Saturday, 4 January 2014

Albion to Aotearoa



THE LITTLE GIRL in this picture is my maternal grandmother Lois Florymel Thorn Hunter (née Shutes), with her parents Elsie and Arthur (and a bear). It was taken a century ago in 1913 in Cornwall where my great grandfather was mining tin. Lois was born in New Zealand, as was my mother. And now I write from just outside a Stannary Town in the West Country where the mined tin would have been brought to be weighed and valued, preparing to make a journey of my own to the other side of the world where it is summer now, to the land of my mothers - New Zealand!


This is how I remember my grandmother Lois; she died ten years ago aged 93, and her ashes were scattered off the headland of the subtropical idyllic Northland coast she lived on and loved so well, and where I remember blissful days swimming as a girl when our family visited her there.


This will be our first holiday together, a celebration of Tom's graduation - his long studies in acupuncture having taken him every week of our relationship away to Reading, and at the end of it now we carry a huge backlog of deep tiredness. Our usual trips away involve lugging heavy damp canvas, driving the A-roads, storytelling, stallholding, a vanful of muddy belongings, and returning home tireder than when we left. Perhaps I've reached some mysterious age when you suddenly yearn to swim in turquoise seas and warm your cold moor-drenched bones with tropical sun. But also, this is a journey for me to see half of my family - antipodean cousins I last saw when we were children, and aunts and uncles and all the long-reaching southern circle of my family's web. It is to be an adventure and a rest and a re-weaving. I sit by the fire in this cottage on the edge of Dartmoor as the winter rains and winds lash these hills incredulous and nervous and excited about our long leap to other greener summer hills in less than a fortnight. We also travel from Middle Earth around the earth to Middle Earth, as these beloved Dartmoor rivers, tors, forests and mossy undulations were direct inspiration for our artist neighbour Alan Lee's conjuring of Tolkien's world. And for the last decade almost he's been in New Zealand re-conjuring Middle Earth for cinema, from which have grown new generations who now think of New Zealand as land of Hobbits and Elves. So we'll find both a familiarity and a strangeness in the land where my mother grew up on a remote and wild farm under the watchful volcanic presence of Mount Taranakiher mountain.


We have my great aunt Una and uncle Ed to thank for the wonderful gift of this unimaginable adventure, as they paid for our flights, hoping to see me again whilst they're still on this earth! Una is Lois's younger sister, and a valued reader of this blog! We cannot thank them enough for this gift of a journey.


And we go too to the land of the people who were there living in relationship with it before my ancestors arrived to take it from them, and who are also now fighting against the fracking of their beloved land as we are here, even in the beautiful national park and underneath that incredible mountain Taranaki. 

Captain Cook's map of New Zealand from 1770, with Maori-sounding names for the North and South Islands
(actually Te Ika a Maui for the North and Te Waipounamu for the South)
, and English place names
A map of the two islands of Aotearoa - artist unknown

My name has roots in this far off land - Rima is Maori for five or a hand:

1 Tahi
2 Rua
3 Toru
4 Whā
5 Rima
6 Ono
7 Whitu
8 Waru
9 Iwa
10 Tekau

We will be away for two whole months, stopping in Fiji on our way back to visit my mother's sister and her family who live there. I imagine I'll not be online much, though an occasional blog post may sneak through depending on internet and inclination.  My etsy shop will be closed until I return (in the spring!) when I plan to reopen it stocked with new wares. I'll take my camera and sketchbooks with me into the land of Pohutukawa tree and Bellbird, of white sand and blue water, of volcanic mountain and hot spring, of ancestor and adventure...


I leave you for now, with a handful of questions to those of you living in New Zealand...
We'd be very grateful for any recommendations of interesting artful and wild places to visit, eco-communities, artists, storytellings, activists, multi-bed acupuncture clinics, festivals and the suchlike... I also have an accordion-dilemma: I don't think I can take my accordion with me as it won't fit in my hand luggage and I don't want to risk putting it in the hold, but I'll be bereft for two months without it. This is an extreme longshot, but do any of you know where/if in NZ I could borrow or hire a B-System chromatic button accordion such as I (and the Russians and Yugoslavians) play?! 


