Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 13: Last Day NZ

Christchurch
The last day’s drive was long and exhausting, from Queenstown all the way north east to Christchurch. Lake Pukaki on the way in the bright sunlight was in one of its very bright blue moods, according to the lady at the tourist stop, who sold me a breakfast bar with a smile. Lunch in Fairlie’s award winning bistro was really delicious, reading through the local paper with an excellent coffee and a warm chicken salad worthy of a town a good deal larger than little Fairlie. And finally Christchurch – initially a very unappealing and seemingly endless strip of low-rise warehouse-style industrial and commercial buildings beside the road, and then suddenly, at the centre, a veritable Upper Stratford-in-the-Wold (if such a place can exist) more typically English than you’re likely to find anywhere outside the nether regions of Shropshire or Herefordshire, utterly quaint, whilst at the same time circled with enormous modern high-rise towers, in the lake of industrial units. A very strange city indeed – all at once picture-postcard English village, international windy city, and highway strip town. The Heritage in Cathedral Square – like all the Heritage Hotels I have stayed in in New Zealand, was lovely, and the restaurant here, in the old Government building next to the hotel tower, particularly good. Last but not least, the Antarctic Centre at Christchurch Airport is an experience not to be missed! – though I should have left longer than an hour to get round it all. And so goodbye to New Zealand, and hopefully see you again!

Some views of the picturesque centre of Christchurch – with the memorial to the suffragettes who succeeded in making New Zealand the first country in the world to extend suffrage to women:
### sadly the tag-based slideshow I created in 2007 is no longer supported by Flickr ###
Please visit the Flickr album to see the Christchurch photos.
Pictures of the penguins at the Antarctic Centre:
### sadly the tag-based slideshow I created in 2007 is no longer supported by Flickr ###
Please visit the Flickr album to see the penguin photos.

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 12: Coach-Cruise-Fly

Tandem Paragliding
OK so the second gig of the holiday, presenting to colleagues at Otago University in Dunedin, has gone well, and I am back in Queenstown, for the day trip to Milford Sound, and fun on my return! The day began early with a several hour long coach drive through three deep u-shaped glacial valleys across to the west coast of south island and Milford Sound. Here we joined a small ferry for a cruise down the fiord and out into the Tasman Sea briefly, then back up the fiord, to the small airport where I took the twin-prop Britten Norman Island Hopper back to Queenstown, sitting next to the pilot! To round off the day, I took the gondola up the mountain overlooking Queenstown, and completely on the spur of the moment went (tandem) paragliding, off the top of the mountain and back down into town. See here for slideshows of some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen in my life!

### sadly the tag-based slideshow I created in 2007 is no longer supported by Flickr ###
Please visit the Flickr album to see the paragliding photos.

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 11: South Island

View from Queenstown Airport
So today I arrived in the Scotland of the southern ocean. And it really is that. The scenery, as you fly in over the snowcapped mountains down into Queenstown, is what can only be described as gobsmackingly spectacular. I was blessed today with brilliant sunshine and deep blue skies – a blue only rivalled by the blue of the rivers and lakes that sit in the dips between the mountains. It really is stunning.

Having flown from Wellington to Christchurch, and then from Christchurch to Queenstown, in the final leg of a rather non-sensical itinerary, I then drove to Dunedin, via Alexandra and Milton. The scenery, however, made it well worth it – including such sights as Roaring Meg:

Roaring Meg

and a host of amazing vistas, courtesy of the mountain ranges of the south.

Queenstown Dunedin road

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 10: Te Papa Museum

New Zealand Forest after European settlement
The road from Tongariro to Whanganui, and on down from there to Wellington, takes the whole morning to drive, but past some very stunning scenery – including a wonderful waterfalls.

At Wellington itself – the capital, although a smaller city than Auckland, but similarly a harbour town – I went straight to the Te Papa (‘the People’) National Museum, which proved to be well worth it.

Here were a number of excellent exhibitions about the flora and fauna, the history of New Zealand, and the tectonic geology of the country – including audio-visual record of the 1995-96 eruptions at Ruapehu, over
the chateau where I stayed.

Grand Chateau under volcanic eruption in 1995

But all these were crowned, for me, by the permanent exhibition “Blood, Earth , Fire” which documents how the arrival of humanity has devastated The Land That Was – only 1000yrs ago an untouched island paradise.

