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Home arrow Articles by Topic arrow Te Araroa arrow Trail Stories - Kerikeri to Whangarei
Trail Stories - Kerikeri to Whangarei PDF Print
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Articles - Te Araroa
Written by Geoff Chapple, Te Araroa   
Thursday, 01 March 2007

A man wearing a boating cap was chewing the fat with the driver of a fizz-boat over some problem on the Ngunguru Spit. The spit was a natural asset for Ngunguru, sheltering the estuary on the seaward side, and for decades had provided a wide sandy playground.

But just now the spit was a hot issue. A developer had purchased much of it. There was talk of someone employed by the owner chasing people off the privately-owned bit. The developer was talking about a subdivision.

It's not right, it belongs to the whole community. DOC should buy it - trouble is, DOC would leave it just as it is. I'd like to see pohutukawas planted right along there.

"It's not right," said Boat Cap. "It belongs to the whole community. DOC should buy it - trouble is, DOC would leave it just as it is. I'd like to see pohutukawas planted right along there.

"No, subdivision isn't the right thing," said Boat Cap thoughfully. "Mind you - no-one should interfere with private property. You have to watch them. DOC, the Council, they can put so many restrictions on it that it becomes valueless, then they just buy it. He's got his rights, and if they took it off him - imagine the rates he's paying on that strip - all our rates would go up."

There was a confused pause, so I took the opportunity to ask the fizz-boat man if he could take me across to the spit.

"Sure - step in." Peter Raus and his craft Eze Going seemed quite pleased to get going, stern digging down, bow up, flat tack across the estuary. I walked to the base of the spit and onto Barney Mahunga's farm. I'd previously checked if I could come through, and explained Te Araroa, and I went up to the farmhouse to pay my respects.

Yes, Barney Mahunga still felt he'd be happy to have the trail mapped across his farm.

"The people who'd get in the way of something like that, they're just niggly buggers," said Mahunga. "I like it. I used to do a lot of that myself. Pig hunting in the forest. We used to ride the horses down that track you used from Whananaki North - all along there."

The spit ran straight off the Mahunga farm, and I asked him about it - it would surely have been Maori land once.

We used to go there and camp as young fellas, but the old people said it was a tapu place. You'd be chasing rabbits and you'd come across a skeleton.

"Oh yes. It was a tapu place. We used to go there and camp as young fellas, but the old people said it was a tapu place. You'd be chasing rabbits and you'd come across a skeleton. The skeletons were always coming up - the wind would wipe away the sand, and there'd be another one. The old people said there'd been a big battle there, but I don't believe that. I think they just lived and died there."

"If it was a tapu place," I asked, "why was it sold?"

"They sold it in the 1930s," said Mahunga. "And I reckon the old people sold it to keep us off. They didn't like us going there at all."

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Last Updated ( Monday, 23 April 2007 )
 
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