Traveling home over the Tongariro Crossing we pulled off to the site of Lake Rotoaira and Motuopuhi Island.  I was struck by the number of fantails flitting through the bush, and the tragic tale of this Island – once the site of a Pa of the chief Wharerangi, who reluctantly protected Ngāti Toa leader Te Rauparaha. Te Rangikoaea, the wife of Wharerangi, stood over the kūmara (sweet potato) pit where Te Rauparaha was hiding, thus ritually shielding him from those using spiritual means to find him. The incident became the basis for Te Rauparaha’s famed ‘Ka mate’ haka. Motuopuhi was formerly a peninsula, which became an island when the lake level was raised by the Tongariro power scheme.  There was an horrific slaughter here in the 1820’s, and if you would like to read more of the history visit

shed blood
only piwakawaka remain

The mountain in the background is Tongariro.



Took a trip today up the Coast, to look for fossils and to give Bert a run at the beach.  Turned off the highway at the little town of Maxwell, and couldn’t resist photographing this old Church.  We travelled on from there to Ototoki Beach, which was an amazing place and thoroughly enjoyed by us all – more of that place in the next couple of posts.  So many of these wee churches dotted around the New Zealand countryside.  This one looks as though the front porch roof was lowered at some stage.


We visited the historic Kawana flour mill near Matahiwi.  This mill was built in 1854 and is the last remaining flour mill on the Whanganui River.  Wheat was an important crop at this time, and with funds from Government, local Maori, and Governor George Grey, several of these water-driven mills were built in the 1850’s.  This mill was built by local Maori and millwright Peter McWilliam using Totara logs salvaged from the river by volunteers.  The millstones and cast-iron machinery were carried upstream by a fleet of 32 canoes.

Flour was ground here for over 50 years, but after this the building was gradually dismantled, only the machinery, wheel, and millstones surviving.  The two-room cottage belonging to the last miller also survived and was moved to its present site and restored in 1980.  The mill itself has been rebuilt.

Loved the reflections in the old cottage window…