New Zealand Forest before and after European settlement

It is quite stunning how, in the 700odd years that the Maori were here, humanity had already begun, inexorably to take its toll, for all that their ways trod more lightly upon the earth than ours. But the shere
orgy of destruction that the creation of the virtual England of grass, sheep and cows unleashed upon this land in the space of 80years from 1840 to 1920 is truly awesome to behold. The exhibition does not pull any punches, making it clear what impact the Maori had, but not pretending that the Europeans were anything but a million times worse. One of the most poignant parts of the exhibition was a memorial to the dozens of species known to have been lost in this process.

Testament, also, is given to those who, as early as the mid-1930s, began to question this savage repurposing of what was once ancient native New Zealand forest – with trees thousands of years old – into the short-term gain of introduced European grassland for introduced grazing animals bred mostly for export. Today’s New Zealand, it is clear, vehemently defends what is left of its natural heritage; the tide of destruction has been halted.

Herbert Guthrie-Smith quote on the destruction

Also documented here is the sad tale of how the European settlers signed the wonderful treaty of Waitangi and then proceeded to welch on every aspect of the deal, disenfranchising, disinheriting, and simply hoodwinking the Maori out of the lands. The full, formal apology for such treatment from none other than Queen Elizabeth II, quoted in full in the exhibition, is testament at least to the beginnings of reparation – the ‘Claims’ now being heard by Moari people for rights to their own land. Interesting too to note the large numbers of Scots – some refugees from the Highland clearances – Dalmatians, and Chinese, who helped to swell the numbers of English settlers. There were some 100,000 Maori on New Zealand before the Europeans arrived. Now some 4.1million people live here altogether – very very few of them pure-blood native Maori. The fourth floor of the Museum includes an enormous Meeting House for all the tribes and peoples and New Zealand – it gives a really good feeling that, for all the darker side of the colonial history, honesty and a willingness to make good past mistakes characterise the present.

Te Papa Meeting House

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 9: Three Worlds

Mount Ruapehu Today, in the Tongariro National Park, I have been to three places: a Maori land of mountain gods Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe; the area used for the filming of Mordor in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, and some amazing volcanic landscape. All three map onto one another in a jumble of reality and virtuality that was at times slightly confusing. The Mountain Peaks were gifted to the New Zealand people by the chief of the tribe whose land the park now covers, in a bid to save them from the ravages of the encroaching farmers who now had the right to buy land from individual Maori – something which set against the old communal way of life was a legal
nonsense guaranteed to serve the interests of the settlers and not of the Maori. In 1887 it became one of the very first National Parks in the world, and grew in size over the coming century as the government bought out the holdings around the peaks.

I learnt this from a rather shabby audio-visual in the local visitors centre, where the whole thing was split into two, and the left-hand projection was some six inches lower than the right-hand projection, making everything rather weirdly disjointed; worse, some kind of degradation of the film meant that everything blurred jaggedly in the strangest fashion – I have never seen the like – and some of the audio seemed to be lost, such that important speeches were lost entirely against the backdrop of inane music and disjointed photographs, speech-silences that ended in new voices rounding off conclusively with summarising “and so”‘s. In short, it was dreadful, and detracted rather from the message it was trying to convey.

Mount Ruapehu

The other virtual world mapped onto this landscape, however – that of Mordor – whilst an incomparably better audio-visual experience, nonetheless fared little better for me, today, when weighed up against what I would consider to be the real star of the day – the landscape itself. This, of course, I viewed through an entirely more modern eye than that of the old Maori legend, or of the smorgasboard of European folklore that is shoehorned into Tolkein’s epic. This eye was a nineteenth century eye, the eye of the picaresque, the Victorian eye that delights in the wild and in natural landscape, and then returns to the 1929 champagne chateau for gourmet food and fine wine.

Sauron Loses his hand

My guide was a nice enough chap, and showed me all sorts of interesting places. He had been the environment Officer here in the Park for Jackson’s production, ensuring that the mosses and lichens were protected with carpet, and that walkways were built to minimise trampling, and that all the areas heavily churned by the trucks and other vehicles were lovingly returned to the wild with the minimum of disruption. Now he drives people around giving tours, telling stories, and takes people for walks and ski-ing trips. Seemed like a pretty nice life: good on yer Scotty.

