Wednesday 6 December 2023

More of Russell

 In the morning, we headed for Pompallier House and were a bit early arriving so we looked around the outside and chatted to some people on their bikes. The roadway is quite narrow there so when a car came along, I backed myself hard up into the gateway so she could get past me. However the driver was only paying attention to the standing cyclist on the other side of the street, and carefully avoiding her, but was about to take me out! I slapped the bonnet of her car and shouted at her to stop. Aaarrrggghhh!!! And once the driver had moved on, the husband of the cyclist suggested that the problem was that it was a woman driver. I must have been in shock, because in behaviour quite unlike me, I wielded my hiking stick like a taiaha (I'm a quick learner) and swished it around near his head, neck and genitals. Although I think Māori warriors aimed for the belly, but I added my own fighting principles...

While the cyclists and David headed off for the tour of house, the printing shop and bindery, I had decided I would sit that one out at the cafe. An hour, they said. But neither they nor I had banked on the tour guide being so enthusiastic and that David would be so keen to keep up the conversation that he would remain in the shop afterwards for another 10 minutes ... And I was hungry and had been looking forward to breakfast again at the Seaside Cafe. But by the time we got there they were on to the lunch menu, dammit. Still, they did me an omelette which was yummy.

The woman at the museum had said we must go and view the statue at the end of the wharf - it welcomes visitors and sees them on their way.

Walking back along the Strand, we had to stop and watch the process of getting the bed base down from the upstairs room. The two guys had already thrown the mattress down on to the lawn. At first they were going to lower the base on ropes, but decided to toss it down on to the mattress. I was worried that the dog was going to get in the way - squashed chocolate labrador mixed with raspberry jus is not a good look on a sunny day! And imagine the noise! Successful landing though - no dog was harmed and the base landed almost entirely on the mattress.

Fortified with food and having had our fill of free local entertainment, we headed off to walk up to Flagstaff Hill where Hone Heke and his men chopped down the flagpole four times. They must have been very fit because it's a solid slog uphill all the way - he and his men would have done it at night through the bush, I expect.  In 2023, fortunately for us doing it in the midday heat of a very warm day, most of it was on shady road because of the trees - I don't do heat well...

The views from the top were stunning. 

There was a couple from this cruise ship up on the hill.

Looking back down to Russell
Looking over to the Treaty Grounds at Waitangi - the flagpole there is clearly visible.
Easy to see why this area is called the Bay of Islands

Mosaic map of the Bay of Islands
I can't remember what I was pointing at ...

Interesting that I have no photos of the actual flagstaff ...

We chatted to a few people, one of whom (Nicolle) is from London and over here on a young person's work visa. She will be travelling further south (I hope she won't be disappointed, given how absolutely beautiful this area is) and we have asked her to stay with us and even given her Kirsty's phone number so she can contact her when she goes to Sydney after her NZ sojourn. Oops, haven't told Kirsty yet... 

Back down we went and along to the Duke Of Marlborough Hotel for a glass of lemon lime and bitters. (The woman at the museum had told us we must go there for a drink, honest...) And while we were sitting outside, along came the group of cyclists we'd seen at Pompallier House minus the one I had figuratively done to death with my taiaha hiking stick. We got to chatting, as we do, and discovered they were from Taranaki. We asked about their cycling trip - the absent one was already doing a piece of it they didn't want to. I was relieved that I hadn't caused his demise. We said we were too anxious to do that trip although it had been our intention when we set out from home. We said we had a friend who'd come off her bike in Onaero. JUDY they all yelled. 

Talk about 2 degrees of separation! It turns out that Bethne and Adrienne are both teachers who know Jim and Judy well, that Adrienne and her husband Rob (my putative victim) were at one of the Burns Night dinners we attended at J&Js' place.

Bethne, Adrienne and Mike
David and I with Adrienne, Bethne and Mike - taken by an amused and bemused passer-by - we were making quite a lot of noise, to be fair!

