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From late June 2013 I''ll be in BORNEO. Writing about the Rainforest World Music Festival, food, nature, jungle, orang-utans and much, much more!
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I’d never heard of it, but it seems on the 15th June each year it’s ”Global Wind Day “ As my city, as well as being the Capital of Cool, is also called the windy city (‘Windy Wellington’) and celebrates that element. For more about the wind see New Zealand’s online encyclopaedia Te Ara.
Happy Matariki everyone!
In the Māori language Matariki is both the name of the Pleiades star cluster and also of the season of its first rising in late May or early June—taken as the beginning of the new year. Similar words occur in most Polynesian languages, deriving from Proto-Polynesian *mataliki, meaning minute, small, and the use of the term for the Pleiades constellation is also ancient and has been reconstructed to Eastern Oceanic ( taken from Wikipedia)
Events to celebrate this New Year (June/July 2013) are being held around New Zealand over this next month … see this link for more information
In Wellington, the Carter Observatory (at the top of the Cable Car) has a full programme to mark this annual event, including a ‘family day’. Check out the Carter’s calendar programme here.
Malaysia in green
East Malaysia, Borneo.
Sarawak covers 124,449 sq km (48,050 sq mi), on the northwest coast of Borneo and is bounded by Brunei to the North, Sabah to its North-East, Indonesia on the East and South, and by the South China Sea on its west, separating it from peninsula Malaysia.
Sabah has an area of 74,398 sq km (28,725 sq mi) and its watery boundaries are the Balabac Strait, Sulu Sea, South China Sea, and the Celebes Sea. Land wise, to its south is Indonesia, and south-west, is Sarawak.
That’s a combined total of 198,847 sq km (76,775 sq miles).
The whole island of Borneo is 743,330 km – the sixth largest island in the world. The island is divided among three countries, Brunei Indonesia and Malaysia. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory and the Malaysian states occupy about 26% of the island while the sovereign state of Brunei comprises about 1% of Borneo’s land area. Borneo is home to one of the oldest rainforests in the world.
- New Zealand is 268,680 sq km
- UK is 243,610 km
- California is 423,970 sq km
Wellington, the best little capital in the world, has some great and eclectic museums
Visitors to Wellington (and locals) have a variety of museums to choose from – so if you are visiting briefly or on a cruise ship passing through, check out these very different places you could visit – but of course you absolutely must see Te Papa too.
- Museum of Wellington City and Sea http://www.museumswellington.org.nz/
- Olympic Museum http://www.olympic.org.nz/nzoc/olympic-museum
- Reserve Bank Museum http://www.rbnzmuseum.govt.nz/
- Cable Car Museum http://www.wellingtoncablecar.co.nz/
- Holocaust Centre http://www.holocaustcentre.org.nz/
The Kuching (Malaysia) Rainforest World Music Festival (#RWMF) is all set to take centre stage (June 28-30) at the Sarawak Cultural Village said Datuk Amar Abang Zohari Tun Abang Haji Openg – Minister of Housing & Minister of Tourism, last week.
Yet again this year the Festival was voted as the top 25 best International Festivals by the renowned world music magazine, Songlines, in UK. This award and recognition has elevated its status in the international music scene as a festival and has put Sarawak, Malaysia on the world tourism map.
This year will be another exciting year and the organizer has promised the best line-up yet!
On stage will be 21 bands (13 international and 8 Malaysian) playing a diverse range of world music genres. The festival will continue its unique formula of having the afternoon informative musical workshops, ethno-musical lectures, jamming session and mini concerts held in the ethnic houses within the village. This session precedes the evening performances on two main stages outdoor with the jungle ambience.
The festival will also showcase more of Sarawak’s local talent in line with feedback received from festival-goers in previous festivals. Among the traditional music from Sarawak will be the rare art of the nose flute along with Malaysian folk music interwoven with Chinese traditional instruments.
