I had a really good day when I shot this video. A break in the weather allowed me to get out and about a bit.
I’d gone into Napier and had a look around there, and then I’d gone to the Library. The thing about Libraries is that local libraries keep material that has local relevance. I was looking for something particular and local… and it was there.
I was only in the Library a couple of hours before I had what I needed, and then I moved on to my main stop of the day. Otatara Pa.
The excitement for me here had been heightened by what I’d learned at the Library.
I’d picked the Pa site out from Google maps, and read up on it somewhat. I liked it because it overlooked the plains, but also had line of sight to Mahia and Ruapehu. That suited me perfectly. The Kurahaupo people came from Mahia, settled on the plains, and the person I was going to follow, Tumatakokiri, had left from there to go towards Ruapehu.
At the Library I learned that the Pa was already occupied by the time the Kurahaupo people arrived.
It was sensational walking around visualising what was happening on its tops, on its flanks, and on the plain below.
The ‘main man’ in the Kurahupo story at the moment is Whatonga. He had three sons that are important to the storyline; Tara, Tautoki (Rangitane’s father) and Tumatakokiri.
At the Library I had discovered that where I was camped was the beach that the Kurahaupo people had arrived on, and where they built their ‘kainga’, village.
Whatonga and his people had walked on the beach I was now parked on.
The eeriness of that discovery was heightened that evening by a clear sky and a total Lunar Eclipse.
The next two days were an outdoor write-off.
Bad weather was coming. I’d seen it on the forecasts and spent a morning fruitlessly looking for somewhere suitable to hunker down. The tail end of a cyclone was going over and for the next couple of days things were going to be a bit rough. I was looking for somewhere with shelter from wind, and height above rivers.
Scouting around the free sites in the area I didn’t find anywhere likely. They we right next to water, or open to the wind, or prone to falling trees closing the access. I gave up on the freedom camping locations and pulled onto Te Wanga campsite as the light began to fail. I liked the campsite immediately. It was just like Piha, a mix of permanent people and tourists… and the manager and residents were all easy and friendly too.
I also liked Te Awanga for another reason.
Te Awanga is where the Whatonga and Hotuwaipara lived when they had their first child.
The wind picked up and stayed up for 36 hours. Getting in and out of the van meant risking being thrown on the ground as the wind grabbed the door, and my doormats made a new home in a downwind hedge.
I was getting rocked around quite a bit in the van, but fared much better than a couple of French tourists. They had to chase their tent down the beach after it took off in a squall. The next day they spent drying everything, EVERYTHING they owned.
The second day was mostly just wind, not as bad as the previous day but still enough to eject me onto the grass if I opened the door carelessly.
The wind had peaked at over 80 kph and that had prevented me from putting my satellite dish up… otherwise, apart from being bounced around a bit I was fine. I’d done better than some I saw on the news… the car underwater on Tamaki Drive, and the Campervan on its side in Nelson.
Overnight, the wind blew itself through, and the skies cleared, and this morning I could see across the bay back to Mahia.
As I walked down the beach and up the riverbank my mind was full of the details;
Whatonga paddled out of this lagoon to go fishing. This is where Hotuwaipara spiked her hand on a Rock Cod. This is where Whatonga and Hotuwaipara had their son, Tara-Ika.
As a boy, Tara would have played along the river bank I now walked on. Just over the hill at Waimarama is the Pa that he built, and his Marae is at at Maraetotara…