Maraenui - Mapuia - Te Aro
16 May 1999
A nor-westerly gale gusting to 90 km/h and the resulting spiralling plumes of spray on Evans Bay, historic sites, native bush and some little-used right-of- ways added to our enjoyment of this suburban tramp.
Maraenui, the original name of the flat area of Seatoun, was once the site of kumara plantations. This flat did not exist in Tara’s time when Miramar Peninsula was an island, Motu-kairangi. The uplifts caused by the Hao-whenua earthquake (ca.1460 AD) and the 1855 earthquake accelerated the formation of Seatoun Flat, and progradation, still in progress, brought it to its present extent and produced Kirikiri-tatangi shoreline on the south side of Worser Bay.
From the bus terminus we walked via Seatoun Park and Hector St to J.G. Churchill Park. Here we saw a striking pou-whenua (post) commemorating the area as Kupe’s landing place: Te Turanga-o-Kupe. From the previous paragraph it is clear that his actual landing place must have been at the south end of Seatoun Flat near what is now Pinnacle St. (Historical Information: "The Great Harbour of Tara". G.Leslie Adkin, 1959 Whitcombe and Tombs).
Churchill Park is a thoughtfully designed memorial to the inter-island ferry, T.E.V. Wahine and the people who died when she sank off Steeple Rock (Te Aro-aro-o-Kupe) on 10 April 1968. It features her anchor, chain, several ventilators, a plaque and seating.
We read the commemorative plaque on the seat once often used by the former Prime Minister, Norman Kirk, at the corner of Falkirk St and Marine Pde, then climbed Pinelands Ave zig zag to Fettes Cres and Seatoun Heights Rd. Inverell Way, cut through the south ridge of Seatoun Hill, was our route to Seatoun Hill reservoirs. The smaller one, built in 1926, and the larger one. built in 1935, one enclosed in a single concrete structure. (source: Terry Pinfold, Wellington Regional Council). Here we had good views of the airport, Lyall Bay, nearby suburbs and the Rimutaka Range. We then descended the concrete steps of the legal access, until they disappeared in shrubbery; then with permission from the Montgomery family, used their path to Seatoun Heights Road. Exeter St. zig zag down to Newport Tce gave us an excellent view over Seatoun Flat and further east.
Then came our next hidden right-of-way. It descends on the south side of No. 131 Seatoun Heights Road to Townsend Rd between No.'s 59 and 61. A pile of recently cut branches partly blocked it, a driveway encroached on it, and several trees have been planted on it, but it still has the potential to be a useful walking route if steps were built down it to provide a pedestrian link to Miramar via Ashleigh Cres. Bill Cassels at No.59 Townsend Rd gave us a warm welcome and was pleased that the 20 feet wide right-of-way was once again in use after Cape ivy and some branches had been earlier cleared to ease our passage.
From Awa St we climbed the steps to Seatoun Heights Rd and Lookout for scroggin, saw the pou-whenua marking the site of Te Whetu Kairangi Pa and the nearby spring, Te Puna a Tara, and went through the grounds of Worser Bay School. We descended Awa Rd and went along Totara Rd to climb the zig zag through an impressive grove of Pohutukawa. Above Napier St we followed the sealed path which is so pleasant because of the views of the harbour and the freedom from vehicles. Thus it was a shock to find that the north end was being destroyed by "roadworks" to produce a driveway. Such is progress.
Off Nevay Rd we took a little used track into Maupuia Park. It seems that people have used it as an alternative to the Southern Landfill, such was the variety of rubbish along the first part of the track. Soon we emerged south of the abandoned homes of Wellington Prison staff on Access Rd and enjoyed the striking view of Evans Bay whipped to a frenzy by the gale. No wonder no windsurfers were down there!
Our third hidden access way was a strip of reserve west of No. 7 Countess Close, Maupuia. A large trailer was parked on it, construction materials dumped there, and unauthorised plantings were done to make it look private. We descended the zig zag, garden and lawns on the Right-of-way, passed a large pile of branches and weeds dumped in the reserve, and bushwacked down to the Maupuia Walkway. Up and along the walkway we were propelled by the gale, then we descended Aranui St zig zag to lunch in the welcome shelter of the trees and shrubs south of the hazardous waste incinerator at Miramar Wharf. Two rusty trawlers heaved uneasily at their moorings, such was the swell.
We passed the octogonal building housing the spare Cook Strait Cable, then swung west along the south side of Evans Bay leaning against the buffeting wind. Evans Bay Marina was peaceful by comparison! We used the right-of-way along the waters edge, along the sea-wall to Hataitai Beach and around. the coast to Cog Park. Beyond Treasure Grove Park, Kainui and Matai Roads, we descended to Hataitai shops and walked along recently named Arcus Way. This is a pleasant unsealed track in the valley of a branch of Waipapa Stream, long since buried in a culvert.
Climbing Hohiria St, we turned into the grounds of Hataitai School, up the steps to Ariki Rd, the Hepara St zig zag and into Roseneath Play Area, a splendid viewpoint across Evans Bay. We climbed, parkas flapping in the strong wind, to the trig on Mt Victoria/Tangi te Keo (196m), and quickly descended minor tracks on the Town Belt to Palliser Rd. We enjoyed the short but scenic St. Gerald’s Walkway, used the lower section of McFarlane St with the houses right on the edge of the street, and descended Prince Street's wooden steps to Oriental Pde. Our six hour trip ended at Courtenay Place, 400m east of the site of Te Aro Pa, now occupied by the junction of Taranaki St and Courtenay Pl. During lunch we had seen in the Heritage Trail booklet "Old Shoreline - Wellington City", a remarkably good photo of Manners St and the Pa, taken in 1857. That booklet and "Te Ara o nga Tupuna - The path of our ancestors" have been used in preparing this trip report.