All posts by ian@waiwhakaiho

The River Speaks

The River Speaks
The project was installed in the historic homestead of Tupare, which is situated on the Waiwhakaiho River

The River Speaks connects live river data from the Waiwhakaiho River to our project website, where the data controls the audio heard. The audio is one part of an installation consisting of a small assemblage located in between two video sources. The audio, video and installation all are reference points to rivers and flow.

The project is a collaborative work by Ian Clothier, Andrew Hornblow and Nina Czegledy. It was created for Sharing the Waiwhakaiho and was based on the live data from the Waiwhakaiho River.

The River Speaks data
The above image shows the actual river data graphed on February 8th 2015 – the stepped appearance is due to data coming into the project every thirty minutes – this is the time interval the Regional Council collects its river data

Some of the deeper connotations of associations with the river were explored. Wai, which means water or flow, is placed very highly according to eminent Maori activist and proponent of Maori language Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru CNZM. An animated chart describing layers of a Polynesian universe and written by Dr Waikerepuru, is one source of video. Some of the audio files played by the project website, are audio of Dr Waikerepuru talking about wai and the Waiwhakaiho River, from The Wasteland by Indian video artist Sharmila Samant.

Jo Tito photo of wai
The patterns of flow are caught by Jo Tito revealing both Maori and science based understanding

The second video source is a video by Jo Tito of sea water shot in the tidal zone of a local beach. Tito was very interested at the time she shot the video, in connections between Maori knowledge and Western science. It is possible to see in the sweeping lines of flow she captured, both the repeating patterns of Maori art and design, and the structures of flow as it might be studied by Western science.

Nestled between these two is an assemblage – a container in which are placed a kawakawa (a small native tree) tree root which has a feather attached. These two are respectively symbolic of the dendritic drainage patterns of which Taranaki is an exemplar – the Waiwhakaiho River being one catchment; and a reference to flow and turbulence in the air for which the feather of a bird is uniquely engineered. The feather is that of a native kereru, a large wood pigeon. These two sit upon an antique Chinese bowl, a reference to some of the items located in the rooms which housed the installation.

The audio component of the project sweeps in with audio from diverse sources, all indigenous. The aim of connecting to the environment by using data sensors and interconnecting to audio, was to open a dialogue with indigenous peoples many of whom hold water or flow in very high regard.

Thanks to Andrew Hornblow who makes custom data sensors, Julian Priest and Adrian Soundy who authored the web components. A very special thank you to the contributors of the audio and to Nina Czegledy who brought two new voices to the project – artist Kura Puke of the local Ngati Tawhirikura hapu, video producer/director and Nanavut Inuit Stacey Aglok MacDonald, who joined Dineh/Navajo flautist Andrew Thomas, and Darren Robert Terama Ward (Te Whanau a Apanui, Te Aitanga a Mahaaki) who makes his own traditional Maori instruments. I’d also like to thank Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru for his words, wisdom and forethought, and Clare Mewse of the Regional Council, for the use of Tupare House for the installation.

oro awa waha wai by Julieanna Preston

oro awa wahi wai
The video provocatively reflected on the health of the Waiwhakaiho at the river mouth

oro awa waha wai by Julieanna Preston is a guttural lament to the Waiwhakaiho River’s polluted mouth. Aural soundings and moving image shape an indeterminate and enigmatic water-land-body relationship focused on the throat as an instrument for grieving over the fact that the water is not fit for entering, let alone consumption.

oro awa wahi wai
The video was projected on Puke Ariki’s gridded screens as part of an event for the community who took part in the project

Trudy Lane – River Resonations

The black box created by the artist was able to detect GPS located voices.
The black box created by the artist was able to detect GPS located voices.

On Sunday February 8th, Trudy Lane led a project in Tupare Gardens whereby voices were located in the landscape, reflecting on the many different relationships people have to the Waiwhakaiho river.

Participants held the boxes and located the voices connected to certain locations in the gardens.
Participants held the boxes and located the voices connected to certain locations in the gardens.
A wide range of perspectives on the Waiwhakaiho River were folded into the project.
A wide range of perspectives on the Waiwhakaiho River were folded into the project.

Thanks to: Dr Te Huirangi Waikerepuru, Glen Skipper, Vince Neall, Renate Verbrugge, Gary Bedford, Mary Matthews, Greg Skipper, Tom Phillips, Wayne Peters, Craig Knowles, Keith and Eve Rowlands, Myree Dravitzki, Jim Tucker, David Lean, Jason Matthews, Wayne Arthur, Jarred Hancox. Thanks to: Ian Clothier, Kura Puke, Sharmila Samant, Anand Rose, Tom Phillips, Charlotte Šunde, Alys Longley, Laurence Sunde and Deon Roodt.

