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And Last But Not Least...


Kia Ora,

With this entry I’m closing my Blog. On Friday I’ve returned to Hamilton for the last time and tomorrow I’ll be driving up to Auckland to pick up my love from the airport (she doesn‘t arrive till Wednesday, but I can‘t wait that long!). It will be difficult for me to Blog from the road and I recon we will be quite occupied. So this is it; but I still want to report from my last little journey which I undertook to bridge the time between the end of the semester and Caroline’s arrival.

Taranaki is the name of a region and of a mountain (see top picture in the middle) on the west coast of the North Island. The mountain use to be called Mt. Egmont, the name bestowed upon it by Captain Cook. It is (almost) a lonely mountain is in the middle of a flat peninsula. There are a few smaller hills, all located within a straight line between the mountain and the sea. All these hills are (dead) volcanoes, the ones closer to the sea are the older ones. The tallest of these volcanoes (Taranaki) is the youngest one. Maori folklore tells of Taranaki having an affair with an attractive volcano by Taupo due to which Taranaki had a row with her partner (Mt. Tongariro). Mt. Taranaki had to flee and ever since it is located on the east coast. The trail it left behind is today the Whanganui river.

I met some people at the hostel who were keen on renting a car with me. On Tuesday we drove the north road up Mt. Taranaki and took a four hours track at approximately 1700 meters, just below from where the snow started. Unfortunately large areas were in the clouds -- the mountain appears to be like a magnet to clouds -- but we got some good views from a bit further down.

The next day we headed down the Forgotten Highway. It was a beautiful curvy road through hilly green nothingness. What a fun road to drive on! I’ve seldom seen an inhabited village as strongly haunted by decay as Oharu. The ringing of the school bell at the southern end of the village was one of the few things from which we concluded that people are still living here. We drove on. Halfway down the Forgotten Highway is Whangamonamona, the only Republic to be surrounded by New Zealand. A few dozen people live in the capital and about 200 people live in the Republic. Each year they celebrate Republic Day on which they elect a Prime Minister. One year they elected a Poodle (yes, I’m talking about the dog!) as a Prime Minister. We had some coffee in the pub and asked them where we could get our passports stamped. The Lady pulled out a sign and put it on the bar saying: “The passport office is now open.”

On Thursday I remained in New Plymouth having a go at surfing and trying some white bait. Surfing was really fun. I didn’t manage to stand up on the board (at least not for more than two and a half seconds), but I got a few good rides lying down. White bait is one of New Zealand's respectable fish, even though it supposedly has gotten considerably rare over the last century.

Half way to Hamilton I got off of the bus in a nest called Piopio. In comparison to the last hundred kilometers Piopio appeared like a busy metropolis to me. Six kilometers from Piopio is the farm on which Jonno (my flat mate) grew up. It is an idyllic place with the closest neighbors living a kilometer or two down the road. There are many medium sized farms in New Zealand as a result of trying to people the country (getting people to settle in New Zealand by giving them cheap farmland) and also much land was awarded to people for their military services in World War II.  In comparison to Europe there is a high percentage working in the primary sector, and they manage to make a living off of it. Yet that farm (which appeared gigantic to me: it encompassed hills, a river with a waterfall and woods) was a small one. Jonno’s parents have cows and sheep, yet both of them also have teaching jobs.

There, that's it. Hope whoever followed this blog had some fun and didn’t get to board. I hope to see you soon (at the beginning of the new year).

E noho ra (farewell!)
15.11.09 07:55


My Time in Hamilton is Slowly Comming to an End: Can Time Actually Correct Spelling Mistakes?

Time is something I haven’t mastered yet. It just keeps on  moving, no matter what I do. Sometimes I try to catch it by its tail, but instead of me keeping it back, time just keeps up its paste and drags me along. Or I try to push it forward, but I only stumble then. Today I handed in my last assignment at the University of Waikato, and in early November I’ll have my last exams. Time is moving so steadily; it is telling me that my time here in Hamilton is comming to an end.

Then it will be only twelve more days until Caroline arrives at the Oakland airport. I plan to bridge the time till then by going down to Taranaki (former Mt. Egmond) and Wanganui (or Whanganui), doing a bit hiking and perhaps -- if the weather is good -- even taking a canoe down the river for a day.

Seriously, it is a big issue these days whether that place (Wanganui/Whanganui) should be written with an h or not. Unlike the river name, European settlers spelt the city without an h, which has absolutely no meaning in the Maori language. Now the local Maori tribe wants the h back. The other day there was a cartoon in the Waikato Times of annoyed Maori witnessing the arrival of Captain Cook’s ship and saying: “I have to confess I’m dreading the next 240 years constantly correcting their grammar.”

It seems to be a very sensitive topic. There are angry editorials claiming that the Geography-Board has an anti-European bias in allowing the place name to be turned back into Whanganui. Many Pakeha say that they are annoyed by Maori complaining all the time after all the progress the Europeans brought to them. On the other hand, some Maori (and also quite a few Pakeha historians) claim that the progress was brought to secure Pakeha dominance and Maori subjection.

Personally, I think the h should be restored, even if it costs some money. Since the word Wanganui has no meaning at all, it is simply a Pakeha coinage of pseudo Maori culture. This is an old technique called cultural colonization, and should be tried to be left behind. I think, that many Maori are still struggling to prove their cultural identity, even if they are making progress. Ka Whaiwhai Tonu Matou, that means ‘Struggle Without End’ and is the title of a great book dealing with this whole issue from a Maori perspective.

