Our last day on the Cape, the road was empty and the conditions easy.
We stopped often – no surprises there. There were many examples of whare whakairo, traditional carved meeting houses, and pou to admire. If you would like to know more about the art of Maori carving click here.
Of all the East Cape marae, Te Kaha, is one of the most well-known. Technically marae, or meeting place, refers to the open ground in the front of the meeting house (wharenui) but the word is often used to refer to the entire complex itself.
Each wharenui is not only named after an ancestor, in this case Tukaki, (who has links to Kahungunu, the iwi from our region) but its structure represents the body of that ancestor, and is therefore sacred. Wandering on to a marae without an invitation is as much a social affront as walking into a stranger’s house uninvited. Don’t do it.
Sadly, I can’t read the story depicted on this ornate Pou at Torere School. But I’m sure any of the pupils would be able to explain it to me.
The carvings at Opotiki Primary school were easier for me to interpret.
These pouwhenua on Waiotahi beach mark the northern boundary of East Cape and they marked the beginning of the end of our trip around East Cape.
Somewhere amongst the bundles of photos that never made it into albums there’s a photo of me with our two boys, taken twenty years ago, by these pou. It was one of those summers: the days were long, the sun warm, the sea calm. The beach was perfect for us, there was plenty of shade from the pohutakawas and the waves were just big enough to be exhilarating for children learning to body surf.
All these years and not much has changed.
Submitted to Photo101Rehab
And for other interpretations of this weeks travel theme visit Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack.