'The trees in the garden have no doubts. I regard their umpire stance, the way they study
The way they close like great gates'.
Kay McKenzie Cooke
(line 9 of a 12-line poem)
... dark willows of Lake Waihola, shambolic guardians staggering against the light of a western sky
I had occasion to head south a few days ago. Whenever the compass points south, I am like a cantering horse with the smell of home in my nostrils. I still consider Murihiku / Southland as home, even though I haven't actually resided there for nearly forty-five years now.
Home is of course not just a single definition. I have more than one home.My feet are firmly planted in my home country of Aotearoa, New Zealand. However, there are countries where as soon as my feet touch down on their soil, I feel very much 'at home'. Scotland and Japan, are two examples. Maybe there would be more if I ever explore that idea.
Within these islands I call home, I'd define TeWai Pounamu / South Island as my home island. And yet, I also have a strong affinity with the isle of glowing skies; Rakiura / Stewart Island. Some of my ancestors were Tangata whenua and Europeans settlers, there.
My husband's turangawaewae (place where he stands) is Queenstown (Tahuna) and Central Otago (Manuherekia). After nearly forty years of marriage, it has also become a place (a district) I call home as well.
For some reason, even though it is on the 'wrong island', I feel a strong bond with the city of Poneke / Wellington in Te Ika-a-Maui / North Island. Maybe because we lived for five years there in the Lower Hutt / Awakairangi (and our three sons were born there). Whenever I visit Wellington / Poneke, I feel at home. This is no doubt helped by the fact that it belongs to all of New Zealand / Aotearoa really, being our capital city.
And then there is Otepoti / Dunedin where I have lived for thirty years; nearly half of my life. It is this city that has truly become my home. My ancestors embarked here from Yorkshire, Derry, Edinburgh and London. One of my grandmothers was born here before her family moved to Murihiku / Southland's south-west coast.
Today my granddaughter and I walked over the hill from where we live, to the beach-side suburb of Tomo-haka / Tomahawk.
... 15 minutes by car from the inner city and there are horses by the seaside to engender a feeling of freedom from city constraints, limits and stresses ...
... these pacers were being put through their paces, getting towed behind a car.
... granddaughter didn't want to go down on to the sand after reading notices about being aware of the danger of sea lions . She was happy just to keep a wary eye from a safe spot ...
... behind us, the hills of the peninsula ...
... a glinting Tomo-haka / Tomahawk lagoon with peninsula hills behind
... taken from Andersons Bay / Puketahi cemetery - surely one of the most picturesque cemeteries in the world?
.. and home we go ...