Te Ipu Pakore

Te Ipu Pakore: the broken vessel . . . I am forgotten as a dead man out of time: another ghost settler trapped between worlds, living by correspondences. I cannot return (to who knows where) because my vessel is broken on the shore; my mind holds nothing (I forget why, but it is happily so).

A view through the cornucopia of the Gate of Horn—though the landscape is not exactly plentiful . . .

This is the view from our cottage, now obscured by ti tree, flax and an eight-lane motorway, from what I like to think of as Te Ipu Pakore: Arch Hill.

* * *

Four centuries ago, the Wai-o-Hua, the dominant power on the Tāmaki isthmus with several thousand warriors, a federation of tribes formed under Hua-O-Kaiwaka and linked to the Te Arawa tribe Ngā Oho, build fortifications against invasion from the north. 178 years ago (c. AD1740), Arch Hill is the site of the decisive “Broken Calabash attack” on Wai-o-Hua by Ngāti Whātua-o-Kaipara. Ngāti Whātua hoped to take Te Ipu Pakore (“the broken calabash”), the principal water source for the nearby Maungawhau Pa and—for that reason, perhaps—a wahi tapu. The paramount chief of Wai-o-Hua, Kiwi Tāmaki, is killed and they abandon the pa for a last stand at Mangere. Ngati Whatua kill the warriors, take the morehu women as wives and establish mana whenua over Tāmaki Makaurau.

In 1820, the Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika acquires muskets and over the next few years attacks Tāmaki repeatedly. He destroys the Ngāti Pāoa and Te Kawerau-a-Maki settlements to the west of the isthmus; after a decisive defeat at the battle of Te Ika-a-Ranganui near Kaiwaka in 1825, Apihai Te Kawau, chief of the Ngāti Whātua, abandons the isthmus and takes his people into exile. When the ghost settler Dumont D’Urville visits in 1827, he is startled to find the fertile isthmus depopulated: “We did not notice any trace of inhabitants, nothing but one or two fires a very long way off in the interior. There can be no doubt that this extreme depopulation is due to the ravages of war.” Ngāti Whātua cautiously return to the Manukau about 1836 and, out of fear of being overwhelmed by Ngāpuhi, invite William Hobson to site the colony of New Zealand’s capital on the isthmus in 1840.

With the coming of the hordes of ghost settlers, the spring and its stream become a gathering place. Women come to collect water and wash clothes, men to wash their horses, milk cans and tools. It goes rancid, falls into disuse and remains so until submerged in ashphalt in the 1960’s.

* * *

Could it be that the scent of water is what attracts me to such places? I am a divining-rod, a body whose heartwood has never hardened? Or is it that water can find the level, as they say—something we find hard to do in life? It will not rest on permeable ground, but finds its nadir. To follow that scent peels back the occult layers of the palimpsest; the water, like magic ink, supplies the negative charge to draw out what the positivists would have stay hidden.

Comme de longs échos qui de loin se confondent
Dans une ténébreuse et profonde unité,

Vaste comme la nuit et comme la clarté,

Les parfums, les couleurs et les sons se répondent.

Like prolonged echoes mingling in the distance
In a deep and tenebrous unity,

Vast as the dark of night and as the light of day,

Perfumes, sounds, and colors correspond.

– Charles Baudelaire, “Correspondences,” The Flowers of Evil, trans. William Aggeler (Fresno, CA: Academy Library Guild, 1954)

Here begins life by correspondence.

E. Cameron et al, A Field Guide to Auckland: Exploring the Region’s Natural and Historical Heritage (Auckland: Godwit 1997).
A. Jamieson, “Volcanic Auckland,” New Zealand Geographic 16 (Sep. 1992): 90-113.

R. C. J. Stone, From Tamaki-Makau-Rau to Auckland (Auckland: AUP, 2001).


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