This beautiful carving is a Maori door lintel or pare, carved in c. 1850 for the door of a meeting house. It shows a typical lintel-image of the Earth Mother Papatuanuka giving birth to all the gods of the land and sky on which she stands.


We go now through this mother-doorway from Albion to Aotearoa - land of the white cliffs to Land of the Long White Cloud... 

53 comments:

saskia said...

hi Rima, what an adventure it will be!

I am the proud and happy owner of your calendar and together with the old lady of January also very much in Dutch winter mode: mud rain cold, dark short days, how wonderful it must be to be bathing in warmer water and basking in sunshine down under

enjoy! and how truly lovely your great aunt and uncle gave you and Tom this gift

Karen said...

I hope you both have a wonderful, inspiring time and come home with a Dartmoor spring just beginning. I shall miss your posts so hope you find internet sometimes so we can share a little of your trip. Happy exploring. Karen xx

Cath Stonard said...

I'm sure you will have the most wonderful of times Rima, such a generous gift from your aunt. Part of my heart now resides in New Zealand's Northland, my daughter, son in law and grandson live there too. I have visited once, and it truly is a magical island. I will look forward to reading all your wonderfully descriptive travel tales, and seeing how they inspire your art. Keep safe and enjoy!

Charlotte said...

What a wonderful adventure. Good luck, safe travelling and joyous adventures. I wish I could be of help: I have an old colleague there, who as a book rep is well travelled throughout the islands. My dad's best friend is also there, so will put out feelers and find out what I can for you. I have fb'd and asked if the editorial team at her NZ publishing house knows of anyone who can help with the accordion.

All the very best to you both. xxx

Nanita said...

What a marvelous journey it will be! I look forward to the tales you will tell... Wishing you a safe and fulfilling travel! x

LittleInsect said...

can't wait for you to return! Whqat a lot you will have to share with us. Have a great time!

Jess said...

How exciting, I didn't know you had such an exotic lineage! You'll find so much inspiration there, I will miss your posts but very much look forward to seeing the new artwork when you return!
Happy travels!
Jess xx

Lily said...

Bon voyage!

Heather said...

You must be so excited, as must your relatives in New Zealand. Have a wonderful time, and hopefully Dartmoor will be looking her prettiest for you on your return.

Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden said...

Rima, this is so wonderful. What an incredible gift from your great aunt and uncle. There are plenty of accordions around the Folk Music scene and most players are happy to lend their spares (our accordionist on the morris dancing tour borrowed one from Witney last year) - though I understand how hard it is to get the right type for your own style of music. If you are intending to travel South you and Tom will be very welcome to find yourself a spot in Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden to camp, or park and play. It sounds like you need a break from gigs but any of the folk clubs would happily set up house concerts for you (me too!) and the Auckland Folk Festival happens at the end of January. Safe travels darling Rima, and Haere Mai.

Trish said...

Wow! Have a wonderful time Rima. I'm sure you will. xxx

sarah said...

How wonderful that you will be coming here! I'm sorry I can't help with the accordian issue, but as to the rest - it depends on where exactly you are travelling. NZ is richly populated by artists, craftspeople, and musicians. We also have eco communities, festivals, and events. Unfortunately you will miss WOMAD, a wonderful mainly music festival held in Taranaki in March, but there will still be a lot to see and do.

Some links to show you some examples:

http://www.otamatea.org.nz/location/

http://www.eventfinder.co.nz/2014/voices-of-sacred-earth-eco-festival/auckland/albany

http://www.hivetaranaki.co.nz/community-groups.html

http://www.ecofest.co.nz/

http://www.prana.co.nz/info/discover-prana/events/

As for wild places, this country is so beautiful and mystical, again it depends on where you are travelling as to what recommendations I might offer. You might like Raglan, it is a wild and soulful community on the west coast of the North Island, full of artists and dreamers, and to get there you travel through some of the most beautiful scenery imaginable. But it is rather out of the way.