Gollum Leaps Down on Frodo and Sam


We collected some of the plastic rubbish left behind by the snowboarders and toboganists, as we wandered through the rocks and crags of Mordor, stopping to wonder at the spot where Sauron’s hand was cut off by Isildur’s father, at the spot in the Emin Muil where Gollum leaped down from the cliff to attack the sleeping Frodo and Sam, at the spot where Frodo and Sam rested on a spur of rock as the lava of Mount Doom flowed around them at the very end. Here where the great Ruapehu spake his Mannah to calm the young North Island freshly brought to the surface of the southern sea by Maui’s hook, the Great Battle at the end of the Second Age was fought, and the tourists ski down slopes of freshly machine-made snow, strewn across the volcanic landscape of the Tongariro National Park.

Rock where Frodo and Sam lie with lava flowing round them

Indeed, the landscape certainly won out for me today, particularly when, in true Kiwi style, I went ‘tramping’ as they call it here, (that’s hiking for the Brits) from the Hotel out to the Taranaki Falls – a lovely 2hour walk through countryside at times not dissimilar from the Yorkshire Dales, at times closer to North Wales, and other times somehow quite lunar, and at all times populated with the most fascinating flora and the calls of strange and wonderful birds. An absolute delight, from start to finish, and – as always for me when walking – a marvellous opportunity for reflection and meditative thought.

### sadly the tag-based slideshow I created in 2007 is no longer supported by Flickr ###
Please visit the Flickr album to see the Takanaki Falls photos.

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 8: Into the National Park

Huka Falls
Well today has been pleasantly slow and quite lacking in excitement – a welcome respite after yesterday’s highlights. I stopped off to take a walk down to the better lookout of Huka Falls, and another round the Taupo Museum, had a rather nice Clam Chowder in an eatery in Taupo, then took the long way round (and more scenic route) down the west coast of Lake Taupo to the National Park, and on up to Mount Ruapehu and the
Grand Chateau hotel – which is splendid.

Here it is time for a relaxed dinner in their splendid Edwardian style restaurant, while the rain pours down outside.

On the way down from Rotarua to Taupo, I passed this amazing installation making excellent use of the local volcanic conditions to power today’s society:

Geothermal Power Station

At the Taupo Museum I was treated to an award winning garden, and the portraits of two 19th century Maori chiefs:

Award Wining Taupo Garden - Chelsea Flower Show no less

Rutene Te Uamairangi Rahui - 19th cent Maori chief in Taupo museum

another 19th cent Maori chief in Taupo museum

On the way down from Taupo to the National Park – taking the scenic route down the west of the lake – I was blessed with some incredible vistas, worth stopping for a few minutes to breathe in the view, and take a snap:

View of Lake Taupo

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 7: Chief Tourist

Warrior welcome
So this morning I had the Great Sights bus tour that took in Te Puia, the Agrodome, and Rainbow Springs. Really from the sublime to the ridiculous. Te Puia we only had an hour at, but was quite fascinating, and I determined after only 15minutes there that I would be coming back to spend the afternoon there. Te Puia is kind of “the Maori Experience” – on the one hand slightly commercialising the culture, but on the other run by and for Maori, and really supporting the perpetuation and survival of the culture. As well as the interpretation areas, for tourists, (including a Meeting House, like the one at Waitangi, but somehow more for the tourists than for the people?) it is also a living museum, incorporating an active teaching carving workshop with many (male) students who learn the dances as well as the carving arts, and a weaving workshop where the (female) students learn the weaving arts with the twine derived from the native flax. The carving is much finer today than of old, with modern tools, but the designs are traditional. I noted with interest that I recognized the flax plant as one my parents had in their back garden, a great big thing it was, beside the tiny apple orchard at the top of the garden, with sharp blade-like leaves that shot out of the ground. Here it was, at Te Puia, being scraped down with an abalone shell, the fibres parted and woven into thread, from which all the clothes of the Maori were made.

Maori Carving Workshop

Also here, of course, were the two geysers of Rotarua, Pohutu and the Prince of Wales’ Feathes geysers, which, perhaps in concert with the earthquake in the Philipines this morning, were both in an unusually active state, and treated us to a fine display the whole time we were there.

