Thursday, August 27, 2009


Mount Taranaki

In Maori legend two mountains, Taranaki and Tongariro (the latter located in Taupo) both fell in love with Pihanga. They battled over her and Tongariro won the battle, sending Taranaki off and down to the Western coast of the north island where he now rests outside of New Plymouth.

I headed to this area in New Zealand, the last place I wanted to see before leaving this awesome country. Mount Taranaki greeted me with its majesty and I was compelled to stare at it for the hour it took to get from Hawera to New Plymouth.

I was picked up by family of friends I had made in Wellington. Katrina and her daughter Siena took me to Waitara where I was to stay for the next two nights. Katrina went above and beyond her role of host by showing me around New Plymouth, Waitara and Parihaka. I would never have been able to see nearly as much without her.


Waitara is a suburb of New Plymouth, about 20 minutes away.

This marae is the only marae I have actually been to that is as carved as this one. Most marae are simpler, and the more detailed ones are often found in museums. We weren't able to go inside, but when we peeped through the window, we could see a lot more carvings gracing the walls.

Below, different shots of the marae.

Siena with warrior

Bell Block Beach

Bell Block is another suburb of new Plymouth.

New Plymouth

Len Lye was a Kiwi artist known for his kinetic sculptures. He made a few versions of what is called a wind wand. Wellington has a more rudimentary version, but New Plymouth invested in the final version. Though the plans for this wind wand were never realized in his lifetime, the 45-meter high wind wand in New Plymouth was built and installed a few years ago. Basically, the idea is that this wand bends with the wind, giving an indication of how strong the wind is.

Little wind

Stronger wind

The waterfront in New Plymouth has undergone serious work and is quite a beautiful walk on a nice day. A few minutes away from the center of the city is where the Sugar Loaf Islands are found. This is a gorgeous area and quite popular with the surfers.

Fur seals can be found in this area too.

Sugar Loaf Islands

The next day, I took a walk around town and went to St. Mary's Church, which is the oldest stone church in New Zealand. Though I didn't go inside, I was really charmed by the grounds. They have a nice grove of beeches that lent a really special atmosphere to the area.

Above St. Mary's Church is Marsland Hill, which has a nice view of New Plymouth.

Below: 360 degree view from Marsland Hill

Exposed Corillian

Later in the afternoon, Katrina came to pick me up and thought we should go back to Marsland Hill to see if we could see the mountain that time and it was as though the gods were listening because the clouds had parted and the view was exquisite.

Mount Taranaki

I would not be allowed to leave New Plymouth without going to Pukekura Park so we stopped in and took in the sights. From this view below, you can also see the mountain in the background (though not in this particular picture).

The next day I was to take the bus to Auckland, but we first headed over to Parihaka, a very important community for Maori people. Parihaka was the area where Maori people, led by the prophets Te Whiti and Tohu, staged a passive resistance against the Crown for the confiscation of their land. They were jailed, abused and killed, but the resistance continued. Today Parihaka is a symbol of resistance through peaceful means and is a greatly respected place.

Many families still live in this community and they still uphold the concepts of their predecessors. Te Whiti and Tohu's passive resistance strategy was used by Ghandi 60 years later.

It's a beautiful place, somewhere I'd like to go back to in the future and spend more time at.


Monument to Te Whiti

View of Mount Taranaki from Parihaka

1 comment:

katrina Rukuwai said...

I enjoyed reading your diary of your stay here in Taranaki. My girls still remember your brief but interesting time in our home. I hope life is treating you well.
Katrina Rukuwai x