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New Zealand North: Paihia

Monday 25th January Auckland to Paihia, Bay of Islands

We woke at the perfectly respectable time of 7.30 and went down for breakfast, where a very chatty German waitress talked to us. She had previously worked at a Cornish hotel, before coming to NZ and she said she would move after a couple of years somewhere new. Then we waited for our car hire collection. The car did not take too long to sort out and soon we were heading out of Auckland in a nice upgraded Volvo on State Highway 1/ Northern Gateway toll road. We went over the Harbour Bridge and into the outskirts, then countryside. We knew it was a toll road, but had been told we could pay late by logging onto www.tollroad.govt.nz and paying for both directions (which we did when we returned to Auckland. It was NZ$2.20 each way, which was very cheap. Quite quickly we saw the sign to Puhoi, so took a short detour to admire it.
Puhoi Town turned out to be a hamlet 50 km north of Auckland on beautiful Puhoi River. One of New Zealand’s two ethnic villages and gateway to Matakana Coast & Country, it was settled 1863 from Bohemia (Czech Republic) and retains its Bohemian atmosphere. Its story of European settlement is well documented by the Bohemian museum. The beautiful Catholic church of Saints Peter and Paul was built in 1880. The wooden church has 22 stained glass windows and the altar painting is an exact copy of the one in the church in Bohemia.
After Puhoi the green, gently rolling hills and streams became more hilly before settling back into more gentle areas around Warkworth. The “towns” on our route were small and quite old fashioned compared to the UK.
After we had passed through Warkworth we headed along the thickly wooded Dome Valley with Dome Forest to our left. The valley opened out as arrived at Wellsworth and after that Te Hana- again like seaside towns of 1970s UK. At the village of Topuni we passed from Auckland to Northland district. The weather was lovely and sunny and we could see for miles into the centre of North Island. As we got to Brynderwyn (I assume a Welsh connection), it became forest-covered high hills- the Brynderwyn Ranges (apparently this village was the scene of the worst crash in NZ history- 15 dead in 1963). The Brynderwyn Range, and the Tangihuas and Taipuha hills are littered with remnants of great blocks of rock lifted, lowered and twisted by Jurassic tectonic plate movement. As the last Ice Age melted, the Hatea, Mangapai and Otaika river valleys were flooded, forming Whangarei Harbour. There are two natural lakes in Whangarei District, Lake Ora north west of the city and a dune lake near Ruakaka Racecourse. We crossed Hatea, Ngunguru and Mangapai rivers. Whangarei District has 270 km of coastline characterised by irregular rocky headlands, sheltered harbours, sandy bays, estuaries and tidal mud flats. Travelling along the coast, the dramatic landscape was defined by deep dry river valleys, running to beaches and bays off the coastline. Large islands include Poor Knights Islands, Hen and Chicken Islands and Sail Rock. Poor Knights Islands are heavily eroded rims of a large volcano (1000m high, 15-25km diameter), which erupted 10 million years ago, but Hen and Chicken Islands and Sail Rock are from a group of volcanoes only 20 million years old.