Geysers

Then, all too soon, on to the Agrodome, where we were treated to an hour and half of sheep. I was bored to tears, and actually a little annoyed to be wasting time here when I could be back at Te Puia. The man on stage showing us a range of different breeds of sheep was a boorish, ugly, rather gross man who seemed to sum up for me all the worst aspects of the settler culture that arrived here 150 years ago, and in the space of a century cut down most of the trees, and almost decimated Maori culture. Fortunately for us all, the Maori have fought their way back from near extinction and are now a vibrant force in New Zealand politics. The sheer depth, power, and substance of their fierce warriors puts to shame the brash, shallow arrogance and aggressiveness of the ‘simple farming folk’ who know nothing but how to dominate and destroy. As this man sheered a sheep on stage for us, it was like watching the rape of Aoteoroa played out in allegory.

Next stop, none too soon, was Rainbow Springs – essentially a rainbow trout farm using natural springs, dressed up as a conservation site, with a shed housing a Kiwi bird and some display cases with a gecko or
two.

Lunch with a view

Last stop, the SkyLine – a sort of ski-lift thing with gondolas instead of chairs that goes up to a restaurant. A nice buffet, overlooking Rotarua – with quite stunning views – and then back down. Impatient to return to Te Puia, I walked back into town, and enjoyed a stroll from Kaurui Park, with its mud pools and steaming vents. And so back to Te Puia, where I went straight to the great monument where the supreme beings are represented in a great circle, for all the world like a Maori Woodhenge.

Maori Woodhenge

And indeed there are twelve such beings, and yes they map onto a Maori zodiac, tracing out the heavens and the turning of agricultural cycle and the mysteries of the people as they mark the passing of the phases of the year. Here indeed, without question, is the Myth of the Eternal Return, as Mercia Eliade described it, in its south pacific form.

### sadly the tag-based slideshow I created in 2007 is no longer supported by Flickr ###
Please visit the Flickr album to see the Maori Woodhenge photos.

Fascinated by this circle, and snapping away, I didn’t notice one of the attendants come out of the ticket office, and was a bit startled when she stopped me and said I wasn’t allowed to take pictures – then she noticed the sticker on my jacket, still there since the morning, and realised that I was actually a paying customer, and was effuse in her apologies, gave me a hug, and a ticket for a performance that was to take place in about half an hour. Happy with this, I wandered around a little, taking in the recreated Maori village – a very communal way of life they led – and gathered with all the other tourists for the ‘cultural performance’ at the Meeting House. The hostess came out of the Meeting House at last and approached us all at the gate, in full costume, and explained what was about to happen. The performers were going to dance the formal welcome of one tribe to a visiting tribe, and therefore amongst the tourists one of us (a gentleman) had to be chief. Yes you guessed it, I volunteered (keenly) and was chosen immediately. So, at the front of the crowd at all times, with the hostess by my side (and slightly behind) I led the group from the gate slightly into the grounds between the gate and the Meeting House. A fierce young warrior, wiry and lean and dressed only in a short skirt, carrying a large spear, came out of the house and down the path towards me, performing the full dance of challenge, eyes wide and tongue extended in defiance, brandishing his spear in ritual poses as part of the dance. Then at my feet, he placed a fern leaf, and, as instructed, without taking my eyes off the warrior, whose eyes I had fixed with mine from the moment the dance began, and bent down, catching the leaf in my peripheral vision, and picked it up, carefully, to hold by my side for the rest of the performance. Then, the four other warriors and three other maidens joined in the song and dance outside the front of the Meeting House, completing the welcome, as the first warrior beckoned me forward and into the House with his spear and his dance.

The Meeting House

So (with our hostess at my side prompting me all the time) I led the crowd up the steps, where we all took off our shoes and hats, and on into the Meeting House, where I was given the seat of honour, in the front row before the stage. They then all gathered on the stage, in their fine costumes, and performed a number of traditional dances. The brief highlight, before we could continue, was that of course I had to join them on the stage, briefly, to shake hands with each of the warriors, and touch noses twice, gently, with each, in the traditional greeting. It was really quite wonderful. I beamed with absolute pleasure throughout the entire experience, and only towards the end of it remembered to get my camera out and take any pictures. It was an absolutely wonderful pleasure to be so welcomed to New Zealand, properly, in the traditional Maori manner – an experience I shall truly never forget.

The stick game dance

Maori warrior doing the Haka

Now all I have to do is to work out how on earth I am going to get this leaf back to the UK! Australian biosecurity certainly won’t let me take it through.

