Nga Pou o Heretaunga

Late in March we had our annual holiday with six women friends, all of us growers and farmers.  This year, our tenth get-together, Jenny and Lesley from Pokaiwhenua Tree Farm near Putaruru organised our stay in the the old homestead on Clearview Estate at Te Awanga, in Heretaunga (Hawke’s Bay).  We had a comfortable house,  a variety of experiences to choose from, and the company of good women – a great base from which to explore the land around us.

Bicycle rides along shoreline and river banks.  Swims in wild surf and sucking shingle. Dry golden hills with the bones of land showing through.  Orderly vineyards and apple-laden orchards.

We were fortunate to discover three fine guides who shared with us their  vastly different views of Heretaunga.

37-IMG_4616Tryphena Cracknell – curator, historian and eloquent story-teller of Ngaati Kahungunu and Rongomaiwahine ancestry – showed us around the Maori taonga in the new Napier MTG Hawke’s Bay (Museum, Theatre, Gallery), shared stories behind many of the featured taonga ( treasures) and updated us on local iwi developments.

49-IMG_4614Jo Speedy, artist, mountaineer, former farmer, and environmental enthusiast , drove us from Clifton overland to the gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers, talked about the land from a farming perspective, and pointed out the wild-life restoration project, the biggest privately owned and funded such project in the country, including a 10.6km  predator-proof fence.  The Cape Sanctuary involves three neighbouring landowners and covers 2500 of the headland. See

We appreciated Jo’s knowledge, passion for the land, and her skills as an artist when we visited her gallery later.

Robert McDonald, a kaumatua from Waimarama, met us on Te Mata Peak , gave us a rich, scholarly and moving overview of the wider Heretaunga area, then took us to Hastings to see Nga Pou o Heretaunga, 18 carved figures in the park outside the art gallery in the centre of Hastings, created by carvers representing 18 marae in the area..

Robert showing us Hinetemoaha, carved by Frances Oberr

Robert showing us Hinetemoa, carved by Francisca Obers, representing Houngarea Marae


Mihiroa me Pukepuke-Tangiora, representing Mihirao Marae, carved by Tiopira Te Huia, Colin Tihi, Tuhoe Huata

Waimarama Maori Tours provide several tours, and have a most informative website:




Another unexpected delight was visiting Jackie Baird, Tanya’s social work supervisor, 40 years ago, in Child Welfare Hastings.

Jackie, who turns 90 this year, retains her warmth and sense of humour, and enjoyed reminiscing with Tanya and reflecting on the very different world of the 1970s




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