Monday, October 22, 2007


Here are some photos (click to enlarge 'em) from the recent jaunt to the East Coast. Thanks to Ivan and Amy for letting me (and Skyler) stink out their bach at Onepoto Bay... The shadow of the massive and unjustified police raid on Ruatoki North and the arrests of activists in other parts of the country hung over our trip. Detouring through Tuhoe Country, we tried to get a good photo of Taneatua Squash Club, the centre of 'Operation 8', but we were - how should I put this? - persuaded to leave the vicinity hastily by one of the cops swarming about the place.

There was huge anger about police actions in Tuhoe Country, and Bay of Plenty rags like the Whakatane Beacon - hardly bastions of radicalism, I can tell you - were openly scornful of claims in some of the big city media that a 'Te Qaeda' cell was operating in the Ureweras. Check out indymedia for the latest on the whole tragicomic affair, which is now prompting protests as far afield as Germany and Greece.

Over the last week Pakeha up and down the country have been getting a crash course in Tuhoe history, but the teachers haven't always been entirely reliable. A lot of newspapers have mentioned that the repreated invasions of the Ureweras between 1865-1872 were prompted by the shelter the Tuhoe gave to anti-colonial fighters Kereopa Te Rau and Te Kooti, who carried out notorious attacks in Opotiki and Gisborne respectively before fleeing to the Ureweras. Few, though, have explained the circumstances behind the actions of either man. Kereopa is notorious for gouging out the eyes of Opotiki Minister and government spy Carl Volkner, but few people know that his sister and mother had just been murdered by British troops in the Waikato. Te Kooti is well-known for killing seventy people in cold blood a few hundred kilometres round the coast, but few of those who condemn him retrospectively realise that his victims included people who had killed his kin, stolen his land, and sent him to exile on Chatham Island.

Volkner gets a fairly easy ride on the memorial stone at the back of the church he built and died in; about fifty kilometres east of Opotiki, Te Kooti is inadequately remembered by a sign on the edge of Ohiwa Harbour. At the end of a long gravel road one finds Wainui marae, Te Kooti's last home and his likely burial place. Across the road from Volkner's old church is the swanky new Opotiki museum building. I had a long chat with one of the volunteers - they're all volunteers - who have the job of moving thousands of artefacts ranging from greenstone mere to rusty scythes to wartime ration books out of storage into the three storey, purpose-built premises. She wanted to pick my brains, because I've been working in the museum up to Auckland, but I thought I had more to learn from her. Onepoto Bay is the name for the eastern end of Wharekahika, which Europeans renamed Hicks Bay, after a bloke on Captain Cook's boat The Endeavour. The local people belong to Te Whanau a Tapaeururangi, one of about thirty subgroups of the 60,000-strong Ngati Porou iwi.

The hills around Hicks Bay, and around the East Cape area in general, were formed millions of years ago, on the bottom of the sea, before being pushed upwards by colliding tectonic plates. If that sounds a bit dull, you could try the traditional Maori explanation, which has the trickster God Maui fishing the Cape and the rest of the North Island out of the sea. Whatever the reason, the East Cape is a place of strangely shaped rocks and cliff-faces studded with the fossils of extinct sea creatures.

The region boasts a microclimate, as well as a unique geology - it's frost-free all year round, and tropical fruits like bananas and paw paw grow to a sizes unparalleled in many parts of Northland, let alone the rest of New Zealand.
Hicks Bay and the nearby settlement of Te Araroa are divided by the Te Koau peninsula, which is made almost enirely of limestone and riddled with caves. Te Koau means 'the shag', and a legend says that one of the most spectacular rock formations on the peninsula (I only got half of it in my photo) gets its shape from the bird which Maui sent from his canoe to explore the island he had just fished up. The poor thing got its wing caught, then turned to stone. Another legend says that a fearsome dog lives deep in Te Kuri, one of the many caves on Te Koau that was used for burials. Te Kuri is a vertical cave, and a howling sound can sometimes be heard coming from its depths. I certainly heard something, when I found the entrance to the cave. Even if it is just the wind you hear, you'd be a fool to go any closer than that entrance. If you don't break your neck, you're sure to break a tapu. Local historians say that John Cassidy (Katete, in Maori), an American trader who was one of the first non-Maori to settle in Onepoto Bay, suffered a lingering death from a strange disease because he violated tapu in the area.

At the western end of Hicks Bay, the Matakaoa peninsula and the peak called Patanga form the ancient boundary between Ngati Porou and their sometime rivals Te Whanau A Apanui. Matakaoa is covered in pa sites - the best-known of them sits above the Hicks Bay wharf, and is called Makeronia, which is Maori for Macedonia (no, I don't know why either...)

Makeronia is a 'modern' pa, which means it was built with guns and artillery bombardments in mind. It was the northern tribe Nga Puhi, led by the notorious raider Hongi Hika, who first brought the gun to the East Cape region. When Hongi's canoes put ashore and his warriors opened fire, Ngati Porou's young men ran into the bush, broke sticks off the trees, and ran back to aim them at the northerners. When Hongi and his comrades didn't keel over, the men with sticks realised that their mana wasn't powerful enough, and ran way to hide.