They got drinks and joined us but had to race through them so they would not miss their ferry. Still, I think we need to catch up with them when we head back into Taranaki before Xmas. I wonder if Judy will be home from the brain injury rehab place in Kenepuru by then?

After all of that excitement, we headed back up to the motorhome and had a blob - before heading back down to the Green Thai restaurant - delightful place with very delicious food. And it was delivered to our table by robot - what next!? We thought the robot was probably related to Henare, our robot vacuum cleaner.

After dinner, a peaceful walk back up the hill carrying our leftovers and the yellow curry (veg, no tofu) that I had ordered as a takeaway - tomorrow night's dinner... 

I really think  Russell is a place we will come back to, even if it's only as foot passengers from Paihia - the Thai restaurant is open for lunch 👍😀

Sunday 3 December 2023

Russell - Kororāreka

Sunset at Waitangi Holiday Park - beaut place to stay!


While in Paihia and Waitangi we debated whether to go over to Russell as foot passengers on the ferry from Paihia but decided that Russell was worth a couple of days of exploring. So it was off to Opua to get on the vehicle ferry.

We knew from Bernice that we needed to travel quite close to high tide time because of the slope down on to the ferry and the possible impact on the back of the motorhome... High tide was at about 8.30am so we were up and away at not quite at the crack of dawn!

We drove on to the ferry and were very excited - I had to get up close to a large truck and trailer unit, having gone past a concrete truck first. In the interests of keeping the motorhome in one piece, once stopped we retracted the mirrors ... 

We asked if we could get out, and yes we could. Took photos, I waved at the skipper in his eyrie, and notice every other driver still had their engines running - no wonder, because it was about a 6 minute trip! So quickly back in the motorhome, start it up and ready to drive off at Okiata. 

Up close and personal ...


Isn't that beaut?

The ferry coming from Okiato

Not many vehicles on that one - but there was a very long queue at Okiato when we arrived. Commuters, I guess.

Getting close to the landing wharf - took us by surprise!
How old am I? Waving to the skipper ...😊

Very friendly...
My travelling companion of 50 years!


Mirror image, but I am here too.

We drove straight to the Top10 motorcamp and parked across the road where we could leave the motorhome until check in time. 


Some of the pohutukawa are already in flower


Waterfront views at Russell - beautiful.


A woman visiting from Colorado took this photo of us when we were on our way to breakfast. I am not sure why I was standing so far away from David - weird! The Colorado woman and her husband were on a 2 week tour of NZ. They'd arrived in Auckland the previous day and driven to Russell. The following day they were driving to Rotorua, then flying to Christchurch and driving to Queenstown and Milford Sound - all the highlights ticked off, eh...

Then we walked further along The Strand and had breakfast at The Seaside Cafe - yummy! It was a lovely day, so we ate outside, had three phone calls while we were there:

  • Irene and Ian who we called to inspire jealousy
  • Marta (calling from Scotland) who rang for an overdue catch-up and told us that Karol is now 154.5cm, so my height. He's been aiming to get taller than me since he was about 11, and it's almost happened! And considering Olek is now 180cm but was shorter than me till he was almost 14, Karol is matching him. I wonder if he will get to 180cm too? If yes, then he too will be taller than his dad
  • Adair calling from Pukawa for a lovely catch up.


Then it was off exploring on foot:

  • the library and museum grounds
    • a chat with a guy out on the verandah
    • Walker passage

      There is a certain irony in the clause above: 'Ngapuhi chief who was granted land here in 1866 by the Government...' I think the ellipsis in the notice indicates that the irony is not lost on the museum and Heritage Trails people!

      The entrance to Walker Passage

      Tamati Waka Nene lived his life by 6 'points of illumination in his life', each of which is represented by the pou, three in this photo, (his father, his mother and his birth into Te Ao Māori) and


three in this (his prowess in hapu and iwi wars, the death of his children who predeceased him, and the Declaration of Independence and Te Tirit and his promise to support the Crown). The Library is behind, with the museum in the part of the building to the left.