Leaving the Ranges the road headed towards the coast, so as it was time for a break we made a short detour to Ruakaka where we parked and went for a walk along the beautiful beach. The beach is in Bream Bay with a number of visible islands (Hen and Chicken Group) in front. The largest is Taranga (Hen) Island, with another, Lady Alice Island to its left (Whatupuke Island and Coppermine Island behind). The others are the smaller island/ islets of West Chicken, Wareware, Muriwhenua and Pupuha in front of Lady Alice. The islands were named by Captain James Cook in 1769. The Māori name for the islands is Matariki (the Pleiades). Hen Island passed from Māori hands in 1872, bought by Thomas Outhwaite. It was bequeathed to the nation by his daughter Isa Outhwaite in 1927. The other islands, originally owned by the Māori Ngā Puhi iwi, were sold to the New Zealand Government in 1883. The islands were made a scenic reserve in 1908 owing to the rarity of the flora and fauna. Hen Island is 7km separate from the rest of the chain. It is considerably larger than the Chicken Islands/ Marotiri, which comprise a chain of 5 small islands; Wareware and Muriwhenua Islands (together forming North West Chicken), Mauitaha (West Chicken), Lady Alice Island (Big Chicken or Motu Muka), Whatupuke (Middle Chicken), and Coppermine Island (Eastern Chicken).
Taranga / Hen Island is 6km x 1km and located off the Whangarei coastline, 14 km northeast of Bream Tail and 15km southeast of Bream Head. Taranga Island is the remnant of a 4 million year volcano 427 m high (The Pinnacles) and separated from the mainland 10–12,000 years ago and is the second largest forested offshore island on the Continental Shelf in Northern New Zealand. 3 km south of Hen is Sail Rock, a prominent landmark. The island has historical features of the Ngatiwai people. While there are few signs of fortifications, stone terracing, platforms and agricultural evidence in the form of stone rows, mounds, and walls are present. The island holds spiritual significance to the Tangata Whenua of Ngatiwai. Taranga Island is bush clad with vegetation comprising of coastal broadleaf forest, dominated by pohutukawa, kohekohe, puriri, karaka, taraire, tawa, tawapo and puka. There is kanuka and rewarewa in areas modified by Maori occupation. There are 4 Threatened, 12 At Risk and 25 Significant plants. Birds include the little spotted kiwi, red crowned parakeet/kākāriki, kākā, pycroft petrel, bellbird/korimako, New Zealand pigeon/kūkupa, and saddleback/tīeke. Taranga was the only place tīeke existed when Europeans arrived. Little spotted kiwi were introduced in the 1990s. On the island are tuatara lizards, Shore, copper, egg laying, ornate and northern brown skinks, as well as Pacific and Duvaucel's geckos. 64 native land snail species, two carnivorous, and one endemic (Amborhytida tarangaensis) inhabit Taranga Island.


Lady Alice Island, after Lady Alice Fergusson (wife of Governor General Sir Charles Fergusson), it is the largest of the five Chickens and significant due to its flora and fauna. The 1.4 km2 island is surrounded by rocky reefs. It was occupied by Māori until the 1820s. Muriwhenua and Wareware are 2 small rocky islands. Whatupuke island (formerly Whakahau) has a large eastern section and a peninsula to the southwest. The coast of the peninsula forms the chain's main land feature, the 300-m Starfish Bay. The island is steep, rising to 234 metres. Coppermine Island is composed of two sections joined by a short isthmus. As the name suggests, there are copper deposits, but attempts at mining them in 1849 and 1898 were unprofitable. Mauitaha is a rugged, scrub-covered rock of 125 m where The Department of Conservation and Ngati Wai iwi have set up a sanctuary for the Polynesian rat, or kiore. All the islands have significant numbers of skinks (which are easy to differentiate from lizards as they are streamlined). The Cyclodina group is notable for containing the smallest indigenous skink, the copper skink (120 mm) and the largest, the 'presumed extinct' Northland skink (350 mm). Not threatened- Copper skink. At risk- Poor Knights skink (below), Robust skink, McGregor's skink, Poor Knights marbled skink, Southern marbled skink, Mokohinau skink. Chronically threatened- Ornate skink, Whitaker's skink. Extinct- Northland skink.

From the beach we could see over to Whangarei Heads on the left and Bream Head on the right. Leaving the beach we drove on towards Whangarei, an interesting area of reasonable hills covered with volcanic rocks. Whangarei is the northernmost city in New Zealand and capital of Northland Region whose dramatic skyline is dominated by the geological structures of Bream Head and offshore islands. Much of the interior of Whangarei comprises gently rolling to moderately steep hills, studded with scoria (volcanic) cones found at Maungatapere and Maunu. To the south and west, the dominant feature is uplifted blocks characterised by steep hills and jagged ranges. Nowhere is more than 800 m above sea level. The central area is dotted with the conical reminders of long extinct volcanoes. The volcanic peaks at Whangarei Heads are 20 million years and those at Hikurangi and Maungatapere 10,000 years ago. Manaia and Bream Head rocks date back 135 million years when New Zealand was part of the great landmass Gondwanaland.

