On the trip back from a planting day on Moturua Island a fellow “planter” suggested that we should visit Rangihoua, the site of the Marsden Cross and the first European settlement in New Zealand. We had ventured out that way some years ago but, I was told, that it had undergone a major makeover as part of the 2014 bi-centenary of the settlement and was now designated as a heritage park.
Sunday dawned clear so we decided to tackle the usually dusty road and check it out.
Situated on the Purerua Peninsula, about 22km north east of Kerikeri, Rangihou is now nothing more than bare land with the only evidence of past human habitation being the terracing of the hill that the Maori Pa (Village) had occupied.
The site now boasts “story” walkway of 1.5km from the top of the hills surrounding the bay down to the waterfront. Information boards along the track tell you the story of the settlement that was established just after the turn of the 19th Century; the hardships, isolation and partnership with the local Maori settlement.
As we sat on the beach and enjoyed the sunshine and a cup of tea, you got a real appreciation of the isolation of the area. It seemed very remote in 2016, even from nearby Kerikeri, but 200 years ago the nearest European settlement would have been Sydney, more than 2,000km away (as the crows fly).
The day was a contrast to the planting expedition on Moturua Island the day before. My video below tells that story.