You are welcome to email me on knittingthewind-at-yahoo-dot-com if you want to know more.

Blessings for your journey.


Teresa Kasner said...

Oh my goodness.. I'm so happy for you! That is so amazing that your aunt is flying you there and will take care of you while you're visiting. What wonderful times you will have. I do hope you find a way to post a blog or 2 while you're traveling as your readers will enjoy sharing it with you.

((hugs)), Teresa :-) from Oregon - USA

Nomi McLeod said...

Hooray!
Oh, it's going to be so wonderful! I LOVE an adventure :)
I will keep Chagford warm for you both until you get back :D

xxxx

gz said...

We wish you all the best for your journey. We returned from six months in Aotearea in April, and did not wish to leave.
Although there for cycling, we found many people involved in music and art. Whangarei , Wellington, Whanganui you name it...
Go to Pahia and see the Hokianga artists group in the Black Gallery...
There is patchwork and quilting of all sorts everywhere.
Go and see the potter who lives just outside Paeroa..he is special. We have Navigator Stones from there.

Looking forward to seeing what you find there...Blessings Be xx

Shelley Noble said...

Have a wonderful trip, which is a foregone conclusion.

I was just co-incidentally looking at New Zealand on Google maps before coming to your blog. I saw a photographer's living space there that was as about idyllic as any could possibly be and began drifting toward that area in my mind as a fantasy.

Come here to find you are actually going!

Reifyn said...

It looks a treat to look back at your history like that. But the only question I have is: what became of the little bear in the first picture?

WOL said...

Bon Voyage and safe journey.

Kaitlin said...

Hi Rima, I wondered if your name was Maori!
I hope you plan to spend lots of time in the South island. The north is beautiful but there's something special about the south. The drive from Nelson across to the west coast and down is magical :)

Tiff (The Curious Peasant) said...

Ah, Rima, this is exciting news! We were just last week looking at pictures and watching videos from "Hobbiton" in New Zealand. They've done quite well manifesting it ito this reality, I hope you'll get to visit!

Happy for ya's xx

Tiff

Moon and Hare said...

How wonderful! Here's hoping you have a wonderful and inspiration-filled adventure down under!

knutty knitter said...

There are plenty of us artist types round here but I fear we may be a bit too far south. It is very scenic round here though and I always carry a sketchbook :)

viv in dunedin

Zoya said...

Wonderful adventures to you and happy time with your family.

Monica of the Masks said...

Dear Rima, how wonderful that you are off to visit my beloved (and missed) NZ! You simply, absolutely must visit the most amazing artist and painter and creator of exquisite creations, Donna Demente, in Omaru. I visited her and her studio and gallery a few years ago, and it was inspiring beyond imagining. I feel that you two are destined to cross paths. That area of Omaru is historic and must be seen as well. On the North Island, north of Auckland is a curious roadside sign for "Utopia Cafe". Stop there to explore magical ferrocement buildings and sculptures and nooks. And absolutel, positively promise to never put your accordion in an airplane hold-the wax the holds the reeds in can crack in the extreme cold! My friend eric wears his on the plane in a padded backpack-style gig bag. His accordion is a huge piano one, and he always gets away with it. Love, and bon voyage from Monica of the Masks in Portland, Oregon!

Monica of the Masks said...

He wears the accordion backpack *onto* the plane, I meant to say!

Hannah said...

Hooray!! So pleased to hear you are venturing to this beautiful part of the world. You will enjoy whatever you do here and I am sure you will find lots to inspire and intrigue you :)

Bedford Gypsy said...

I hope you have a wonderful trip, how exciting. I look forward to hearing your news on your travelling when you get back, I love the photo of you and your accordian. I hope you find out if you can take it or not. Happy travels.

amy said...

Rima you will be enchanted by all you see in NZ, I am certain! When we went, I spent a day carving my own stone pendant at a little shop in a town call Hokitika. It was wonderful! Looking ever so forward to the tales to come of your adventures! Safe travels!!

Catherine Lupton said...

