Topic: People - Te Kawau Pa

Topic type:

Haumoana (Rodney) White, the authority on Maori, lives here.  His tribe is Poutama.

PLEASE NOTE:  With regards to Haumoana White’s name, I had always known him as ‘Rodney’.  It was only seeing a Disclaimer in the 21.4.2012 issue of the Taranaki Daily News that I learned of his proper, Maori name.  The diary entries naming him as Rodney will stand however, as I can’t (and shouldn’t) re-write history.

Te Kawau Pa, (the rock stack that I called Lion Rock), was originally a fighting pa with ropes being used to climb it.  Later it became an urupa (cemetery).  The last whanau (family) burial was in the 1930’s.

Maori and Pakeha burial customs differ.  Maori, where possible and if practicable, prefer to be buried on ancestral land.  By law for the most part, everyone, Maori included, must be buried in proper designated cemeteries.

“Buried” to mean full body.  People’s ashes can be buried or scattered anywhere, but “body burials” must be in council run cemeteries.

Pakeha are comfortable with either being buried or cremated (ashes), but for Maori, body burial is part of their culture.  Being cremated is not.  This is where problems and misunderstandings can sometimes arise.



9 November 2003

I called in to see Rodney White to see about the caves I had heard about.  He was nice enough.  He pointed out a track on his land that led down to the beach.  One cave was just north of him, while the other was immediately south of him.  It being located in the area where I had first accessed the beach at Te Kawau Pa on the 4th November.

NOTE; I didn’t access the northern caves, there being more than one, until February 2010.



8 March 2004  

Tongaporutu Coastline - cliff sequencing, Te Kawau pa 


I’m staying up at the Gibbs’ rented out homestead for a few days to do cliff sequencin at Te Kawau Pa, (See Section Four on Cliffs), and to do other photography.

Today it’s my birthday.  Happy birthday Pat.  You’re 58 years old today.  How do you feel?  Knackered.  Didn’t sleep last night.  I was in too much pain from my knees, especially the right one which I fell on at the Pipeline, (Beach One).  The old hip joints weren’t wunderbar either.

Near the Keyhole, a man, his wife, two children and their dog came onto the little beach on the southern side of the huge cave.  He told me of a track on the northern side that I hadn’t as yet explored.  Later on I photographed his two children at the cave’s northern entrance for scale.

On the northern beach side of the cave where the fossil trees were, (See Section Three on Rock Strata and Fossil Trees), I saw two fishing parties.  The one closest to me consisted of two people.  The group further up the beach consisted of around eight people.

26 June 2004  

PHO2008-1296, PHO2008-1297

Tongaporutu Coastline - Rodney White, Te Kawau pā


On the northern side of the cave where the fossil trees are, I came across Rodney White and Russell Gibbs.  I photographed Rodney sitting on one of the ancient, believed to be, totara logs, while another photo shows Rodney and Russell both together on the rocky foreshore.



11 December 2005  

Tongaporutu Coastline - The Keyhole 


Looking down on the Keyhole, I was thrilled to see some ‘bodies’ (fishermen) on the beach.  As it was raining, they were sheltering close to the Keyhole.  People are great as they provide scale.



12 January 2009  

Tongaporutu Coastline -Te Kawau pā


After I had completed cliff sequencing, I went through the cave and did some photography on the northern section of the beach that tracks towards Mokau.  The photo here shows Rodney White’s place.  It is more of an environmental shot.


 8 February 2009

After I had completed the three farming family photos and photographed the baches, I thought I’d pop along to visit Rodney White.  (I thought his name was Greg White at the time).

Rodney was at home, but I probably made a poor start by calling him “Greg”, which he promptly corrected to Rodney.  He was very nice about it though.  He said he had to go to a meeting soon.  We talked about a few things such as the Maori names for some of the rock stacks.  I explained that I had given some working nicknames, just for ease of recording.  He didn’t seem to have a problem with that.  He added that much had changed on the coastline since when he was a child.  I asked about the cave further up the beach and possible access to it.  He said access was only possible at low tides.  Also, scouring around the point could restrict passage beyond it.  Also, there were no escape routes.  The cliffs were unclimbable but there were no rivers to cross.

Rodney said that the cave in question ran back to the main road, but part of its roof had collapsed.  I mentioned the Maori cave carvings in response to the cliff collapse and the books that Dan Budnik from America had sent.  Rodney believed that the carvings were actually pre-Maori.  They being done by the first peoples here.  The carvings were most likely over a thousand years old and obviously there were or had been more of them.  The landscape would have obviously been different back then and there were originally Four Sisters on the Three Sisters Beach.  At the time of their creation, the Three Sisters area could have been all land, but presumably with caves in them.


3 June 2009

I visited Te Kawau Pa to re-photograph it with the panoramic camera.  The first images, taken on 12.4.2009, were all under-exposed due to my ignorance at the time with regards to the on lens filter.  One of the places I accessed was the fishing platform located on top of a cliff just south of Lion Rock.  I mention it in this diary entry because of how it was trashed.  The rubbish consisted of discarded fishing lines coupled with the odd booze can and a beer bottle parked in the bushes.  The dried blood and fish scales are for me, acceptable ‘rubbish’ as they are biodegradable and will eventually wash off.  The human rubbish is unacceptable.

I have already mentioned it in Section Nine on Flora and Fauna, but have repeated it here to reinforce the message; human rubbish is unacceptable.



28 February 2010

In all the time I have been coming up to Tongaporutu, I’ve never accessed the beach immediately north of Te Kawau Pa.  Specifically, beyond the little rocky bay on the northern side of the large cave and the Kuwhatahi Stream.  Rodney White lives above this bay.  Also, I had planned to photograph the entire Tongaporutu coastline with the panoramic camera, this to include the northern section of Te Kawau Pa that I’ve come up today specifically to document.

A man and two children also visited this part of the beach on this day.  However, they were always miles in front of me and travelled much further up the beach than I did.  They had obviously been here before, unlike me.

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