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Published: February 11th 2018
Original NZ Flag, now the Maori flag
Thursday morning we awoke to grey skies and showers. Our plan for the day was to visit Paihia and the Waitangi Treaty grounds. Having done British Pacific History at Uni (48 years ago) I remembered some of the history of this area. We drove to the ferry and had a safe, though, wet crossing. Then it was a short drive into Paihia and through the town to the Treaty grounds themselves. This is now managed by locals. It is $50 entry fee and no discount for Seniors, but there is plenty to do here .The pass gives two days to explore and also see a cultural show as well as have a guided tour, neither of which we bothered about. Our first stop was the excellent Museum. This is very modern with interactive displays and video presentations.This part of NZ is traditionally the first settlement by Maori who came from Polynesia in their large canoes. The museum shows this and juxtaposes the arrival of the Maori with the arrival of Europeans. The early European contact here was friendly and profitable to both sides with trading of goods for supplies for European ships. The first settlement at Russell, (then called Korowkorwakhere, though,
In the grounds of Waitangi
grew into a lawless place and was called the Hell-hole of the Pacific and it was a need for law and order which was behind the treaty. As this was not a British Colony, British troops could not be used, so William Hobson was sent with an order to establish a treaty between the Maori and the British Crown. In the museum the short film which reenacts the negotiations between the chiefs and the British is shown and translations of the treaty into Maori show misunderstandings of just what they were signing. However, on the 6th February 1840, the treaty was signed by most of the local chiefs and then the document travelled throughout NZ for other tribal groups to also adhere their signatures. The facsimiles of these documents are on show here as well as the tale of the subsequent misunderstandings which led to the Maori wars in 1845 ,and as the subsequent struggle for the initial terms to be recognised in parliament. The whole display is interesting and informative and we spent nearly two hours there.
We then walked on, through the gift shop (of course) and out onto the nature trail which leads to the Treaty
House itself. It was raining lightly and the area was very lush. Before restoration this had been a run down farm and since then plantings of native flora have returned it to a beautiful forest of ferns and tall trees. We emerged onto a very large lawned area which was dominated by a large flagpole. This was flying the Union Jack, the NZ flag as well as the Maori flag which had been the first flag used before the British established it as a colony.The views over the harbour towards Russell were beautiful, if somewhat misty, due to the rain, The Treaty House itself was the original residence of James Busby and his wife and 6 children, who was the first British Representive here. It was, in this house, that the treaty was written and translated into Maori and in a tent attached to the side, finally debated and signed. This has been beautifully restored and houses artefacts from the time. The gardens at the back reflect the type of kitchen garden that the Busbys probably had, with corn and veggies planted there. Across the lawn from here there is a Ceremonial Maori House where the cultural show is held
and important ceremonies on Waitangi Day occur. The carvings of this house are intricate and tell amazing stories of Maori legend and culture.We then walked back past the imposing war canoe which was made for the centenary of Waitaingi Day in 1940.It was constructed from two large Kauri trees and is the largest of its kind in the world. The carvings along the side are detailed and it is launched on each Waitaingi Day and paddled in the harbour.
After a very interesting visit we returned to the township of Paihia. We walked along the main shopping area and I bought a beautiful NZ forest fairy ornament for my Christmas tree. We then crossed the esplanade to have lunch at Alongside, a bar and cafe under large sails looking out over the sea. Here I had Ito Maki, the local version of ceviche, served with salad in tortillas while Fletcher settled for local fish and chips. The rain was still falling and got heavier as we sat there. Then it was back to the ferry and back to Russell. We diverted on the road back to visit the Omata Wine Estate. Here we tasted their range. The best was
Views across to Russell
a very nice rose and the reserve syrah was good. Otherwise we were less than impressed. We went to the tour office in Russell and were told that due to "horrendous" weather forecasts, our day trip on the harbour for Friday was cancelled. At least we were given our refund. Very disappointed we walked along to Christ Church, the oldest church in NZ to have a look. This is a small white, wooden building which is very plain inside but charming in itself. In the cemetry outside is the grave of the Maori chief, Takawa Nene, who was famous in these parts. Then it was back to the car and back to our room.
