Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Taste Of Middle-earth

Tēnā koutou katoa - Welcome to you all
Wellington Cable Carphoto by Clare Allan.
Click to enlarge.

Michele Martin's Web 2.0 Wednesday asks us to tell something unique about where we live. The above photograph (click photo for enlargement), looking to the east across the harbour, shows the famous Wellington cable-car that travels up from the heart of the City in Lambton Quay to the Botanical Gardens near the suburb of Kelburn in Wellington
. Looking across the highrise buildings of Wellington CBD we see Mt Victoria. Tucked behind the populated suburbs of Oriental Bay and Roseneath lies Miramar Peninsula. At the other side of this natural harbour is the town and resort of Eastbourne. The Rimutaka hills rest at the horizon.

In the suburb of Miramar is the now famous Weta Workshop, co-owned by Peter Jackson who has a home in Miramar.

A Māori fable has it that the harbour was once a coastal lake where two taniwha lived. Their exploits gave rise to the natural harbour that is Wellington Harbour
(Te Whanganui-a-Tara). At the top of Mt Victoria is Tangi-te-Keo, a place that took its name from. . . well, you can read the poem I wrote about it for yourself:

Adventures In The Sun

On a beautiful South-Sea island long ago
Two taniwha lived in a shingled coastal lake,
Each day they planned where each they longed to go
And kept a friendship fine as friends could make;
This affection as long as they'd remember
Was wide as wind and deep as steepest hollow,
But Ngake of a fearsome eager mettle
With courage broad and heart a burning ember
Caused Whātaitai a weariness to follow
And wrought his thought and would his sense unsettle.

His afternoons were often spent in yearning
While tears of loneliness dropped to the sand
As Ngake stirred impatient by his learning
Of crashing waves beyond the southern land;
He often longed to swim beyond the reach
Where he believed the sea swelled large and deep,
His lashing tail would smash the rocks to silt
Beneath the craggy shore where sea sprays breach,
While Whātaitai sank in shallows fast asleep
To dream of precious days their friendship built.

In wretched depths the awful thrashing thundered
As yet the angered monster raged a fit,
And far above the hills the seagulls wondered
What evil power possessed Earth's deepest pit;
The taniwha had often mused with interest
The plan they would employ to burst these banks,
And, O, to wriggle free from yonder rocks
And span dividing ragged heights abreast
To ride on waves with Tangaroa's ranks
And leave the dismal stagnant watery stocks.

All at once bold Ngake had decided
To end his tortured term in nature's dungeon,
All the years impatiently resided
Had set his wrathful spirit in high dudgeon;
So plunging to the North he swam the lake
And plummeting to depths as far he could,
Binding all his fury with his anguish,
Nursing to extremes his wildest mood,
Lashing his tail fiercely fit to break
He furrowed South to execute his wish.

The North wind had doubled his intention
As in the wake it gathered up a storm,
Lightning seared and held the air in tension,
Then shook the rocks as if they would re-form;
But as the thunder died amid the blast,
And still the tempest raged towards the shore,
A louder rumble echoed round the bay
While Ngake drained his power to its last,
And hellish tremors shook the rocks once more
As the divide inexorable gave way.

At this the tender taniwha awoke
And popped his gentle head from slumber's pool
And saw his friend tear free as morning broke
To bathe his tail a bleeding broken tool;
But as Whātaitai watched him swim beyond,
With fresh horizons shimmering in the mist,
He pondered on some treasured moments rare,
His heart roused by an age-long friendship-bond,
Lamented at the chances he had missed
And the lost opportunities to share.

ātaitai loved to swim the warmest shallows
With all their pleasure coves and shady crooks,
To bask near where the water-lily mellows,
Or steep in oozing sun-soaked mid-day nooks;
Still he longed to swim with Ngake near him
To keep his life's companion by his side,
So he chose to follow, yet again,
In search of what was once an idle whim,
But knew nothing of the turning of the tide
As water from the lake began to drain.

Up the swamps he started in an instant
And thrashed his tail with all his beastly store,
Then channelled with a resolution constant
Towards the narrow strait that Ngake bore;
So proud of his new vigour he diverted
His direction to the jutting cliff beside,
And crashed through rock and boulder in a storm
That surely would be soon by Ngake's side:
Alas this cruel energy deserted
Poor Whātaitai's straining shuddering form.

For many years he stretched in grievous bondage
Stuck fast within the debris by the tail,
The more he tried to loosen this appendage
The further he was shackled in the shale;
Even at high tide his toil was futile,
The windless days of sun sore seared his hide,
The lisping ripples barely reached his flanks,
The calmest days he relished were now vile,
He feared the pitiless summer ebbing tide
And rotten stench of kelp-strewn sun-parched banks.

At last came Nature's merciful reprieve,
An earthquake struck and land and sea did heave
And lifted poor Whātaitai clear the water,
Then meted out a bloodless horrid slaughter;
The winged manuwairua Te Keo
Flew up to Matairangi knoll to weep
For all the living Whātaitai had done;
Then left the knoll at Tangi-te-Keo
For Hawaiki of taniwha, to keep
The memories of adventures in the sun.

View from Tangi-te-Keophoto by Nicolas Allan.
Click to enlarge.

From Tangi-te-Keo, overlooking Houghton Bay and Island Bay where I live, mid right.

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Ka kite anō - Catch ya later

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ken, you are a man of MANY talents! Thanks for sharing the photos and the poem. Wonderful!