The Knowles’ farm is 110ha though effectively this is 90ha of farmed land. Their stock consists of 210 cows on a Dairy NZ Systems 3 and they are owners in their 3rd dairying season.
The backing boundary is the Waiwhakaiho River, approx 900 metres in length. The river is completely fenced and planted in native bush. We have an annual rainfall of 4m. We have a Redpath Wintering Barn. The cows are dried off on 31st May. They are wintered in the barn until calving. They go outside twice a week for 6-8 hrs a day. Once they calve they are back out in the paddocks. The payback (5yrs estimate) is in 3 weeks of extra milking and more pasture growth (because of less winter damage). The total expense was close to $250,000 with an annual cost of about $20,000 for woodchips and maintenance. Before we wintered half the herd off at huge expense – the cows had to be transported out of the district.
All the creeks that feed the Waiwhakaiho River are fully fenced and the Riparian areas planted. Effluent is irrigated back onto the pastures. There are two storage effluent ponds, a pump and irrigators to distribute the effluent back onto the pastures at a time of year that is safe and we will get maximum pasture benefit. This is a fully compliant system.
We need to look after the river. We are the first farm after the National Park. We have a sense of responsibility for the people downstream. I’ve seen good eels in the side creeks.
I didn’t grow up on the river but I rafted and kayaked down it from TOPEC, an Outdoor Pursuit Centre, it was a fun experience. TOPEC used the Tail Race from the Mangorei Power Station and the Waiwhakaiho River.
Wayne Peters and wife Joy Peters live on Kent Road
In November 2011, Prime Minister John Key presented a Taranaki Regional Council certificate to Wayne Peters for completing the riparian planting programme on their farm.
He believes in the Maori concept of mauri – or life-force – and notes that some plants seem to wait until the time is right for them to grow.
The farm is our land, but we share it with the birds and the trees. I’m the custodian and I’m trying to help.
Wayne also said in the Taranaki Daily News Dec 2011When I look at it, I see peace, I see harmony, I see beauty and I see myself as one of the luckiest people in the world. Being here with my friends and family, the bush, the trees and the birds is an absolute privilege.
Establishing stands of native bush on my farm has been a spiritual journey as much as a practical one. Riparian planting is so much more than protecting the river banks. It is about being a spiritual part of the land. I have learned a lot from maoridom and I regard myself as being a maori (with a small m) as opposed to Maori (which I am not). I have learned so much from the bush. It’s important that it be a labour of love. It is a brilliant journey!
In terms of childhood, my Dad was the 2nd generation; I am the 3rd and our son is the 4th generation farming here. The generational involvement (maoridom) ties you to the land. My childhood memories are about trout fishing in the river. We also caught a 15lb eel under a crossing in the creek. In the creeks there were kukapu, karawai(native crayfish) and striped kukapu – we used to catch them. Heaps of possums to shoot. My father always talked of Maori with great respect and he encouraged me into maoridom thinking.
I grew up beside my father, I milked the cows before going to school… we had 100 cows. When we came here in 1955 Dad had 60 cows on 140 acres… it was 2-3 years before we saw the river – gorse, blackberry & bracken fern – he used a blackberry harrow which had a 45 degree tyne to take the roots out. Dad spent virtually all his spare time spraying gorse.
In the early years before tankers, the cream went to Mangorei Coop near the power station, for butter production. One of the jobs when I came home from school was to get the cream cans in off the stand (on the roadside). Dad took then out, because we had a cart that we pulled by hand – it was very tough heavy work. Hogan Brothers picked up the cream and took it down to the factory. We had pigs here.
What does the river mean to me? The river is very important to me as a boundary, but it is also a good place to be. Now that the planting is mature you can go and sit by the river and be enveloped by the trees meeting over the water. The river has strength and you get a feeling of awe. You know what it is capable of doing of course.
I don’t think the urban people in New Plymouth have any understanding of what farmers are doing to protect the river. While farm prices rapidly go up there is little chance of resolving the water quality or pollution problems in NZ because farmers are put under such pressure to produce more to pay the loans off. A Capital Gains Tax would help solve the problem.