Tīahoaho: bearing light on the Waiw’akai’o

Tīahoaho by  Stuart Foster and Kura Puke:  photograph by Shaun Waugh.
Tīahoaho by Stuart Foster and Kura Puke: photograph by Shaun Waugh.

A projection of image and sound created through a 3d infrared motion sensing device (a ‘kinect’) to ‘bring into light’ aspects of the inter-relationship of Waiw’akai’o awa and the local hapū Ngāti Tawhirikura. The project was presented to locals on Sunday February 8th.

A mihi was followed by a looped projection featuring karanga and pao acknowledging Waiw’akai’o (by Moana Williams and Kurt Komene). This marks the commencement of further ongoing projects; that includes participating in the rejuvenation of the kokowai trail to the source of the Waiw’akai’o ki Taranaki mounga- further research will include footage and documentation of the journey and processes of uruuruwhenua (entering/acknowledging the land) and whanaungatanga (inclusive collaboration).

Tīahoaho by  Stuart Foster and Kura Puke:  photograph by Shaun Waugh.
Tīahoaho by Stuart Foster and Kura Puke: photograph by Shaun Waugh.

How water is made


To ask ‘How is water made’ is to ask a simple question, yet the answer is quite complex. To answer it, it is necessary to go deep into the forms that surround us, and travel from the reality we all experience and see, into the dynamic world of atoms, sub atomic particles, the Big Bang and electron interaction. An overview of how water is made leads to an interesting conjunction of indigenous views on water and those of the West. This article begins with the scientific view of water.

H2O is an equation even more well known than Einstein’s famous e=mc2. Water is indeed the molecule of life. Water is formed by hydrogen – in fact ‘hydro gen’ means water generator – and Oxygen. Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe. Hydrogen accounts for 75% of the mass of the universe, helium comes next with 23% and Oxygen is 1%; all up the three elements account for 99%. That also means water is produced by the atomic mixing of two of the three most abundant elements in the universe.

In the very early moments of the universe, there was basically a molten soup consisting of protons (positively charged particles) and neutrons (whose charge is neutral). The heavy elements of helium, lithium and boron were formed out of the clumping together of protons and neutrons under intense heat pressures. Helium4 has two protons and two neutrons, lithium has three protons and three or four neutrons, and boron11 has five protons and six neutrons. These elements do not have electrons, whereas hydrogen does.

Hydrogen was formed when the universe ‘cooled’ to a mere 4000C. At that temperature, protons can catch electrons via electro-weak interaction and from that the dance of electrons occurs. This eventually gives rise to the entire table of elements, but in the meantime and importantly for water, hydrogen is created. Hydrogen has a proton and an electron buzzing like bees around a hive: the orbits are actually probabilities of being in a particular location, or travelling with a specific momentum. Some forms of hydrogen have neutrons and these form isotopes of hydrogen. This applies to many elements: Helium4 is an isotope of helium, for example.

So how about water? At the centre of stars four time massive than our sun, at intense temperatures a small amount of carbon will convert Hydrogen to Helium. But in this process inside stars, something special happens: there is a chain reaction in the Hydrogen to Helium process that results in the Carbon-Nitrogen-Oxygen cycle. Stars repeat this process, which results in creating resources of Carbon, Nitrogen and Oxygen for the star. At really high temperatures, the isotopes Oxygen16 and 17 occur which are two of the forms of Oxygen most seen in nature.

Once Oxygen is in the system is it a matter of time for the collision of particles to occur that creates the molecule that is water. This occurs via the electrical interaction of electrons in the outer orbits of the elements. This might seem strange, but then this process is how the entire table of elements is created. In the case of water, the Oxygen connects to the two Hydrogen atoms, and the remaining two pairs of electrons in the orbit of Oxygen give the molecule the shape of a tetrahedron.

Then it is a matter of transporting the water molecule through space. As the heavy hydrogen component of carbonaceous chondrites matches that of H2O on Earth, it is considered that meteorites of the carbonaceous chondrite type brought water to this planet.

H2O is a very special molecule as it has three forms: solid, liquid and gas. As Phillip Ball (the source of much of the preceding information) pointed out, you can fly a Jumbo aircraft through clouds, but you need an icebreaker ship to pass through ice.

