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?


Sunday 26 November 2023

Into Tai Tokerau proper now...

 In the last few days we have moved on from Uretiti to the NZMCA Park at Manganese Point, then on to Otamure Bay.

After we left Uretiti, our first destination was the dump station - you guessed it. That cassette and grey water tank both needed emptying, the water tank needed filling - again. And we can't blame google for getting the location of the dump station wrong - we didn't listen properly to Bernice's instructions (it probably would have helped if I'd loaded the address into my phone while she was talking, but instead I trusted a man, an ACP in fact... But once we found it, all was well. We had driven past it, and in fact had stopped just across the road to get diesel and still not twigged that this was where Bernice had told us about ...

 David had ordered a power adaptor thingie on line. And once again, I failed to take Bernice's advice and I did end up driving through the parking area for the shopping centre - narrow, busy, breathe in to make the motorhome less wide - reminded me of the one in Richmond near New World! We exited unscathed and found a park down a different street. David offered to go over to Chemist Warehouse alone but I was NOT having him crossing that 3 lane road with no pedestrian crossing on his own... It was a hand holding crossing with loud instructions: To the middle, and now to the other side - NOW, David!

We had looked at the freedom camping site by a roundabout at the entrance to Whangarei - but already it was pretty full, and we weren't keen on hearing roundabout traffic all night. So it was off to the NZMCA Park at Manganese Point. 

It's a fabulous site - but a long way to go to get there! And the approach is a bit daunting - a steep downhill, narrow, gravel drive. There were only 2 motorhomes there when we arrived so we had the pick of the sites. We chose one with a beautiful view - and I sat outside the motorhome and read for ages in the sun. And in contrast to what the roundabout would have been, it was a very peaceful night. It doesn't have many spaces but it is small and perfectly formed - like I used to be about 55 years ago!

The view

I asked David to set the chairs out in the sun - this was his effort...
The approach to the camp is in the background.

Dinner was portobello mushrooms baked with pesto and a small lettuce salad - yummy, thank you, Adair! And we ate outside.

Sunset approaching - I was still reading outside.
I was inside by this time...

In the morning, over an al fresco breakfast we had a long conversation with 2IJ - we miss them. 

Brekkie - what a lovely place to be.

One of the changes we had made to the motorhome in October was the orientation of the garage door. It used to be hinged at the bottom, and as short people, we struggled unsuccessfully not to lean on the hinges... And it was difficult to reach right into the garage to retrieve stuff from the far side. Freeway put a new frame on, hinged at the top, and a catch to hold it up. Yay!!

If the garage was empty, I reckon I could tip David in there quite easily - yeah? Shall I try?

David was in charge of navigating us back to the dump station (who keeps pooing?) I'm not saying it's his fault, but I am blaming him - for (excessive pooing and) a wrong turning on the journey back which meant an extremely long** journey into the dump station.  

The route we should have travelled, i.e. the route we came out on the previous day.

The route we travelled: I did say that I thought we should turn left, but David insisted that Google maps was right and he remembered that this was the way we had come... No, google maps wasn't right, not even close. Lesson: look at the entirety of the map before starting off, esp up here where a wrong turn can mean really long detours are required.


It was a **29 additional km adventure, but not necessarily one I wanted though. What it did demonstrate is another reason why this part of NZ, as per the centre of the North Island, inland Taranaki and many other rural areas (East Coast, the top part of the South Island between Picton and Nelson...), are sparsely populated - steep almost mountainous hills that descend into deep valleys, all covered in bush. Even where the bush has been cleared, in the main, settlements are perched on the coast.

And we've come to the realisation that infrastructure maintenance always takes a lot longer than we expect:

  • 3 waters administration
  • more supermarket shopping by me while 
  • David swapped an empty gas bottle for a full one (he was back at the motorhome for ages before I came back fully laden again - with elongated arms...)
  • and got a refund for the wrong power adaptor that he knowingly purchased ...

Then we had a long drive out to Otamure DOC camp - we had looked at it online, decided to go there, then changed our minds because we were already weary (!) from the extra 29kms of winding hilly driving, the infrastructure maintenance load (sore arms and shoulders for me ...). But as often happens, I couldn't make up my mind where to go instead and everywhere we looked at on the NZMCA app seemed to be down long winding roads anyway. So Otamure DOC Camp got re-selected. It felt like a l-o-n-g way out of town, and you know the road is going to be slow when it's 28kms and 40 minutes ...

But surprise surprise, when I went to check in, I recognised Cindy the custodian. She had sold us that disastrous house in New Plymouth back in 2011... Lovely old villa, bad decision on our part. Should never shift to be near your kids and grandkids - only a few months after we bought it (and didn't manage to sell Cherswud, thankfully) Tim informed us he and Marta and the boys were moving back to the UK...

And when I told Bernice, she told me that they knew Cindy and Ray well - from long acquaintance at Uretiti where they were custody sergeants before Otamure.

We parked up overlooking the sea - what a beautiful view! 

View from the door.

I had planned that we would have garlic and chilli vegan sausages with beetroot and carrot salad and broccoli, cauli and carrot salad, but I ran out of oomph. So it was garlic and chilli vegan sausages, potatoes with butter and parsley, lettuce salad with lots of avocado - much easier and didn't involve the grater...

We had a walk along the beach after dinner, and played silly games with long shadows.


The man takes his own path 💘


See, we are tall really!

David being a bug-eyed monster

See - silly games... 😂

A two person triffid perhaps?

Otamure Bay is quite small and I wouldn't be wanting to bring a boat in through those reefs!
We didn't walk far enough to see if that is an island and if yes, whether it's accessible at low tide.

 There are some very large and extremely impressive pohutukawa trees here at Otamure Bay. 

Some of them are so large that their branches are on the ground.


Peaceful and calming.
Soon this will be in flower.

Irene, these trees and all the others up here and throughout NZ are why we need to get rid of possums - they destroy these trees, and letting them do so feels criminal to me. They are so beautiful and old - I think about the storms they have withstood and the life they have seen.
As we walked back there was a family fishing and playing on the reef.

Early to bed - how unusual!

Twilight here is much earlier than in Waikanae - we must be getting close to the equator!

The next day the weather was pants, so we blobbed all day. I did get up to make dinner though - and I did employ the grater and made beetroot and carrot salad to go with asparagus and a lettuce salad...