Te Maika - Kawhia Harbour New Zealand

Te Maika in the Kawhia harbour is a very special place. There are few places in the world that can take you to that place within...where you naturally contemplate things of a "spiritual nature".

Whether it's the remoteness of this wild West coast headlands, or because of its ancient history, Te Maika has had a strange effect on many a visitor.

It has long been considered a "power spot", by new agers and spiritual seekers alike.

One of the oldest parts of New Zealand, Te Maika is steeped in rich Maori history, which includes being the ancestral home of the Ngati Toarangatira tribe.

Their most famous chief being 'Te Rauparaha' who after being beaten in a decisive battle here, led them South, to where they eventually settled on Kapiti Island.

Te Maika is owned by the Maori King, and although there are no permanent residents here anymore, there are bach owners who relish any chance they can get to enjoy a holiday in solitude.

Access is only by boat, and the visitors who have discovered this little nature jewel are few, but appreciative. Many schools are bringing their children on educational trips to learn about this unique part of NZ.

Kawhia Heritage Cruises run a ferry named the "Lady Kawhia", which run regular history cruises to Te Maika, and on to Te Waitere up the far south/eastern side of the Kawhia harbour.

Visitors can do the entire cruise, or hop off at Te Maika, where they can and either picnic and swim, or enjoy the stunning coastal scenery down to Albatross point from the advantage of the elevated cliff faces.

The following is an excerpt taken from the newly published book written by Peg Cummins, titled "A History of Kawhia & Its District"

It would seem that in the seventies increasing attention was given to the ecology of the Kawhia Harbour and what steps might be taken to preserve both archeological sites and existing flora and fauna.

Prompted by the Kawhia Protection Society, a couple of studies were done and some of the findings are reproduced here.

Te Maika, whose name means "food basket", is situated on a peninsula near the mouth of the Kawhia reached by launch from Kawhia and although permanent residents are few, there are a number of holiday baches there.

However, Te Maika is a place of great interest to scientists, particularly geologists and archaeologists.

Dr Enid Thelning, a geologist, produced a report in 1974 which outlined the importance of Te Maika as a geological site. She began her report: Kawhia Harbour contains the type Jurassic of the sedimentary rocks of New Zealand. What does this mean? Why is it significant? What has it to do with Te Maika?

Geologists classify sedimentary rocks according to age. This is called stratigraphy. It is convenient to divide stratigraphy up into divisions called periods and stages. One such period is the Jurassic and it has six stages. During the Jurassic period from 180 million to 70 million years ago there were six stages.

In each country where Jurassic rocks are found geologists select a very good example of these rocks - they try to select the very best example and this is then called the' type section.'

It is used a bit like Greenwich Mean Time because all other rocks found elsewhere belonging to that stage are compared with those of the type section, like we regulate our time from the standard time.

The type section of the Jurassic is in Kawhia Harbour and two of its six stages are in Te Maika peninsula. The other stages are on either side of it. The really important and significant parts of rhese rocks are situated from the jetty right round the headland and down Ocean Beach to the base of the peninsula.

An important outcrop occurs over the Waitapu inlet also.

What harm could cultural development of Te Maika do? What things might be harmed by bulldozer? What significant facts might be covered by concrete?

Consider the rare Inoceramus, an ancestor of our present day mussel. More interesting stiIl is an ancestor of the Inoceramus itself, that in New Zealand has been found only at Te Maika, and only two specimens even there.

Then there are tiny lenses of coal, certainly no good as coal, but a clue to the fact that the land at Te Maika was once a swamp or lagoon that later became covered by the sea.

Theres another clue to this sinking of the land too, those fossil trees in the rocks round the point, drowned by the invading waters of an ancient ocean. Then the tiny sea-shells, the dainty Meleagrinella, preserved in the rocks just where the fishing is so good, and the larger and beautifui ammonites - very lovely these must have been, like the pearly nautilus of today.

These tell that some of the sandstones at Te Maika are formed from the sands of shallow seas.

An even stranger fact emerges from study of the rocks at Te Maika. Pretty coloured stones in a conglomerate band give a most important clue to the existence in Jurassic times of a great granite land to the west of New Zealand.

This land, called Tasmantis by geologists, must have stood right there in what is now the Tasman Sea for these pebbles to have been washed from off its slopes.

It s like a detective story, isn't it? But this detective story is real. It actually happenned in times past, times so tremendous that the mind of man can't comprehend them. A hundred years is a long lifetime. A thousand years is possible to encompass in terms of mans experience.

A million years? This story happened many millions of years ago. And it has left its record in the rocks of Te Maika peninsula and around the shores of Kawhia Harbour ....It would take only one man with a small bulldozer to destroy the fragile record of hundreds of millions of years at Te Maika.

Te Maika has many kinds of magic. For me the magic of Te Maika is not the magic of modern or of ancient man, not the magic of godwit or myth. It is the geologic record, the fragile record in the rocks that is left in our hands to protect or to destroy.

At about the same time an archaeological report was done on Te Maika by Gabrielle Johnstone and John Coster.

During a twelve-day visit to Te Maika notes were made on the topography and vegetation and natural resources, as well as an in-depth survey of archaeological sites, of which there were 73.

