Site Meter

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mind your head!

I was well known in my youth as an ‘effective’ thrower of stones and can still bring down a pteradactyl gliding amongst low cloud (imaginary now, most of my throwing) and while I can still get great distance from a smooth, flat pebble, I can’t quite reach the waters of the estuary from my veranda. Close, but even if I wait and wait, I don’t get that satisfying ‘plop’ us stone throwers love, more likely a yelp from my neighbours dog or the crystalline shattering sound that comes from a glasshouse under fire. I can see the estuary, though, from any spot on my land, provided there’s no shrub or tree between me and it. Jacob’s River estuary is broad and shallow, tidal and beautiful. It’s home to patiki and tuna, dotted with maimai and a little spoiled by floating green algae monopods in the summer but long ago, when the water ran clear in both of the contributing rivers, the Pourakino and the Aparima, it was home to an elusive character who gave his name, but not his head, to the estuary (you’ll soon see what I mean!).

Jacob was he tangata Maori with a full moko on his face and well aware that the sealers who called into the harbour at the mouth of the river that emptied the estuary, knew the value of such a decorated head, to collectors in England. Accordingly, whenever the long boats began their oared journey from the sealing ships moored off shore, Jacob would ’go bush’ in the ngahere that clothed the banks of the estuary in those pre-logging times. The sailors searched, Jacob hid and was never uncovered and relieved of his prize possession. There are sadly, no photographs of Jacob, either standing proudly for posterity nor fleeing unceremoniously into the scrub. He remains a mythtical character (Mystical/mythical - that should be a word, right!) and nothing more is known of him, but that’s enough really. Proud of his looks, fleet of foot and a man with reliable friends, our Jacob!

And so we have his name and the reason for his fame tied to our water feature and we are the richer for it.


Anonymous said...

You seem to be suggesting that the Europeans were prepared to kill to get a mokamokai when of course it was a truely indigenous trade

Like your work by the way

robertguyton said...

Hi Ray - good comment. Though I can't go back to interview the roughneck sealers of the day, word of mouth has it that these particular vistors were actively seeking fresh mokomokai.
Of course this could be the stuff of 'urban' legend, but records indicate that Jacob didn't think so :-)
No mention was made of the makeup of those particular sealing crews btw, though it is known that the men of Pahi's kaika at Wakapatu were working on board the sealing ships, so perhaps 'indigenous trade' isn't too far off the mark!

Shunda barunda said...

Mrs Barunda is without question the most awesome stone thrower I have ever seen. When it come to thowing stones she has the ability to make strong fully grown men look like Peewee Hermans weaker, limper, spaghetti armed cousin.
I just told her about your post and she said "it is soooo on"
Feel like a challenge for champion stone chucker Roibert?

Shunda barunda said...

Sorry Roibert I meant Robert.
The wife and I have had too much cider!!

Who would have thought apples could be so useful for chemical happiness purposes?

robertguyton said...

Is Mrs Barunda married Shunda?
She sounds a mighty fine woman indeed but your challenge on her behalf is a vain one, as she's bound to be bitterly disappointed as a result of any stone throwing competition with me - I've reduced cricket players to tears and baseballers have thrown in the glove after taking on the 'woomera' as I've just dubbed myself.
Still, there's only one way to settle the matter Shunda - bring her on down!
(No steroids please).

Shunda barunda said...

She Just read your response Robert, you must realise that there is no stopping her now!
When Mrs Barunda is determined to do something nothing stands in her way!!
She's clawing at the laptop screen screaming "let me at em"! I'm holding her back as best I can!

robertguyton said...

Just twist her throwing arm up behind her back Shunda - it'll settle her down and give me further advantage at the same time.