Foot-tracks in New Zealand:
Origins, Access Issues, and Recent Developments
In 1819–20 Te Rauparaha of Ngati Toa and Patuone of Nga Puhi joined forces on a great taua (war expedition) that set out from Kawhia, raided several pa in Taranaki, and moved on southwards through Whanganui, Rangitikei, Manawatu, Horowhenua, Ohau, Waikanae, Porirua, and Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington). According to an account written by Te Rauparaha’s son Tamihana, although this force used canoes in some places, it also moved around often on foot. For example, after besieging Te Kerikeringa pa, near Tarata on the Waitara River, ‘Rauparaha and Waka Nene went right on southwards, going inland … by the path which leads behind the mountain of Taranaki, until they came to the country of the Ngati-Ruanui’. This inland trail, the Whakaahu-rangi Track, was a frequently used route between Kairoa pa (near Lepperton) and Ketemarae pa (near Normanby).
In 1832 Joel Polack, a Bay of Islands trader, journeyed with ten Maori companions overland from the Bay of Islands to the Hokianga Harbour and the Kaipara Harbour. By ‘overland’ I mean by a combination of river travel – by whaleboat and canoe – and walking. On leaving Moperi (Omapere) to walk down the hilly west coast, they followed a distinct trail. Polack described it: ‘We took our departure, pursuing a path across the hills, hollowed in the clayey soil by the continual repassing to and fro of the natives, amid the high varieties of the fern that covered the country in every direction.’
Foot-tracks in New Zealand started out as a commentary on the government’s walking-access consulting and planning of 2003–8. But curiosity pulled me back into the 20th century, to learn about the New Zealand Walkways Act 1975, and then further back, to investigate the early years of Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand. One thing led to another until I ended up with Joel Polack and Te Rauparaha.
One result of the disorderly expansion was that the book grew too large to foist upon any draft-readers. It has reached its present state – I’ll call it a trial edition – without any critical scrutiny other than my own. Its typos and its blunders of fact await discovery. I would appreciate your telling me about them.