At Whakapara we turned right for a detour along smaller roads over steep hills to Helena Bay Hill where we stopped for lunch at The Gallery & Cafe Helena Bay Hill http://www.galleryhelenabay.co.nz which had a beautiful view down to Helena Bay while we sat outside in the shade. After lunch we went for a short walk in their beautiful sub-tropical gardens before we had to retrace our steps.

We passed through Kawakawa, a small town originally developed as a service town when coal was found in the area in 1861. The town is known as "Train town", because the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway runs down the middle of its main street on the way to Opua. The town is also famous for its Hundertwasser toilet block, designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. We drove through lightly wooded gentle hills to arrive at the coast, giving spectacular views as we descended from the hills towards the Bay of Islands and arrived in Paihia in the mid afternoon. Our motel, Averill Court (62 Seaview) was only 1 minute from the beach which was lovely. We parked outside our motel room and unloaded. http://www.averillcourtmotel.co.nz

Waitangi Treaty Grounds
We realised we had time to visit the famous Waitangi Treaty Grounds, which included native forest, the Flagstaff, Treaty Grounds, Meeting House, Governor's House and ceremonial canoe. Did you know…
● NZ is unique in having 2 official flags; the one we all know and another one agreed earlier and never revoked (some Maori tribes still prefer this one)- both (with the Union Jack) fly from the pole in the Treaty Grounds. The earlier flag (designed by James Busby, agreed by the Maori chiefs and ratified by William IV) is known as the United Tribes Flag and is still significant to North Island Maori. It allowed ships to sail under a recognised flag and so be safe from seizure.
● the UK Government has set a date of 2020 for ALL Maori settlements to be made (some tribes still have not and our guide, whose tribe hadn’t, was keen that they do as he felt it would bring benefits for education, social issues etc)
It was a short 5 minutes drive across the bridge to the grounds where we parked and bought our tickets. The walk was initially through the woods (with informative signs on trees and native birds) with pleasant birdsong, and into the museum and shop.
1. Kahikatea is the dominant swamp forest species and the tallest native tree growing to heights of 60 m, with trunks 2m across. It lives up to 500 years. In fertile, seasonally flooded areas, kahikatea trees grow densely on matted roots and silt, with swamp maire, pukatea, cabbage trees, pokaka, and rimu. Every so often, powerful floods flatten the drying forest, creating a well-lit, damp nursery for young kahikatea, and re-setting the course to swamp forest.
Today there is only 2% of kahikatea forest remaining. Also called white pine, Dacrycarpus dacryidioides, kahikatea are found only in New Zealand. Kahikatea exists as both male and female trees. It dates back to the Jurassic Period. Kahikatea is the only native conifer that doesn’t produce resin, so was often used to store dairy products.
2. Miro is one of the “plum pines” (the other is Matai) and grows up to 20m. It produces vast numbers of red seeds that smell like turpentine. IMG_6400.JPG
They are especially loved by kereru (wood pigeon), who eat so much they can’t move (and the Maori would then collect them!). They also prized the oil from the seeds, using it in scents and as an antiseptic.
3. Mānuka (tea tree) is a flowering plant in the myrtle family, native to New Zealand. It is a shrub growing 2–5 m tall, but can grow up to 15m. It is evergreen, with dense branching and small leaves. The flowers are white or pink, 8–15 mm, with five petals. This species is often confused with the closely related species kānuka. The easiest way to tell the difference between the two is to feel their foliage; mānuka leaves are prickly, while kānuka leaves are soft
Although mānuka/kāhikatoa and kānuka have a superficial similarity and are collectively known as ‘tea trees’ they are genetically distinct from each other. Mānuka/kāhikatoa plants are sometimes covered with sooty mould, a black fungus that feeds on the honeydew produced by scale insects.
4. Kānuka (Kunzea ericoides), although superficially similar to mānuka, is a different plant. Typically it grows into a tree 30 m tall. The trunk and branches have long, leathery strips of bark, rather than the short, papery, flaky brown bark of mānuka. Kānuka leaves lack the sharp tip of mānuka. The capsules of kānuka split open to release their seeds. Research has confirmed that kānuka is endemic to New Zealand. Mānuka is common across North, South and Stewart Islands in lowland to low alpine regions up to 1800 m in many different habitats including wetlands, river gravels and dry hillsides. When mature, it is tolerant of drought, flood, strong winds and frost and it can grow at less fertile, colder, wetter and more acidic sites than kānuka. With the exception of Taranaki, kānuka is common in lowlands, mountain scrub and forest margins as far south as Dunedin. The species has a wide range of tolerance and even grows around active geothermal systems. It can be found from sea level to 1800 metres. Early settlers battled to clear land and regarded mānuka and kānuka as invasive shrubs. Today they act as an important tool for eroded slopes by creating shelter from the wind for slower growing native plants. As these other plants overtop them, the mānuka and kānuka die away in the shade. Unlike other native plants, mānuka and kānuka are not eaten by sheep, cattle or goats. The hard, red wood of mānuka was used by Māori for everything; paddles, weapons, blades, spears and house building. The bark was used for making water containers and the inner bark as a waterproof layer for roofing. Captain Cook and early settlers called them ‘tea tree’ because they used the green leaves to make a substitute for tea. They also brewed twigs from this plant with rimu to make beer. Mānuka flowers smell very sweet and provide an important source of pollen and nectar for native bees, flies, moths, beetles and geckos. Chemical tests have shown that mānuka pollen, and honey derived from it, contains powerful insecticides and anti-bacterial agents that can help fight bacterial infections. Mānuka is now sold in various cosmetics and healthcare products.
We had a guided tour, so we continued through to a second wooded walkway to arrive on the Treaty Grounds lawn. In front was the Flagpole with a beautiful bay and islands framing it. To our left was the Governors House and a little further the Maori meeting house. We just caught the end of the performance by Te Pitowhenua, giving an introduction to New Zealand’s indigenous culture in Te Whare Rūnanga. After they came out we were able to take off our shoes and go in to admire the carving inside.

