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W, Wellington

W, Wellington

A2Z-BADGE-0002015-LifeisGood-230_zps660c38a011 March 2015

An ocean of cloud below the SoundsAir twelve-seater airplane, the J24 racing boat of the skies, defined my transition. Yet another transition – internally (see, say, this post), and logistically: from a slow pace through baking wineries and majestic waterways surrounding Blenheim, to the shadowed bluster of Wellington, New Zealand.

Blenheim, Marlborough, is the north tip of New Zealand’s South Island, and Wellington: the southern tip of the North Island. With an early morning flight and an anti-social urge, I decided to stay close to Wellington Airport. This is how I ended up in the sanguine seaside town of Seatoun. Feeling the pressure to do some tramping (the New Zealand term for hiking) before I departed New Zealand’s shores, I ventured out, hoping the grey of a typical Seatoun day would blow inland to expose the cheerier silvers of dusk.

cookStraitJacket zipped to my chin, I dutifully tramped, okay I walked, along the foreshore. Wind-weary scrub and grasses lined the path as it snaked parallel to the beach, rose and dipped playfully past modern homes of glass and stone until an impressive staircase beckoned. Though I was physically dragging and mentally drained, this staircase called me so emphatically, I had no choice but to put my head down and battle into the elements. An outdoor stairway always leads somewhere worth the climb. And in Seatoun, this is an understatement.

Turns out I was on my way to Point Dorset, a Maori Pā site at Oruaiti.

As the track widened, the view to my left gaped, and I was at once transfixed by the power of wind and water. What grew astoundingly, poundingly clear, was the force of water that is the Cook’s Strait, keeps the meek earth of the two land masses in line. The southern edge of the North Island and the northern edge of the South Island dare not mess with the mighty sea.

“Oh my,” I said out loud to no one. Standing at the top on an elegantly crafted Waka (Canoe) sculpture, a wood, concrete and shell structure flush to the ground, I marveled at nature’s roar.

“Wake up,” it said. “Stand taller.” Or maybe that was the pouwhenua (carved land post).

“Holy sh**,” I whispered to myself.

At that moment, I was compelled to stand at the bow of the Waka. I was moved by some connection, some intersection of wind, water, atmospheric pressure perhaps, immutable earth and my own internal weather. The dark cloud of my burdened limbic sky rose and I recognized it. It was a mirror of the raging weather. My grey merged with the swirling, throbbing ocean, silver under the great dome of earth-sky.

Something cupped my shoulder blades and my arms could do nothing else but extend to the sky. Yes I stood like a right goon on the rise above Cook’s Strait with my arms overhead, my eyes closed and I prayed. I asked, begged, pleaded for time. More time for my dad. Five more years. I asked for health for my daughter, a cure for her asthma; abundance and success for everyone I know. Let me know better: how can I help? How can I love? How can I fly?

Heading back down, I felt a little foolish. Swept away, quite literally, by the raw force of weather and water. I don’t remember the walk back, except the feeling of the downward path as it slid under me, the wind at my back.

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“Whetu Kairangi pa site on Seatoun heights provides a link between the ancient past and the present, being the place where Toi’s great grandsons, Tara and Tautoki are said to have built their pa and their houses, the first in the district. One house was named Raukawa after the water now known as Cook Strait, the other called Wharerangi, after an ancient house from Hawaiki. The spring there was called Te Puna o Tinirau, after a place in the ocean where whales are said to originate. Here began Ngai Tara.” (http://www.wcl.govt.nz/maori/wellington/ngawaahirangitatau.html)

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© Robyn T. Murphy

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