Farm tree planting – if I was planting a riverside from bare pasture, I would plant flax splitting it up into fans with roots, making a slot with a spade, plant and stamp on it. Plant at 2 metre intervals, that density is perfect for flax. Find kotukutuku (tree fuchsia), cut branches at 45 degree, leave the top square and hit into the ground during winter (1/3rd in the ground). I would plant it all like that and walk away and allow nature to do its thing. You have to control invading weeds like blackberry during the first 5yrs. By tending and caring for it between 5-10 years you would see an explosion of ferns – ground ferns and tree ferns (Mamaku). You have to have shade – then you will see Coprosma Robusta (Karamu) and Australis or Grandifolia (Kanono) and you are away running. This land will revert quickly.
Wayne refers to himself as just a custodian of his farm but one with undisputed empathy for the flora and fauna of the area. His family farms 100 hectares, milking 180 cows on hilly country. They have transformed a farm where cows drank from its 50 unfenced creeks which form part of the Mangorei river watershed, into a property where maybe the bush is perhaps more important than the cows.
Alistair is a farmer who lives near German Hill, and is in the 60+ age bracket My parents milked 55 cows when I was a child. We spent hours and hours mucking around the river right up until I was 15-16 years old. My Grandfather was a keen trout fisherman; I loved spending time with him. The river was always recreational when we were children, fishing, eeling, making boats or kayaking- it’s all fenced off now and not as easy for the children or grandchildren to get access.
Amanda is 38 and the daughter of Alistair We had a favourite waterhole not far from our house when I was a child on the farm. We did a lot of eeling. We tried not to eel where we swam, our younger sister was frightened of eels and wouldn’t swim where we had seen eels… we had a lot of eeling holes. We would eel off our farm bridge and check the lines every hour when we had friends over. Every minute of the holidays we would spend in or by the river. We had a separate place we would swim our horses too.
Alistair We started fencing rivers decades ago; initially we got prisoners to help plant the first trees and flaxes. It became a project. Back then we bought in plants from outside, but now we find that if we fence off an area the native bush comes back. I don’t need to plant out – just give it time. We started fencing off the rivers to protect the banks and keep the stock out of the rivers. The water levels can rise very quickly after heavy rain. It can be very dangerous for fishermen, but it equally goes down quickly.
The streams are nicely covered with trees and it is very pleasurable to go walking by the streams and rivers. We are doing a lot to protect our rivers. I wish the people nearer the coast all did the same – some parts of the river have no cover.
Amanda What does the river mean to me? The rivers are beautiful, I love them, but they are a curse too due to the compliance. We want to do the best for our rivers, but we do need to know what the best is for the water quality.
I love them, I love walking the rivers with my children, but all of this (publicity over dirty dairying) is taking the specialness away because we are being told that we are not doing the best.
The history of the study of water in science and art has interesting points of convergence and tells quite a story of the way humans have interacted with water over centuries. While many might regard water as little more than the humble content of every day tea and coffee, the study of water has been central to recent science and the human use of water in machines can be traced over millennia. Rivers have also captured the imagination of artists for centuries. Given it is essential for life it is perhaps no surprise that water holds a central and significant place in the world view of Māori and other indigenous groups.
Without going into too much of the science, the study of turbulence was central to the development of Chaos Theory. Edward Lorenz’s computer model of the weather was a defining point. The onset of turbulence was compellingly studied by Ernst Libchaber, and even dripping taps have been studied in the name of Chaos Theory. Mandelbrot’s ideas about scaling, self-similarity and fractals are important, as the scale change between dripping taps and weather systems indicates.
Some interesting imagery has arisen in the course of the study of flow and turbulence. A Von Karman Vortex Street sounds like an exotic location but is actually imagery from the study of turbulence, where Von Karman led the way. Here is an image below:
The images are made by having a small cylinder filled with dye, which has a smaller hole in it, on the side in the direction water is flowing. As the flow rate increases, the line of dye becomes wavy, then spiral like forms branch off. Once the flow is over a certain rate, the street becomes completely turbulent. Karman Vortex Streets on rare occasions can be seen in clouds, showing that there is a general principle of flow being seen.