Dear Rima - wishing you both warmest well for your journey Down Under: a marvellous upside-down wound-around skein of adventures surely awaits you in the land of your maternal ancestors :-) Looking forward very much to what you will bring forth from your return. Much love for the long road, Cat xx

kat said...

Rima,
your beautiful calendar arrived at the end of last month, and will come with me to work, as a reminder that, for some, "work" is an expression of their own creative selves, and that there is magic in this world if you can only look for it. Thank you!
Enjoy New Zealand - I traveled there many, many years ago, walked on the slopes of Taranaki, and found it to be a most wonderful place, with a rustling sense of of deep time hovering at the margins.

Amy said...

Was in Aotearoa at this very time last year, still miss it. Enjoy the magic and the warmth. ~Amy

Sanna said...

I think you'd like Nelson! Check out the World of Wearable Art museum while you're there. Dunedin is probably your sort of town too.

Your relatives in Northland will no doubt stress that you should wear sunscreen. Do so. Every day. Even when it's cloudy. Reapply often. :)

Enjoy your holiday!

laoi gaul~williams said...

oh how wonderful! i hope you both have the most amazing time and come back in the spring ready to share your adventures~safe journey Rima and Tom xoxoxo

Mokihana Calizar said...

How wonderful to know you will be flying into the oceans of my people. Aotearoa roots the world, Papahanaumoku(in Hawaiian) is the same earth mother you depict in your last photo. If you are able to find this woman in your travels she could offer beautiful perspectives: Manu Meyer. Aloha, Mokihana

Barb Cady said...

Have the most amazing time together, and as you step in your ancestors footprints may you come back with gladness in your hearts and a head full of memories. I will miss your blog but look forward to all you will bring back with you. I am loving my calendar, thank you! X

poppycorkhill said...

Oh, have a wonderful time! It's long been on my list of Places I Long To See.
I wish you good flights, good times and good accordion hunting!

Suz said...

have a wonderful time!

Half-heard in the Stillness said...

Safe trip Rima, you'll have a wonderful time.

Marja said...

Hi Rima Oh isn't NZ beautiful Enjoy your stay!!!
The South Island is a paradise and very wild. If you go there let me know. We live in Christchurch

Rima Staines said...

Wow! Thank you all for such warm and useful comments! Thanks to the wonders of the internet I have tracked down an accordion and lots of interesting places to visit! Hurrah! See you on the other side!

tut-tut said...

Have a wonderful and safe journey. Will look forward to the occasional FB post and blog entry from you!

Cherie Murray said...

Oh my! You will have such wonderful adventures.

Monika Schmid said...

Wishing you and your partner safe travels to Aotearoa. Have a wonderful time and I look forward reading about your adventures! xoxo

Fimbul myrk said...

Five Fingers on the earth,
Five fingers in the sea,
Five fingers in the sky,
Five fingers on the handle of the sword:

Birth, Life, Love and Death...

...where´s the thumb?

Rima, I wish you a great and adventurous and suitably crazy journey into this beautiful country, and I am a bit envious;-). But I am looking forward to reading of the adventure and all the new and old things. You have a great family, and can be proud of your ancestors!

Anonymous said...

Kia ora Rima and Tom,
I suppose you are already landed in Taranaki but your hikoi then has just begun. The museum in New Plymouth is well worth a visit for the history galleries. Moving south if you find yourselves at Weld Rd see if my cuzzie in the blue bus will tell you about that place. And learn the story of Taranaki and the rock of Rohotu.
Given your respective and varied talents I think you will find doors open where ever you go. Travel independently if you can (bus/camper)there are a lot of artistic/artisan folk constantly travelling and that will get you the connections you seek. I don't see how you will have the time to make it over the ditch to Te Waipounamu but if you do there are strong art communities near Motueka and Golden Bay but artists and interesting people are scattered in every community I have lived in.
Then if you make it to the West Coast get a copy of Terry Sumners guide book for hidden nooks but if it interests you make the journey to the Denniston Museum to get the true story of the British miners and their bleak existence, bleaker for the wives.
Lastly I look forward to seeing what you think of 'Gods Own Country'. Will your art capture the hope, potential, mythical and grand or the bleak, scarred, sick and beseiged.
Safe travels where ever you go.
Graeme Ure

Anonymous said...