The detailed descriptions of the pou are in this interpretation


The chimney from Nene's house has been made into a seat

  • the museum - we are finding that little town museums are really good: filled with interesting local artefacts and information, and the staff are super helpful and knowledgeable. There was a map outside the museum with local walks and the staff person told us about them and that we must go to Pompallier House and to The Duke of Marlborough Hotel.
    Information about Hone Heke - we climbed up to the flagstaff the next day, so there's more later...

    Kawiti fought the last battle of the Northern War at Ruapekapeka Pa which we went to before we headed to Otamure Bay. The pa is an amazing place.

    Good information in here.

    I though Karol would love this calendar...

  • So off we went to Pompallier House, joined the NZ Historic Society, had a great chat with the two women working in the shop, bought some earrings, and explored the garden. Then we booked in for the tour the next morning.
I bought some wildflower seeds harvested from this garden...
The Printery with the beautiful gardens in front.


I have no idea what this is, but it looks pretty impressive!

 We called in at the lovely Four Square shop and the bookshop (maps to assist in having the geography of Te Tai Tokerau make sense to us, and rulers so I could repair, or at least prop up, the broken shelf in the fridge, and a magnetic road sign.

On the way back to the Top10 - lovely purple tree!

We got parked up on the top level of the camp and set out the chairs to while away the rest of the afternoon enjoying the view out across the bay, feeding the weka, getting a load of laundry washed and dried, and giving up on the idea of going out for dinner...

Husband at rest - not sure what he was listening to.

As the sun was starting to go down, after we'd had dinner.

Tui in the flax

The weka - scrounging for food

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Paihia and Waitangi

We stayed one night at Paihia Top 10, not having realised when we booked it by phone, that it was a bit of an uphill, down dale walk to town. So once there, we just stayed put and blobbed once all infrastructure work was done.

It was a lovely campground, but quite small - the sites were a reasonable size with enough space between them, but we were rear to rear with the people behind us. And the new managers were lovely and doing a really good job.

We moved on the next morning to Waitangi Holiday Park - still in Paihia, but very close to the causeway bridge over to the Treaty Grounds. This camp is quite different to the Paihia Top 10 - wide open spaces and expansive sites.

One of the key reasons for coming up here was to visit and explore in depth the Treaty Grounds and it has been extremely emotional for us. 

Waitangi is where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed on 6 Feb,1840. And while it is one of the few treaties with indigenous people ever developed by the British as they colonised huge parts of the world, and while it is lauded for that, it has not been honoured as it should have been either by the Crown or by successive NZ governments (or incidentally by pakeha NZers in the main) - in the 19th century land was confiscated as punishment for resistance (either peaceful or with armed fighting) to having land taken - figure that one out! 

The disenfranchisement resulted in loss of income from the land and inter-generational poverty ensued, with concomitant poor health and education outcomes, lower age at death, and Māori being far more likely to be charged with crimes than pakeha caught doing the same thing and to receive longer, harsher sentences.

The government which has just been voted out, i.e. the Labour government, was working hard to redress the balance - to improve outcomes for Māori in health, in education, in employment and justice, to reduce child poverty and improve housing. Previous governments, both Labour and National had worked on redress, Labour with more intentionality than National, to be fair.

However this will not be the case with the government which has just been voted in - a coalition of chaos with 3 parties (National Act and NZ First) the leaders of the first two of which publicly stated respectively that they (National) would a) work with the third one if they had to, and b) they (Act) would not sit around a Cabinet table with him (NZF Leader) - and yet here they all are. Such is the draw of power for all three of them. 

The Act leader has race-baited and dog whistled his way into being a coalition partner, working on pakeha (white) fears that Māori being given a fair go means they lose something themselves. Pakeha definitely don't lose anything but they rather like the feeling of being a higher caste - I reckon they don't want equality or equity because they fear that they will be diminished. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! 

