Monday, April 16, 2007

The road to Jerusalem

Last week Skyler and I drove up the Whanganui River gorge towards Jerusalem (Hiruhrama), an old Maori settlement that became the site of a nineteenth century Catholic convent, and then the famous commune headed by the poet and prophet James K Baxter in the late 1960s. We wanted to visit the convent church and Baxter's grave.

The settlements in the gorge take the name of great cities, despite the fact that each consists of little more than a marae or church and a cluster of old houses wedged between the river and bush-covered hills. We had only half a tank of gas when we entered the gorge, but we'd been assured that there was 'a pump' near Koroniti (Corinth), about halfway to Jerusalem. Well, there was. I'm still waiting to see Jerusalem.


Blogger Dr Jack Ross said...

A shame you didn't get all the way there -- it's quite a sight. I found it rather difficult to find, myself, but other people I've spoken to have reported tour parties being led up the hill, admission prices, etc. None of that was in evidence when I went there in 2000.

You should thank your lucky stars you missed the road from the heads of the Whanganui to Raetihi, though.

I wrote a poem about the grave, actually (dedicated to Alan Brunton, who suggested I take the detour on my way back to Auckland). It's on the nzepc site at:

9:04 am  
Blogger Richard said...

I took my daughter up there some years ago - about 1991 or so but there was nothing much there - for some reason I felt too shy to go toward the old buildings and ask questions - I just stopped for about 10 minutes, and then I drove on - my daughter didnt know why we were there (she was quite young and I dont think had heard of or was interested in Baxter).

We found New Plymouth and the mountain fascinating.

But I also felt that the whole valley where Jerusalem is was rather alien. I felt a feeling of hostility. Either from the Maori I saw driving around or some sense I dont know...

Morrissey has a story about going to Jerusalem.

12:16 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'I felt a feeling of hostility.'

Next time take the white hood off and ditch the shotgun, Taylor. Dressing up as Klansman and shooting your way through someone's neighbourhood is not the best way to win their popularity stakes - I know this from experience.

Lucius 2

6:08 am  

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