Mmmh, I wish I could take a k out of my blog name; it was meant to be named keywey, which is how some kiwis pronounce kiwi. But I can’t really change it now, I think. Guess time’s even movement was pushing me when I did that spelling mistake. I’ll just have to colonize the kiwis then by telling them that the real way of pronouncing their name actually is keykwey.

23.10.09 08:51

There aint a CASTOR driving along these rails!


Good day sheilas and mates,

New Zealand‘s flora and fauna is so unique! In the middle picture are the blossoms of the national Christmas tree, the Pohutukawa. To the left is a partying high hippy flower - I’ve seen this one on Waiheke Island close to Auckland -, and to the right of the Pohutukawa is the symbol of Germany’s political flower-power party… as seen in a Bremen Strebergarten!

Some strange news from a foreign star arrived here… Germany’s landscape is changing - politically; and this is one of its transforming eruptions, as I hear:

Merkel: Provide nuclear energy to cover the demand until alternative source can keep up with it.
Steinmeier: But by doing that you’ll take the pressure away of investing in alternative energies.

So, that’s the story there. The story here is quite different. Aotearoa, or the Land of the Long White Cloud, has a very interesting history in its struggle with nuclear power(s): In the last century the big world powers spent decades testing atomic bombs on atoll islands in the Pacific - New Zealand’s back yard, so to speak. Consequently, the country decided to go nuclear free in the 1980s.

One night in 1985: The Greenpeace boat Rainbow Warrior docked in the Auckland harbor. This boat was used by activist to fight against the atomic bomb tests in the Pacific. That night French secret service men planted a bomb on the boat; the Rainbow Warrior sunk in the harbor, one Greenpeace activist died.

The secret agents were caught, New Zealander’s were upset. The French put economical pressure on the New Zealand government to get their secret agents back. Eventually, New Zealand handed them over under the condition that they’d complete their sentence in France. Back home, the secret service men were given a grand welcome and were celebrated as national heroes for their heroic action of sinking a Greenpeace boat. After that these criminals were sent to a luxurious island to “complete their sentence“.  

Today the recovered mast of the Rainbow Warrior stands in front of the museum of Dargaville in the Northlands. The sunken Greenpeace boat has become a national icon; and New Zealand remains nuclear free. Geothermal sources provide most of the energy for the country‘s four million inhabitants. This brings its own problems with it - but at least nuclear waste is not one of them.

Peace from Aotearoa
30.9.09 13:20

17.9.09 09:14

Tongariro National Park: 02.09 & 03.09.

Sometimes one drives through New Zealand and wonders where the village is which according to the map should be right at the spot were one is - and if one is lucky one sees a house somewhere. Yeah, Kiwis seem to identify strongly with rural ways of living. We were on our way from Napier towards Taupo and we reckoned that there would be many villages coming up… but they didn’t. Which was no problem, only that we started running out of diesel. We basically let the van role down the mountains into Taupo and still made it to the petrol station.

Our next and last stop of the trip was going to be the Tongariro National Park, smack in the middle of the North Island. If you are a fan of the Lord of the Rings movies think of the mountains representing  Mordor. On the top right picture you can see Mt. Ngauruhoe, a perfect volcanic cone, which you might remember as being Mt. Doom.

Here we spend the last two days of our trip hiking, and they turned out being the trips  absolute highlight. We couldn’t do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, as we weren’t equipped for hiking through snow… another exciting thing to do with Clina in November; it is supposedly “the best one-day walk in NZ” (Lonely Planet). Instead we did two other spectacular hikes starting from Whakapapa. Weather conditions can change rapidly here, but we were lucky.
By the way, Whakapapa actually mean genealogy and is an important element of Maori culture.
17.9.09 09:07

13.9.09 04:20

The East Coast: 28.08 - 01.09.


After having been pumped up with adrenaline because somebody knocked on our window at three o’clock in the morning (and people told us to be careful of robberies when camping up in the Northland), we drove the night through to the Coromandel Peninsula… and arrived just in time for sunrise! And a beautiful sunrise it was.

The Coromandel Peninsula is an attractive spot: There are mountains running along the middle of the peninsula, and idyllic beaches and coves along the shore. There use to be many Kauri trees here; none of them were spared from industrial processing. AND GOLD WAS FOUND, leading to two major gold rushes in this area from the 1850s to the 1880s, overriding the local Maori tribe… so what’s new?

Still this place seems untouched and unspoiled, probably due to government schemes. It feels isolated and the few towns (originally founded by gold-seekers) are small.

We drove along the Bay of Plenty. Worldwide every fourth kiwi fruit comes from here. We skipped the drive around the East Cape due to bad weather, something I‘d love to catch up on with Caroline. What I got to see of this area appealed to me; the combination of woods, rivers, and sea reminded me of the southern part of Sweden. Next we crossed the Gisborne area, where ‘Whale Rider’ was filmed.

Welcome to Napier! Ill-faith has befallen this city on the 3rd of February in 1931: A 7.9 earthquake destroyed it completely and killed 258 people. The phoenix which grew out of the cities ashes was stylish and familiar with the trend of its time: the complete city was rebuild in Art-Deco style, making it to one of the worlds most homogenous Art-Deco cities. Today the people appear easy going, hanging out in arty cafes. A lady on the street gave us tangerines because it was “Act-of-random-kindness-day”.  

13.9.09 03:59

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