Ngati Porou soon got the hang of the new technology, and turned their economy upside down to produce the cash crops and trinkets that European traders would swap for real firesticks. Like many other iwi in the nineteenth century, they created a mode of production that utilised elements of a market economy yet retained non-capitalist features like the use of collective labour and the communal ownership of most land.

Not even Hongi Hika and his taua could take the pa at the top of Whetumatarau, which is the hill which rises behind Te Araroa. It looks more than a little like Table Mountain in Cape Town, and its almost vertical, fossil-studded slopes became especially tricky to climb when the local people rolled boulders down them.

A lot of people think of the East Coast as an isolated, virgin place, but early last century it was riding a dairying boom, and tipped to become one of the powerhouses of the Kiwi economy. Poor roads and good prices led to the creation of impressive slaughterhouses, co-op shops, and wharves in bay after bay. Many of the farmers were Ngati Porou. But the steep, erosion-prone hills of the East Coast wouldn't support dairying for longing, and neither could the banks which held the mortgages on farms. Before it went into decline, the East Coast dairying sector did manage to inspire the land consolidation and development schemes implemented on a national scale by the great Maori leader Apirana Ngata (he's the bloke on the fifty dollar note).

Today decaying wharves, co-op stores and slaughterhouses can be found up and down the coast. The slaughterhouses, which have usually lost one or more walls and been colonised by moss and epiphytes, look like nothing so much as ruined abbeys.

Ngata, whose was born at Te Aaroa, was an ethnographer and cultural activist as much as a politician. He helped to revive the traditional art of carving, and presided over the building of new wharenui (meeting houses) on dozens of marae.

The church at Tikitiki, about thirty kilometres to the east of Hicks Bay, was built under Ngata's supervision to commemorate the (pointless) sacrifices of young Ngati Porou soldiers in Europe and Turkey during the First World War; it combines carving in the distinctively rounded, flat Ngati Porou style with European imagery and designs. I wish those young Ngati Porou men had sat the war out, like the Waikato and Tuhoe did.

I'm not sure whether it's ironic or fitting that Hongi Hika's depredations led, in a few years, to the conversion of the East Cape to Christianity. Some of the slaves he took north learned about the new creed from missionaries in the Bay of Islands; when they were freed and returned home in the early 1830s they brought the Bible with them.

In the 1860s a new type of missionary arrived to promote the Pai Marire doctrine, which blended Christianity, traditional beliefs and fierce anti-colonial rhetoric. The 'hauhaus', as the adherants of the new religion were called, ended up fighting a brief Ngati Porou civil war against pro-British Anglicans based at Makeronia, amongst other places. With the help of the government and Pakeha volunteers from Opotiki and Gisborne, the loyalists emerged triumphant.

The Pakeha government announced its intention to confiscate large areas of Ngati Porou land as 'punishment' for the disloyalty of the hauhaus, but the loyalists threatened to turn the guns they had been given to fight the hauhaus against Pakeha troops and settlers, and the land remained largely in their hands. The defeated hauhaus had to renounce their faith, but nobody seemed to mind when many of them became followers of Te Kooti's new Ringatu movement, and - a decade or so later - of the Mormon Church, which still has a strong presence on the East Coast today.

Another nineteenth century conflict eventually mellowed, too. After the end of World War One, Apirana Ngata arranged for work brigades composed of Nga Puhi vets to come to Hicks Bay to cut down bush and break in new farms. At first Hongi's descendants got into regular scraps with their unwilling hosts, but eventually the wily Ngata had his way, and the two groups buried the hatchet and began to intermarry. Mt Hikurangi is the highest point in the eastern part of the North Island, the first part of either of the two main islands of New Zealand to see the dawn, and an important regional symbol for both Maori and Pakeha East Coasters. Ngati Porou legend says that Hikurangi was the first part of North Island that Maui pulled out of the sea, and that the God abandoned his boat somewhere on the mountain. (Perhaps those Christian fundies who keep hunting for bits of the Ark on Mt Ararat would have better luck looking for Maui's waka?) A Ngati Porou subtribe called Ngati Uepohatu lives at the bottom of Hikurangi, and claims direct descent from Maui.

Alas, I still haven't made it to the East Cape lighthouse, and several other iconic spots on the Coast, and we don't have any photos of Tolaga Inn, one of the grandest old run-down pubs in New Zealand, because we were too busy drinking and losing to the locals at pool. Next time...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful reportage! Yr pool will be a lot better now, then? Bill D.

12:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Protest in Montreal against NZ state repression:

3:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not exactly New York, is it? Ignore.

Paul Anhelm

8:29 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Fascinating Maps. Great images. I would love to go down there. I feel that as writers and "politicoes" our future is here in NZ and it is linked to Maoritanga. That is why so many writers in NZ are so important - Ihimaera and many others. We don't need NY or the US or anywhere outside NZ. I have lived in this country all my life and intend to stay here. bananas grow on the East Cape - we have everything. Hikurangi is powerful..the towns are amazing - it is all there. The tapu and mana remain

Haere! Haere! Haere te ra!