Anyway, as I was saying, the government which has just been voted in (how I don't know - it has me doubting the sanity of NZers frankly) have stated that they are going to:

  • require government departments to remove the Māori names of them and only communicate in English rather than using Māori greetings
    • all three of the coalition partners want to limit the use of Te Reo (the language - which, by the way, was declared to be an official language of NZ by a former National government)
  • introduce a Treaty Principles Bill into Parliament as negotiated by the leader of the right wing Act party - he wanted a referendum on the principles, and this bill being on the list is a sop to him, a halfway house with the possibility of a referendum if he can get the agreement of a certain number of MPs. 
    • the intent is to determine which version of the Treaty of Waitangi should be adhered to moving forward: as a) it was written in English and only signed by 39 chieftains or b) the one written in Māori (Te Tiriti o Waitangi) and signed by 501 chieftains. Seems obvious to me that it should be the one signed by an overwhelming number: 13 times as many, in fact.
    • There are differences in the meanings of words which were used purportedly as literal translations. But given Māori's relationship with the land means the land owns them (whenua means land and also placenta, and Papatuanuku is the Earth Mother with all tangata [people] as her children) and they have guardianship of it (kaitiakitanga) as a community; and given the British relationship with the land is that land belongs to the Crown and the Crown can bestow title to it and it can be sold and divided and inherited, it was inevitable that conflicts would arise and the Treaty would not be adhered to.
    •  Sovereignty in English means something different than  rangatiratanga does in Māori
    • And Māori viewed the Treaty as Queen Victoria taking responsibility for governing the settlers who were pretty unruly and out of control, not them. The word kawanatanga was developed (kawana=governor) as governorship to cover that concept
  • So getting the principles interpreted with a pakeha point of view is what the leader of the Act party is after - to limit Māori rights and limit the government's obligations and keep Māori as second class citizens. He talks about it as being equal rights for all NZers, but without affirmative action to lift the tail, equality is a myth. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! And he labels any affirmative action or initiatives to redress imbalance and inequality as apartheid. Double AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
  • Here is an opinion piece by the former mayor of Kapiti for your information - because he states it more cogently than I can, about the impacts of the different understandings of language - sort of like there being lots of words for snow in one of the Scandinavian languages, while we have one ... Anyway, do read it - I found it useful.
  • And Read Anne Salmond for a more articulate and less impassioned discussion of why a referendum about the Treaty principles would be a mistake. The points she makes are relevant for the Treaty Principles Bill too because while the bill will go through a parliamentary process, it will fuel a lot of debate and division in the public. I expect quite a big measure of protest and counter-protest by the public. David and I will be protesting, that's for sure!

So all of the above is an explanation of why being at Waitangi and seeing what could be lost with this wagonload of wankers in power was pretty difficult and very distressing for us. 

The rest of the post is photos so that I don't burden you with more of my ranting ...

A kingfisher posed patiently...

On our first day at Waitangi, we attended a Māori show: poi, singing, action songs, stick games to develop wrist and arm strength and dexterity for use of the mere (club), taiaha (a long fighting stick with a sharpened end and a flat blade at the other) the uses of which were also displayed for us.  Although we have both seen these before in work contexts, this was all very moving. We also had a guided tour of the Treaty grounds with explanations of the significance and history of what took place, what preceded it and some of what has occurred since. My impression was that the tour guide, Ceci, did her best to be impartial, give the benefit of the doubt to, and not very judgemental of, the transgressions of the European settlers/whalers and the British colonisers. She handled a lot of the most significant stuff with a light touch and I think she intended to leave the museums to show a more accurate and realistic view of what occurred after the Treaty was signed, and how discrepant the views of its meaning were. And of course, the colonisers had never considered the rights of any other indigenous people - colonising was what they did and took for granted that they had a god-given right to take what they wanted.

On the second day, we visited the museums both of which were very moving.  

The seven pillars of principle - all cultures have them: defining but different

In one of the bullet points above I referred to the differences in how Māori and Europeans/British related to land. The next three photos are of display boards that explain it far better than I can. It is interesting to note, by the way, that almost all indigenous peoples consider themselves as guardians of the land, that they belong to the land, rather than that the land belongs to them as Western societies believe is the case.

