Tag Archives: Mahia

Sunny Mahia

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I finally got a clear day… at least most of a day.

The weather came through exactly as forecast, mostly sunny until late afternoon, and I got through all the video that I wanted recorded.

Tonight I’ve download all the video from my 2 camera’s to my laptop, and done a quick sort on it. I sort it into 4 groups; what can I just drop (all the camera setup, checking that I’m in the frame, checking sound etc), good dialogue, cut-away shots (detail shots of all the features that I talk about), and stuff that’s going onto this Blog.

It takes a while, but it will make someone’s job a lot easier later.

I’ll be leaving Mahia tomorrow, but I’m in no screaming rush as I haven’t quite decided where I’m stopping tomorrow night.

My next block of filming happens about four hours to the South of here. The next place the Kurahaupo people go is the plains of ‘Heretaunga’… this is the fertile plains around Napier and Hastings. Today it is famous for its fruit, particularly grapes. Some of New Zealand’s best Red wines come from here.

The Kurahaupo people liked it because they could grow Kumara and Taro.

In particular I’m going to Otatara Pa. Just look at the extent of the earthworks on this hilltop and ridges!

I’m looking forward to this. I’ve never been to Napier or Hastings before.

The wreck of the Kurahaupo

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If you travel to the Mahia Peninsula, cross to the North side, and follow the road to the East, you will pass many Urupa. They are all on the North side of the Peninsula.

This is a sacred place.

The tar seal stops at Nukutaurua, and a little further on the road ends. If you want to go further, then you have to walk.

And so it was for the crew of the Kurahaupo.

Incredibly, after successfully crossing 4,000 km of Pacific Ocean, the Kurahaupo finally came to grief on this benign looking shore on the Mahia Peninsula.

Diary: Nukutaurua

“When we left Te Hiku o Te Ika, we left Po and some others behind, but some Te Ngare joined us, and we had a crew again; there had been so few of us on that leg from Rangitahua.

‘The fire in the sky’ seems so far away now.

To Nukutaurua

The Kurahaupo’s course along the East coast of the North Island

As we traveled down the coast, on the East side of the Land we were amazed at just how enormous this land is. Often we passed between islands and the coast, and even these islands are big, some are bigger than any we have known before.

Sometimes on the land, we saw fires. There are people here and there. The Te Ngare had told us that there were others. Some have been here a long time, and some are new travelers like ourselves.

For the last days before we came here we saw only a few fires, and none since we came round a great Cape and the coast turned South.

The land around is high and tree covered, and the hills are deeply cut by valleys carrying big streams. There is plenty of water in this land but mostly the land stops high, and cliffs fall to the sea below.

As the coast turned again to the West Popoto said that we would go ashore where we next saw a good place.

At this place there was a flat plain in front of the beach, and behind were flat topped hills, grassy and bare. The hills were separated by valleys, and we could see that several good streams ran to the beach, a bigger one ran down through a wooded valley.

Popoto gave the instruction; we would land here.

The sail was lowered and we turned, the paddlers and steersmen now controlling our movements, directed by Popoto.

As the beach grew close, less than fifty paces, a shout went up, ‘reef!’

The beach, plain as it looked, had hidden reefs before it. The surf we had seen was not caused by the gentle uplift of a sandy beach floor, but by rows of reefs. Now we saw the lines of rocks running out from the shore, out to level with us, and beyond.

The men tried to turn us, but it was too late, we were trapped. The wind and the current pressed us onto a line of sharp rock, and one of our hulls smashed into it.

We were stuck, and one hull was sinking.

The wind and waves held us fast against the rocks, and try as they might, the men could not get us free. Now, with one hull filled with water, we were too heavy, and the reef gripped hard on our Kurahaupo.

Popoto told us to get everything ashore.

It was misfortune that put us on the hidden reef, but thankfully the water to the beach was shallow. We pulled all that there was from the waterlogged hull, and with everything on the deck we were, again, soon pushing through the surf, carrying with us all that we have.

We recovered everything, and salvaged what we could of our boat. Then we sat on the beach exhausted.

We warmed ourselves around fires and watched as the surf beat and broke the Kurahaupo. We will not sail on her again. “

nukutaurua reefs

The surf lines extending into the sea are lines of reefs. They extend far out under the surface.

After all they had endured; the crew of the Kurahaupo finally surrendered her to the ocean on a reef off the Mahia Peninsula.

It is remembered locally; that the Kurahaupo was bewitched and hit a reef close to the shore, that everyone survived, that the waka sank, and that it subsequently turned into a reef.

Cape Table

James Cook first made landfall in New Zealand at Gisborne on 9th September, 1769. He liked what he first saw of New Zealand so little that he left the bay just two days later, and headed South.