9:20 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to hear you had a good time. Apart from the excitement of the free military training, the East Cape is our retreat away from the big smoke...well the big smoke of auckland at least :-) Hopefully you guys will join us from the 23 of December through New Years. Iv

8:41 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks, I learnt heaps about maori history from your blog.

Well done

4:41 pm  
Anonymous Viagra Online said...


Nice article, I've been looking one article like this one! I’m just about to set up my own blog using Word-press – it’ll be about the East coast development features. I’ve been looking at different plug-ins and the “related posts” one is the only one I couldn’t find. I’ll be writing one soon, to learn more about you and this amazing post.

4:29 am  
Blogger amirty40 said...

Thanks for the good things

آرامش ذهنی و درونی چیست؟ و راه حل های رسیدن به آن
کودکان نابینا و پاره ای از اثرات نقص بینایی
دندان درد و انواع داروهای تسکین دهنده

11:07 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi! This is my first remark here, so I essentially anticipated that would give a vivacious yell out and say I genuinely esteem investigating your articles. Would you have the ability to prescribe some extraordinary areas/goals/social events that strategy with relative subjects? Much esteemed.
Mumbai City FC Team Squad
isl live stream 2017

11:25 pm  
Blogger tamsi said...

Much obliged you all that much to share these connections. Will look at this.. Tax Investigation Advisors

1:13 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

It was a decent post to be sure. I completely delighted in understanding it in my lunch time. Will definitely come and visit this blog all the more frequently. Much obliged for sharing. Tax Investigation Self Assessment

9:41 pm  
Blogger tamsi said...

Much obliged to you for peopling get the data they require. Incredible stuff of course. Keep up the considerable work!!! Tax Investigation Specialists

9:55 pm  
Blogger tamsi said...

I read your website as often as possible and I just thought I'd say keep up the astonishing work! Tax Investigation Self Employed

11:12 pm  
Blogger tamsi said...

I havent any word to welcome this post.....Really i am inspired from this post....the individual who make this post it was an extraordinary human..thanks for imparted this to us. Tax Investigation Advisors

1:02 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

Phenomenal site you have here, so much cool data!.. Tax Investigation Specialists

9:35 pm  
Blogger tamsi said...

Much obliged for this extraordinary post, i discover it exceptionally fascinating and extremely well thoroughly considered and set up together. I anticipate perusing your work later o Tax Investigation Self Assessment

2:22 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

This is an awesome post. I like this topic.This site has heaps of advantage.I discovered numerous fascinating things from this site. It helps me in numerous ways.Thanks for posting this once more. Tax Investigation Self Employed

9:38 pm  
Blogger tamsi said...

Much obliged to you for some other educational online journal. Where else would I be able to understand that kind of data written in such a perfect means? I have a mission that I"m a few seconds ago taking a shot at, and I have been at the post for such data. Revenue Tax Investigation

9:20 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

Wow what a Great Information about World Day its exceptionally pleasant educational post. a debt of gratitude is in order for the post. Tax Investigation Self Employed

11:54 pm  
Blogger tamsi said...

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this helpful information.. Tax Investigation Accountants

1:45 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

This was truly a fascinating point and I kinda concur with what you have said here! Tax Investigation Advisors

2:43 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

I have perused a couple of the articles on your site now, and I truly like your style of blogging. I added it to my top picks web journal webpage list and will be inquiring soon. It would be ideal if you look at my site too and let me comprehend what you think. Tax Investigation Self Assessment

2:56 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

much obliged for this usefull article, sitting tight for this article like this once more. Tax Investigation Specialists

2:14 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

Much obliged for your post. I've been considering composing an extremely practically identical post in the course of the last couple of weeks, I'll most likely keep it quick and painless and connection to this rather if thats cool. Much obliged. Revenue Tax Investigation

2:09 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

Much obliged to you for extremely usefull data.. Tax Investigation Accountants

5:22 am  
Blogger tamsi said...

A debt of gratitude is in order for the post and extraordinary tips..even I likewise believe that diligent work is the most essential part of getting achievement.. Tax Investigation Advisors

7:11 pm  
Blogger tamsi said...

Much obliged for your post. I"ve been considering composing an extremely practically identical post in the course of the last couple of weeks, I"ll most likely keep it quick and painless and connection to this rather if thats cool. Much obliged. Tax Investigation Specialists

7:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Several years ago my friend and I went for a short bush walk out of Opotiki. The info Centre had suggested it.
There was an ancient Puriri tree that had been saved from farmland. I think it was a burial tree??
When we can travel again from NSW I'd love to be in that bush again. Does anyone have a name or story about this sacred tree ?

4:33 pm  
Blogger Blogspot said...

You're right, Carrie. Let them eat and let them play! My daughter's puppy was a role model for joyful eating during recovery.

9:22 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home