Many New Zealanders, whether or not Māori will intuitively recognise in the flowing forms above, the painted rafter patterns seen in Whare Nui (Meeting Houses). It turns out that Kowhaiwhai (the name of the technique of the painted rafter patterns) have origins in canoe paddle decoration for which there are early examples from Ngai Tamanuhiri, seen in the image below.
It is striking that the whorls of flowing forms running up scales from the tiny to the large are found in both the science and the paddle decoration. A sense of flow escalating is also found in art, most notably in the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci was famous for among many other things likening the motion of the surface of water to hair. He used also used his studies of water to generate the grand fictions known as the Deluge Drawings, which capture the intensity of the artists view of water and nature.
Da Vinci was of course known for many things: scientist, engineer, sculptor, painter, armourer and his engagement with the technology of the day was notable. Water itself holds an interesting place in the development of technology, because the origins of the computer are traceable back through calculators to automata, then through to weaving looms and back further to water clocks. These reached a zenith of sorts around the 12th century Muslim Turkey. Al Jazari lived in the Islamic golden era, and is credited with bringing mechanics into engineering and combining these with a sense of beauty. The efficient and beautiful use of water are hallmarks of his work.
More recently, UK artist Susan Derges has blended art and science by submerging large photographic plates in estuarine waters and using a flash to take an image of the swirls and eddies created by sand moving in turbulent suspension.
And even more recently that that, the subject of water, flow, turbulence and Māori world view have been integrated by Māori New Zealander Jo Tito, whose work was included in the curated exhibition Wai in Albuquerque in 2012.
New Zealand has an early history of drawing on hydro power to produce electricity. The Taranaki district in particular, has been a pioneer in the use of hydro-powered electricity, establishing 7 of New Zealand’s 14 public sources of electricity in the early times.
Taranaki takes the prize as the most electrically-minded province during the early years of power generation in New Zealand. Neil Rennie writing in 1989 from Power to the People [see note 1 below].
Taranaki’s early sources of electricity stemmed from hydroelectric schemes that drew from the water supplies and many streams that surround Mt Taranaki/Egmont. Demand for a public source of electricity began to increase as New Plymouth’s urban population grew. Additionally, local farmers, who were originally self reliant on their self generated sources of electricity, began to use more industrialised technologies. These technologies required a steady supply of electricity. Consequently the new farming methods provided a practical and economic justification for the establishment public power schemes.
In the beginning of the 20th century Mangorei Power station was established on the Waiwhakaiho River near Burgess Park. In its early stages Mangorei power station was constructed to be a combined water and electricity supply. It provided power to 41 homes as well as New Plymouth’s street lights in urban areas. During this era of its development the Mangorei power station required a mere 1200-metre water supply that was then piped directly from the Waiwhakaiho River to its neighbouring generating station.
In the summer time power was often unreliable as the water levels along the Waiwhakaiho would run low. In response to this dilemma local government commissioned the construction of a dam along the Māngamāhoe Stream in 1914. Consequently a new intake was also constructed further up the Waiwhakaiho River and a 420-metre open water race led to the dam . Unfortunately this extension on the Mangorei Power Station was not as efficient as its original design; the Māngamāhoe Stream intake frequently became blocked by stones, boulders and other debris which required removal by hand. The development of this system however has left a historical mark in Taranaki as the piles of boulders that were removed by local residents by hand from the stream, have remained alongside the intake.
In 1971 the original low-head dam that accompanied this structure was rebuilt and replaced by another low-head dam several meters downstream. The remains of the first dam and its intake to the power station may still be seen a few metres up from the second dam .
From its humble beginnings in 1906 the Mangorei Power Station continues to be one of New Zealand’s oldest operating power stations. Although it has much evolved from its original from its evidence of its earlier structures can still be traced as it remains a central component of Taranaki’s and New Zealand’s industrial heritage .
