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…


In this old house, nearly 100 years old, with it’s strange little nooks and crannies, and a conglomeration of add-ons and modernisations, there are stories held if we only know how to read them.  Built between two world wars, did it lose someone to that second slaughter?  Who were those first hopeful owners who made it their home.  There are signs all around that the garden was once loved and cherished, and the ancient grapevine over the wooden arbour is covered with grapes again.  I wonder how many children have raided that vine over the generations.  Somewhere along the line a shaky lean-to was tacked onto the back of the garage, and a new room was added as a third bedroom.  Had the family become too big for the original two?  There’s a tiny alcove built into the roof over the wash-house.  It’s so small, I have no idea what it was intended for.

Then, for a while, the house was neglected and unloved, broken windows, the walls pitted with little holes and scars of careless use, small leaks in pipes and bathroom wreaking slow destruction.  Renters who cared little for the history or the future of this place.  Now we are adding our story, mending and replacing, painting and weeding.  Our little dog has made it his home as well.  We’ve planted flowers, a bay tree, and other small trees to attract the birds, tuis and blackbirds that sing to us in the mornings.  It’s a slow process, but the house doesn’t mind.  Something else to hold in its memory.

the journey
of many years is made up
of small steps