Friday, 26 October 2012

Cape Reinga

Last weekend I went on a trip up to the most northern point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga. 

The weather was absolutely fantastic. 

This is not my usual sort of post, however, as a country NZ's history is far older than the 1830s and the mythology surrounding it is so interesting that I just have to share it with you. 

Maori culture is very spiritual and the upper half of the Northland, the peninsula from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga in particular, holds very strong Maori symbolisms. 

The name of the cape comes from the Maori word 'Reinga' or 'Underworld'. It is also known as 'Te Rerenga Wairua', meaning the 'leaping place of spirits'. 

According to Maori myth, it is believed that when someone passes away their spirit travels up the country on the 'Te Ara Wairua' or the 'Spirits Pathway'. 

The route the spirit travels takes them up through the North Island and onto Ninety Mile beach 

It is not actually 90 miles, but is so named after a group of sheep herders who used to migrate up and down this beach throughout the year. By their calculations it took them one day to do 30 miles. It took them 3 days to get from one end of the beach to the other.........90 mile beach! 

After soaring up 90 mile beach the spirits carry on over the land 

until they come to Cape Reinga where they would climb the roots of the 800 year old Kauri tree and then dive into the swirling waters of where the Tasman Sea (left) meets the Pacific Ocean (right)

For Maori, these turbulent waters are where the male sea 'Te Moana Tapokopoko a Tawhaki' meets the female sea 'Te Tai o Whitirela'. The whirlpools where the currents clash are thought to represent those that dance in the wake of the a waka (war canoe). They represent the coming together of male and female – and the creation of life. 

Here, the spirits would carry on swimming northwards until they reached the islands of the Three Kings, turn around, take one last look at their country and then dive down into the sea and continue on their journey to their traditional homeland, Hawaiki

It was an absolutely amazing day and to leave you, here is an oh-so-un-glamorous picture of me sand-boarding