. Lambert, R. (n.d). The Alchemy of the Engineer: Taranaki Hydro-electricity, paragraph 1. Retrieved from: http://pukeariki.com/Learning-Research/Taranaki-Research-Centre/Taranaki-Stories/Taranaki-Story/id/1009/title/the-alchemy-of-the-engineer-taranaki-hydroelectricity
Being part of a community involves interacting with those who are not like you – they may be different in age, gender, ethnicity or culture. Managing spots on a river for whitebaiters requires delicate maneuvers and where this is not managed well, the situation can become contentious and explosive.
Whitebaiting for many is muli-generational. To find out about local whitebaiting on the Waiwhakaiho and to make connections to this community Jessica Clark walked up and down the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho River during high tide and approached the whitebaiters that were there on the day. She spoke to six whitebaiters, 3 women and 3 men; all of them were over 50. She took notes of their stories, and following are the common themes that emerged during conversations with them.
Three of the whitebaiters spoken to were retired, and they told me that most of the people who whitebait during the working week are retired. They also mentioned that this group of retired whitebaiters deliberately choose not to whitebait on the weekends. This is because the Waiwhakaiho River and Te Rewa Rewa Bridge are busy on the weekends. One man Clark spoke to called Tom said “Us oldies do it for the peace and quiet, so the weekends don’t suit us because that’s a busy time here. So the oldies know to leave the white baiting to the young ones on the weekends.” The other whitebaiters who were not retired were part time workers or were beneficiaries, and were therefore able to whitebait during the week.
Five out of six of the people that she spoke with had been white baiting since their childhood. Their parents or grandparents had taught them how to whitebait and they had been doing it ever since. They also mentioned the changes they had witnessed in whitebait populations across the seasons. Three out of these five whitebaiters said that there seemed to be a trend in whitebait populations, saying that they often experienced two or three seasons of low population levels and then the following season they would see a dramatic increase in population across the Waiwhakaiho and other Taranaki rivers. They all told me that this year had been a particularly good year.
The Voice and The Fitzroy Centenary are free Taranaki newspapers. Ron Mells is a local resident who has lived in New Plymouth all his life, has a self-confessed passion for writing and many of his stories have been regular features in these news papers. Ron, who was once the proud owner of a local grocery store, first began writing articles for these papers to promote the specials in his grocery. He came to enjoy this process of writing articles for these papers and this soon developed into a regular hobbies. However as his passion for writing grew so did the content of his articles. Ron told the Living lab research team that besides writing, his other passion was trout fishing along the Waiwhakaiho River. Consequently he began to write stories about trout fishing and other goings on at the Waiwhakaiho River. Having lived along the Waiwhakaiho River all his life, Ron has many memories on about the river and has published a collection of the social histories that surround the river. He has kindly agreed share some of the articles from his collection, so that they may be published on the website and enjoyed by other local residents.
Whilst there are many interesting local histories about New Plymouth residents and their relationships with the Waiwhakaiho River, an important facet of Sharing the Waiwhakaiho is to talk to current residents, including young people and understand their experiences of interacting with the river. The New Plymouth Kayak Club (NPKC) is one such group. The NPKC consists of a group of adventurers intent on making the most of the river rapids offered by the Waiwhakaiho. With regular and seasonally organised adventure outings that include White Water Kayak exploration, Sea Kayaking and Canoe Polo NPKC members share a love of white water kayaking and the natural environment that encases New Plymouth.
Promoting the conservation of the Waiwhakaiho River and river conservation across Taranaki is a primary foundation of the NPKC. As their website says, they aim To promote and advance the participation in White Water Kayaking including but not limited to White Water Kayak exploration, Sea Kayaking, Canoe Polo, River conservation by Taranaki residents and members.
Mark Garner a member of NPKC shared many of his white water stories with the living lab research team. He has kindly agreed to share some photos he has collected over the years of the white water kayakers in action.
The NPKC website provides a calendar and details of up and coming white water events, as well as a discussion forum and a photo gallery for club members to upload many of the photos and videos they take of white water activities. Their website also provides information about how to get involved in white water kayaking or become a member of the NPKC.
