- #1736714vale019 November 7, 2019 at 12:43 pm
Kahurangi National Park’s Wangapeka Track
CECIL KING’S HUT
Once, trampers emerged from the bush on the Wangapeka to the offer of a cuppa and a yarn.
THERE’S NOTHING LIKE the sight of a hut after a long day’s tramp, but modern DOC huts tend to be rather utilitarian, with their dull colours, corrugated iron, and plywood interiors. It’s always a joy to stumble across those rare huts that have a little more character and give you an insight into how early outdoorsmen and women carved out a living from the tough New Zealand bush. On Kahurangi National Park’s Wangapeka Track, Cecil King’s Hut is a charming, restored, beech-tree bush cubby that does just that.
There are varying versions of the story of Cecil William King and his hut, but what is known for sure is that he was a goldminer and built the timber slab and batten hut around 1935. He used beech poles as framing, clad it with wooden slabs and roofed it with shingles, though this was later covered over with iron. King claimed he built it from a single fallen red beech; he planted the beech that now stands tall beside the hut as a replacement.
King mined gold during the Depression, then for 46 years travelled from Wellington to Kahurangi to spend summers at his hut. As tramping increased in popularity, he became a well-known local character, offering billy tea and a chat to those passing through. It’s hard now to imagine walking through the bush in a national park and coming across someone’s home, and then the joy of being invited in for a cuppa.
King died in 1982, and so cemented was his identity to his hut that his ashes were scattered around its base. In 1991, New Zealand Forest Service ranger and local Max Polglaze restored it using silver beech, fixing rotten bits, floorboards, the leaking roof, and straightening it out. Today, it’s a four-bunk hut with a low ceiling, an open fire, a large galvanised-steel chimney, two windows, plastic-covered mattresses, and plenty of mice. Hung with King’s rusting old implements, it’s an in-situ monument to those goldmining days; nearby, there’s obvious evidence of his mining tailings. Five hundred metres back down the track there is a newer DOC hut at Kings Creek, with 20 bunk spaces. But Cecil King’s Hut gives you a chance to taste history—and it’s free.
The Wangapeka itself is soaked in colour: bright, lush, draped mosses and the deep, jewelled blue holes of the river, frequented by whistling whio. But the Wangapeka’s future is in question; in 2017, Buller Mayor Garry Howard and his district council revived a 19th-century idea to build a road connecting the West Coast with the Nelson-Tasman region and commissioned an investigation into its feasibility. Anyone who spends the challenging four days walking the Wangapeka will shake their head in bewilderment at not just the massive feat of engineering this would entail, but the unnecessary destruction of a primordial, quietly beautiful track.#1736718vale019 November 7, 2019 at 2:01 pm
Leigh Wharf – Hauraki Gulf
(New Zealand Geographic)
The irony is that the camera can’t see far enough to properly document the worst sites in the Hauraki Gulf—they’re too turbid to see more than a foot. So we’re here, in the serene and relatively intact harbour environment at Leigh, to film human impact where the water remains clear enough to get a picture, but where our influence is becoming obvious.
JACK MACKEREL CIRCLE about the wharf piles, while the discards of civilisation rot quietly on the seafloor. An octopus has made a home in a car tyre, and mud accretes slowly over consumer electronics. It’s an unhappy scene, but in reality, orders of magnitude better than elsewhere in the Gulf.#1736753kaiMemberMember since: January 4, 2008
Replies: 9458kai November 7, 2019 at 6:03 pm
Love those pics n stories of those areas Val Thanks for sharing
Makes me want to go there for R&R for weeks on end 😎
You will know where this one is below ❗
Time poor so will catch up soon
Cheers From Kai#1736759supergoldMemberMember since: May 9, 2009
Replies: 9102supergold November 7, 2019 at 6:44 pm
Wonderful and informative posts, thank you Val.
Thank you too Kai for your provocative posts. Yes, you do need to spend more time here in your country of birth but no doubt you will get the opportunity when you retire. You are such a busy lady. 😆
Supergold-Wainuiomata (Wellington)#1737496supergoldMemberMember since: May 9, 2009
Replies: 9102supergold November 19, 2019 at 1:30 pm
ANCIENT TREE WITH RECORD OF EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD REVERSAL IN ITS RINGS DISCOVERED
BY HANNAH OSBORNE ON 7/4/19 AT 10:47 AM EDT
An ancient tree that contains a record of a reversal of Earth’s magnetic field has been discovered in New Zealand. The tree—an Agathis australis, better known as its Māori name kauri—was found in Ngawha, on New Zealand’s North Island, during excavation work for the expansion of a geothermal power plant, stuff.nz reports.
The tree, which had been buried in 26 feet of soil, measures eight feet in diameter and 65 feet in length. Carbon dating revealed it lived for 1,500 years, between 41,000 and 42,500 years ago.
“There’s nothing like this anywhere in the world,” Alan Hogg, from New Zealand’s University of Waikato, told the website. “This Ngāwhā kauri is unique.”
