This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in November 1997
Maraenui - Pae-kawakawa
Sunday 11 May 1997
We poured off the bus at Seatoun terminus and headed in bright sun to the Wahine Memorial in J.G. Churchill Park. The ship's anchor and chain and several ventilators, a plaque and seating, looking out to Steeple Rock, Te Aroaro-o-Kupe, where she sank, commemorate the tragedy. Sue described her day's experience at Worser Bay Beach on that awful day in 1968.
The area is steeped in history from earliest human times. Seatoun's foreshore is called Te Turanga-o-Kupe, the place where Kupe stood after landing, perhaps 40 generations before 1900. The flat area at Seatoun is Marae-nui, once used for kumara plantations; the long sandy beach was Kirikiri-tatangi, referring to the rustling sound caused by waves on the beach.
We walked south past colonies of pingao and spinifex, WW.II gun emplacements, remarkable outcrops of contorted strata, and the search-light base perched on a stack at Point Dorset. Up the military road above we saw the site of Orua-iti Pa, once occupied by Rangitane people. Beyond are the levelled remains of a WW.I gun emplacement, and the still-standing WW.II observation posts and gun emplacements.
At the Pass of Branda, we climbed the Eastern Walkway, then went to Beacon Hill Signal Station for a talk by Signalman Michael Perkins, Harbours Department, Wellington Regional Council. The station was established in 1864. We were impressed by the view of the heads and outer harbour, and the work done in the harbour control communications centre.
We used an access to the Eastern Walkway off Beacon Hill Road to enter Beacon Hill Reserve. This untracked reserve needs some "TLC". Its neighbours should remove their rubbish and cease dumping any more. Its features are that it is rarely visited, it contains a large-leafed milk tree (ewekuri) and proved a good place for us to have lunch.
We descended to Tannadyce Street, used steps to Elphinstone Street, crossed the grounds of Strathmore Park School, and at Scots College, Pete Batra told us about his work there. In Fife Lane we saw an early State House, then crossed Miramar South School grounds and used the tunnel under the airport.
The Sewer Reserve across much of Rongotai Isthmus may not sound or seem lovely, but it is a green route from Tirangi Road to Queens Drive, passing Rongotai College and crossing only three streets en route. It also crosses former Te Awa-a-Taia, the channel across the isthmus used by waka in ancient times, before the Hao-whenua earthquake abut 1460AD raised the land ca. 3 metres.
From Queens Drive we climbed Regal Gardens zig-zag to Imperial Terrace, Rodrigo Road, Duncan Terrace and Kotinga Street to the Town Belt and Truby King Park. We saw the Truby King's house, the remarkable brick-work on the Moon Gate and enjoyed scroggin on a lawn near their mausoleum.
Beyond Melrose Park we crossed Mt Albert Park and descended the eastern side of Berhampore Golf Course in the valley of Pae-kawakawa Stream, the valley in which the suburb of Island Bay lies. And there our jaunt across the city's southern suburbs ended, at the bus-stop by Wakefield Park.
- The Great Harbour of Tara. G. Leslie Adkin, Whitcombe & Tombs 1959.
- The Maori as He Was, Elsdon Best, Government Printer 1974.
- Michael Bartlett, Pete Batra, Jacqui Burn, David Calsan, Sue Cuthbertson, Diana Doney, Cecil Duff, Margaret Foden, Lois Harlett, John Hart, Lois Hope, Chris Horne (leader/scribe), Glenys Lloyd, Mary Mason, Ken Mosley, Kath Offer, Olive Park, Pip Smith, George Spencer, Murray Watkins, Rosemary Wilson.