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No one really knew the damage Debbie would cause and for most people it brought tragedy to their everyday lives and their homes.  But for one person, this was an opportunity for having the biggest natural makeover in one night.

Cyclone Debbie came with its mighty winds and rain then powered its way through Te Urewera.  The winds too powerful for our trees were found on the ground lifeless.  Our rivers and streams flowed viciously with a deafening roar causing the earth beneath to become soft and frail creating slips and damage to structures. 

Te Urewera was evacuated the very next day and signs went up to close the Great Walk.  And for the first time in many years, Te Urewera was alone. 

The day after the storm I was travelling home after work and couldn’t help but stop to look at the view.  The mist was hovering above and coming down ever so slowly as if to blanket Te Urewera.  The mountain ranges in the distant showing different shades of blue with the tip of some ranges lightly covered by the mist. Waikaremoana was still and calm and among all this there was silence.  Seeing Te Urewera this way gave me the feeling she was having a long overdue rest she so deserves. 

Te Urewera has played host to millions who come from far and near to free their minds from the pressures of living in the so-called concrete jungles.  Can you imagine hosting that many people in a year?  I would definitely be drained and tired and planning a retreat away.  Te Urewera plays a vital role in people’s lives, for some she’s a counsellor, for others she’s a friend.  For whatever reason we visit this ancient being, she has the experience to host and offer a remedy we seek for the heart, soul and mind.  For us humans, we have places to go to re-energise ourselves.  But Te Urewera doesn’t have that luxury of going on a retreat.  If she cannot go anywhere then something or someone has to come to her.  Like a person, Te Urewera needs a break from all this.  To me, Cyclone Debbie was the retreat that Te Urewera has waited and yearned for.     

I believe Cyclone Debbie brought goodness to this spectacular being.  Debbie simply came and gave Te Urewera a total makeover.  Old trees were pulled from their roots to give way to the next generation of trees.  New waterways crafted providing sustenance to more of the land and its species and landslides formed a new layout to the land.  Not only did Debbie change the shape and form of Te Urewera but it also freed her from human contact. 

So next time you’re in Te Urewera and you are here to find yourself or rejuvenate yourself remember you are not alone.  Te Urewera is right there sharing the same reasons for your visit but she is also tending to your inner needs. If she can do that, then we should also contribute to returning the favour.

ggg

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Te Urewera at rest

18 April 2017
 - Posted by Herehere Titoko to Arts

No one really knew the damage Debbie would cause and for most people it brought tragedy to their everyday lives and their homes.  But for one person, this was an opportunity for having the biggest natural makeover in one night. Cyclone Debbie came with its mighty winds and rain then powered its way through Te Urewera.  The winds too...

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In the ambrosial hours between dusk and dawn, Hinepukohurani - the sky mist woman and her sister Hinewai – the maiden of light rain, descend into the realm of Tane-ma-huta. Drawn to the rhythmic vibrations coming from the lake, Hinepukohurani and Hinewai drift out through the ngahere. The two sisters recognize the sound as the ancient chanting of karakia. Their descendants are standing in front of a new whare, invoking the presence of their ancestral spirits to bless the new house, Te Whare Hou. 
 
Light rain becomes heavier as the mist envelopes the wharehou, becoming thick and wet, the tempest is felt by all. The doors of the whare open to shelter men and women from the temptations of Hinepukohurangi. 
 
In the ngahere, the people of the land begin preparing a feast to celebrate the occasion. The salty smell of bacon sizzles on the bbq. Fresh field mushrooms bubble away in melted butter, and toasty buns are put on to the tables. The heavy rain ceases and two women enter the kai tent. 
 
“Morena Rangi.  Morena Wai.  You are just in time!  All the manuhiri should be here soon” said the woman behind the coffee and tea station.
 
“All good cuzzy! We will slot ourselves in right here.  Heaven knows those manuhiri will need a good cuppa tea after that helluva storm out there” says Rangi winking at Wai. 
 
The visitors start moving into the kai tent, heaping their plates with the piping-hot kai. The kuia and kaumatua sit at the back of the tent, artfully avoiding the drops of rain coming in through the side of the tent. Young tamariki scramble over one another to get the best seats.  Three architects huddle near the entrance, two Germans observe the commotion and 1 journalist makes his way to the coffee and tea station.  All of them feeling a sense of occasion at this kaupapa that has brought them together.
 
“Morena, I was just wondering if I could get a few words from you about this mornings’ event? Just a few questions for a story we’re working on about your wharehou?” asks the journalist to Rangi and Wai. 
 
Rangi looked at Wai for a long second. Wai elbows her in the ribs.
 
“Ae, of course we will. Where are you from? Auckland?”
 
“My nanny was bought up here just down the road. Do you live here?” asked the journalist.
 
“Well we are sisters. Our mother she’s from here. But we don’t live here. We’ve been coming here since we were young, and we come as often as we can. It is good to finally come back for a happy occasion” said Rangi.
 
“How’s your early morning going so far?” asked the journalist. 
 
“Well it started off with a bit of rain” laughed Wai.
 
 “…but we’ve been busy getting everything prepared with all our other cousins and relations. It’s been a busy morning. But, in spite of the rain, everybody’s happy” interrupted Rangi. 
 
 “It is actually because of the rain, everybody’s happy!” exclaimed Wai
 
“What do you think of the new Te Wharehou o Waikaremoana?” asked the journalist
 
“Well I’ve been passed it, but I haven’t been in it yet” said Wai.
 
“...we haven’t been in it yet because we’ve been over here cooking. But once it settles down, we’ll have a proper look in it. But otherwise we have to cook the kai” interrupted Rangi again.
 
“So how did you get coffee duties?”
 
“We just sorta jumped in and did it, that’s how it works you know. Just slot yourself in” said Rangi.
 
“Can you see yourself moving back to Waikaremoana?”
 
Both the sisters laughed out loud. 
 
“We decided we are gunna come back more more often now. 2017 is going to be a good year for us. There is a lot of work” said Wai
.
“It’s a good time for this generation. Our ranatahi are getting jobs now which is really good. They can actually stay and live in Waikaremoana now.” winked Rangi. 
 
With sleepy eyes and a renewed sense of peace, the sisters encourage the journalist to slot himself in behind the tea and coffee station. Obliging, he swaps places with them, and begins to pour tea for his two German friends. Just before the break of dawn Rangi and Wai sneak out of the tent. 
 
The rain eases and the mist begins to drift skyward. Somewhere over the lake a bird cries out, its echoes heard far and wide. As the world of light reappears, Hinewai calls a warning out to her celestial sister Hinepukohurangi.
 
The bird of peace takes flight.
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In the ambrosial hours between dusk and dawn, Hinepukohurani - the sky mist woman and her sister Hinewai – the maiden of light rain, descend into the realm of Tane-ma-huta. Drawn to the rhythmic vibrations coming from the lake, Hinepukohurani and Hinewai drift out through the ngahere. The two sisters recognize the sound as the ancient...

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