A note on Maori meeting houses (Whare Marae)
The tekoteko at the top of the whare represents the ancestor, for whom the whare is named.
The koruru under the tekoteko represents a direct descendant of the ancestor
The maihi coming from the sides of the tekoteko and the raparapa at the end of the maihi, represent the arms and fingers of the ancestor.
The amo coming down from the sides of the maihi represent the sides of the ancestor.
The tahuhu running the full length of the whare represents the spine of the ancestor.
The heke running off the tahuhu on both sides represent the ribs.
In fully carved whare, the walls are adorned with poupou or carvings, which represent the history, in relation to the ancestor whose whare it is, as well as tukutuku, or woven panels with the stories of life. The positioning of each is important as poupou opposite each other are connected through the heke, the tukutuku on each side of a poupou are also related. The full name for the sacred courtyard in front of the meeting house is Te Maraenui-Atea-o-Tumatauenga (marae of Tumatauenga, Guardian of War). Going to the marae means entering an encounter situation, where challenges are met and issues debated. All newcomers to the marae must be greeted formally by the tangata whenua (hosts), whether a welcome or verbal battle.
We then met our guide who took us to the Georgian home of James Busby, where the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi was signed between the British Crown and Maori. The house has been recreated inside to the date of the treaty, with a study, bedroom and meeting room.

