Sunday, March 30, 2008

Trimble Trust

The drought has broken – sort of. There was a bit of rain overnight and some light showery drizzle during the day, but it did not stop us from going up to have a walk through the Trimble Forest. This is a pine plantation on the banks of the Ruamahanga River in the Mikimiki area, just north of ‘Dunvegan’ farm.
This area is interesting to me because it represents reforestation of an area of the 70 Mile Forest destroyed by the pakeha settlers in the 1880s and 1890s. I had hoped the track might go closer to the river, but we seemed to keep well clear of it. When I walked the Ruamahanga I was looking out for the forest but it is not noticeable from the bed of the river, largely because the section near the bed has only just been replanted.
At one high point on the walk I took this view of the river.

As always on a nature ramble, there were plenty of interesting things to see, including a number of different fungi. I was surprised to see so many different types out in such a dry season – I should think that the next week or two would be very good for fungous hunting. This is a Shaggy Ink Cap, growing alongside the track.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Up Jumbo

I have been missing my mountain, Taratahi, Mount Holdsworth, as I have been working on my Ruamahanga project, so this Good Friday I went up the Atiwhakatu Stream and then up Rain Gauge Ridge to Jumbo Hut. This is a view of the Atiwhakatu just downstream of the hut.

Up on the ridge above the hut I could not help but notice the near straight line the Waingawa River takes as it sprints across the plains to join the Ruamahanga.

There were not many plants in flower but, of course, the Gentians were out. It is typical of our indigenous gentian should be white not violet!

The view along the ridge to Taratahi is stunning – if a little daunting. The track is clearly discernible.

The hikoi

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.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Missing the river

I am missing the river. Even though I claim the Ruamahanga as my river, the place where I belong, I had not thought I would become bonded to the river the way I did during my journey.
Perhaps though, it is just the silence I miss – the chance for reflection and thoughtfulness. Perhaps, like many men, I surround myself with noise, both literally and figuratively, as a defence against quiet, but those many hours along the river were a time of peace for me.
I had thought the journey would make me think of Lavinia’s passing, as she was probably the spur to complete this long-held aspiration, but it did not happen like that. It may be that I am more reconciled to that event than I had imagined.
On the final day, I did think a lot about why I was making the journey.
I realised that it felt like the restfulness I felt as a teenager, that troubled time when identity is emerging. I can remember great voyages of exploration then too – an attempted bike ride to Riversdale, on an ungeared 28” men’s bicycle, doomed to failure, and cycling trips to the limestone hills at Gladstone, looking for fossils. On one trip I took my friend Robbie – we rode his tandem, not very well.
But they were trips of discovery, both in the physical and emotional sense.
Many of my friends have had mid-life crises, of differing kinds. They buy red (or green) sports cars, they divorce, they “look for themselves”, (and are usually very disappointed when they do find themselves), they change jobs; take extended holidays, or perhaps fall in love with their young assistants.
Maybe for me, I took a walk along a river.