October 19, 2023 Rangihoua Heritage Park (Day 22)

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.

Finally, a picture of New Zealand sheep! The white dots on the landscape. We couldn’t get any closer, they run away! This is the first area we have seen that has sheep predominantly. We’ve been seeing more cattle elsewhere.

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’.

From this view the cruise ship is hidden by Moturoa island in the left background, which blocks the view towards Russell and Paihia. On the right you can make out the buildings of “The Landing” winery and luxury resort.

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).

The current view. In the time of Maori settlement here the trees would have been removed and the hillside would have been dotted with housing, the terraced hilltop would be palisaded and well protected.

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!

The Marsden Cross marks the spot. A terrace further up the slope is the cemetery of the settlement. Life was hard for the newcomers!

Tensions were common between the Maori (a name they began calling themselves, meaning ‘ordinary people’, after European contact) and the settlers. The Europeans were and still are, called Pakeha, non-Maori. The tensions rose for many reasons but mostly were due to different world-views on property rights and cultural practices.

After our long day we had a wonderful dinner of grilled flounder, again a benefit of our host’s freezer clearing!

A whole small flounder for each of us! And a fresh avocado for the salad and a fresh lemon for the fish, both from her garden!

5 Responses to “October 19, 2023 Rangihoua Heritage Park (Day 22)”

  1. Rod and Linda Charny Says:

    Yeah, right: Marsden wanted to “bring the benefits of civilization” to the locals. Isn’t that the way it has always been: western civilizations using that rationale for taking over the locals land. And property rights: another invention of westerners. Imagine the surprise of natives who didn’t understand that the land was to be shared! My mouth is watering for that great meal!

  2. Sam Says:

    I wonder if in NZ-A there are tensions between the cattle farmers and the sheep farmers, as happened in North America….

  3. rmj Says:

    I don’t think so, often the cows and sheep are in the same pastures.

  4. Sam Says:

    Wow, same pasture; wonder if that’s the pastures of the farmers who move them, rather than leaving them the way most do here….

  5. rmj Says:

    I don’t think they ever had “free range” livestock here like we had in the west (before barbed wire!). They had to cut lots of forest to make pasture!

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