Today has been Waitangi Day, New Zealander’s day to celebrate our foundation document, and the creation of our state. It is also a day for New Zealanders to think about how we all get on together, and what we can do to make our society better.
I started the day walking back over some of the farmland I traveled on Sunday, then I dropped back into the bed of the Ruamahanga River, to continue my downstream journey.
It was an appropriate day, because this journey took me from the margins of the world of the forest, Te Ao of Tane, into the world of the transformed landscape. I was thinking about these matters as I picked my way backward and forward across the river and along the boulder banks that make up most of the journey.
At one pint I noticed the native mauve-flowered brooms (Carmichaelia spp) had disappeared, their place taken by the yellow introduced broom, Cytisus scoparius. The kereru, the native wood pigeon, had also gone, but there were introduced wood pigeons. And the spectacular beech forest was replaced by rows of pines on the hills ahead.
As I was meditating on this, crossing the river again, I noticed a movement on the bank opposite.
I could not believe my eyes – there were three goats about ten meters away, blissfully unconcerned about my splashing through their domain.
After a two and a half hour journey I came to the SH2 bridge – an beautifully arched structure spanning a small gorge – and found a wonderful clump of the pest plant, montbretia.
The afternoon I spent at the Origins Festival in the local park, where groups of all parts of the community – I saw various Maori hapu (sub-tribes), Phillipines, Samoans, Dutch, German, Scottish and Welsh stalls, but I am sure there were more. There was a fabulous vibe to the day, and it was an uplifting thing to be part of.
The local community station, Access Radio, of which I am a board member, spent the day there, broadcasting, so I could up with the staff, as well as many of my friends from the Maori community.
I hope to speak to various members of the river hapu as part of my journey down the river, possibly starting this weekend, when I will be a part of a party visiting the Te Ore Ore marae, where I will be speaking about some aspects of our history.