Sunday, February 02, 2014

Te Kuiti and back

This weekend we travelled to Te Kuiti in the King Country for a family reunion celebrating 100 years in New Zealand for one of the families Nigel’s descended from. It was a fun time, and good to catch up with all sorts of family members we don’t normally see.

Te Kuiti is a small farming town—you could even say a one-horse town. In fact, on our way to the reunion last night, we saw two guys riding a horse down Te Kuiti’s main street. That was unexpected.

Te Kuiti is located in a region known as the King Country, a name that has rather dark origins.

In the 1850s, several Māori tribes decided to have a king as a way of uniting and preventing Māori people from losing their own land. This was called the Māori King Movement or Kīngitanga. It didn’t work.

In the 1863, the Governor of New Zealand, Sir George Grey, ordered British troops to invade the Waikato in order to crush the Kīngitanga Movement, which he considered a threat to the sovereign authority of the British Crown. Also, by driving Māori from their land, Europeans could take them over, which is ultimately what happened.

The Kīngitanga forces were overpowered some nine months after the invasion began and fled south to the region now called the King Country because of them. Today, the Kīngitanga is headquartered in the Waikato, at Tūrangawaewae marae in the town of Ngaruawahia, north of Hamilton.

The King Country, meanwhile, is now mainly a farming region—especially sheep farming. Te Kuiti bills itself as the sheep-shearing capital of the world. It’s quite a pleasant place, really.

The photo at the top of this post was taken this morning from the original farm of Nigel’s ancestor family. It’s a pretty good indication of what the countryside is like. The camera was pretty much level, which may give some indication of how hilly it is.

I took the photo below yesterday afternoon. It’s of the view from the balcony outside the door to our motel room, looking back toward Te Kuiti. I didn’t get a photo of the two guys on the horse, unfortunately.

And now, we’re back home in Auckland. It was a nice weekend, but it’s always good to be home.

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