The report includes detailed analyses of the contents of middens, including the types of shells found there. It concludes with suggestions as to how the sites could be preserved and ends with a warning:

Any further development, building, or disturbance of the land at Te Maika is almost certain to destroy historical evidence.

However, development which is carefully controlled and planned in consultation with some established archaeological body such as the Waikato Art Museum Archaeological Society could take place in such a way as to preserve most of the archaeological features of Te Maika, and at the same time allow people access to the area for recreation.

And finally, a further report, also produced in 1974, gives "Some thoughts on the ortinology of Kawhia Harbour." It was written by Dr. John Seddon and outlined the many types of birds to be found in the environs of the harbour as well as the birds which make the harbour their home.

Kawhia is at the cross-roads of three separate migrations.

(1) We see thousands of arctic waders, mainly godwits (kuaka), arriving in September for our summer. In March they return to the tundra.

(2) South Island flocks, particularly pied oyster-catchers (torea tai) in their thousands, spend winters here. Few people realize that south Kawhia is the main winter home for the rare black stilt (torea kaki) which nests near Mount Cook.

(3) Quite suddenly, in February, we find dozens of banded dotterels (pohowera) flocking here before they fly to Australia for winter. Theirs is one of the most unusual migrations known.

The report goes on to note that the harbour affords excellent feeding grounds for all types of birds but that the ecosystem is very delicately balanced. Any number of interventions could mean that the birds would leave and not return.

Around this time also, fossils were being discovered around the harbour. An undated Press Association report informed readers that:The first fossil penguin bone ever discovered in the North Island has just been recieved by the New Zealand Geological Survey of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research.

The bone, in two pieces, is part of an upper leg bone, or femur. It was found by a professional fisherman, Mr Roy Beamish, who chipped it out of a sandstone strata at Motutara Point, Kawhia Harbour.

Its possible importance was recognized by Mr W (Bill) Sutherland, an amateur naturalist, of Kawhia. He forwarded it to the Geological Survey, which considers it dates from the Oligocene period, about 30 million years ago.

A further newspaper article (date and paper unknown) notes that more fossils were being found at Kawhia, noting that the Kawhia district is well known to geologists as being rich in fossil formations and is a happy hunting ground for students of paleontology.

Four years later John Coster and Gabrielle Johnston did a further study, this time at Aotea for the NZ Forest Service. The area they surveyed covered 350ha on the coastal sand dunes between Kawhia and Aotea Harbours.

They recorded 45 sites, "virtually all being eroded shell middens." They recommended that six of these sites should be protected from the effects of afforestation. One of the sites found was regarded as possibly early since it contained a small fragment of Moa limb bone and a fragment of a stone adze.

Te Maika is unique in other ways. There is still no power there but families come there year after year for the peace and quiet. There are no permanent residents there now but in former times the Rewis, the Falwassers, the Rubays and the Kings lived there.

Tom Rewi came from Taharoa and he and his wife Maud shifted to Te Maika where they had leased land for farming. A house was built for the family and the children rode the seven miles to school at Taharoa.

As well as farming Tom ran the store and Post Office as well as a launch service connecting the settlement with Kawhia twice a week. Tom's son Bill, now living in Kawhia recalls the names of some of the launches: "Seaweed," "Olivene," "Ionoto" and "Shamrock."

The shop was a general store and stocked foodstuffs as well as things like saddles and raincoats. A generator supplied power for the freezers. Tom would get his supplies from warehouses in Hamilton and from Innes's in Te Awamutu. He had a V8 truck which he would leave at the Kawhia Garage.

People from Taharoa would ride over to Te Maika for supplies and would carry them home in split sacks with the butter on the outside to prevent it melting from the heat generated by the horses. 12 volt batteries were taken to Kawhia to be charged to run the wireless.

Bill Rewi married Marcia Ormsby from Kawhia and they brought up a family of seven daughters and a son. For this generation of children a school was set up at Te Maika through the good offices of MP David Seath. This lasted for some years but when the roll fell Marcia took over as supervisor to enable the children to continue their education.

The children made regular visits to the Dental Clinic at Kawhia School. Because of Te Maika's proximity to the Kawhia bar , the family was instrumental in saving many people from drowning. One of Bill and Marcia's daughters and a friend once risked their own lives by swimming out and rescuing two people. For this they were awarded a Merit Certificate.

On another occasion a boat overturned and a man was seen lying on the top of it. The Rewis trained the lights of their Landrover on to the scene so that the rescue helicopter, which had found its way by following the railway line for part of the way, could lift him off. With any emergency on or near the bar the Kawhia Police always called the Rewi family first.

The Rewis are quick to praise Roly McLeod and Alan and Amy Langdon as well for their part in rescues. Another incident recalled by Bill's daughter Jenny was when she fell off her horse which then rolled on her, fracturing her spine.

She was taken by tractor down to the launch which then took her to Kawhia wherean ambulance was waiting to take her on for specialized treatment.

When his father was unable to run the launch anymore, Bill took over the run. He left Te Maika in about 1989. He did shearing around the harbour and also bought fishing boats "Dora" and "Esab" to supply the family's fish shop in Kawhia with fish.

When they bought their first boat Bill and Marcia were one of only four Maori couples to own such a venture and they qualified for grants because if it.

Sadly Bill is now in a wheelchair but he is still a mine of information about
Te Maika and those connected with it.

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