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Kawhia – A step back in time

Kawhia Harbour

For the last two months my son Jeff has been visiting from the UK. As I'm still working, we've been limited to the odd weekend away with them. So we've tried to show them some places that the average tourist (and kiwi, come to that) don't often see.

This weekend we booked a holiday cottage with on the west coast, in a small coastal village called Kawhia. If you look on the map, you'll find Kawhia about 35 km to the south of Raglan as the crow flies. But if you want to get from one to the other on tarmacked roads, you'll drive nearly 120 kilometers. It's on a piece of land between the Aotea and Kawhia harbours, so provides some sheltered water on what is otherwise the rugged side of New Zealand.

The Bach

The Bach

We've spent quite a lot just recently, so went for the cheapest place that would give us three bedrooms between 5 adults (we have another friend staying with us too). This was a typical old Kiwi style bach of the kind passed down from generation to generation. We sent my son and our other house guests on in advance, then hubby and I followed on after work on the Friday. On arrival I was met by my son. 'Whist's it like?' I say, 'It's a shack' says he. 'It can't be that bad', says I, 'Oh yes it can' says he.

Well he was pretty close. I'd say the building pre-WWII. The outside was painted a fetching bright eggshell blue. The floorboards were solid (and I think probably Kauri), and the inside walls were tongued and grooved boards. Lights were turned on by a little cord next to the light bulb (no good for short people). The kitchen and utensils were old but clean(ish). The location was superb – right on the water front. And there was a dishwasher! (luxury!)

There were good bits.

The Entertainment

The bathroom was a corrugated iron shed tacked onto the side, with vines growing through the walls. It opened directly onto the kitchen, and there was a half-inch gap down the side of the door that you could see straight through. The front door wouldn't close! There was a padlock on the door for when you went out, but you kept it closed when inside by putting a big rock in front of it.

And there was no television. Now I personally think this was one of the good bits. We started (and finished) a large jigsaw puzzle, read books, played Boule, and sat and talked.

But the absolute worse thing was the insects. Or more to the point, one type of insect, namely the Black Cricket. A number of them appeared at various intervals (including down the loo), but were chased out. Then on Sunday morning we had the Day of the Crickets. I woke up and went into the kitchen on the way to the loo. There were three large crickets, and multiple babies, in the sink. What to do? I found a jam jar with a lid, and proceeded to spoon the large crickets in. But the babies were having nothing of it. I tried to wash them down the plug-hole – and six more large crickets came out of it!They joined the ones in the jar. By the time I'd finished, I'd collected about 15 of the little blighters.

Black Crickets

But apart from that it was OK.

Kawhia Village

Kawhia and The Blue Chook

Regardless of the bach, we loved Kawhia Village. It reminded me of the kind of place that Janet and John visited on their summer holidays in those old children's reading books, There's a couple of cafes, a pier where the kids launch themselves into the water and fish, a small museum, 'Hotel' (read 'Pub'), general store of the old kind with a friendly proprietor, and a restaurant bar called 'The Blue Chook'.

We'll tell you more about 'The Blue Chook', because they were so nice there. In NZ speak, a 'chook' is a chicken. And a blue chicken is a pukeko. So really the restaurant was called 'The Pukeko'. They have a board of specials every day. On our board was John Dory (an ugly fish with a superb taste), flounder (fresh from the local fishermen), steak and spaghetti bolognese. There are also pizzas. Our group had one of everything, and they were all very well cooked. There are tap and bottled beers, wine, and soft drinks. Just before our meals came out the whole area had a power cut. Fortunately our meals were already cooked so we sat and ate them by the light of a lantern. Very romantic… Now there's only one problem with a power cut – it puts the EFTPOS machine out of action too. And this was a long power cut. So we couldn't pay! Never mind – the manager gave us a paying in slip for their bank account, and I've just paid them on-line. Now how's that for trust? What a friendly place….

Ocean Beach

Kawhia hot water springs

Two weeks ago we went to the Coromandel, and visited Hot Water Beach. You dig in the sand at low tide, and you can make your own hot water pool. Or you could if there were any space on the beach. I've never seen so many people on such a small piece of beach (except at Bournemouth on a sunny day).