Beyond our planet there are vast fields of ice on Neptune, and most comets are chunks of ice compacted with minerals. On our planet, the fact of the matter is that 71% of the surface of Earth is water. We should perhaps be calling this place Planet Water as that name is closer to the actual state of affairs.

Then within the human body, between 50 and 65% of humans is water. The range is due to the fat content of the body. There is a strong relationship between blood – the main fluid in humans – and the great oceans: they are chemically identical. This explains why in hospitals people are sustained by a saline drip: salt water can be directly fed into the bloodstream. The only difference between sea water and blood is that blood contains red and white corpuscles.

So there you have it: water from the beginning of the universe to the human body. Rather than being some odd exception to a universe set about on other duties, humans are intimately, chemically and atomically part of it. This perhaps explains the importance given to water by indigenous peoples and contrasts, as it happens to the current Western view. The latter is mainly one of thrash (exploit for resources) and trash (dump waste and runoff in it).

This is so predominantly, but not exclusively. For we live in a world where some dairy farmers care about their landscape and use natural methods to ensure the health of water ways. There are consultants in water usage that save millions of litres of water every year, through the wise use of water. Here in Taranaki Aotearoa New Zealand, there is an over supply of water, but through careful use, participation in the abundance of nature is granted. The wise use of water is something that indigenous peoples and Westerners can agree on, as part of the way forward in our relationship with the environment.

The importance of water to indigenous peoples and interconnections to the Western scientific view, is to be the subject of a following article on this subject. Part of the goal of attendance at the SCANZ residency is to further my understanding of indigenous views of water.

The changing Waiwhakaiho mouth

Maps drawn by Jane Richardson
Maps drawn by Jane Richardson

In these current (left) and past maps, the changing course of the river over time has been mapped by fluvial geomorphologist Jane Richardson of Massey University. The palaeovalley refers to the changing drainage patterns of rivers.

The sound of boulders moving down the river, one form of the changing river landscape, was mentioned in an interview with a farmer whose farm was adjacent to the Waiwhakaiho.

Heni George and Myree – mother and daughter interview

Tom and Heni share a funny story
Tom and Heni share a funny story

Now in her 80’s, Heni George used to farm on Alfred Road adjacent to the Waiwhakaiho River

My parents share milked. In 1935 they bought a farm corner of Peter Road/Egmont Road (Alfred Road). The Waiwhakaiho River was their back boundary. We had 28 cows on the farm. There was a Rudd Milking Machine with great big milking cups… they sold cream. As a little kid I was taken on a horse and cart up the back of the farm to feed out to the cows. I was always taken everywhere with Mum and Dad. On sunny days I was taken by my mother down to the river for a paddle in the water and play in the sand. The water was always freezing; it never seemed to get warm.

I went to Kaimiro Primary School. The Head Teacher, Charlie Morton, who was a great man, was quite keen on nature and on native trees, so we often went to the river. We knew every tree in the bush and we jolly well had to! We used to do projects and walk up the river. We would pick pieces of trees and take them home and press them.

Dad was called up (WW2) so he sold the farm to do his bit. Us kids and Mum lived in Inglewood. When he returned he bought a Returned Solder Ballot Farm, which was 1.5 miles down the river from where the first farm was. He milked about 60 cows there.

As a teenager, my brother and I used to eeling in the weekends. A neighbour used to give us a shilling for any silver belly eels we caught. We thought we were made.

What does the river mean to me? The Waiwhakaiho River represents the early years of my life, we did everything there. There were supple jacks along the edge of the river we used as swings, eeling, and paddling. Sometimes my Mum would make sandwiches and we would spend all day at the river – very happy memories.

I got married to the son of the chap who bought Dad’s first farm – we had 220 acres and milked 160 cows, but we started with 30, we worked hard to build numbers. We didn’t have electricity for the first 12 months.

Myree – Heni’s daughter
So many childhood memories – we lived on the farm beside the river at the top of Alfred Road, we were the last house before the mountain. Growing up as kids was fun; you could go eeling and swimming. We had one big swimming hole we liked swimming in. We always had to check it out after every flood to make sure the stones and boulders hadn’t moved when the river flooded. You would lie in bed at night and hear the boulders rolling down the river. It sounded like thunder, continuous thunder, but it was the stones moving in the river. When there was heavy rain, you’d have to see how far the river came up, but we knew depending on how long the thunder noise continued. We ended up giving up our favourite swimming hole when my 10 yr old younger brother caught an eel, that was taller than he was when you held it up!

