Monday, 2 May 2016

Karaka Bay, Auckland - an historic site right on my doorstep

 Excuse the first fuzzy frames - it gets better, I assure you!

       A short walk from my home is beautiful Karaka Bay and since today was a calm, sunny autumn day  I decided it would be perfect for a walk to one of my favourite places. 

There is a bookshop in Auckland called The Hard to Find Bookshop and their byline is "but worth the effort".  The same could be said for Karaka Bay.  Located at the end of  short, sloping, Peacock Street, the bay  is accessed by a long, steep, winding path.       ( NB: take everything with you,  you do not  want to run back to your car for forgotten items!) However, when you get there you will agree, it truly is worth the effort.

Karaka Bay is named after the karaka trees that used to grow there and it was once the site of a Maori Pa or village.  It was here that Governor Hobson, on behalf of the British Crown, signed the Treaty of Waitangi, in March 1840, together with the chiefs from 17 Maori tribes. The Treaty is considered to be the founding document of New Zealand as a nation and the signing  is commemorated on a plaque on the path leading to the bay.  In early 2015 a reenactment of the signing was held at the beach.  At the time I had  French and Japanese house guests so took them along to the ceremony to their great delight.

Above and below: Re-enactment of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Karaka Bay 2015

Nowadays the bay is home to writers, artists, architects and professional people.  The houses in the bay are a mix of old baches (holiday cabins), converted boat sheds and plush new architecturally designed homes.  It has a strong bohemian vibe and the residents are pretty proud of their independent spirit and occasional flouting of city rules, such as planting vegetable gardens and fruit trees on the grassy area above the beach and placing their own colourful furniture out there too.  

Vegetable gardens on public land
Colourful furniture for all to use

Bohemian letter boxes say "Individuals live here"

   Tibetan prayer flags fly from bamboo stakes and, at times, the residents  hold community beach parties complete with a  jazz band.  I have been told that when the city council objected to a resident having an outdoor shower the residents arranged to be there when the city inspector arrived. Confronted with a line of naked residents waiting for a shower, the inspector fled, or so the story goes. One resident owned a large pig as a pet which he allowed to free range.  Other residents became annoyed by the pig's deposits on the beach and declared  the pig had to go, which it did, but not before a children's book was written about it. The difficult access ensures the residents co-operate with each  so  will  collect each others mail and packages from the letterboxes up the track above the beach if they are returning from a trip out. 

A beach house in the city

Interesting garden decorations

Sometimes in summer I like to take a book and sit on the beach and read.  It is a peaceful, beautiful place, the only sounds, the sea lapping the beach and the occasional bird call.  Today I had the beach completely to myself. How lucky am I to live so close to this beach, less than 15 minutes from the city centre but seemingly hundreds of miles away?