We ventured out later for dinner, although the rain was still pouring down and went to Tuk Tuk Thai restaurant next to the Tavern. This was packed and the staff were struggling to cope with one chef, a manager and one waitress, who told us she was only helping out. However, the service was good and the food very nice.We chatted to a couple at the next table who came from Auckland but were originally from the Ukraine and Poland. Fletcher had inquired which language
Treaty House and lawn
they were speaking and that started a pleasant conversation. . Then it was home and eventually bed.
Friday dawned, grey and miserable. The rain was teeming down and there did not seem to be much point in venturing out. However, at 10 o,clock, with raincoat and umbrella in hand, we drove through the town and up to the lookout at Flagstaff point. Here is the original Flagpole which first flew the Maori flag. However, when subsequently, the Union Jack was flown fron here, Haka Hene, the local Maori chief, chopped it down, not once but three times. It was subsequently reinforced with iron and became a catalyst for the fighting between Maori and the British. The views from here would have been spectacular if we could see clearly through the rain. We read the large plaque there and then returned, rather sodden , to the car. Nearby was also a giant sundial set on a beautiful mosaic of the bay. I'm sure it was accurate, but no sun, so no shadow!! We drove to Long Beach, the local swimming spot. This looked inviting but not today! There were two brave surfers bobbing about looking for the next break. Back
to the town and a visit to the Russell Museum seemed the only dry thing to do. This is small, but well laid out and has information about the local flora and fauna as well as human history. The most spectacular exhibit is a one-fifth model of Captain Cook's Endeavour with full rigging. Other displays of Maori handcraft as well as bits and pieces of British occupation kept us interested and informed for another hour or so.
We then decided that the best way to spend some time on this rainy, gloomy day was with a long lunch, so we walked to the Duke of Marlborough to do just that, on their enclosed veranda, (which leaked!!). I opted for the chicken breast on a risotto while Fletcher chose fish and chips again! Both dishes were good with my chicken being very scrumptious and the risotto extra tasty. Not a scrap remained on the plate. We also decided on dessert, which was OK. This was a Pina Colado cake with pineapple. After a couple of pleasant hours spent there we stopped for supplies at the 4 Square store and returned to the motel where we stayed for the rest of
Courtyard of the Treaty House
the day and evening, picknicking in our room on bread rolls, chicken and tomatoes.The rain continued to teem down.
Saturday we left the motel about 9am for the drive to Auckland, and yes, it was still raining! We decided to drive the coastal route to Whangerei, rather than go on the ferry. This was 30 kms further but we had plenty of time. It was not an easy drive, with the rain, very heavy and winding roads, but we had glimpses of interesting coastlines and pretty beaches. However, about 40kms into the drive, we came to a section of the road that was flooded. Not knowing how deep or swift the water was, the only safe option was to turn around and drive all the way back to Russell and the ferry. It was a silent trip back, especially when the google map on my phone took us down a turn-off and then 3 kilometres along told us to do a U-turn!! Back at the ferry it was a misty crossing and then we drove along Highway One, heading south. Fletcher drove to Whangerei, where we stopped to fill the car and then I drove back to Puhoi for
lunch. We went back to the pub, where we had great food on Wednesday. For the third day in a row Fletcher had fish and chips while I tasted their excellent salt and pepper calamari. From there, it was a half hour drive to Takapuna where we had booked a room at the Takapuna International Motor Lodge for the night. This did not live up to its grand sounding name. There was nothing wrong with the room but the TV only had three channels and did not show the cricket later that night. However, our main reason for stopping there was to catch up with Steve Hollings. He came to see us at the motel and then we drove to Takapuna beach and had good food at Regatta's on the beach front. The meal was fine but it was a very popular, noisy place so we did not linger too long. Back to the motel for a chat and to finish the cheese we had bought at Puhoi and then farewell to Steve. Another Kiwi friend whose company we enjoyed.
Today all we have done is driven to Auckland Airport. As I write this the rain i teeming down
Inside the Ceremonial House
and we have been told our flight is delayed by 30 minutes.We have enjoyed our sojourn in New Zealand but i will have to return to the Bay of Islands sometime to see it in its full glory. Looking forward to home and a busy week ahead.
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