This problem, however, was solved in an interesting way by the evening’s entertainment – the Tamaki Village concert and meal. This was not better, nor worse than I had experienced at Te Puia in the afternoon, just different, in some ways, and yet the same thing, in others. I felt perhaps, at times, that the edge of commercialisation of the culture was stronger in the evening than in the afternoon – there didn’t seem to be much about the Tamaki village that was putting something back into the culture, like the teaching institutes at Te Puia, it was a business, and it was proud of it. But at times the performance was somehow better, more authentic for being in the forest, albeit that the village seemed as fabricated and unlived in as the one at Te Puia. The food was so-so. I was again Chief – this time of the coach, and one of three, and it was another of the three of us who got to pick up the leaf offering. However, at the end of the evening, we were each presented with a little wood-carving round our necks, representing the Maori god of wisdom, and this, albeit not the leaf from Te Puia, will do well as a souvenir as my day as Chief Tourist, consuming Maori culture as it has been presented to me in exchange for my tourist dollars.

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 6: The Real, the Virtual, and the Surreal

Me at Bag End
So I spent the beginning of the week in Auckland, mostly in my hotel room, cooking for myself, and preparing a Keynote presentation on my Mac to deliver to an audience of academics and web professionals at Auckland University for [CODE], the Centre of Digital Enterprise, who organised the Seminar, on Tuesday evening. My presentation, based on a chapter I have written in a forthcoming book to be published this Autumn, is entitled “Virtuality: Time, Space, Consciousness and a Second Life”. Essentially it’s about reality and virtuality not necessarily being that different, or as opposed as one might at first think, particularly from an experiential
point of view.

The seminar went very well, and I was well received, and have made some interesting contacts at Auckland.

Then today I drove south to Rotaroa, arriving in the evening after a long day’s driving and two rather interesting stopovers. The first was the Waitamo Caves – the Ruaraki cave to be precise – where I discovered that the glow worms are not actually worms but maggots, and what glows is not actually them but their faesces. So “glowing maggot shit” doesn’t sound as good as “glow worm” in the tourist books. The stalagtites and mites however were fairly impressive, though not as impressive as ones I have seen on the south coast of Spain.

Then I went to Hobbiton. Yes, really. To the set used by Jackson to film the sequences in the Lord of the Rings movie that take place in Hobbiton. Really quite an experience. I was struck by the fact that Hobbiton, as a virtual place that has never existed, exists with such power in the imaginary through Jackson’s films, yet the ‘real’ place is just a tired sham, a mock-up facade of seeming with no substance but what our memory of the movie can give it. The virtual, in short, more real than the real, in this case. How apt.

Hobbiton

Hobbiton

Hobbiton

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 5: Kaori Holocaust

Tane Mahuta
Today’s special was supposed to be a catamaran cruise around the Bay of Islands out to the Hole in the Rock, with the possibility of whales and dolphins to see along the way. However the weather has turned for the worse, and the cruise was cancelled. I got a refund, which was good, because it was them, not me, that cancelled. More fool the people who dropped out because of a spot of rain! Anyway I have to confess I was as much relieved as disappointed – the swell looked quite sickening, and I am not certain whether my untrained sealegs could have coped with it; I was up for it though – any chance to see dolphins and whales is not to be missed: but the chance was gone. Never mind.

Waima Valley

Instead, I took a long, slow drive down the east coast of the Far North back to Auckland. This was, of course, again, a Kauri day, down through the breathtaking Waima Valley, and on into the Waipoua Forest, to visit Tane Mahuta, a 2000 – yes two thousand (!!!!) – year old Kauri tree.

Waipoua Forest

Me with Tane Mahuta
This was truly impressive, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity, with a couple from Melbourne who happened to stop at the same time, to get a photo of me in front of it. The ‘Father of the Forest’, this tree was truly awesome in size, majesty, and shere gravitas. A sapling a thousand years before even Kupe arrived, it is now the only really big Kauri tree left, all the rest having been cut down for timber.

