We headed south along the Southern walkway. Through this wilderness studded with playing fields. I had my map from the recent City Safari, and was enjoying checking out the hidden trails. The Scottish Harrier clubrooms lie at the centre of it all, in a dark gloomy valley. Although not quite looking as disused as the Wellington Harrier Club in the macrocarpas of Mt Vic its not much better than the local tracks, which head up and down facetiously, thwarting all but the most intrepid.
Caspar and partner Nadine are looking at buying a house, so we stopped past there in a hidden valley of Berhampore. If its hard for a Doctor and a Computer programmer paid in US Dollars whats it like for the average wage? Down through some more parks and up a ridiculously steep hill and then the interesting stuff begins. We are at the highest point of Manawa Karioi Maunga Kawakawa and there is a Pouwhenua (sculpture) here overlooking Happy Valley/Island Bay and much more of the Wellington isthmus.
We descend down a rough ridge on the Happy Valley side to a bedraggled looking valley. But what we find is quite uplifting. Community work in action. The valley is an old landfill that is being revegetated. Prestons Gully or Tawatawa Reserve is a long term project developed by the Wellington City Council, the Southern Environmental Association and local residents. It looks great, an informal recreation area surrounded by regenerating wetland and forest. Of course at the moment it is just gorse but the dream is there!
Running back over the hill towards Island Bay we ran smack into another ecological restoration project. The first signs were nice mowed tracks through native bush just starting to deplete its gorse nanny. Then there were some interpretation signs. A story about goats brought in to control banana passionfruit and other weeds in an organic mater, and another about a valley developed as as a seed source for future reforestation. Then when we popped out at the bottom of the hill we found the entrance to Manawa Karioi and the incredible building of Tapu Te Ranga Marae. The worlds largest recycled wooden building, it is a home for many, spawned of the Maori reniassance and anger of the 1970's. It is fascinating stuff. The kaumatua is Bruce Stewart, known for his angry prose and verse as part of the disconnected urban Maori. I have a cherished copy of his book "Tama" that I have had for many years....
It is possible to quieten me
for a while by blocking your ears
At times I've been buried - hidden
but I will always surface
...sometimes with a scream
for there are those
who have nothing left but
their bodies - voices
Take your hands from your ears
hear their screams
I think it is fair to say that the house has many stories to tell. I would like to investigate further in the future...and there are working bees every couple of weeks on the restoration. It had been an interesting run, and we continued it running over Mt Albert and down past the baboons and kangaroos of the zoo and down through the hubbub of Newtown to finish the exploration first time through of another part of Wellington.