The exciting and eclectic line-up for this year’s RWMF has now been finalised and the organisers have confirmed performers from Indonesia (Rafly Wa Saja), Iran (Mohsen Sharifian & The Lian Band), Australia (Nunukul Yuggera), Denmark (Habadekuk), South Africa (Dizu Plaatzies & The Ibuyambo Ensemble), Ukraine (Spiritual Seasons), USA (Pine Leaf Boys), France (Chet Nuneta), Columbia (Rey Vallenato Beto Jamaica), Croatia (Kries), Ireland (Kila), Austria (Alp Bora) and Korea (Palsandae). They will be joined by Sarawak and Malaysian bands like Madeeh (Bidayuh traditional root), Juk Wan Emang (nose flute of Kayan), Native Chanting (oral blessings from the various indigenous tribes of Borneo), Maya Green (Sape), Rhythm in Bronze (Gong and Gamelan), Lan E Tuyang (Sape and Orang Ulu dance), Sarawak Drums (percussion instruments of Sarawak) and Shangyin Chinese Chamber Music Ensemble (Chinese traditional interwoven with Sarawak flavour).
This promises to be a not-to-be-missed occasion and organisers hope to attract a crowd of 23,000 for the 3 nights – about 80% are expected to be from outside Sarawak, and that includes me!
Daily tickets, or a 3-day pass are available on line at www.ticketcharge.com.my
For more details: www.rwmf.net
Minister of Tourism Sarawak, Datuk Amar Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Tun Openg (3rd from left) and STB CEO, Dato’ Rashid Khan (2nd from right) looking at the bus advertisement on Kuching city public-link bus after the press conference.
It was many years ago that I first visited this area and in the fifty years since the community started the museum it has grown in status and size. I suspect it’s unprecedented that a museum with no government funding, is run by a small rural community trust, and whose governance structure are all volunteers, becomes an acclaimed museum with international university studies centred there. The Kauri Museum ticks all those features.
Its latest award, in “The New Zealand Museum Awards” was last month (April 2013) where they won the award for ‘an outstanding innovative project that contributes to the best practice in the Museum Sector in New Zealand’. The project was for Achieving CarboNZero Certification – Now there is no doubt – it’s a world-leading, sustainable, museum operation.
“It’s our answer to long distance travellers who find the story of the demise of the kauri tree sad. And, as environmental responsibility is one of our core values, it made sense for us to get a recognised measure of our carbon emissions that we could work to reduce and offset.”
The museum also provides a base for a scientific research project into dendrochronology – a huge word that means tree-ring dating based on the analysis of patterns of tree rings!
Dendrochronologist Dr Jonathan Palmer (supported by Exeter University (UK) and University of Auckland) is developing an archive of ancient kauri samples to help unlock secrets from the past, and museum displays to chronicle scientific research into kauri.
Over a coffee with the three scientists (Jonathon Palmer, Gerd Helle, Alan Hogg) they tell me their research with the rings, pollen and carbon dating is proving really useful as the age of the trees give a longer time period to look at the effects of climate change especially in the southern hemisphere and which has implications for the northern hemisphere research too.
They were at The Kauri Museum to discuss how best to glean the most informative climate data from buried kauri tree-rings. Dr Alan Hogg from Waikato University was helping to give a date of when the trees were growing by radiocarbon dating. The museum’s resident scientist, Dr Jonathan Palmer is looking at the ring-widths to consider past climate patterns (such as El Nino / La Nina frequency) while Dr Gerd Helle (Potsdam, Germany) is specialised at “using isotopes of oxygen and carbon to determine past temperature and moisture levels.”
The three are intending to work together on a particular time period of abrupt climate change so that the most climate information can be obtained from these amazing native New Zealand trees.
This social history museum tells the fascinating story of the kauri and local pioneering days via the use of kauri timber and kauri gum, starting when the settlers came to the area in 1862 – this museum was born 100 years later in 1962.
With exceptional displays and dedicated galleries this is a must do for your Northland bucket-list. These including a magnificent collection of antique kauri furniture, restored machinery (including NZ’s earliest tractor) a turning Steam Sawmill and fabulously, the world’s largest collection of kauri gum.
I wasn’t sure what the difference between amber and kauri gum was – but can now describe it for you: amber is older, so harder, than kauri gum with amber 25 – 200+ million years old, while the gum is a baby at only 43 million years old! I also learnt that kauri timber ranges from gold and golden brown through to green, yellow, browns and blacks. Kauri is one of New Zealand’s treasures – the other is pounamu – greenstone (jade).
Most Kauri were felled in the 1800 – 1900’s for timber for houses and today owners of those old homes treasure their polished kauri floors while tourists buy souvenirs or art works made from swamp kauri or recycled wood from old buildings. Unfortunately there are only about 4% of kauri forest left and they are at risk of kauri dieback disease. The Kauri Coast is the only place to see New Zealand’s ancient trees and is a must-do while traveling the Twin Coast Highway.
My souvenir from this exceptional museum is a beautiful gift – a piece of kauri gum which lives in on top of my very old walnut writing desk. Very special and, thank you Betty.
I recommend you allow at least 1 ½ hours to browse around this fascinating place – see what Trip Advisor members say about the museum. (A hint – it’s ‘excellent’)
Before checking into The Commercial Hotel in Dargaville I grab lunch after spending time in The Woodturners Studio with NZ’s master woodturner Rick Taylor. Seems people here have a good sense of humour and I can’t resist eating at Blah Blah Blah in Victoria Street – the name alone called me in!
The Kumara Box and Ernie are about 10 minutes’ drive (from Dargaville) heading south on Pouto Rd and once there, for about an hour I watch the live Kumara show! Ernie, the kumara, shares his stories and interesting facts about the history and people of the Kaipara area and this much-loved, tasty, sweet potato. (Seems there are ten varieties grown but supermarkets only want 3 of them!)
According to ‘Ernie’ the vegetable came to NZ via an American ship in 1850 where one of the crew gave three to a Māori – luckily he planted them and now they are a kiwi staple.
I enjoy a cuppa, (along with scones made with kumara) with this couple who almost fell into tourism and now thrive on their new job. They now leave it to others (family)to plant the 1½ million plants each year. The ‘train’ that takes guests around the farm was wisely not started up for just one person but I get a tour to see the farm and what I suspect is the smallest church in New Zealand on a quad bike. Note: bookings are essential to visit the Kumara Box and the vegetable has taken on a new life in my mind making shopping for them enjoyable.
Continuing south on Pouto Road I next visit Zizania Paper Products on Turkey Flat Rd where a weed (pest?) is being given a new life.
It seems the Manchurian ricegrass came into the area in either ballast water, or bricks from China which were then used to build stables – the rest as they say is history. Manchurian wild rice (Zizania latifolia) is a giant semi-aquatic grass that has smothered riverbanks, invaded pastures, and run rampant through drainage channels in parts of the North Island from Northland to the Kapiti Coast – now it’s being used for beautiful paper. “It’s the only good thing about it’ I’m told, and Zizania Paper now creates acid-free papers for artists and other lovers of fine products – using also material from red-hot pokers; flax, cabbage tree, and of course in keeping with this area, kumara. See more on their Facebook page.
Alongside Zizania is The Pavilion – a one-Queen-sized bedroom, kitchen, and lounge is a self-contained cottage that’s ideally placed for a relaxing stay in the area. A historic cricket club-house that was relocated here in 2006 and sits nicely in the gardens with its lake – home to frogs, black swans and herons and other birds. However, my accommodation is already booked so I head back to town to the John Logan Campbell kauri-built Commercial Hotel, on River Road.
This is completely refurbished heritage-listed waterfront pub was built during the 1880s, overlooking the mighty Northern Wairoa River. Peter & Pam Kelly spent some 35 years farming sheep and beef farming in the northwest of Dargaville before they took on the task of restoring this fabulous building. They’re people-people and with a love of travel they are the ideal hosts for this charming building – and the care with which it’s been restored is clear. I’m not surprised it’s being used for weddings and other gatherings!
My room was comfortable and with the room overlooking the river it was great watching the river traffic from there and on the veranda where I had a ‘cuppa’ with my hosts as the sun went down. This is an ideal starting point a road trip on the Twin Coast Discovery Highway – the 800km circular route from Auckland that takes you around Northland, and the big sky here makes for fabulous photos too!
The (5-hour) Historic River Walk has the 1867-built Commercial as #14 on the map and says “perhaps a notorious watering hole but a historical part of the pioneer days – gory stories and a fascinating past.”
This is my last night on my 2 week trip ‘up north’, so if you are planning to visit this fabulous part of New Zealand, I suggest you a search on ‘Northland’ in the categories to the right on this blog and find out about places that could be added to your must-see, must-do bucket-list.
Many thanks to Destination Northland for sorting out much of my trip and NZ Rent A Car for the car. I took my TomTom GPS and was often told, when I took a side turning “Mate! Turn around wherever possible and let’s find a mean steak and cheese pie.” Perhaps you can tell I have a kiwi voice guiding me wherever I go!
My last blog (of this Northland series) will be about the award-winning Kauri Museum so come back in a day or 2!