We all know and understand that Britain (with or without Scotland included) is the centre of the known universe; so we probably shouldn’t find it surprising that key events in British history are taught in New Zealand schools – you know, Kings and Queens, how we beat the French (several times), how we built and lost an empire, that sort of thing. So how much do we Brits know about New Zealand’s relatively short history? Not much if my meagre store of knowledge is anything to go by.
Anyway, all that was put right today by our visit to the very beautiful Waitangi Treaty Grounds where we were given an excellent summary of ‘everything you need to know about Kiwi history but were afraid to ask’, followed by a very enjoyable ‘cultural experience’ which included, among other things, half a dozen scary looking Maori boys and girls sticking their tongues out at us and threatening us with clubs and spears.
Not your usual welcome, admittedly, but really well done and very effective. In point of fact it would probably have been even more effective if it hadn’t coincided with a powerboat race taking place on the Bay of Islands and passing within 400m of where we were stood. Sadly, when it comes to volume even a Maori Haka can’t compete with forty or fifty 350HP Mercury outboards at full chat and a slack handful of low flying helicopters screaming overhead!
Our drive up the coast from the Bay of Islands took us to the beautiful Matauri Bay where we swam and explored yet another practically deserted, fabulous beach. Overlooking the bay is the monument to the Rainbow Warrior which, those who remember the 80s will recall, was sunk by the sneaky French Secret Service in Auckland Harbour – need I say more?