Local Heart, Global Soul

August 8, 2012

Taranaki… Sits alone, Love Lost and Heartbroken…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

And finally a postcard to show Taranaki off in it’s beautiful snowy glory…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

March 20, 2012

Truly a Mouthful for The Guinness Book of Records…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So where are we going to today? If I just give you a name right now it won’t necessarily make a lot of sense so I’ll explain.

There was a definite hint in yesterday’s post with the mention of hills, hills and more hills.

Himself is despirately wanting to see a hill.  Not just any hill mind you, this one is extra special to geography geeks because it is the holder of the title of the Longest Geographical Place Name in the World.

So…now the following should hopefully make little more sense: we are headed to:
Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokai­whenua­kitanatahu

Himself displayed his talent for geography as early as age seven, by which time he already knew the name of every Capital City of every country in the world.

He still knows them and also added every new former Eastern Block state as they emerged as well as new or changed country or capital city names in the decades between then and now.

Himself also loves languages… and likes a challenge. Combine this with his love of geography and well, it should come as no surprise to learn that he learned the world’s longest place name off-by-heart years ago.

He’s even working on teaching it to our kids. Himself has hankered after visiting it for years and this is why we are driving a little used road in the Hawke’s Bay area of New Zealand … to see a hill that’s 305 metres high (1001 feet) and who knows, if it’s possible he’d love to climb the hill too.

We arrive at the place on the road where the hill can be seen, and find a huge sign that gives the name and the story behind it and thus the meaning of the name. I took a photograph of the text but it might be a bit hard to read so I’ve typed it out below:

“Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokai­whenua­kitanatahu”

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Tamatea was a well known chief, warrier and exporer of his time. He is the ancestor of the Ngati Kahungunu people of Porangahau, and acquired many names to commemorate his prowess.

Whilst passing through the district of Porangahau, Tamatea encountered the Ngati Hine people and had to fight them to get past.

In the battle known as “Matanui”, his brother was killed.

Tamatea was so grieved at his loss that he stayed for some time at that place and each morning he would sit on the knoll to play a lament on his Koauau.(a kind of flute or nose flute)

Hence the name indicating the hill on which Tamatea, the chief of great physical statue and renoun, played a lament on his flute to the memory of his brother.

Since we started out early enough and everyone could use a break from driving these winding roads, Himself decides that he will climb it after all… he’s busy training for a half marathon at the moment so starts running and is soon out of sight. I take some photos of the surroundings whilst the kids get out a plastic blow-up ball we were given and start a two kid game of football on the grass nearby.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

I have the DSLR camera in the car so try and follow his progress using the  zoom lens but he’s quickly masked by bush and trees. He takes my little pocket point-and-shoot camera and will take a few photos on the way up and from the top…. here are the shots he captured on his run up the hill with the longest geographical place name in the world.

(photograph © Himself)

(photograph © Himself)

(photograph © Himself)

(photograph © Himself)

(photograph © Himself)

(photograph © Himself)

(photograph © Himself)

(photograph © Himself)

May 18, 2011

Letting the Neighbourhood know you’ve Made It…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Surely everyone has seen (maybe in a photograph) a house, somewhere, sometime that has it’s own name tag?
You know the sort, “Rose Cottage“, “Forge Cottage“, “The Pines” and the like.

These names were in days of old, very useful indeed when people needed to identify a specific address before street names, house numbers and postal codes were invented.

The name of your home was usually linked to a distinguishing feature of it’s use or the surrounding geographical location.

It also helped local landowners distinguish between various building they owned in a district, the dairy, the mill, the various cottages, the gatehouse and so forth.

These days, with the invention of street names and numbers, more whimsical names for houses have appeared more for decoration than function (unless you really do have a Manor House, in which case it’s probably a building so big no one would have to look too hard to find it anyway)

If you are ever in the Zeeheldenkwartier of The Hague and find yourself on the Zuidmanstraat, you will find a street that intersects it, that is called the Witte de Withstraat on one side and the Piet Heinstraat on the other. (per the typical Dutch habit for changing the street name after major  intersections.

The Piet Heinstraat is a busy place,  full of shops and is well known but the Witte de Withstraat side is mostly houses and barely gets a glance.

If only people would look into the little side streets and see some the magical things hidden there. Of course these are not the big, bright places listed in the tourist books, but I find these places quirky, they say a lot about the locals sometimes. (or often a particular “local” character).

In this case the oddity probably deserves the an award for the “Biggest, Best and most Imaginative House  Name Tag Ever

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Goedstaete”  has no literal translation into English, but it’s a regular thing in the northern province of Friesland to see name boards with various different beginnings, but with the ending “staete“, which kind of means ” place to live”.

…so this one more of less means “Good Place to Live”.

Since many of the older houses in the area comprise a different entrance and living space on each level, and this house unlike them in that it is clearly built as one single dwelling,  we can assume that the owner was a person of comfortable means.

So… why not advertise how well you are doing by installing a name board on your house that could under no circumstances be called shy and retiring?  Not only would it have been one of the biggest houses in the street but it  now stands out from any other big house in the street.

So… is  a famous person sitting on the tram? … commerating a specific event?

Not that I can find out from dutch local history websites. Even the website for the neighbourhood it sits in, doesn’t give it a mention.

That’s sad, so I felt I had to. It deserves some recognition don’t you think?

The building is in the style of those that date from the beginning of the last century or more, so the eccentric owner who installed it has long since departed this mortal coil, he may be happy to know however that  his house “tag” is now out there on the “net” for all the world to see.

My last question is simply this: Can anyone out there come up with a grander house name-tag than this one?  If so I’d love to see it.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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