Mount Taranaki was given the English name of Mount Egmont when white settlers arrived in New Zealand, but recently it’s been decided to revert back to the original name, a decision I wholeheartedly endorse.
I see no reason why indigenous names (anywhere) should be taken over by colonial ones but of course it was done when white skinned human beings were supposedly “discovering” lands and arrogantly renaming places after themselves, their ancestors or birthplaces even though these places already had names from the brown skinned human beings that got to these places centuries, and in in the case of some countries, millennia before them.
I think it’s a great step forward for New Zealand to revert back to the original names so am proud to call this mountain Mount Taranaki.
The mountain is actually an extinct volcano and Maori legend has an explanation as to why there are three volcanoes that stand together in the center of the North Island and one that stands alone on the coast in the west. Wikipedia actually tells the story better than I can so here it is:
“In Māori legend, Taranaki is a mountain being that lived peacefully for many centuries in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island with three other mountains, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu.
Nearby stood Mount Pihanga. Covered in a cloak of deep green forest she presented a stunning sight and all the mountain gods were in love with her.
Taranaki dared to make advances to Pihanga and was reproached by Tongariro and a mighty battle ensued between them. The earth shook and the sky became dark as the mountains belched forth their anger. When the battle ended the lovely Pihanga stood close by Tongariro’s side.
Taranaki, wild with grief and jealously, angrily wrenched his roots from the ground and left the other mountains.
Weeping, he plunged towards the setting sun, gouging out a deep wide trench. When he reached the sea he turned north and stumbled up the coast. As he slept that night the Pouakai Ranges snared and trapped Taranaki in the place he now rests.
The next day a stream of clear water sprang from the side of Tongariro. It flowed down the deep scar Taranaki had left on his journey to the coast to form the Whanganui River.
There are those who say that Taranaki is silently brooding and will one day try to return inland again to fight Tongariro. Consequently many Māori were wary of living in the area between the mountains.”
There is an inland “short-cut” route south past the mountain but we choose the scenic coast road that does a wide arc around the mountain and I tried to take photos of it was we went around it.
The volcano is strikingly similar to Japan’s Mount Fuji in shape and whilst impressive in summer it’s becomes a true beauty in winter when it’s covered in snow. Since it was the height of summer when I took these photos there was only a smudge of snow left and I had to play cat and mouse with clouds that wanted only to hang onto the summit, but eventually I got lucky and managed some shots which where (mostly) cloud free.
Mount Taranaki is a national park but it’s possible to climb the mountain, things (I think) have to be arranged with the national park authorities and good equipment is needed for the summit but my cousin is a mountaineer who’s been to Everest and worked in Mountain rescue so Himself has added climbing Mount Taranaki to his bucket list with my cousin as technical expert and climbing companion.
In the meantime we content ourselves with looking at this stunning peak as it dominates the Taranaki landscape.
And finally a postcard to show Taranaki off in it’s beautiful snowy glory…