Oh and a couple of other things
Firstly it is the first time I have seen that version of the map always the spelling has been correct. Cook's guide and interpreter was Tupeia, a Tahitian. Cook's mis-spelling will be a reflection of Tupeia's interpretation.
Second I have met but can't say I know a professional story teller at Ngatimoti near Motueka, John Crick. Here is the URL of a local group of story tellers.
http://www.truestories.org.nz/

Anne-Marie McDonald said...

Hi Rima, I'm guessing you will already have made your trip now. I hope you have not been disappointed too much that we here in New Zealand are not at all tropical! If Taranaki is your maunga [mountain], you really must try to visit Parihaka, a place of peace and creativity with a lot of history. Safe and happy travelling.

Anne-Marie McDonald said...

Hi Rima, I'm guessing you will already have made your trip now. I hope you have not been disappointed too much that we here in New Zealand are not at all tropical! If Taranaki is your maunga [mountain], you really must try to visit Parihaka, a place of peace and creativity with a lot of history. Safe and happy travelling.

The Flying Tortoise said...

I'm so looking forward to meeting up with you in my beautiful country Rima...

Joel LeBlanc said...

Hello! I am a herbalist living in New Zealand and I thought I would throw in some suggestions. I am sure you are already in New Zealand and having a wonderful time (hopefully) but I would suggest you visit places in the South Island such as Golden Bay (a well known location for artists and eco communities) as well as Oamaru (a strong community of artists, sculptors and fantasy/steampunk writers, this place is well worth a stay for a day or two), as well as the West Coast from Westport down to Haast. That drive is rated as one of the most beautiful road trips in the world, with lots of ancient rainforest, mountains, and ocean.

Kaikoura on the East Coast of the South Island has some amazing seal colonies and mountains which are well worth a look. And if you find yourself in Northland in the North Island, visit Tane Mahuta, the largest and oldest Kauri tree in New Zealand - a very sacred place! It is said in local folklore that the spirits of the dead walk up through New Zealand to Cape Reinga (North of Spirits Bay...) where they pass into the other world. So if you visit our Northernmost tip, give them a nod. ;-)

I am based in Christchurch and I am aware that there is an oral storytelling festival coming up, but the dates haven't been released yet. Late Feb/early March I am guessing. Have a lovely trip and send me a message if you find yourself needing a tour of Christchurch: nostrum87@gmail.com

Greengirl said...

Wow, Rima, that's just the most amazing gift from your family!
I hope you are already having a wonderous time.
I once spent about 6 months on the south island and found some gorgeous spots:
- I lived in Queenstown which is very touristic but quite pretty nevertheless. I especially loved the view from Deer Park Hights down onto the lake.
- I often traveled when it rained because I did not work then (Garden maintenance for the rich). And I just loved bleak places like Oamaru in the rain- found a lot of gorgeous art there to see. I also like the urban places- I loved that fxxxed up city of Dunedin...
- If you go round the egde heading for the Fjordlands you may pass beautiful Curio Bay. We stayed at a very small Backpacker there and swam with the dolphins in the bay the next morning - my heart just stopped it was so beautiful.
- Further up the road we came by a small wagon called the lost gypsy gallery. I wonder if it's still there...
- I also like the Christchurch Peninsula a lot. Town of Akaroa is worth a visit. Best Backpacker in the world: Le Bons Bay Backpacker just a hill farther. Though I don't know if they are open again- do check, the owner takes his guests on a boat trip in the bay for a lot less money than those professionals do.

Well- I could not possibly tell you all I want to here and I am sure you will have your very own discoverys and storys to tell when you return! Have a save journey and a glorious time!

The girl missing the green from Germany

Tony said...

Rima, please bring back nice pics of the woods over there and magic stories about legedns and traditions...you know very well!

Br G-M said...

I am so appreciating your blog - your wonderful stories - the art and poetry, but not least this item, Albion to Aotearoa.
Br Graham-Michoel, Wellington, ANZ.