Kaiwaka, Wellsford and Te Hana
Friday, 13 August 2010
The prospect of a semi-motorway from Puhoi to Wellsford has turned the spotlight on all kinds of issues for residents in the region.
Rather like the French town that staged a massive protest because the new high-speed railway was going to bypass them, the citizens of Mahurangi and Puhoi seem to be deeply worried that they will be cut-off from all communication.
| Kerry Strongman's 'Jewellery for Giants'. |
The possibility of a new road, almost half way to Whangarei, brings Wellsford well into commuting distance from Auckland.
That alone is causing ripples through the property development fraternity, but as the motorway or road is unlikely to be completed by 2030, there is plenty of time for radical alteration, not to mention obscure arguments and political hogwash to flow down the Puhoi river.
Historically, Wellsford was a major stop on the North Auckland Railway. In 1953 it took around three hours to reach on the Opua Express and nearly 60 years on as the town contemplates becoming an outer Auckland dormitory, the railway itself may not even exist in the march toward progress.
Currently Wellsford station serves as an important transhipment depot for logs being transferred from truck to train.
The town may welcome improved communications – the state of the NZ dollar has forced two major industries to head off-shore, so an increase in tourism and commuters would be a boost to its status as an agricultural service town.
Clive Baker is one who has seen opportunity in Wellsford High Street, however. His Barber’s shop, locally known as ‘Daggs’ has become an institution in the few months he has been there.
If Clive is not in attendance he will be fattening up his beautiful Red Devon cattle at his farm.
A short drive north of Wellsford lies Te Hana – recently a withering community, but now in danger of becoming a major centre of artistic endeavour in the area.
Kerry Strongman has been hard at work for many years at The Arts Factory, turning out remarkable sculptures from native timber – ‘Jewellery for Giants’.
He uses swamp Kauri and stumps, and virtually anything unusual in timber to create works which enhance the beauty of the wood itself, but are at the same time unique. In fact although there is a very strong signature through Kerry’s works, each one must by definition be unique as no two pieces of timber are the same.
Michelangelo believed he saw the sculpture in the marble, and only had to hew away “the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition”.
Kerry seems to have a similar ability to unleash the carving within the raw material. Kerry has been recognised as a Tohunga, and maybe his presence in Te Hana has drawn some of the energy that is now spilling over into the remarkable Maori Cultural Village over the road.
Whatever it is, Kerry has a delightfully impish gleam in his eye, and time in his presence is time well spent.
The Te Hana Community Development Charitable Trust was established in 2002 with the aim of establishing an educational Marae and Cultural tourist Village, in a previously deprived area.
The vision was for an Education Centre that would offer direct employment opportunities, and currently there are 130 students attending classes in a wide range of subjects. This is despite the centre not been officially open.
That will happen later this year and promises to be an important milestone in the community from every aspect – culturally, economically etc.
Strategically the centre could hardly be better positioned, as it is midway between Auckland and Whangarei – almost as ideal a stopping off point in fact as Kaiwaka.
The little town of lights, Kaiwaka, continues to thrive on the funky and whacky, and caters very well for the tourist market.
There are several cafes, accommodation, and a thriving community of ‘alternative lifestylers’.
There are two eco-villages – Otamatea and Kohatu Toa, and many other people close by keen to diminish their dependency on the mainstream economy.
| Cafe Eutopia. |
Cafe Eutopia is a very visible presence due to its highly individual architecture. It has gained a reputation for good food, as barring seasonal shortages everything is local and organically sourced – very much in keeping with the local alternative view.
Its colourful exterior, close by the highway ensures no traveller can miss it.