There is real danger in assuming how an unknown people will respond to approaches or assuming that your way is the right way... The trumpet used by Europeans approaching in their ships was seen as an aggressive response to the conch shell calls from Māori, rather than a show of equal noise. Customarily Māori would respond to that call showing they were coming in peace... It was an easy mistake for the Europeans to make but a fundamental one.



This next text shows another aspect of how differently each culture saw their worlds. Of course, Māori only drew the maps because the English requested them to. And I do object strongly to the last sentence including the word 'reason' - that is such a culturally subjective concept and it's thoughtless here, in my view!


Prior to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, a number of Māori chieftains quickly realised they were in danger of losing their sovereignty given the large number of people coming to the country. So they signed a declaration of independence and sent a copy to the King.

William Hobson wrote these words to his wife as encouragement to come to NZ. The coloniser's happy acceptance that Māori would soon die out matches their experience (and acceptance) in the other lands they colonised** - they brought the diseases that indigenous populations had no resistance to (measles, chicken pox, smallpox, influenza...) and quite dispassionately watched them die, as though it was the natural order of things! ** Canada, USA, Africa, Hawaii, India, Australia...

There was cycnicism, concern and mistrust about the efficacy and commitment to the Treaty very early on. And the different interpretations are obvious in these texts. As well, there is a strength of purpose about the principles as written in Te Reo Māori.

In school, I remember learning about Hone Heke - with a different interpretation though - that he was a rebel, rather than a resistor of transgressions against the Treaty, and resisting the loss of income and the change from the Te Kara flag to the British one.

Prior to the last time the flagstaff was felled it had been sheathed for its first 20 feet in iron - didn't stop Hone Heke's men ...

For over a century Maori petitioned Parliament and the Crown about the transgressions occurring against the TReaty - loss of land, valuable arable land being usurped and Maori being disenfranchised.

In 1940, at the Treaty centennial, Sir Apirana Ngata declared that if Māori joined up and fought the Germans alongside pakeha, then surely they would be granted full citizenship rights - part of the Treaty had been that Māori were granted citizenhip, but the rights accruing to them we not the same as those granted to immigrants. For example, during the Depression while pakeha men received 12/- a week of public assistance, Māori men received 9/- a week.

Sir Apirana Ngata's words at the centenary


Over the intervening years and even after WWII where the Māori Battalion fought with extreme courage (and like the black US soldiers) were often given more dangerous assignments than their white counterparts, the returning Maori soldiers were not entitled to the land grants that pakeha soldiers got, mortgages were not made available to them, job opportunities were not on offer.

In 1975, after years of discontent, Whina Cooper decided to lead a hikoi of protest to Parliament - she walked with a growing group of people from marae to marae from Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) to Parliament in Wellington.

During the hikoi this pou was carried all the way and it never touched the ground until it arrived there. It was a privilege to be its bearer.

This is quite hard to read, sorry.

There was a display of people's thinking about the Treaty.

Seems sensible to me!


There was a section that outlined the transgressions in various areas of New Zealand. This one was relevant to me because I grew up in Taranaki and we had our children in Whanganui.

The Kingitanga movement which started in the 1850s in the Waikato and King Country is explained below:

The government had no intention of stopping the land grab.

Willie Apiata was awarded the Victoria Cross in the Afghanistan War. He is a deserving hero and role model for all NZers. Māori are rightfully proud of him. He was an inspirational motivational coach for the All Blacks in 2015.

As we walked back to the Holiday Camp, it was hard to let go of the awe we felt. The trees in flower grounded us.


The pohutukawa are starting to bloom up here.
I don't know what this tree is but it looked stunning.

 I think you can tell by the contents of this post and all the photos that I took and have included here, I found this whole experience extremely moving, and given the sense of dread I have about this damn government (vanguard of vultures, legion of leprous losers, wagonload of wankers...) I have faith in the strength of Māori and the pakeha who are not racist and who want real equity. 

I reckon we will prevail. But look for me on the protest lines, OK?