The lifespan of the kauri tree covers a point in Earth’s history when the magnetic field almost reversed. At this time, the magnetic north and south went on an excursion but did not quite complete a full reversal.
Earth’s magnetic field is thought to be generated by the iron in the planet’s core. As it moves around, it produces electric currents that extend far into space. The magnetic field acts as a barrier, protecting Earth from the solar wind. This is a stream of charged particles from the Sun that could strip away the ozone layer if it were to impact the atmosphere.
When the magnetic field reverses—or attempts to—it gets weaker, leading to more radiation from the Sun getting through. Previously, scientists have linked extinction events to magnetic field reversals.
The newly discovered kauri tree’s rings contain a complete record of a near-reversal—the first time a tree that lived during the entire event has ever been found. “It’s the time it takes for this movement to occur that is the critical thing…We will map these changes much more accurately using the tree rings,” Hogg told stuff.nz.
The kauri tree unearthed during the expansion of the Ngāwhā Generation geothermal power plant.
Samples of the tree are now being analyzed by scientists, led by Chris Turney from the University of New South Wales—an expert in paleoclimatology and climate change. Understanding what happened to the tree during the event could provide an insight into what we should expect the next time it happens. “We will have increased cosmic radiation. It will take out satellites and it might take out other communication infrastructure,” Hogg said.
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Turney told Newsweek: “The precious thing is this huge, lonely tree grew for some 1700 years across a remarkable period in our planet’s history when the Earth’s magnetic field flipped some 42,000 years ago, a period known as the Laschamp Excursion. Funded by the Australian Research Council we’re undertaking detailed measurements of the radioactive form of carbon through the tree rings.”
Magnetic field reversals happen at random intervals, although in the last 20 million years it appears to have settled into a pattern, happening once every 200,000 to 300,000 years, NASA says. The last full reversal took place around 780,000 years ago.
Scientists recently announced the magnetic north pole had moved unexpectedly. Instead of tracking steadily from the Canadian Arctic towards Siberia, it sped up so much that researchers had to update the World Magnetic Model (WMM)—a representation of Earth’s magnetic field that is used by GPS systems worldwide.
“Because the Earth’s magnetic field has a major effect on how much radiocarbon carbon is formed in the upper atmosphere, these precious analyses will allow us to investigate the magnitude and rate of change when the magnetic field reversed during the Laschamp; something not possible before and of great interest given recent changes in the Earth’s magnetic field,” Turney said.
This article has been updated to include an image of the tree and quotes from Chris Turney.
Supergold-Wainuiomata (Wellington)#1737738vale019 November 21, 2019 at 3:05 pm
Great article, SG.
Wow – apart from the damage we inflict, be it on Earth or in outer space, it makes one realise how insignificant our species really is.#1737791vale019 November 22, 2019 at 1:50 pm
More New Zealand History – Stony Batter Historic Reserve
Stony Batter on Waiheke Island features gun sites and other impressive remains that date back to World War II.
The impressive remains of a Second World War 9.2 inch Counter Bombardment (CB) Heavy Coast Defence Battery survive at Stony Batter, with three concrete gun emplacements and an extensive system of underground chambers connected by stairs and tunnels.
The guns and equipment have been scrapped, but the remaining structures are much as they were when abandoned by the army after the war.
Counter bombardment batteries
The counter bombardment battery system was developed in the 1930s to take advantage of the longer-range capabilities of the larger 6 and 9.2 inch guns. To enable the guns to hit their targets beyond the line of sight a series of observation posts had to be established forward of the gun positions. These relayed back information which was converted into ranges and bearings for the guns. It required a far greater degree of sophistication in terms of range-finding, communication and calculation than had been used before in a New Zealand battery.
The Waiheke battery was part of a larger coastal defence system protecting Auckland Harbour and its approaches from enemy ships. Two other counter bombardment batteries were located at Whangaparāoa (9.2 inch) and Motutapu Island (6 inch), and a network of observation posts were established at Rangitoto Island (the command post), Tiritiri Matangi Island and other locations.
There were also close defence batteries at Castor Bay, Whangaparāoa and Rangitoto, examination batteries at North Head and Fort Takapuna, and minor works at other points around the harbour. An anti submarine boom protected the inner harbour and minefields and detection devices were laid to protect the harbour approaches.
The guns used at Waiheke could fire a shell out to 31,300 yards (over 30km) with a possible rate of fire of one round per minute.
They were mounted within their emplacements on revolving platforms that could rotate 360° and elevate to 35°. Around the floor of each emplacement were lockers for ready use ammunition and a hoist to a magazine below, where the shells and cartridges were stored. A passage led off to a pump chamber containing electric motors and pumps which connected to and operated the gun, and a stairway led down to the underground chambers. Near the stairs was an artillery store containing the equipment and fittings for each gun.
