, with two small hills directly behind the marae. One had the look of an old terraced pa site. The simple marae building sat to one side of a pretty memorial and I sat awhile waiting to see if my arrival would stir any of the local residents. No one came out so after taking a few photographs, I moved on. It was the same throughout my two month-trip – I was always on the road so early (because of the distances I had to travel), that I often missed those special little interactions with local people. I guess that’s all the excuse I need to make a return visit this year. www.ngatikahu.iwi.nz

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