SEE:Cooks, Hot water and Hahei Beaches

Ocean Beach is the equivalent on the West Coast. And that's where the similarity ends. Ocean Beach has a hot spring too. When we visited it there were two families who had dug their own pools. The sea is lovely – rolling waves, which on the day we visited were just big enough to boogy board but small enough they didn't knock you flying. The sand is very different – this is volcanic sand, and the sand dunes (which you have to climb over – be warned – they're high) are black. One word of warning – take shoes. At 10:00 am the sand was nicely warm. By 12:00 noon it was so hot to walk on you could burn your feet badly, or do The Black Sand Shuffle threes paces forward and jump on your towel.

Crowded Beach NZ style

Kawhia to Raglan via the Coast

On Sunday it was time to go home. Our house guest was continuing south, and we decided to head north and to Raglan, via the gravelled back roads. The Tonka Toy handled the roads beautifully – you really do see some beautiful areas of New Zealand when you get off the beaten track. We approached Raglan by the back road, with the intention of stopping for coffee before continuing home.

Raglan and the Classic Car Show

Raglan Classic cars
Harbour View Hotel with waiter

We knew we weren't going to have such an easy time of it when the cars were parked all the way up the approach road. And sure enough – the main road was blocked off. We were lucky enough to find a parking place down a back road, and set off to find out what was going on. The main road was lined with classic American cars. There were live bands, stands selling t-shirts and other souvenirs, and people dancing in the street. We took the opportunity of wandering round, then very fortunately found ourselves a free table on the balcony of the traditional Harbour View Hotel where we could sup beer and watch the proceedings. What a fantastic end to a lovely weekend!

Miss Junior Raglan
Budding Mechanics

Kawhia History (Wikipedia)

The harbour area was the birthplace of prominent Māori warrior chief Te Rauparaha, and is known in Māori lore as the final resting-place of the ancestral waka (canoe) Tainui.

Kawhia is the final resting place of the Tainui Waka, where soon on arrival, captain Hoturoa made it first priority to establish a Whare Wananga/sacred school of learning which was named Ahurei. Ahurei is situated at the summit of the sacred hill behind Kawhia’s seaside marae – Maketu Marae. The base of Ahurei is now where The Tainui Waka is buried, and its placement and burial there was done by Hoturoa himself, and other members of the iwi. The Tainui waka was buried, and Hoturoa marked out the Waka with two limestone pillars which he blessed. Firstly, there is “Hani, (Hani-a-te waewae¬kimi-atu) which is on the higher ground and marked the prow of the canoe”. Marking the stern of the canoe, Hoturoa placed the symbol of Puna, the spirit-goddess of that creation story. “In full it is named Puna-whakatupu-tangata, and represents female fertility, the spring or source of humanity”. It is said that a pure woman who touches this stone, will be given the gift of a child, and become pregnant. There have been cases of women using puna when they have had difficulty conceiving a child of their own.

It is now that Hani and Puna mark the resting place of the Tainui Waka, and Kawhia holds the honour of that sacred keepsake, with such history. Ahurei overlooks Kawhia’s harbour and Maketu Marae which provides its people with history of its own. The Main meeting house, Auaukiterangi, is named after Hoturoa’s father who was a high chief (ariki) and was built and opened in 1962. The eldest and most prestigious meeting house that was first built on Maketu Marae is Te Ruruhi (the Old Lady) which was used as the dining hall until the erection of Te Tini O Tainui. This two-storied dining hall was built in 1986 in order to cater for the numerous numbers that visit for occasions such as annual poukai, tangi and hui.

Raglan History

The Raglan area has been inhabited for at least 800 years and was originally known by Maori as Whangaroa “the long pursuit”. To avoid confusion with another place of the same name, Whaingaroa was later adopted to avoid confusion. The current name of Raglan was adopted in 1858 in honour of Fitzroy Somerset, 1st Lord Raglan, who was the commander of British forces in the Crimean War at the time.

The first Europeans to settle in the area were the Rev James and Mary Wallis who were Wesleyan Missionaries that local Maori embraced and welcomed in 1835[2]. European settlement including large scale conversion of land to pasture commenced in earnest almost 20 years after the mission in the mid 1850’s after a large sale of land by Chief Wiremu Neera Te Awaitaia.

The local Raglan economy was supported initially by flax and timber exports, these were followed by farming and dairy which are still the mainstays of the area. Tourism and the arts are also significant contributors to the current economy.

Raglan and District Museum houses a collection of historic artefacts and archives from the region.

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Kawhia and Raglan Map

tonka_trips/d_kawhia_raglan.txt · Last modified: 2011/02/14 21:58 by tel
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