Garner shared his passion for white water with the Living Lab research team. Revealing that the Waiwhakaiho River is a prime spot for white water kayaking, NPKC members readily get an adrenalin rush as they take on the force of the river by adventuring through the rapids. The photos provided by Mark illustrate this experience, and the above image shows several kayakers battling through the white water rapids of the Waiwhakaiho. Garner informed the living lab research team that members of the NPKC happy being on the river for hours at a time engaging in this adrenalin rush.
His experiences of white water kayaking reveals a contemporary view of the way in which current New Plymouth residents come together and form social groups through mutual interest in the Waiwhakaiho River. A popular site for white water rapids is the Meetings of the waters, where the Mangamahoe hydro lake outlet meets the Waiwhakaiho River, not far upstream from Tupare.
Te Rewa Rewa Cluster refers to the mixtures of heritage located around the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho: it is the site of an important pah, the outlet of the Waiwhakaiho River to the sea and an important point in the much loved coastal walkway. Here the heritage of times past mixes with natural and human made waterways, fishing and recreation.
New Plymouth as a region has a long and distinct social history of bridges, particularly in relation to the Waiwhakaiho River. This history stems from early settler years and follows through to today, whereby the current Te Rewa Rewa Bridge continues to be well loved by many New Plymouth residents and remains a popular pedestrian bridge enjoyed by many on the weekends.
The concept of a bridge that crossed the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho River was first suggested in 1842 by Frederic Alonzo Carrington who was one of New Plymouth’s city fathers.
By 4 November Carrington had produced a map of the future New Plymouth. It included a suspension bridge that spanned across the mouth of the Waiwhakaiho River. However it is important to note that Carrington’s site was criticised by many residents for its lack of a harbour, additionally Maori disputed possession over their lands.
Originally a suspension bridge was built using chains and puketea timber. However over time the chains began to erode through the puketea timber supports and eventually The Bridge collapsed into the river and the remains of it were washed away. Other wooden suspension bridges were built to replace this bridge however they too slowly deteriorated over time and failed to with stand the force of the Waiwhakaiho River.
Years passed before anyone attempted to rebuild the bridge. During this period there were many fatalities as early settler communities struggled to cross the Waiwhakaiho River, particularly during winter when flooding occurred. Local government responded to this problem by commissioning the construction of a puri puri bridge in 1857.
This bridge was constructed on March 3, prior to the Maori land wars. Consequently during the land war battles of Taranaki in 1860 the army lost control of this bridge for a week, as Maori had seized control of Fitzroy. Taranaki Daily News reports:
“The commanding officer in New Plymouth, worried that the bridge had been burnt down, signalled volunteers from the Bell Block stockade to check the rumours. A small party of men rode into Fitzroy from Bell Block as far as the Mangaone hill and returned with the news the bridge was safe”(Taranaki Daily News, 2012).
Unfortunately in 1867 the puri puri bridge was badly damaged during a period of heavy flooding. During this time the use of concrete within engineering was a new and innovative concept. New Zealand began to commission the establishment of various concrete structures, many of which “were unique even in world terms” (Reed, Schoonees & Salmond, 2008, p. 12).
The New Plymouth district in particular pioneered several early concrete structures between 1850 and 1860 (Thornton, 1996). One such structure happens to be the refurbishment of the 1867 puri puri bridge. The remains of the 1867 bridge were rebuilt and reinforced by a ferro-concrete bridge.
“The structure comprised four arches, two of 10m span and two of 20m, with a 7m iron carriageway and two footways. The iron weighed 20kg a metre. More than 32 tonnes of steel were used in the construction (Taranaki Daily New, 2012).”
Here is a black and white etching of the former concrete bridge.
This bridge was opened in 1907 by Mr Brown, who was the chairman of the county council. Many of the local residents who had helped erect the old bridges were present as the concrete bridge was built.
To celebrate the construction of the new concrete bridge a parade which included members of the county council in bullock wagon drawn by two oxen, followed by local residents crossed the bridge. A public luncheon was then held along the Waiwakaiho River banks, followed later by a community ball at the Masonic Hotel (Taranaki Daily News, 2012).