Kohukohu is an historic settlement on the north shore of the Hokianga Harbour, and the traditional homeland of the Ngapuhi people.  It is an area where Kauri was logged, and shipped in great quantities over the bar at the mouth of the Harbour.  Records show that sixteen ships were lost when attempting the crossing, the last recorded being the schooner Isabella de Fraine which was lost with all eight crew in July 1928 after capsizing at the bar.

The name Kohukohu means ‘cursed’ in Maori.  Apparently Kupe, one of the great Maori explorers, was angry because the food from the hangi (earth oven) was insufficiently cooked.  Therefore he cursed those responsible using the word ‘kohu’.  Because the word ‘kohu’ also has another meaning of ‘misty’, you can take your pick which one is correct.

From the south, Kohukohu is accessible by taking the ferry from Rawene.  It has a thriving art community.


only thirty minutes away
she said
you must visit Rangi’s Point
you’ll love it
she said

she didn’t mention
winding shingle roads
up steep slopes not wide enough for us
and the logging truck we met
on a tight bend
by driving off the road

she wouldn’t have known
about the two little Maori boys
free-wheeling on a bicycle
waving to a truck driver
suddenly wobbling
into the center of the road
brakes, and a sharp intake of breath
as we just missed them

Rangi’s Point
was blue water and mangrove roots
further away than thirty minutes
unless your driving
is sucicidal

if you meet that woman
don’t listen to what
she says


I love Hone Tuwhare’s poem ‘The Old Place’

no one comes

No one comes
by way of the doughy track
through straggly tea tree bush
and gorse, past the hidden spring
and bitter cress.

Under the chill moon’s light
no one cares to look upon
the drunken fence-posts
and the gate white with moss.

No one except the wind
saw the old place
make her final curtsy
to the sky and earth:

and in no protesting sense
did iron and barbed wire

ease to the rust’s invasion
nor twang more tautly
to the wind’s slap and scream.

On the cream-lorry
or morning paper van
no one comes,
for no one will ever leave
the golden city on the fussy train;
and there will be no more waiting
on the hill beside the quiet tree
where the old place falters
because no one comes any more

no one.

Hone Tuwhare is one of New Zealand’s foremost poets.  This early poem of his reminds me of  ‘The Listener’ by Walter De La Mare.  Both evoke a nostalgia for days that are gone, and both use a certain amount of repetition to create a mood.  Behind this poem is the so-called urban drift of our New Zealand population, beginning mainly after the second world war.  Ultimately it is about the losing of a way of life that was slower and held different values.  For Hone’s generation, and for mine, there will always be a sense of loss.  The wairua of Hone’s Maori heritage, and his feeling for place come through strongly.



These are found at Hokianga South Head where there is a layer of shelly mudstone  known as the Orbitolite Bed.  They are overlaid by the conglomerate which you can also see in the photographs.  There are shell and lace coral fossils and some unique giant foraminifera reaching sizes of up to 2cm across.  When you remember that these are single-celled organisms this is an incredible size.  Click on any photo to enlarge

As promised – the puzzle was an old detached leaf from a yucca