As part of my Ruamahanga project I had been hoping to revisit a number of sites along the river. Local iwi had discussed a trip themselves, and I was intending to join them. I was delighted to hear about a trip that took place last Monday, to the Hidden lakes, to the supposed site of Kohekutu paa, and to Rathkeale College, where a number of old paa sites are known.
A group of ten, including film-maker Richard Clark left the Te Ore Ore making our way to the Hidden Lakes, formed when a huge earthquake caused a Kopuaranga hillside known to Maori as Te Tirohanga a Hinetearorangi ki te Motu a Kapiti, the lookout of Hinetearorangi as she gazed towards Kapiti. Hinetearorangi is an important ancestress of the local people, and she looked over the Tararua mountains to Kapiti island where her ancestors are buried. The lake is local beauty spot.
We then travelled down to an impressive paa site, known to the local farming community as Kohekutu. It is sited on the end of a ridge underneath Rangitumau, the maunga (mountain) that local people associate with. I think it is perhaps another paa, as the rifle-pitted Kohekutu paa was sited in a valley. Nanny Frances found the climbing hard, and she lagged behind, talking with Richard.
The view from the range, looking westward, was amazing. We looked over the Kopuaranga Stream, past Tirohanga towards the Tararua range.
We lunched on the slopes of the hill, then went down to Rathkeale College where we were met by the deputy headmaster Grant Harper, who told us some stories, and showed us the site of the old Waioriori village. He also told us about Waipipi urupa on the top of a hill opposite. I found the tracks of some pied stilts on a sandy beach.
It was a great day. Joe Potangaroa was his usual helpful self, freely sharing his information. Makuini Kerehi arranged the day brilliantly and we all learnt a lot.