As Mātua James, the Chairman of Ngai Tai ki Tamaki Tribal Trust and respected Maori leader and chief approached me on the wharf in Auckland City to begin our two day adventure on Motutapu aa Taikehu, a sacred island and neighbour of Rangitoto... I and my three young ones, Jake, Lewis and Joni felt instantly welcomed and safe!
A giant with a kind heart (we found out over the next two days), I knew we would have the most amazing journey of discovery through these sacred islands.
To have Marama (one of James’s trusted guides) along also, whose infusion of local knowledge and passion about the wildlife and plant life made it a true pleasure to listen to as we walked to the summit.
Rangitoto and Motutapu
Rangitoto and Motutapu are as different as James and I are from our cultural backgrounds. Motutapu is ancient and lush, Rangitoto dark and volcanic, both beautiful to behold.
Greeted by Raniera Kirkwood at the Rangitoto wharf we set off for the summit of the crater that must have been a sight to behold as their ancestors watched the last explosion thousands of years ago, especially as new evidence emerges that scientists believe the last explosion could have happened much earlier! Seeing how close Auckland is, basking in the sunlight listening to the call of the saddleback before we were treated to the sight of his stunning colours made me see how magical and alive this place is perched within touching distance of the Sky Tower.
Having spent fifteen years in Northern Ireland, sometimes it DID matter which religion my children were, so it warmed my heart when I saw my eldest boy relax and become a part of this peaceful community. A community committed to bringing through a new generation of wisdom and guardianship. A people who will care for the islands whilst the islands take care of them over future generations... to carry on the pristine way of life on islands that are pest free and living in eco harmony – to carry on the story began by their ancestors many, many years ago and having gone through turmoil, unrest and difficulty now collaborating with many to bring about a great future for these sacred islands nestled so close to Auckland City.
Driving along the roads carved through the black, volcanic rocks of Rangitoto, I was struck by the peace and tranquility of the island after such a violent history. Lush native plants languish in the sun, whilst the birds sing without a care in the world. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling of the upheaval, the fire, the wrath that brought this island up from the broiling depths of the The Pacific Ocean.
Funny that just a little slip of land no bigger than a giant’s index finger is all that links the two islands, twins but not alike in any physical sense, Motatapu with it’s green rolling hills and undulating gentle curves instantly relaxed my soul. It was so nice to take such a short but memoerable break away from the busy life of Auckland City even just for two days.
Marama walked with me, whilst the kids raced ahead opening every Weta hotel (a little wooden box pinned to a tree) to see what was hiding in there.
Every tree, every leaf, every bird call distinguished and re-discovered and all no more than a kilometre from the ocean surrounding us. We learnt to remember the difference between Maunka and Kanuka. I was stunned at how much knowledge my own children held about the native plants and wildlife. We felt the peace, we breathed the culture, we touched each other’s spirits in an exchange of goodwill, kindness, generosity and warmth.