Saturday, April 20, 2013

The North Island from Wellington to Turangi

April 15th
After dropping off our car, GRL, we take the ferry from Picton to Wellington. The South island has been great, but now we are on to the North Island. Beginning in the fairly big city of Wellington.
Barry! It says no sitting on the rail.
As we near the North Island, dolphins frolic and dash at the ship, leaping five abreast.

Our new car is a guy named GQ. Slightly more room in the boot. We are up on the top floor of the hotel with a view of the harbor.

We run out quickly to the National Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa.

In the museum, which has a heavy Maori influence, the labels and descriptions are in Maori and English. I can't help thinking about the Australian Aborigines. The Maori language has been written out, helped no doubt by its closeness to other Polynesian languages.

The Maori only arrived in New Zealand 800 years ago, only a few hundred years before the Europeans. The Maori had a somewhat warlike culture and were able to influence events. They had the Treaty of Waitangi signed in 1840. Not a perfect document by any means, but one which gave them all the rights of citizens and promised that land would be purchased from them. The only problem was that the Maori held land roughly in family groups and purchases were often made for little from one family member. Still even though the whites controlled about 90% of the land by 1930, there had been some attempt at fairness and people are encouraged to make a claim under the treaty, if they feel land was taken unfairly. The aborigines were just chased off.
Why? The Maori wore clothes, built houses, had a boating tradition, quickly converted to Christianity, were Polynesian, and had myths and stories of their history.
The aborigines, since they had been in Australia since prehistoric times, 40 to 60 thousand years ago, had a dream time history. A history since before memory. They mostly did not wear clothes or build houses except for the stray rain shelter. It is warm in Australia. They did not put up any kind of coordinated fight. But what I do not understand is the lack of study of their language. Although the aborigines do retain some secretiveness about their beliefs. There is a lot of variability in the language from place to place, due to the length of time the aborigines were here and it would be a monumental task to write and study. But I don't understand why no one is working on it. These languages are just being left to die. The aboriginal families were broken up and the lighter skinned children were adopted by white families. The Aussie plan was just to absorb the aboriginals. Sounds like how the USA treated the Native Americans in many areas and instances.

April 16th
Back to the museum. We stay until our parking tag runs out at 2pm. We skip over a lot. We could have used another day here.

William decides what Polynesian islands we might visit some day. Not Banaba, nothing left after New Zealanders bought the mineral rights for 24 cents and stripped the island of phosphate to fertilize the grasslands of New Zealand. Not Kirabatu, too polluted. But it is washing away with the rise in sea level anyway. Not any of the atolls like Bikini where atomic bombs were set off. He says maybe we will sail a boat from Hawaii. I think not, unless we have a Polynesian to sail the boat.

Land use changed with human settlement. Before humans 85% of the land was indigenous forest and 5% was grasslands. Now 55% is grasslands, 25% is indigenous forest and much of the rest is pine plantations. But much of the Eastern USA was forested. Now not so much. You have to put things in perspective. Increased populations put heavy demands on the land. Scotland was a land of pines. Remember the Cedars of Lebanon, may they rest in peace.

Decisions about tomorrow. Maybe the Woolshed. There is a demonstration every Wednesday.

April 17th
We spend quite a bit of time in the Woolshed learning about sheep farming. 

We then go to the Masterton Museum, where we spend time reading more about the history of New Zealand. The Maori were intimidated into selling their land to the Crown for little. The land was then offered to whites for homesteads.
Guard rails of sticks and number 8 wire.
On to Napier. I see a group of three pukeko at the roadside. I have seen these birds three times at the roadside, so I know I am not seeing things. I do some research and find that currently the roadside ditch is their habitat, since most swamps have been drained. Who could know?

April 18th
We climbed the hills where Maori villages once stood. The Otatara Pa Historic Reserve. We climbed over at least 6 styles. Most of the fences had insulators on them, but maybe the electricity was not turned on.

This style was OK to climb. Some others not so.
Possum World has a huge display about the depredations and natural history of the possum and tons of items made with possum fur. You can buy a possum tail for only $4, but I decide not.
You press a button and the possums sing On The Road Again. They are the most frequently run over animal in New Zealand.  If you are driving at night, better to hit one of these guys than a moose, like in Alaska.
After the downtown of Napier was demolished in a huge earthquake in 1931. The town was inundated in workers and in a few years, in a make work project supported by the government, the town was rebuilt in an Art Deco style.

Clive Garden
The bells play a number of tunes on the hour. One I recognized was Tiptoe Through the Tulips.
April 19th
One of the purchases we made in India was to be shipped after the first week of April. I guess they got tired of holding on to our purchase and shipped it on the 8th of March. It arrived in LA, not Oakland and was then trucked to Oakland and warehoused there on the 15th of April. Lots of problems and lots of extra expense.
We had to hire a lawyer in Napier to notarize papers hiring a customs agent and authorizing daughter Valerie to manage these items through customs and to deliver them to our house.
There were times yesterday when we really felt like wringing the neck of a certain Indian merchant.
All of this business took all day. We then drove from 6PM to 8PM to Turangi.
Just got here before the front desk closed.

April 20th
Our 6th day on the North Island. We are here in Turangi for a week. This is school holidays for two weeks. There are some children here. So far it is pouring rain. Needed we are told. We went to the intro this AM with the lure of grilled sausages. Actually pretty good. We learned that the video store offered a discount for visitors to Turangi Leisure Lodge, so we get some videos. We hit the Saturday Market. Sparse for vendors, but we buy something from almost every one. Jam, honey, shortbread, corn relish, and purple potatoes. Then on to the New World grocery store. We gravitate to the Pam's brand. I think this is the house brand, but it usually suits our taste. Though I did buy Watties pasta sauce, another iconic New Zealand brand.

Maybe the rain will let up later in the week. At least I have my cheery NZ apron to cook lamb chops in.

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