Wellington’s 1840s shoreline and Maori history walk

Last week I joined a group to walk Te Ara o nga Tupuna – a Māori heritage trail through downtown Wellington, following the old 1840s shoreline.

Our section of the walk took about two hours and started at Pipitea Marae. If you cannot join such a tour, the visitor iSite Centre beside the public library has a brochure that you too can follow. (‘The path of our ancestors’ includes a driving trail around Miramar Peninsula.)

Appropriately the pou at the top of Pipitea Marae, is of Maui – the well-known trickster of Polynesian mythology. It is appropriate as Maui is credited with fishing up the North Island, and the mouth of this fish is Wellington Harbour. The first Polynesian navigators of this area were Kupe and Ngahue who camped on the southern area of the harbour. (Seatoun)

Pipitea Marae was built in the early 1980s on the site of an old village overlooking the harbour and close to fresh water supplies and pipi beds. Pipi are a popular shellfish among many Kiwi. The 1840 shoreline has changed considerably, mostly due to reclamation, which has destroyed many traditional food sources. Other changes, near Waitangi Park have been due to earthquakes which lifted the land.

Plaques set in the footpath show where the water used to reach. Walking along Lambton Quay, the main shopping area in Wellington, we hear stories about the names of many streams which were used particularly for women during pregnancy and childbirth.

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Revisiting Waitangi again – next month

New Zealand’s birthplace is a must visit.

waitangi

One of the motivators for my 2012 road trip around Northland was to revisit the birthplace of New Zealand – the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – and in particular be there for our annual public holiday (Waitangi Day, 6th Feb.) that commemorates the 1840 event.

I’m thrilled to be going back again in about 6 weeks, not for a road trip, but for a few days staying in the hotel beside the Treaty Grounds and which I’ll visit again.

In the meantime, read some of my two weeks road trip blogs (and photos) written while travelling around New Zealands beautiful Northland – here’s one to start you off:)

NOTE: For more information about Northland check the official tourism website and to hire a rental car in Auckland I can recommend the company I use:  Rental Cars NZ.

Evolution, Darwin, Wallace and Malaysia

 

A LoveLetter to Malaysian BorneoLooking at some of the TV programmes I have recorded while travelling recently I see one looks at a British explorer and biologist, Alfred Wallace who discovered evolution in Malaysia. I look forward to watching it as I wrote really briefly about him in my book (pub April 2015) see below.

Extract from A love Letter to Malaysian Borneo: or, can this travel writer be green?

Somewhere, in a museum, newspaper, or conversation, I also learnt about something called the ‘Sarawak Law’ which I’d not previously heard of. Alfred Russel Wallace was a British naturalist and biologist known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection. He believed this natural selection was very clear in Sarawak Borneo and his paper on the subject was published with some of Darwin’s writings in 1858 – leading Darwin to later publish his own ideas a year later in the Origin of Species.

In his book, The Malay Archipelago, 1869, Wallace also wrote: ‘The Rajah held Sarawak solely by the goodwill of the inhabitants. Rajah Brooke was a great, a wise, and a good ruler – a true and faithful friend – admired for his talents, respected for his honesty and courage, and loved for his generosity, his kindness of disposition and his tenderness of heart.’ Quite a recommendation and as I said earlier, a film about the White Rajah will be most interesting and I’ll be watching out for it.”

Note: this book has been entered in the Malaysian Tourism Awards 2015 which will be announced on 21st November.

Kate Sheppard: suffrage hero or that bloody woman?

Christchurch in particular is proud that local woman, Kate Sheppard, was the leader and figurehead of the suffrage movement that resulted in a petition that ensured all New Zealand woman were able to vote from 1893.

New Zealand is the first country in the world to give women the vote: married, single, migrant, indigenous, poor, rich, with or without land, working or not – all women were able to vote with the passing of the 1893 Electoral Bill.

Notice we kiwi did not use the word ‘suffragettes’ as we’d the vote some twenty years before that term was coined!

Born to Scottish parents, Kate came to New Zealand in 1868 with her widowed mother, and New Zealand honours her by having her image on our ten-dollar note.

Every Suffrage Day, 19th September, a few women gather at the Christchurch memorial panel to pay tribute to all those wonderful women by placing white camellias and purple balloons on this inner city sculpture. Note this is at the corner of Worcester Boulevard & Cambridge Terrace – although with post-quake (2010/11) plans it may be moved.

A punk rock musical about her struggles with the Prime Minister (Seddon) has recently been performed at the Christchurch Festival .. called That Bloody Woman, it had good reviews so I look forward to seeing it soon – apparently some were initially ‘shocked at the opening scenes’ when her sexual behaviour was exposed but ‘this quickly abated as the story developed’ I was told.

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Pedestrian crossing signal in Wellington NZ.  Began a temporary installation but now here to stay

The memorial was unveiled in 1993, the 100th anniversary of this historic event. It has six women on it with Kate Sheppard holding the petition in a wheelbarrow which is how the petition was delivered to the steps of Parliament in Wellington. The side panels show women in typical everyday (1893) settings – gathering shellfish, teaching, factory sewing, farming, caring for families and nursing. These are flanked by bronze panels telling the New Zealand suffrage story.

Here are more pictures about one of our favourite kiwi women.

 

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Three cheers to ‘that bloody woman’ I say!