Tane Mahuta

Tane Mahuta information

At the Kaori Museum, further down the road, this history was brought all too vividly to life. Quite a large museum for a rural area, this place housed a great deal of historical material. It was, no less, unfortunately, an experience which brought to mind my visit to Auschwitz last September. Here, on display, in graphic detail, was all the machinery, paraphenalia, minute detail, memorabilia, and history of a large scale industrial mass destruction project that took the lives of several million ancient trees – some twice the girth of the 2000yr old Tane Mahuta (!!) – over the space of approximately 100 years. I felt quite sickened by it all, in the end, and in the shop, looking at all the kauri carvings, felt like I was being offered some gruesome equivalent of the notorious skin lampshades…. However, I shrugged off this rather morbid, (and somewhat stretched) analogy, in the end, and bought a carved replica of a Waka paddle. It will look nice hanging by the door.

Trip Downunder Sept 07 – Entry 4: The Far North

Me Sand-boarding
So today I have had a long coach tour trip around the Far North – the spit of land that juts north-west into the Tasman Sea from the top of North Island. It has been a long day, but there have been some notable highlights. The view from my room at the Copthorne in the early morning was a good start, although the jetlag is still robbing me of anything more than a precious three to four hours of good sleep.

View from my room at Copthorne Hotel

The tour guide, a Maori from the Far North himself, and our coach driver, is a fabulous character, and once he has collected the nine of us he has on his tour today, he sings to us all a traditional greeting song, across the tannoy, on his headset mic, as he drives the great coach up the narrow roads. It is a fine start to the day, and we all applaud. He tells us many tales, during the day, and I hear again the story of Kupe and his grandson, of the seven tribes who arrived in seven great Wakas (war canoe) – and how the name of each Waka became the name of the tribe. There was even the story of how Captain Cook saw the Maori boiling up the leaves of a particular tree for medicinal purposes, but thought it would make a great beverage; so he called it the tea-tree.

Tea Tree

Puketi Kauri forest
Perhaps the main theme of the day, though, is the Kauri tree. The Kauri self-prunes as it grows, and grows firm and tall, making it prized the world over for ships masts, plantation house beams, and the like. Stands of Kaori used to cover the whole of the Far North, and on down 200km south of Auckland, until the European settlers arrived, and within a 100 years chopped the lot down and exported it all over the world. Only three pockets of it remain, one of which, Puketi, we visited today, and walked through, on boardwalks not dissimilar to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, excepting of course that here the trees average between 500 and 1000 years old.

One of the day’s stops was the Ancient Kaori Kingdom shop. Much of the land up here is swamp – including acres of protected mangrove – and a thriving business has grown up finding, digging up and recycling what is called Swamp Kaori. Most of it is some 45,000 years old, not very far beneath the surface, perfectly preserved, and excellent for everything from furniture to kitchen utensils etc etc. Of course I have bought a swamp kaori bowl, which will grace my table and serve well for fruit.

90 mile beach
Then of course there was 90 mile beach – actually 64 miles long, but it took three days for the traders to trudge it, and they were used to covering 30 miles a day. We drove up this, in the coach, at 100kmph, which was exhilarating and occasionally unnerving, toward the very top of the Far North. About two thirds of the way up, just out into the sea, is an island with a hole in it – like a needle’s eye, and it is here that Maui, one of the greatest of the Maori mythological heroes, fished out the North Island from the sea, from his great Waka, the South Island.

Maui island

We stopped briefly, just past here, at a bluff where some long forgotten volcano had belched rock into the sea, and then turned inland up one of the many fresh water riverbeds into the dunes. Awaiting us here was quite an experience! Sand boarding dunes The dunes are huge, glassy, barren, and excellent for surfing down. It is actually called Sand Boarding, and two of us, with the driver, had a go. It was really quite exhilarating and woke me from the stupour the long morning drive had been lulling me into.

This was good, because not far from the sand dunes, we made finally for the uttermost tip of the land. Here, the second song of the day introduced us to the place where the ancestors are near. Here, at Cape Reinga, the souls of the Maori dead depart Aeoteoroa for the North West, and head off up to Hawaiiki, the land of the ancestors. It is a very spiritual and sacred spot, where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet in confusion and conflict, splashing every which way at the apex of the Far North. I was very taken with this spot, and stood at the apex of the conical hill overlooking the clashing waves, and faced East, South, West and North, across the Pacific, down the length of New Zealand, out over the Australia, Indonesia and the great expanse of the African and Eurasian continents, and up their eastern coast to China and Japan. It is a breathtaking place from which to look around the world.

Cape Reigna