'Time and place / as elusive as air / as solid as this ground / I stand on. / Here, where I am placed / at any one time'.
Wednesday, 18 July 2018
Still Waters of the Tomahawk Lagoon
Tomahawk Lagoon; 'Tomahawk' possibly being an anglicisation of the original Maori name for this place. It is thought that the original name for this area was 'tomo haka', meaning 'dance by the gravesite'. (The fact that the modern-day Andersons Bay cemetery is a stone's throw from here, being pure coincidence).
For some time now I have had rivers on my mind.
It may have a lot to do with the fact that my youngest grandchild has a river-like name. Whatever the reason, I'm going to run with it and make rivers a theme for this blog.
I do have another blog - one that is maintained on my website at kaymckenziecooke.com
and in fact I originally intended to drop this blog in favour of having just the one. However, I have a fondness for Blogger, my original blogging platform. Plus, I've noticed that a lot of readers come to my website from this Time & Place blog.
So, I shall go with the flow (so to speak) and keep this blog running - running with my current interest of rivers and bodies of water associated with rivers - such as creeks, streams, tributaries and (as in the case of today's topic) lagoons and ponds.
The two photo above, are of a lagoon just over the hill from where I live. It is a site known for its birdlife and despite its definition as a lagoon, is not inundated by the sea, but rather has the characteristics of a small, shallow, coastal lake.
It has an upper and a lower side (known as Top and Bottom; an example of the prosaic nature of New Zealand's place names) and several creeks which have their origin somewhere in the peninsula hills, run into it. Like a tiny, faraway twig of a grand family tree, this largely unremarkable body of stream-filled water, does in the end, connect to the mighty Pacific Ocean. A short and also unremarkable stream is where the connection lies.
'Owing to the pastoral nature of much of the surrounding land, nutrient runoff into the lagoon is frequently high, resulting in its often eutrophic nature'. (Wikipedia). This means that it can have a high algae content and sometimes suffers from algae bloom.
The main creek that runs into the lagoon, is Lagoon Creek (again, an example of European settlers' habit of giving New Zealand prosaic names for geographical features and place names - for example, South Island, North Island; and in my opinion, all the more reason to support the policy of going back to the original Maori names, which are far more interesting and poetic).
Lagoon Creek (which will have a Maori name for sure, but I can find no reference to that fact) begins where there is a prominent hilltop memorial, or monument, constructed in remembrance of soldiers of World War One.
This 10-meter tall bluestone column was placed on a spot originally known as Big Stone (could you get anything more prosaic?!) but which was then re-named Arthur's Seat (an example of many such allusions to Dunedin's Scottish heritage). However, it is more popularly known simply as, Soldier's Monument, and is a popular place for people to climb up to for stunning views over Otago Harbour, Peninsula and surrounds.
Yesterday I visited this beach with my daughter-in-law and grandchild with a river-like name. It was a spectacular clear winter's day. Across the road from the beach lies a puddle-like tributary of the lagoon. I pondered for a second or two on the fact that in the end, all rivers run into the sea. Including, eventually (slowly, unobtrusively, slyly and shyly) the comparatively still, and sluggish waters of the Tomahawk Lagoon.
Are rivers meaningful for you too?
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Yeah but from time to time prosaic morphs into the sublime. Both Bay of Plenty and Poverty Bay have a taut biblical quality, well-chosen words needing no further qualification. And I've just noticed Bounty Sound on the map - another name that echoes hard times for early settlers and gratitude for what nature grudgingly dispensed.
Staying at Te Anau we knew that Milford Sound was the place to visit but I was put off by the name's resonance with a US strip cartoon, Milquetoast, which explored middle-class angst. Instead we made for Doubtful Sound on the basis its name.
But I don't deny much of NZ celebrates The Tin Ear. The fact that the world's most beautiful stretch of real-estate (IMHO) lumbers along under the unimaginative tag of Port Underwood may well keep its wonders secret for decades to come. And what about Greymouth?
Even so, by now those quickly chosen, unassuming names reflect NZ's more recent history and deserve their place if only because they are so unpretentious. The urge to recompense NZ's original inhabitants is commendable but those dour Scots who arrived and struggled also need their memorial. "Tell me about somewhere in NZ that's not beautiful," I commanded a US guy who'd fallen under the country's spell and built a home on South Island's east coast. "The outskirts of Hamilton," he said. But it was said laughingly. For, I suspect, he like I was aware of the truly horrific - virtually transcendental - ugliness of Hacksensack, New Joisey. Including the name.
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