The huge 8.8 earthquake in Chile overnight set off a tsunami alert in the Pacific. Our plan to visit Kawhia was put on hold for several hours as people were advised to stay away from coastal areas. Some seaside areas had been evacuated and in others the populations were put on alert. However, by midday, the tsunami warnings had been lifted so we felt safe enough to continue with our plan.
This large tidal area was first settled by Maori who arrived in two wakas (boats), the Tainui and Aotea. The harbour was named by Turi, the captain of the Aotea, and Hoturoa, the captain of the Tainui, is featured on the tekoteko (the figure at the top of the front gable), of the meeting house down by the beach. As it is protocol not to enter a meeting house unless you are invited, we were unable to see this interesting carving. The sign at the entrance to this small harbour town is set off with a stylised hawk. The plaque states that the kaahu (hawk) symbol on the sign is used by permission of the Maori Queen, Dame Te Atairangikaahu, (since deceased) and is part of the Silver Jubilee logo marking the 25th Anniversary of the Maori Queen’s reign in 1991.
Several local fisherman were enjoying a spot of fishing from the wharf. Youngsters were having a grand time jumping into the water and swimming around, then jumping in again. Daily fishing trips were on offer, as were 2 hour sight seeing trips.
The sun was hot so we all retired to the local cafe and ordered milk shakes and iced chocolate to cool down. Pity we weren’t there for lunch as we could have ordered white bait fritters, oysters or scallops, perhaps next time. This cafe is keeping up with modern trends as it featured a huge plasma TV and had internet connections on offer. The owners obviously have very strict rules on behaviour in their cafe as we noticed this sign.
Kawhia is a tiny place, and as yet is unspoilt by modern developments. There are however three motor camps in this town. Due to the large number of permanent caravans in two of the motor camps, we suspect that they are used by fishing enthusiasts who regularly come out from nearby areas to enjoy their sport.