Off The Beaten Track in Aotearoa

East Cape: our last day.

Our last day on the Cape, the road was empty and the conditions easy.

Homeward bound

Homeward bound

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.

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Te Kaha Marae

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.

Te Kura O Torere

Te Kura O Torere

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.

Entrance to Opotiki Primary School

Entrance to Opotiki Primary School

The carvings at Opotiki Primary school were easier for me to interpret.

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Pou Whenua O Waiotahi

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.

25 replies »

  1. Your first image draws me in – I love road scenes, always want to be in the car and driving along the road! Thank you for sharing your trip, I hope that I will be able to visit this area one day in the not too distant future, it obviously has a lot of history. And I shall heed your warning about not stepping into the marae.

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    • Hello Heyjude, I hope you do get to road trip the East Cape -I love it up there! I was talking to a colleague recently, who grew up in the area. He said that if you come across local people, they are usually very happy to take the time to answer any questions. Sadly for us, we saw very few people but it was the off-season.

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  2. beautiful photos – and it is funny how so many things do not really change – and I could imagine the body surfing lessons and all that back then- to now size up the setting and remember. h’m…

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  3. Thanks Jill, you have taken us on a journey to a very special part of NZ. What glorious weather you had. Your descriptions and photos show this corner of the “Long white cloud” to perfection. You have certainly fitted a lot into your 5 days and now it is all over and back to the “daily grind” and dreaming and preparing for the next adventure…

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  4. The opening photo is such an inviting stretch of road, I want to be in the car. I’ve really enjoyed this trip Jill. Thanks again for sharing the wonderful photos, the information and the reality of a proper road trip 🙂

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    • Hi there Rusha, I’m not an expert, but I think there are some similarities to the carvings of other South Pacific peoples. However, over the centuries since Maori arrived here the carvings have developed in a particular and distinctive form. Carved wharenui and pou can be found in most part of the country.

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