My tūrangawaewae Ko Ruahine te Maunga, Ko Oroua Te Awa...

This week, with my husband and two children, I returned to my tūrangawaewae, to the farm where my brother and I grew up; the place where he and his wife now live, and their children are now growing up. As soon as we hit the hills of Taihape I feel it inside. Home. It beckons.

Southwards we travel, the car having to work harder; up and down. The first fleeting glimpse of the Ranges coming into view, then under the wire with a hanging drum which crosses the road, signalling choppers to beware. One last long downward stretch, poplars towering roadside, holding steadfast in the scars of old slips, and then we turn. Home. It beckons.

We wind our way down the hill, toward the papa faces which reach skyward from the river and tentatively approach the rickety single lane Meccano bridge. Here the deep, fast flowing breadth of water glistens a deep green like pounamu. It is at this point the boys feel it. Home. It beckons.

Along the narrow, snaking road that nestles snuggly against the grey crumbling cliffs, resisting, for the most part, the chance to drop away. The gorge starts at the roads edge, with no more than a slight ridge of a few centimetres between in some places. This was the road to church each Sunday. As a child, I was terrified of travelling it. Falling off the road felt imminent. But now, it is tarseal, and wider to the point of being able to pass another vehicle in places, and the slips cleared regularly to keep the pathway safer. Home. It beckons.

Past the Home-stays. Past the rest-stop. Past the beekeepers. Past my old music teacher’s house. Past the stand of pines. Past the turn off to the Ranges. And into Rangiwahia: where once stood a school, but now only a piece of short, painted, brick fencing and a sign saying “private property”; where once there was a petrol station, with a singular pump housing metal numbers that clunked over as the fuel pumped, and a small office with a grimy counter, everything smelling of oil; where once there was a cheese factory - now an environmental centre; and where, when I was five, our school bus had to stop suddenly as a result of the engine catching on fire. Justine had helped me out. She was 12. Home. It beckons.

Past the house that was smothered in paint but never seemed cared for. Past the place where our puppy Mog was rehomed and later put down. Past the ‘golf course’ and the historical site. Past the house where we were looked after occassionally; where I learned that eating too much rhubarb makes your pee red. They didn’t have a lot else to eat I learned years later. Past the new block with the shed, now blown apart by the wind, with only it’s frame standing, an assortment of twisted corrugate sheets still hanging on for dear life. Home. It beckons.

So close now. Two more K’s, one...then we see the little cluster of letterboxes. This. This is our metal road. The one we walked each day to and from the school bus while we were little - before we changed schools and traveled with Mum. Where we collected buttercups and stinky dog daisy’s, played in the muddy puddles on the road verge, kicked stones, and hid from the storm in the neighbours hay shed. Where we learned to always walk on the outside of a corner to be sure we were seen by anyone driving the road. Where we learned how to read the tyre tracks, listen for vehicles and watch for plumes of dust. This is our road. The 2.5 K’s of rugged metal that my brother and I would bike on occassions to get the mail. Home. It beckons.

And then we round the last bend. Bathed in the shadows of poplars, the old yards are nestled into the base of the Home Hill - the hill with the wai tomo. Slowing for a handful of roaming ewes, now desperately trying to scramble away from the oncoming vehicle, we crawl along carefully, reaching out toward the driveway. The corrugate shed on one side, a closed stand of marcrocapa on the other where the very first farm house stood some hundred and fifty years ago - long before this became our turangawaewae, and of course long after those who hold the status of tino rangatiratanga. This is it.


Created By
Vanessa White


Created with images by uair01 - "the uncanny poplars - rotterdam" • eyeintim - "Taihape - Mt. Stewart Reserve View 5"