Thursday 26th September. Dargaville to Parakai. - TopicsExpress


Thursday 26th September. Dargaville to Parakai. This morning the sun was showing between clouds, the rain had stopped and it was only windy… no longer a gale. It was the last day of the America’s cup, but I couldn‘t bear to watch it. With the regatta tied at 8 races each, and ‘first to 9 wins’, it was ‘sudden death’. The Americans won the last 6 races in a row, and they were looking very strong indeed. They won the Cup, and it was well deserved. I had a big day ahead and as I set out I had no idea how much I’d accomplish. I really needed to visit Baylys Beach; It hadn’t been practical yesterday, but it was do-able today. There was someone I really wanted to meet at a museum in Dargaville, I wanted to go to the north entrance of the Kaipara harbour; Pouta. I need to visit a place called ‘Tapora’…. and so on. I had to give the van a good tidy up before I got moving. It needed air though it as I’d had the place locked up tight through all the wind and rain, and I needed to put away all the damp things I’d just dropped as I’d changed into dry. Nevertheless I’d been to Baylys Beach and arrived at the Dargaville museum by 9:30. I was glad I’d done the Bayly’s thing, even though it had meant doubling back a little. Tasman is directly off this beach, on 1st Jan 1643. The coast is occupied by a tribe called the Ngati Whatua (it’s pronounced ‘narty fart-oo-ah’ … honest!). I discovered that come summer I wouldn’t be able to take the road right down the beach… there isn’t room to turn except on the soft sand, and a row of parked cars would result in me grid-locking the whole place. Even this morning, without any parked cars, it needed a very tight 7 point turn for me to get out. However, there’s a campsite within walking distance back up the hill… I know that now. I stepped into the Dargaville museum on a mission. I couldn’t recall the curators name, but I’d read an article about him finding a piece of a very old Portuguese ship. I asked at the counter about who had found the old bit of ship and ‘George’ was hailed from the back office. George had a name badge. I told ‘Gordon’ what I was looking for in Dargaville and we were soon in animated conversation… I had found the right person. There are a couple of problems with the history as it’s taught in NZ… 1. Tasman wasn’t actually the first European here, and 2. Kupe wasn’t actually the first Polynesian. Saying the first might raise a few eyebrows. Saying the second might make your nose bleed. Even though it’s a large museum, I was the only visitor, and Gordon gave me a personal tour. We went straight through the pioneer section and the Kauri gum digger section; neither of us was interested in it. We went straight to the Maritime and Maori sections and spent most of the time exchanging thoughts next to a big map of the Harbour entrance. It was a fascinating, fascinating morning. Gordon confirmed most of what I’d surmised, and added more. He jogged my memory about all sorts of bits I’ve researched and re-aligned some of them for me. e.g. I’d forgotten that the only place that has Pa’s in the whole Pacific, apart from New Zealand, is an island called Rapa-iti. It’s in the Marquesas… where the Kurahaupo came from. His pride and joy was a minimally labelled scruffy old carving; a post about 6 feet in length in the form of a figure. He asked me about it. I saw two things that said it wasn’t Maori… five fingers (all Maori carvings are stylised to three fingers) and the embellishing patterns were wrong… much older, more like the Solomon Islands. He smiled at me knowingly. Yes, this piece pre-dated the supposed Maori immigrantion. It belonged to the small population that was already here. It’s recorded in the Maori oral tradition, painstakingly written down by the missionaries, but it isn’t mentioned in polite company these days. The Maori almost always report finding people already here when they landed. They call them the ‘tangata whenua’ (people of the land). Ironically this is also how Maori refer to themselves collectively today. Here’s the issue for Maori. They claim they were here first, and that the British stole their land (which is true). What they don’t want to say is that they stole it in the first place… because this compromises any compensation they may be able to extract from the crown. Hence Kupe’s importance. If you can demonstrate that Kupe was and ancestor, then you can claim that your inheritance was taken by the British. If however, someone was here before Kupe, then THEY may have a prior claim to yours. The Maori don’t encourage discussion about prior occupants and actively suppress any evidence that may support the notion. Standing next to a 20 metre long pre-european canoe (i.e. cut the old way without metal tools) Gordon let me know that this was one of a pair found at the same location. Only one had been recovered. They were the hulls of an ocean-going waka! All this stuff is in the Dargaville museum because of the shifting coast here. The sand buries and then preserves what it captures. Periodically something emerges from the sand. If they’re quick, people can get in and recover whatever’s popped before they’re re-buried, but usually by the time someone interested has got to the location of a new sighting, they’re too late, and it’s buried again. Anyway… all up a fascinating and very valuable morning for me. Next stop was Tapora. This had two interests for me. The tribe occupying the piece of coast between the Hokianga Harbour and the Kaipara Harbour was the Ngati Whatua. Their vessel was the Mahuhu-ti- ke-rangi. It landed inside the harbour at Tapora, and all Ngati Whatua are descendants of the occupants of that canoe. The other significance is the name of the place itself. Maori had no cloth; no wool, no cotton. Polynesians made a sort of cloth from the inner bark of a tree… the Paper Mulberry. Cook observed and recorded the process when he was in Tahiti. Paper Mulberry was one of the plants the polynesians brought over and cultivated here. The maori name for the Paper Mulberry tree is ‘Tapo’. This area was renowned for how well the Paper Mulberry trees flourished. ‘Cloth’ was made here and traded. It was quite a detour getting there, but important in the whole picture. Calling it a day, I headed for Parakai to be ready for my last couple of visits on this foray; Helensville museum, and lastly South Head. ‘South Head’ is the southern headland of the Kaipara Harbour entrance. Tasman passes here on 31st December, but he is not seen by the Ngati Whatua. The people who watch him pass are from a different canoe… the ‘Tainui’. But that’s another story… and that’s why I’m going to the Helensville museum. Well that’s rather a lot for one day. I didn’t manage to get to Pouta, which I might yet regret, but that would have involved getting there, a few hours walking up the beach, and getting back to Dargaville again. It would have added 2 more days to the trip, and I’m conscious that time is moving on. I need to get my actual run started as I have an appointment to keep in Febuary. I’ll draw stumps at that for today. Tomorrow night I expect to be back at Piha and will wrap up the trip from there. I’ll add a few more photo’s to September 2013. Goodnight all.
Posted on: Thu, 26 Sep 2013 10:01:56 +0000

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