A guide to the Waitangi Treaty
The Treaty of Waitangi drafted and signed
As British settlement increased, the British Government decided to negotiate a formal agreement with Maori chiefs to become a British Colony. A treaty was drawn up in English then translated into Maori.
The push for a Treaty on one side (British) was the appearance of a French force come to “help” establish a French colony in NZ and on the other (Maori) was the desire to curb lawless activities by European merchants (mainly whalers etc). In 1839 a naval captain, William Hobson, was appointed consul to an independent New Zealand, and lieutenant governor to any parts of the country where Māori consented to become British. He was directed to negotiate for the sovereignty of New Zealand, and establish a British colony. Hobson arrived at the Bay of Islands on 29 January 1840. With the help of his secretary, James Freeman, he drew up notes for a treaty. James Busby, the British Resident (an official position), tidied them up and added to them. Over an evening, the notes were translated into Māori by the missionary Henry Williams and his son Edward, though they found suitable Māori words tricky to find. Hobson presented this Māori-language treaty to a meeting of around 500 Māori invited to Waitangi on 5 February. They held a lively debate on the possible effects of the treaty on their chiefly authority, land and trade, but no agreement was reached when the day-long meeting closed. The next day, 6 February, more than 40 chiefs signed the treaty. Copies were taken around the country over the following eight months, and many more chiefs signed, mainly the Māori-language version. Reasons why chiefs signed included wanting to control the sales of Māori land to Europeans, and controls on European settlers. They also wanted to trade with Europeans, and believed the new relationship with Britain would stop fighting between tribes. Those who didn’t sign the treaty were concerned they would lose their independence and power, and wanted to settle their own disputes. Some chiefs never had the opportunity to sign it, as it was not taken to all regions. Not all Maori signed (or have signed yet) the treaty..
The Treaty had three articles:
Article 1- the Queen (or king) of Great Britain has the right to rule over New Zealand. In Māori it gave Queen Victoria governance (te Kawanatanga katoa) over the land (thus the Maori saw it as giving her permission to use the land), while in English it gave her sovereignty over the land.
Article 2- Maori chiefs would keep their land and their chieftainships, and agree to sell their land only to the British monarch. The Māori version guaranteed chiefs ‘te tino rangatiratanga’ or chieftainship over their lands, villages and treasured things (taonga katoa) and gave the Crown a right to deal with Māori in buying land. The English version gave chiefs ‘exclusive and undisturbed possession’ of lands, forests, fisheries and other properties, but the Crown had the exclusive right to deal with Māori over buying land.
Article 3- both versions gave Māori the queen’s protection and the rights (tikanga) of British subjects.