When we were late primary school age we would camp and had the novelty of taking our dishes down to the river to wash them. When I was at secondary school I would take my homework and sit on the boulders with my feet in the water – I found it relaxing but I could concentrate.

I went camping with a girlfriend on what we called ‘The Island,’ we pitched our tent in the bush, cooked our tea and washed our dishes. We got scared when we heard the possums.

There used to be a footbridge on Peters Road and we used to have to cross it to get to the school bus if the river flooded.

How do you I regard the river now? It is sacred… the river and the mountain. I find both very therapeutic and calming. I don’t need to see pictures. I’ve always got it in my mind.

I left the farm to get married when I was 21yrs old. My husband also grew up by a river too and he had memories of camping out – so we have both encouraged our children to do the same on our current farm.

Looking through memorabilia during the interview
Looking through memorabilia during the interview

An interview with Keith Rowlands

Keith beside one of the waterways on his farm
Keith beside one of the waterways on his farm

Keith Rowlands farms upstream of the Water Treatment Station on the Main Highway. His 200ha farm has an effective farming area of 165ha, milking 430 cows.

What we do on farms is hugely important because this is where New Plymouth gets all of the city water from. The Waiwhakaiho River catchment is the source of fresh water. We have 3kms of Mangorei stream as our back boundary.

Taranaki Regional Council initiated Riparian Planting for all Taranaki farmers in 1998 (16 yrs. ago) way before other regional councils – our council has been awesome. They have a very good website and fantastic maps – there are so many waterways and streams coming off the mountain. They know who have plans and who don’t.

I took it on right at the start. We started in 1996; we have quite a few stands of native bush as well. We keep the stock out and it makes management a lot easier. Every year we plant trees. You need a buffer zone along the creeks of 3-5 metres minimum. When I’ve fully fenced every waterway I can get a completion certificate – not many of those certificates have been issued. I need to spend time replacing trees that I have lost and upgrading the fences. You need a 4-5 metre buffer zone or you are wasting your time. We would probably have 20km of fencing protecting the streams. We’ve planted thousands of trees. I find 5-600 per year is a big job for one person. I’ve done the entire tree planting on our farm myself. We plant in the autumn – the flaxes and ToiToi are fairly easy but the trees take longer. The trees are grown under contract for Taranaki Regional Council at a very good price.

I grew up on the farm, Dad milked about 80 cows but the farm was only 40ha (100acres). He and neighbours all had sheep on the back part of the farm and only had the cows at the front of the farm. I went to Massey University (Diploma of Agriculture) and came back to share milk for my parents. Slowly we have bought and amalgamated neighbouring farms.

We have a little camp ground by the river for our family. We go and camp there over the summer in an old caravan. Great swimming hole. As a kid I went trout fishing and our children have all been too. We have caught some great fish there. We’d wrap them in tin foil and cook them up in a fire. An awesome holiday – you didn’t have to go anywhere. I’d get up early, go and milk and come back for breakfast. We still get good fish today from the same spot.

In my father’s day the cows used to drink out of the river. The cream went to the Mangorei Co-op. We had pigs and used to take the cream cans to the front gate. My Dad is 93yrs old now – he had horses on the farm. My son is on the farm now – I go out there now and think of the huge progress our family has made in a relatively short time – it’s incredible! My son and his partner are lower order share milkers for us.

We have put in a roofed feed pad to feed cows during the lactation and when they are dry over winter. We feed maize and palm kernel. The roof is to minimize the effluent run off – the roof is important with our heavy rainfall. I spray the effluent from a storage pond. We built a new 40 bail rotary cowshed 10yrs ago on a new site – it was all set up 10 yrs. ago. We irrigate over 30ha, which is way more than we have to under the regulations. We have about 1.5 metres of annual rainfall. We are required to have 90 days of effluent storage, which is really difficult with our rainfall.

My son and I belong to the local discussion group – it’s better to talk to other farmers about difficulties of complying with the Regional Council freshwater rules – because city people really don’t understand. They think we are just moaning again. In early 2015 the Taranaki Regional Council will put out their proposed Freshwater Plan. We want to have our say and it is important farmers contribute to the details in the plan – every Taranaki farm is different, especially in terms of rainfall and one rule won’t fit all.

The Mangorei Stream is important to keep the water temperature of the Waiwhakaiho River down after the power station. There is very little flow after the weir. Our planting keeps the stream water cold. Most people wouldn’t realize that our tree planting is crucial to maintaining the water temperature of the Waiwhakaiho River.

Keith discussing the Mangorei catchment tree plan
Keith discussing the Mangorei catchment tree plan