Blackhead History

Photobucket

Then and Now. Black head on the 7th of July 1909, and the shape of it now one hundred years later in 2009.

In the foreground in what is now Waldronville with the Kaikorai Estuary.

Secrets of the Forgotten Tapu – © Lloyd Godman

Historical information

I first encountered Tinirau, (Blackhead) around 1966, as it is now and has always been it was a place of power. The attraction then was the surf large clean powerful waves that broke with a force beyond the other break we rode in the area.  Somehow here the power was magnified, somehow the topography of the ocean floor magnified the swell focused them into thick southern widow makers. But rising from the ocean waters was a huge black head-land.

Makereatu

Te Wai oTinirau is the beginning of all things known to the ancient Maori. Tinirau is the place of transition from Gods to man. Evolution begins here, in the waters of Tinirau which was throughout Polynesia and for the for the ancient Maori focus here in Otako, at Te Wai oTinirau. In the realm of Tinirau begins the transition of life in the ocean to life on the land. Many human activities begins with Tiniau-games and dancing, utu and the eating of flesh. The importance of the site to Maori people in the region is considerable, Kirsty Elder (1988) writes) in respect of Makereatu.

“Over the past 2000 years the significance of the site has commanded respect in several ways; firstly holding an important place in Maori culture and tradition, being an ancient tipuna (ancestral) site significant in the creation of the area, and as an integral part of early Maori navigation. For generations of Waitaha and Kati Mamoe people, it was a significant stone gathering site, similar to the pounamu (greenstone) fields of Fiordland. To the Maori, it was an area of regeneration and conservation and as such, was a significant part of their resource management, especially regarding kaimoana.”

Stone gathering from Makereatu was treated with particular reverence, and the process of gathering and working it required the observance of strict and complex laws of tapu, in respect to the tremendous spiritual significance of the site. Makereatu (translated to leave a seed) is one of the two names given. It is a name which signifies the joining together of the ancient Waitaha people and the Kati Mamoe people. Hence the name refers to the time when the seed was complete and the two people became one.

The other name is Te Wai oTinirau (the waters of Tinirau), which identifies the site with the original creation. Tinirau is a proper name. It refers back through the Chatham Islands, Rarotonga, Samoa, Rangiriri and the sacred isles of Motutpu.

I first encountered Tinirau, (Blackhead) around 1966, as it is now and has always been it was a place of power. The attraction then was the surf large clean powerful waves that broke with a force beyond the other break we rode in the area.  Somehow here the power was magnified, somehow the topography of the ocean floor magnified the swell focused them into thick southern widow makers. But rising from the ocean waters was a huge black head-land.


Blackhead or Tinirau as it was called by the local Maori, is situated a few km south of Dunedin, New Zealand. It is a spectacular basalt outcrop that extend several hundred meters into the ocean and before the quarrying activity was several hundred feet high.

Tinirau was a sacred or tapu site of the “Over the past 2000 years the significance of the site has commanded respect in several ways; firstly holding an important place in Maori culture and tradition, being an ancient tipuna (ancestral) site significant in the creation of the area, and as an integral part of early Maori navigation. For generations of Waitaha and Kati Mamoe people, it was a significant stone gathering site, similar to the pounamu (greenstone) fields of Fiordland. To the Maori, it was an area of regeneration and conservation and as such, was a significant part of their resource management, especially regarding kaimoana.”

Stone gathering from Makereatu was treated with particular reverence, and the process of gathering and working it required the observance of strict and complex laws of tapu, in respect to the tremendous spiritual significance of the site.

For some reason when the land was surveyed no Queens Chain was included on the map, which has meant there was no protection of the rock formation on the seaward edge

An Albumen print by an unidentified photographer from around 1860-80
This print was kindly given to Lloyd Godman by Marshall Seifert

Tinirau is the head land in the background , Tunnel beach is in the foreground

A similar view taken in 1985

detail shows the profile of the original headland,
Green Island can be seen on the far left

This detail from 1985 image showing the change to the profile of the headland

This detail shows tunnel beach, the bush which runs to the cliff edge has since been cleared way

From the 1940s a quarry was established on he site to mine the high quality basalt rock. From an article in the Otago Daily Times, November 3 1985 , the then manger of the quarry Trevor Gray said he also appreciated he quality of the basalt rock. ” It makes good railway ballast and road metal”. At this time his company had been quarrying the site for 40 years and he was “bemused ” at the sudden interest in the columns.

In 1985 Lloyd Godman began working on a project which brought the demise of the headland to the attention of local Maori and the general public. From this a group called friends of Blackhead was formed to lead a protest against the wholesale quarrying of the area.

At the same time the quarry was old to a larger company Fulton Hogan who had plans to mine the centre of the site 50m below sea level and then blast an opening into the ocean crating a safe boat harbour.


Advertisements

2 Responses

  1. Tapu? The beach area still has a body buried in the sandhills but the head;land was neer tapu. Where’d you get that info from?

  2. Yeah, I know where that old body is buried. Knees up to the chest. Hard to find unless it finds you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: