Sunday 4 March 2012


Perfect, perfect day today: clear, sunny, warm after early freshness, the colours bright and saturated. And on a Sunday, too! It was perhaps especially precious having come straight after what the media are in the habit these days of excitably calling a 'weather bomb', the word 'storm' apparently not dramatic enough any more. It was more of a damp squib (always want to say damp squid) here in Auckland, a bit of wind and rain that blew a bucket across the back lawn - but further south in Taranaki, where I went in November, it really was very violent and ripped the roofs off many houses and punched holes in walls with flying fence posts. Nothing on the scale of the terrifying tornadoes in the US, but bad enough for us, who've had more than enough lately in the way of natural disasters.

Where do I go from here? I could focus on Taranaki, and my Parihaka story, because I was at a meeting a couple of days ago that was addressed by some people from Maori Tourism, that began with an unexpected reference to flatulence and moved smartly on to some fairly abstract concepts and included a lot more te reo than I was expecting or, to be honest, understood (to my shame). Thank goodness I wasn't MCing, the person who was fortunately much more fluent in public-occasion Maori than I could dream of being. The atmosphere was very friendly and down-to-earth, but there were some delicate matters glanced over that it would have been good to be able to talk about properly: like Maori people getting tetchy when offenders are called Maori in news reports, that being a term that they don't really use themselves, identifying much more with their tribes. Fair enough - though 'Caucasian' is just as general, of course.

Or I could branch off from the disasters reference to say how appalled I am that the Bishop of Christchurch has just announced the decision to pull the cathedral down as it's too expensive to try to repair what is now a dangerously unstable building. It's very hard not to come over all xenophobic and say that it's because she's a Canadian, in the job only 3 years, and doesn't understand what the cathedral means to the people of Christchurch and the country as a whole. Doesn't matter if you're Anglican or not, religious or not - that building is the heart and soul, symbol and icon of Christchurch and it has to be saved.

Or I could go with the weather, how lovely it was to be out in the garden unbitten by mozzies, doing some weeding in the hen run, much to the girls' delight (all those worms and other tasty insects revealed), remembering with nostalgia how a blitz like that back at our country cottage in England would have finished with a satisfying bonfire down in the paddock: happy hours of raking and poking, finally and reluctantly going back up to the house, thoroughly kippered. And, as I pulled out armful after armful of the crocosmias that have taken over the hen run, thinking how true it is that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place. Viz: this photo of the gardens at Muckross House in Killarney, Ireland, of crocosmia, in the right place.


Australia Outback Travel said...

This is such a pretty picture! I was just rereading The Fellowship of the Ring yesterday, and this looks exactly how I imagined the Shire, well, minus the snowcapped mountain in the distance.

TravelSkite said...

Yes, anyone would think that Tolkien had been to New Zealand. It was a complete no-brainer for Peter Jackson to film the books here.


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