The Past, and the weird feeling of being so close to it, yet so far away

I remember a trip to a river when I was muuuuch younger. We used to camp a lot growing up, and this one place we frequented for a couple of NY’s was set well off the beaten track. It was the mid nineties. A time where parents were a bit more free and trusting with kids wandering off and disappearing for half a day at a time, and my parents were no exception, bless ’em. I was certainly a wanderer. I remember climbing up this pretty densely forested hillside up to a ridge line and following the ridge along for a few hours.* Finally I emerged from the ridge onto this vast grassy plateau. It was the most BIZARRE feeling. A feeling of connectedness,and history rolled into one. I felt like I had been there before, but, I mean, how silly, it was literally hours and hours from anything or anywhere I had ever been.

Anyway, it turns out that it was an old Maori Pa site. NZ is a fairly new country in comparison to others, but there are still times when you feel like you have stepped in a time warp, and you are about to emerge into some crazy battle or some such.** This, was one of those times. I remember clearly the feeling, walking along feeling like I probably shouldn’t be there, but at the same time, finding these ancient food pits and terraced land so enchanting and mysterious.

I guess I hope my children feel the same connection to their history. Although its fairly tenuous now, we have connections to a tribe called Ngati Kahungunu in a tiny wee place called Wairarapa, and I feel a very real pride when I think about the history of our iwi and it’s people.

Woah, where am I going… Oh yeah. So, there is an old Pa site less than 2km away from our home in the Hawkes Bay. Otatara Pa. We have lived here for nearly three years, and I have wanted to visit the site many a time, but never really acted on the impulse.

Finally, one blustery Wednesday evening, I felt the need to drag the kids up there the other day to experience something a little older than they can even fathom. Well. We basically got blown off the hilltop, but it was still a spectacular experience.


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Egad, its so obvious to me that I haven’t bothered with picking up a camera or documenting anything for a while, sorry, but you get the general idea yeah? The site was situated so that the tribe could clearly see where any potential threats may be approaching from – Thus the view over the entire Hawkes Bay.


My little Gandalf, trotting happily up the track. Unlike his wee sister, grumbling along at my heels.



*I was young, it was probably only twenty minutes.

** A wrinkle in time was mos-def my favourite book growing up, so I guess otherworld-ness (not a word, I know) was never really far from my mind.