The engine rooms contained a workshop, three diesel engines and generators which provided the power to light the tunnels and operate the equipment, including the guns. There was a fuel store near the engine room. Plotting rooms contained the equipment used to calculate the ranges and bearings for the guns, and at each of the tunnel entrances was a concrete building called a War Shelter, where the men manning the battery would wait to be called to action.
9.2 inch CB batteries were approved for Auckland’s defence in 1939, but construction was delayed for reasons of cost until the activities of German raiders in New Zealand waters in 1940-41 and the entry of Japan into the war in late 1941 made them a high priority. The Waiheke site was chosen in 1942 and the Public Works Department began construction in early 1943.
The tunnels and underground chambers were dug by hand, moulds for the walls and ceilings constructed and concrete pumped into them. Aggregate was obtained locally from the prominent rocky outcrops that give Stony Batter its name.
The design for the tunnels and chambers was adapted from plans for the Tawa Flat Railway Tunnel project. The task of building the defences was made more difficult by their isolated position. A road from Man O War bay had to be built and a work camp set up before work could start, most materials had to be barged to the island from Auckland, and the workforce was smaller than planned.
The work was eventually completed, behind schedule, in 1944 and the costs ballooned from the projected £140,000 to £327,966, excluding the costs of the guns. Even so, construction of the battery was a major feat of engineering, carried out under particularly difficult circumstances.
By 1944 the fortunes of the war were turning in the Allies favour, and the installation of the guns became less of a priority. Only two guns were installed in 1944-46 and 1948. The third gun was cancelled to save costs.
The army never manned the battery except when equipment was being installed, the only army occupants being a caretaker and his wife the rest of the time. The battery camp which would have accommodated army personnel was never built and the guns were only fired once, in 1951. In 1957 the coastal artillery was abolished as a branch of the New Zealand army and the guns and equipment at Waiheke cut up for scrap in 1960-61.
The 9.2 inch CB battery at Stony Batter is one of only three built in New Zealand; others are at Whangaparāoa and Wright’s Hill in Wellington.
A combination of good design and isolation has resulted in a remarkably good state of preservation. The extensive use of underground tunnels and connecting passages, and the adoption of existing civil rather than military designs, are unique in coast defence battery design. These distinctive features were due to shortages of reinforcing steel and concrete and were made possible by the soft rock at Stony Batter which could be dug relatively easily.
Stony Batter is considered to be an engineering heritage site of international significance. It has been registered as a Category 1 Historic Place.
More photos can be found on the following site:#1737993vale019 November 26, 2019 at 11:37 am
Some more NZ history – The story of Thomas & Frederica Bell.
Raoul Island – (in the Kermadec Islands)
They could be straight from the set of the Swiss Family Robinson. However, these photos show how Thomas Bell and his family turned a tiny volcanic island into a paradise.
The Kiwi Robinson Crusoe left Yorkshire for a new life in New Zealand in 1854, aged 16.
However his plans to settle in Aotearoa went awry, and Bell ended up 680 miles off course and in total isolation for 30 years.
These remarkable photos from the New Zealand National library show the life of Thomas Bell. His stranger than fiction story of island life on Sunday Island has inspired a new novel.
On the tiny, 11-square-mile Sunday Island the Bells survived in the manner of Robinson Crusoe. It was a hand to mouth existence, surviving off of goats, bananas and a small patch of vegetables.
The island, now known as Raoul Island, is located just under 1000km off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island.
But how did Mr Bell end up on this tiny volcanic rock? Was it by some dramatic shipwreck, or an exile from 1800s New Zealand? No, it seems he ended up on the lonely island by choice.
He met his wife Frederica while in New Zealand and married her in Hawke’s Bay in 1866.
Together they had six children Hettie, Bessie, Mary, Tom, Harry and Jack, and together this family moved to Samoa.
Here they opened a hotel, but it seems that Samoa wasn’t quite small enough for Thomas and family.
He heard about Sunday Island from a neighbour and became obsessed with this tiny subtropical paradise.
Somehow, in 1877, Bell convinced his family to catch a ship heading for Auckland. The Ships captain – Captain McKenzie – agreed to make a detour and drop off the young family on Sunday Island.
At first it seemed as if it had been a massive mistake. Their original provisions were rotten and McKenzie failed to return with more supplies.
It was clearly a statement on the captain’s expectation for the family’s survival.
Yet the Bells were hardier than McKenzie gave them credit for.
The family survived on what they could find. This included a diet of oranges, fish and root vegetables.
Many years later a ship called the Sissy stopped off on the island, seeing smoke from the Bell’s fires.
Even then, the Bells didn’t take the opportunity to make an escape. Instead the family returned to the Island, with more provisions including bananas.
They had four more children – Raol, Freda, Ada and William ‘King’ – while on the island, and didn’t abandon it until 1914 with the outbreak of war. Raoul was right in the path of German Samoa and Commonwealth Navy fleets. The family relocated to Auckland before the declaration of war, never to return.
Today the Kermadec islands are uninhabited except for a New Zealand DoC field station on Raoul.
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