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A mother duck was swimming beside The Terraces this morning with eight new ducklings.

Duck family

Duck family

The eels were nearby, and mother duck was doing her best to keep the family away from them.

Eel family

Eel family

I doubt that there’ll still be eight ducklings tomorrow.  On the other side of the river two scaupe were sleeping in the sunshine.

Sleepy scaupe

Sleepy scaupe

“A lovely warm and sunny day
means summer’s surely on the way.”

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The walking tour along the Otakaro was a feature of this year’s WORD festival.  Offered on three days, it quickly sold out, and I was glad to have secured a place.  Joseph Hullen (Ngai Tuahuriri, Ngai Tahu) led us first to the riverbank in Victoria Square, opposite the law courts, where there is a significant group of Ti Kouka/Cabbage trees.

Ti Kouka (Small)

Ti Kouka trees, of the same family as leeks and onions, provided food, shelter, clothing, and footwear for early Maori.  This area was the largest mahinga kai/food gathering area in Otautahi, and from here food was transported to the settlement at Kaiapoi.  There were a number of Pa nearby, which served as way stations for travellers, and where people could keep an eye on their food source.  From the 1780s local Maori interacted and traded with sealers and whalers, but in 1850 the Pa sites disappeared with the Kemp Purchase.  The first organised commerce between Kai Tahu and Pakeha settlers happened at the Market Square (now Victoria Square).  Maori built houses on the corner where the Oxford Tavern later stood, and brought goods in from Kaiapoi to sell to the settlers.

There were urupa/graveyards all through the city, because Maori like to bury their dead where they can keep an eye on them.  When the St Luke’s Vicarage was built a skeleton was found which is considered to be that of Tautahi for whom Otautahi was named.  Since the earthquakes, wherever there are excavations they will be overseen by an archaeologist, and by a member of the runanga if it’s an area where there may have been an urupa.

Because of the food gathering tradition of the Otakaro/Avon River, Kai Tahu are keen to have their cultural values commemorated.  Patterns laid out in stone, such as this one at the Margaret Mahy Family Playground, help to tell the stories.

Maori Design MMP (Small)

The patterns are set in a metal frame so that if the area needs to be dug up in future the pattern can ramain intact.

Some of Joseph’s story was heard in an interview with Kim Hill on Saturday morning.  His part comes after the bit with Sam Crofskey of C1 Espresso.

After the walk I went to a session on Ngai Tahu Story Telling with Ta Tipene O’Regan.  He talked about an oral map, and how when cultures move they take the memories with them and plant them in a new place.  Place names are the memory posts, the signposts of the land.  He told the story of Poutini, and how Port Levy got its Maori name Koukourarata.   Ta Tipene said that myth is the only reality.

“An afternoon of Maori lore
has left me wanting to hear more.”

 

 

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Straw bales have been placed along three kilometres of the Heathcote River.  They provide a spawning habitat for inaka/whitebait, who wriggle between the straw to lay their eggs at high tide.  At the next high ‘spring’ tide the eggs hatch and the young are washed out to sea where they grow into whitebait.

Straw bales for whitebait egg nests

Straw bales for whitebait egg nests

This project will help identify the best places for long term restoration of whitebait spawning habitat.

“It’s good to nurture these wee critters
they may be future whitebait fritters.”

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A ‘Fendalton Rivers’ walk took us along the Waimairi Stream.  This is one of several Fendalton streams which meet the Avon River near Mona Vale.

Waimairi Stream near Medbury Terrace

Waimairi Stream near Medbury Terrace

 

Waimairi Stream near Barlow Street

Waimairi Stream near Barlow Street

In March it was reported that the Waimairi Stream had completely dried up.  Yesterday there was water in it, perhaps because of recent rainfall.

“Two months ago this stream was dry
but it was wet when we walked by.”

 

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Public finally have access to the area along Oxford Terrace between Cashel and Hereford Streets.  The Bridge of Remembrance is available once more.

Bridge of Remembrance

Bridge of Remembrance

Some people have asked why the “rusty” marks haven’t been removed.  The bridge is made from a Tasmanian stone which contains iron that sometimes leaches out, and this can’t be cleaned away.

For years I sat on these terraces to eat my lunch, and I’m pleased they’ve been replaced.

Oxford Terraces & Hereford Street Bridge

Oxford Terraces & Hereford Street Bridge

The new terraces have inscriptions.

Inscriptions on steps

Inscriptions on steps

This one reads “Ko Otakaro te ingoa, noku tenei whenua.”  My reo is very basic, but I think it means “My name is Otakaro (Avon), this is my land.”

On the west bank a descendant of the Gallipoli Lone Pine was planted last year to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landings.  It has a strong protective covering.

Lone Pine behind fence

Lone Pine behind fence

“My lunch spot now has been renewed
and ducks again will beg for food.”

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The Blue Line Bus

Blue Line Bus (Small)

 

took me all the way to Princess Margaret Hospital, where there is a perfect group meeting place on the riverbank,

Meeting place at PMH (Small)

with more seats and picnic tables nearby.  I hope some of the hospital patients have a chance to walk these paths and enjoy the natural surroundings.  Although the day was overcast the trees were spectacular, and there were masses of leaves to crunch through.

 

Leaves (Small)This was my first walk with the Tuesday group, who step out briskly, ensuring good exercise.

“A friendly group who like to talk
as round the riverbank we walk.”

 

 

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Walking around our loop of the river used to be a one of my pleasures.  Since all the houses have gone I find it less enjoyable.  Where I used to walk daily I now go only every few weeks to see what changes have been made, hoping the experience may improve.  Where homes once stood there is now grass and trees, but the whole area is surrounded by a strong wire fence.  Stern notices say “No unauthorised access, no dumping”.  It’s very clear that all the land now belongs to CERA and no visitors are welcome.  I appreciate they want to keep vehicles off, but surely they could allow people in?  Perhaps via a stile?  It seems hard that those who used to live here are now totally forbidden.  Foragers, too, are not allowed, so fruit just goes to waste.

On the riverbank signs warn “Polluted water!  Please avoid contact”.   The ducks are there, but no kayaks these days.  As I walk round I see only a few strangers.  In the past I would have met and spoken to local people.  Now it’s hard to be sure which piece of land belonged to which family.

A large oak tree has broken in the wind.  The centre is obviously rotten.  I wonder if the remaining part will stay, or be removed?

Broken oak

Broken oak

It’s all sad.  The only good news is that the Holiday Inn on Avon is finally being demolished.  We’re glad to be rid of this broken eyesore, and it seems unlikely to be replaced soon, but who knows . . . . . .

“This area, once such a gem
is now a scene for requiem.”

 

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