Wednesday, 11th September.

“We weighed and stood out of the Bay, which I have named Poverty Bay, because it afforded us no one thing we wanted.”

By noon the next day he had reached the eastern point of the Mahia Peninsula, next to an Island. He named them Cape Table, and Portland Island. These names are still used.

Thursday, 12th September.

“In the Afternoon, while we lay becalm’d, several Canoes came off to the Ship…”

“This point I have named Cape Table, on account of its shape and figure. It lies 7 Leagues to the Southward of Poverty Bay, in the Latitude of 39 degrees 7 minutes South, longitude 181 degrees 36 minutes West, it is of a moderate height, makes in a sharpe Angle, and appears to be quite flat at Top…

…We saw a great Number of the Natives assembled together on the Isle of Portland; we likewise saw some on the Main land, and several places that were Cultivated and laid out in square Plantations.”

The people that Cook saw were descended from the occupants of two waka’s; the Kurahaupo, and the Takitimu.

The local tribe is Te Rongomaiwahine, and have the common female ancestor of that name. She was of extremely noble lineage being descended from both Ruawharo, the Tohunga of the waka Tākitimu, and Popoto, commander of the Kurahaupo.

The full name of the Peninsula ‘Te Mahia mai Tawhiti’ was given by Ruawharo, as the land reminded him of where he had come from.

It means ‘The whisper of Home’.

However, only a few people from the Kurahaupo remained in Mahia. The rest of them moved onwards, looking for a more comfortable place to live.

To the plains of Heretaunga

Diary: Nukutaurua

“The men have returned from exploring, and there was a Hui. They said that some days to the South is a great and good plain with many rivers flowing through it, and that it will make us a good home.

“Popoto says he will stay here. It was decided that the rest of us will pack up what we have, and leave in the morning.

“Whatonga will lead us now.”

The Mahia peninsula provided all that was needed for survival, but on their journey down the East Coast they had seen more hospitable land. Most of the people of the Kurahaupo moved on looking for somewhere where they could enjoy an easier life; somewhere they could lay down roots… somewhere to call ‘home’.


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Mt Ngauruhoe in the early morning

5 Mile Bay on Lake Taupo was just a stopover on my way to Mahia. But parked up on the lakeside was still something else. Taupo has something for all sorts of visitors, active or sedentary. At one extreme there’s the Taupo bungee, at the other, the Prawn Farm… where you sit under an umbrella with a fishing net on a pole and scoop out prawns. There are coffee shops, restaurants, galleries and knick-knack shops and of course, the Lake with all the water based activities.


I was a slow learner today. I did this twice.

I was parked on the lakeside, and after the spectacular sunset of the previous night I woke to a calm and pastel dawn. I really wanted to get a shot of Mt Ngauruhoe in the morning light, and as I stood by my tripod waiting for the cloud to reveal the peaks I managed to boil my coffee milk over twice.

Soon enough I was on my way to Mahia.

According to Google Maps the journey should take 3 hours and 20 mins, but I knew that this was impossibly optimistic. Even in a high performance car that would be optimistic, and I wasn’t in a high performance vehicle, I was in the Heems. There is not a single feature of the Heems that could be considered high performance, and I like it that way.

5 Mile Bay to Mahia. Click to open larger map

As the day progressed the rain grew steadier. I didn’t mind the rain at all; the farmers need it.

Dropping down into Eskdale I was suddenly surrounded by lush and level fields of vines, and I thought about the original settlers that turned the land here into fields instead of forest. They had come from England’s Lake District… here is its namesake .

From Eskdale the road mostly followed the old Napier-Gisbourne railway line, all the way to Mahia. The railway is an incredible engineering achievement, and I hope to bring you some pictures of it on my way back… unfortunately the rain didn’t allow it on the day.

Wairoa was the last town of any size before Mahia, and there was one thing I needed as a matter of some urgency… reggo’ for the van. I tried to follow the signs to the Post Shop, but kept ending up in the doorway of Hammer Hardware … so I asked there.

You know you’ve left the big smoke behind when the Post Office and Bank are on a counter at the back of the Hardware store.

It’s currently raining here at Mahia, and the forecast is that it will continue for over a week. That’s a bit of a problem for me as the main purpose of my visit is to film a sequence on the wreck of the Kurahaupo. We’ll have to see how things shape up… I haven’t written the script for that piece yet, or worked out precisely where I stand for each segment, so I have plenty to do even if it’s raining. Apart from anything else there are still over 80 other posts to write… so I won’t be twiddling my thumbs here.

For now, I’m going to progress Tasman’s voyage a little more… and see what the weather does.