Next to Normal in Waipawa

Originally posted on Jill’s Scene

Jill's Scene

A grand old dame all dressed up The grand old dame all dressed up for show night

An hour’s drive south of Napier, past the tiny settlement of Otane, the small town of Waipawa (Misty River, in English) nestles between the hills and the Waipawa river. It’s purportedly one of the oldest inland towns in New Zealand. And it is small, even by our standards – the population is only  1923 – up 48 people on the last census. Along the main street there are a few houses, of the humble variety, a petrol station, some shops, a supermarket, a small library, and a settler’s museum. Travellers in the know about the quality of the cafe might stop but most drive on through, probably believing this is just another dead or dying country town where nothing much happens.

But have I got news for you! Waipawa is the home of the Waipawa M & D

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Welcome to my part of the world!

Looking South

Looking towards the south from Bluff Hill, Napier

Welcome! This is my part of the world: Napier, New Zealand/Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud. My family has lived here since the 1880s. The region is known for it’s sunny weather, vast skies and open space. Some say Napier has a mediterranean climate. Me, I’m not so sure. Some days, during the heart of summer – maybe.

It’s late autumn, now. Antarctica feels very close, much too close for comfort. The southerly winds are frequent. They are cold, the sort of cold that cuts through the warmest coat, that tastes of ice and snow. When a southerly strikes the sky and the hills turn grey and the sea rages with an icy fury that keeps even the hardiest fishers and sailors close to home. After the wind has blown itself out we have biting frosts followed by clear, sunny days – a fine compensation for the rough weather!

If you look at the photo you can see the point of land on the horizon. That’s Cape Kidnappers. Captain Cook named the cape in 1769, during his circumnavigation of New Zealand, after local Maori attempted to kidnap one of his crew. Two Maori were killed and one injured.  The crew member made it back on board the Endeavour.

In Maori tradition Cape Kidnappers is known as  Matau-a-Maui, or the fish-hook of Maui. According to legend Maui, the ancient demigod, pulled the North Island from the ocean while he was out fishing with his brothers.  Maui features in many legends, in many cultures around the South Pacific. He usually did what he was told was impossible. Apart from fishing up the North Island, he went into the underworld to find his father, he harnessed the sun, and stole fire.

To the south, beyond  Cape Kidnappers, there is nothing but ocean until Antarctica. And to the east there is nine thousand kilometres of the Pacific until landfall in Chile. We are, indeed, a long way from anywhere.


Note: Information about Maui is taken from the reference below.

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal. ‘First peoples in Māori tradition – Māui’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 22-Sep-12