Welcome to this series Tikitiki journeys around the East Cape. This is a work of fiction focused on a clever, resourceful cat. Enjoy his adventures and intrepid travels around a beautiful part of New Zealand.
Hullo. My name is Tikitiki. They call me Tick for short, and I am an awesome cat. I was born on the campus of the local Gisborne Polytechnic. I have just arrived at Te Puia Springs, after admiring Mt Hikurangi, the sacred mountain of the Ngati Porou tribe on the East Coast.
Well, Nick (the old computer tutor, not my feline brother) decides that he is going to stay the night at Te Puia Springs Hotel. I don’t know what he expected me to do – climb a tree and find a place to sleep, I suppose?
I guess I have other ideas for Nick. I followed him up the stairs. He thought he was smart throwing me out – but I had worked out where his room was located.
I quickly got myself onto the roof of the 2 story hotel, via a couple of trees. Nice – and I will check out the bird population later! Nick’s window was open (he seems to like the fresh air, and so do I). Anyway, I climbed in the window, and made myself comfortable on the floor.
Later, Nick decided to have a meal. He discovered me, and didn’t seem to care. He organized some fish for me from the kitchen – it was beautiful.
Nick next called me to come with him for a walk around the back of the hotel. He starts talking to himself, remembering days gone by. Doesn’t he know that I can understand him? I think he knows.
“Well Tikitiki,” he says “There used to be a great big swimming pool back here. Hot Springs and it was really lovely.” “How long ago?” I asked, and yes he took the message. “Last time I was here swimming was about 1971” said Nick.
Anyway, off to bed. I enjoyed that fish dinner so much that I will leave the bird population alone for now.
While Nick was gently snoring away, I took a little wander into the night. A lovely little town, but like Tikitiki, the population has reduced a lot in the last 50 years.
Te Puia Springs is a small town on the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, 103 km north of Gisborne. Its population is estimated to be between 300 and 400 people (bigger than Tikitiki). It consists of one hospital and one shop. That hospital is magnificent – I took a really good look.
Te Puia Springs has natural springs flowing throughout it, as Nick told me. The hotel still has little hot spring baths. The local people claim the hot springs have healing properties (they even told me this!). I don’t know – but Nick certainly speaks highly of them.
In recent times (2013), the New Zealand Ministry of Education closed the Primary Schools at Te Puia Springs and Waipiro Bay. Nick was very disappointed about this happening – he said it was due to population decline and dumb government policy. Nick often criticizes government policy, and tells me he really loves the New Zealand hinterland. So do I.
We enjoyed a good breakfast, and then Nick told me a little bit about Waipiro Bay, which was a bay to the East of Te Puia Springs. A road would take us there.
Waipiro Bay is a small coastal settlement east of Te Puia Springs. It was named Waipiro by Chief Paoa, which translates literally to “putrid water”, referring to the area’s sulphuric, or hot springs, properties. It is 15 km south of Ruatoria, 77 km (48 mi) north-east of Gisborne, and 41 km south-west of the East Cape Lighthouse, the easternmost point of mainland New Zealand. By road, it is 103 km from Gisborne.
At its peak in the 1900s to 1920s, Waipiro Bay was the largest town on the East Coast, with a population of up to 10,000 people. The town’s size greatly diminished after a road was built bypassing the bay in the late 1920s, and as at 2011, there were only about 96 people (20 families) still living there.
The local marae, called Iritekura, is central to the community. It is one of three historic marae in the bay, which also has a church. Waipiro Bay used to have a local primary school called Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Waipiro, a co-ed Māori language immersion school catering for students in Years 1–8. In April 2012 the school had ten students, and a decile rating of two (quite low).
During a predetermined season, the Gisborne District Council permits freedom camping in certain areas of the bay, which boasts good surfing, fishing and diving. Nick tells me he freedom camped here in 1971, and enjoyed some good diving.
Waipiro Bay is a settlement that has certainly seen more boisterous days. A bit quiet these days, but still very pleasant. Me and Nick enjoyed our walk around.
“Well Tiki” said Nick, “Time to move 10 km down the road to Tokomaru Bay”.”
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Nick Thorne is the founder of NicksDigitalSolutions Limited, a company specializing in Education, Training and Writing. He lives in Levin, New Zealand.