The Princess, the crew and, Amelia Earhart

Fiji Princess
Fiji Princess

The Fiji Princess, which I sailed on last month, is about to be part of one of the greatest mysteries of all time. With sixty guests on board, plus the crew, the catamaran becomes part of the “Voyage in Search of Amelia Earhart“.

Earhart,(1897-1937) was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and was an early supporter of the USA  Equal Rights Amendment.

During her attempt to circumnavigate the world in 1937 she disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean and fascination with her life, career and disappearance continues to this day.

Talking with some of the crew about their upcoming voyage to Tahiti it was obvious they had not realised the historic significance of being involved in the possible finding of her plane.

The Captain told me he would be on board for the thousand-mile journey but would not be in charge as the open, international waters require higher qualifications than he has.

Capt on the bidge
Capt on the bridge

One day, deciding not to go snorkeling on one trip out from the boat, especially as manta-ray had not appeared  I sat in the little boat and chatted with two of the crew as they followed the snorkelers while they explored a reef.

Imagine being part of history I enthused, fancy being able to tell your grandchildren “I was there when they found Amelia Earhart’s plane.”

We also talked rugby and dreams of the future. Jona tells me he comes from the last island in the Fiji chain of islands and its nickname is ‘little New Zealand’ as it’s the closest to NZ. He also tells me he supports the NSW Waratahs as he has a cousin in the team.

Both men were thrilled with the Fiji Sevens having beaten NZ a few days earlier, the Chiefs and Highlanders were their favourite NZ teams and both admire Richie McCawhh and richie

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He other young man, Colin, had been a carpenter before joining the Princess some three years earlier, and was studying to further his career: dreams of being the Captain of an even bigger vessel than the Princes is in his future.

Another topic I bought up was my concern about bread being fed to fish at Nanuya Lailai Island, that bread is not good for the fish. I suggested that they (i.e. the company buy) have fish food for them.

Although ,as Dan, a marine biologist who came on board to talk about corals and the local reefs, said ‘I’ve bought this up often but nothing has changed – however, I’d rather them feed the fish than kill them.”

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Back to Amelia and the Princess, this month (June 2015) a research vessel will investigate the area with a remotely operated vehicle, while divers will search the surrounding reef for other possible bits of wreckage and other researchers will scour the island for remains of a possible campsite.

I hope the crew of the Fiji Princess will be able to tell their grandchildren ‘I was there’.

NOTE: For more information about the research project see here and here

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Having fun on Bruny Island, Tasmania

While many on the day tour I took  (Bruny Island Safaris) wanted to see a white kangaroo – they, like animals everywhere, refused to turn up for us to see. We did learn there is no such species as an albino kangaroo, they are simply variants within the normal species of kangaroos and an albino can occur in any species of kangaroo red or grey kangaroo, wallaby or a pademelon.

The tour is an eclectic mix of food, nature, and history.  At the top of the Bruny Island Neck Game Reserve we see a monument to an Aboriginal woman, Truganini, and on my return home I did a little research.

Firstly, Bruny Island is called Lunawanna-alonnah in the native language and

Her memorial at the top
Truganini’s memorial at the top

Truganini  is said to have been born around 1812, a Nuenone woman.

The arrival of Europeans brought violence, brutality and disease to her world and she had two alternatives – adapt or die.

Like much of history there are conflicting opinions about the veracity of her story. Nevertheless, her history sounds appalling: she was the daughter of an elder of the Nuenone people; saw her mother stabbed to death by whalers and her sisters abducted by sealers. It doesn’t finish there. Her uncle was shot, her husband-to-be was murdered by timber-workers who cut off his hands and left him to drown before she was repeatedly raped.  And still it continues, her brother was killed and her step-mother kidnapped by escaped convicts and her father died within months. She’d lost her entire family.

The Nuenone people, a band of the south-east tribe have connections with Lunawanna-alonnah (Bruny Island) and the D’Entrecasteaux Channel which separates it from Tasmania’s mainland. The first white settlers landed in Tasmania in 1803 and by 1836 the surviving first Australians were thought to be about 300. Another estimate says only 150. Either way the result is a humanitarian nightmare. Most of this information gleaned from www.Wonthaggihistoricalsociety.org.au

Here are few photos from the most enjoyable day …. esp as we were all picked up and dropped off at our Hobart accommodation

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Another story I’ve written about Bruny Island include cheese, oysters and berries 

Dame Ngaio Marsh – New Zealand’s Queen of Crime

One of the worlds queens of crime, Dame Ngaio Marsh  was born in Christchurch, New Zealand and a while ago I wondered if her house had survived the quake: I’d assumed ‘yes’ given it’s wooden and is in a relatively unscathed part of my old city.

The “Ngaio Marsh house” suffered only minor damage during the  2010 /2011 quakes that rocked the city.  Sited on the lower Cashmere Hills meant the damage to the area was less than other places the city and Canterbury – a chimney had been demolished and the sewerage pipe was broken but repairs have been made to both.

Their website said “The house was well shaken, creating a considerable mess with small items and books widely distributed over the floor. However, nothing of special significance was lost apart from a few pieces from Ngaio’s glass collection.”

So, the house remains basically as it was and is still open to visitors – as are most things in Christchurch.  See what Wiki says about our beloved Christchurch treasure –  Dame Ngaio Marsh

I took these photos during my last visit to the house in May 2010 – my first visit was for a fairly wild party in the early ’80s – not long after her death!

Just some of her books .. how many have you read?