How appropriate that on this trip back to our old hometown, the first glimpse we got was of where - in one sense - it all started for us.
The old house overlooking Te Waewae Bay, is what remains of York House, where Henry Hirst (our great-great-grandfather on my mother's side) from Huddersfield, Yorkshire, settled. He named the place, 'Hirstfield', but it eventually became known as Orepuki after the land he'd bought was sold to the govt. when gold was discovered there.
Unless saved, it won't be long until this once-grand house, built in the late 1860's, falls and is lost.
Te Puka o Takitimu (The Anchor Stone of the canoe Takitimu) or Monkey Island (as it is more commonly known).
In our family there is a tradition of taking all prospective (or already-landed) in-laws to see Monkey Island. Without fail they say, "You call that an island?" Or "Is that all it is?" But we don't care; they have been introduced to the family touchstone.(Even though I notice in the signage, it is referred to as a 'knob'!)
With the boot of my sister's car laden down with smooth boulders and stones, we headed into town to check up on the local goss to be heard in the pub. On the way, we passed a stand of trees very familiar from childhood - still surviving the salt-laden winds battering them into their crooked leanings.
At the pub we caught up with how there are plans afoot (indeed, in progress) to refurbish the pub with a Garden Bar and accommodation. The publican, Alastair ? McCracken, was full of positive energy and said that with the support and focus of a strong local committee, Orepuki is looking up and new life is being breathed into the place. It is a popular place to visit, and not uncommon for the Orepuki Tavern to cook a huindred meals on a Saturday.