Even though not all chiefs signed the treaty (either through a definite choice or because no treaty meetings happened in their area or even because they felt it irrelevant), the British government decided it placed all Māori under British authority. It did not take long for conflicts to arise between Māori and European settlers. The government ignored the protections the treaty was supposed to give Māori. Colonial officials interpreted the Treaty on the basis of its English, rather than Māori version. Within four years, officials admitted the traditional rights of chiefs would have to be limited because they conflicted with Crown authority. Violence between settlers and Māori at Wairau in 1843 and war in Northland in 1845 were precursors of more serious battles (New Zealand Land Wars). The Protector of aborigines, appointed by the government to defend Māori interests, was compromised by acting as a land-purchase negotiator, and the position was abolished in 1846. In 1847 concerns that the Crown might seize uncultivated Māori land prompted an appeal from Waikato chief Te Wherowhero to Queen Victoria. Her assurance that treaty guarantees would be honoured was delivered by Governor George Grey. The government succumbed to pressure from the New Zealand Company and validated its dubious purchases of Māori land to found Wellington. Over the 1840-50s European settlement expanded and tensions over land worsened. Many tribes responded by strengthening their traditional tribal rūnanga (councils). In Waikato, tribes of the Tainui federation formed an alliance and 1858 the Tainui chief Te Wherowhero was appointed head of this alliance and renamed Pōtatau, the first Māori King. The aim of the King movement (Kīngitanga) was to retain land by withholding it from sale, believing that the Māori king and British queen could co-exist peacefully. Further wars between the government and Māori led to Māori land being confiscated from several North Island tribes. By the end of the 19th century most land was no longer in Māori ownership, and Māori had little political power. Pākehā settlement and government had expanded enormously. Māori doubted the government would keep its obligations under the treaty. In 1860 fighting broke out between Māori and British troops in Taranaki over a disputed land transaction. Governor Browne hoped to convince Māori leaders to support his actions in Taranaki and reject the Māori King movement. He called a conference of chiefs at Kohimarama, Auckland, in 1860. Over three weeks the Treaty of Waitangi was presented and explained to 200 chiefs, including many who had signed it. The chiefs discovered they had differing understandings of the treaty. Finally they passed a unanimous resolution, the Kohimarama Covenant, which recognised the Crown’s sovereignty and confirmed chiefly rangatiratanga. The government promised to hold further conferences to discuss sharing power, but then didn't. Instead Governor Grey invaded Waikato. This escalated into warfare that spread to the Bay of Plenty and elsewhere. The confiscation of Māori land in Waikato, Taranaki, the Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay left a legacy of bitterness. By 1870 almost the entire South Island had been taken from the Māori. The Native Land Court (later the Māori Land Court) converted tribally owned Māori land rights into Crown-granted titles, making the land easier to sell. By the early 1890s two thirds of North Island had been taken too. Between 1882-1924 four groups of Māori travelled to England to petition the British monarch/ government to ask for treaty rights to be observed. In the 1880s the King movement set up their own parliament, the Kauhanganui, and in 1892 a Kotahitanga (Māori unity) parliament was set up. In the 20th century Māori land continued to be sold, and sometimes taken by the government for public works. In the early 20th century leaders such as Āpirana Ngata introduced schemes to develop Māori land and the government began to support Māori farming ventures. In 1932 the governor-general, Lord Bledisloe, and his wife gifted to the nation the house and land where the treaty had been signed in Waitangi. In 1940 the country celebrated 100 years since the treaty was signed. The occasion was intended as a demonstration of national pride and unity, but Māori were less enthusiastic. In the 1970s protests about Māori treaty rights became more common. The Treaty of Waitangi Act 1975 established the Waitangi Tribunal to consider claims and make recommendations. The principles of the treaty, partnership between the government and Māori, began to be mentioned in New Zealand law, and knowledge about the treaty became widespread. However, resolution of grievances under the treaty remained an ongoing process although the British government have given a cut off date of 2020.

After walking around the Governors House we headed down to the lower lawn/ beach edge where Ngatokimatawhaorua, a 37 metre kauri waka taua (war canoe), carved to mark the centenary of the treaty, sits. A massive kauri tree trunk next to it showed how it was carved from a single tree. We were lucky that we would be in NZ for Waitangi Day, which they celebrate with great gusto. In Paihia lots of canoes, including this one (special invitation needed to row) would set off around the bay.
We headed back through the woods to arrive at the Artefacts gallery again with its copy of the Waitangi Treaty (a special building was nearly complete nearby and our guide said it was hoped to acquire the original from Te Papa Museum to display here). As an interesting point, by far and away most Māori lived in North Island at the time the Europeans arrived- South Island had barely been colonised.

After our history lesson we went for a walk along the beach by our hotel. It looked very rough, so I only paddled, though Steve braved a short swim.
After we had dried off we walked into town, looked at the shops (not many of them!), past the only stone building in Paihia, St Peters Church, then went for dinner at the Only Seafood Restaurant http://onlyseafood.co.nz where we ate...only seafood with a lovely white wine from Cloudy Bay. As we were in the front garden looking out over the bay we watched a glorious sunset with a full moon shining over the bay and Russell opposite. The now peaceful village of Russell is full of history as the 'hell hole of the Pacific'.

Posted by PetersF 14:33 Archived in New Zealand Tagged islands island north bay maori paihia russell waitangi

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