Another iffy day weatherwise, but we decided to go for it and explore the Purerua Peninsula, the north edge of Bay of Islands. Historically important as the first permanent settlement of Europeans in New Zealand-Aotearoa. We were surprised to drive on gravel roads through valleys and hills dotted with sheep and cattle.
We continued around the Te Puna inlet, aiming for the tip of the peninsula. The views were amazing! At one spot we could see today’s cruise ship in the bay, ‘The Brilliance of the Seas’.
We finally reached our destination.This depiction is probably circa 1820’s. The fortified hilltop (or pa) is named Rangihoua and was the home of the prominent chief Ruatara. He was a well traveled man, having signed onto whaling ships in 1805 and had many dealings with Europeans. He had an association with Samuel Marsden, an Englishman in Australia, a member of the CMS (Church Missionary Society) and chaplain to a penal colony in New South Wales, Australia. Their relationship led to the invitation by Ruatara to Marsden to set up a Christian Mission on his lands at the head of Te Puna inlet. After many delays Marsden was able to fulfill his desire to set up the mission in December 1814, “the first planned European settlement where Maori and Europeans learned to live side by side” (according to Tohu Whenua-Landmarks that tell our stories).
Looking back from the beach, the mission would have been built on terraces for housing, gardens, school house, chapel and utility buildings. Nothing but the terraces remain, with monuments and signage pointing out how life would have been in the early 1800’s here. A huge stone cross marks where the first Christmas Mass in New Zealand was held, two days after the new settlers arrived!
After our long day we had a wonderful dinner of grilled flounder, again a benefit of our host’s freezer clearing!