Friday, May 1, 2009

Troubled Waters


A few weeks back Charlie and I were a bit bored on a late Sunday morning and decided to rectify the situation. We jumped in the car and drove out to the Totara Reserve, which lies in the Pohangina valley as it emerges from the Ruahine ranges, still clean and relatively pure as it enters the real world of man and her ultimate destiny already foretold in the path beyond Charlie pictured above. It is a great spot to have a roam and a swim, though even here the danger of wild rivers still is present. Three years ago three beautiful children were drowned less than 400 metres from Charlie above, when some huge cliffs that lie beyond sent a fall down from above the river. A place where so many people have frolicked and swam for generations. It now lies empty, sign posted to warn against entry. It really should read - Swim at Your Own Risk.

I am not trying to trivialize the death of those kids. Losing either of my boys, even the teenager, would quite possibly damage me beyond all repair. I still will teach my boys to swim in mountain rivers, already have.



There was still a heavy feeling of unease that accompanied me on our little journey, this nagging feeling that came over me while Listening to the Song of the Pohangina. At one point Charlie and I came to a bend in the river with a huge amount of log jam gathered up against the true left shore, the side we were on. Which meant a deeply gouged out river below the jam and the possibility of getting mired amongst this tangle. We would have to cross it to get to a point where we could cross the river. To get across such a tangle of vegetation and logs slowly rotting means testing every footstep, at least for me and as I kept an eye on Charlie and his path, and chatted to him, constantly warning him and guiding him, he suddenly stopped and said, "dad, I know you are just trying to help me, but I am actually better at this than you". I realized he was far ahead of me, and picking my route carefully with my pole and bad hip, my beautiful son was only concerned with being six, and his steps much more confident than mine. That literally stopped me in my tracks.









The Pohangina valley is beautiful. It is even more beautiful up in those mountains, its head waters sheer grey wacke, so steep it allows little vegetation to gather way up there. After you get down the water falls and the forest emerges it is stunning. A few hours walk from there will bring you to Top Gorge hut, really just a good camp site as the hut is an old three bunk affair not in the greatest of condition and not being maintained, and due to lack of visitors is to be removed, but a pretty amazing spot in the Ruahines. It would take me at least two more days to walk to farmland, another good stretch to where Charlie and I were.

I would dip my tin cup in any part of the Pohangina river before it leaves the Ruahine ranges. I would not dip it in any part after that. By the time it arrives less than a few miles down river from where Charlie and I are, quite often the human fecal measurements should close swimming in areas where people picnic and perceive they are getting in touch with nature. How out of touch are We?




Every once in a great while we may get a chance to enjoy a mountain river. Above is me a few summers ago enjoying a water fall on the Maropea river just below Otukota hut. The day was hot - the river low, and I truly believe I am the first person to sit in this whirlpool Gifted by Nature for this one brief moment. How can water be so pure here? Why can I slake my thirst here just raising my clenched hand to mouth? What happens to this river, this water, between here and there?



Pool and waterfall on the Makaroro river.


Makaroro river.


Oroua river just above Triangle hut.


Just playing in the Pourangaki river.


The Waikamaka river.

Thoughts of rivers roll through my head, as they have recently. A sunny day on the Upper Makaroro. I take my bivvy sack and lay it down upon the moist green moss to enjoy the brief sunshine before it passes over the valley. I lie upon it and read John Muir, I eat dried meat and when thirsty dip my tin cup in the river. There never seems to be any reason to do anything except what I am doing Right Now in this Very Moment. The pureness of this river, the lullabye of her song and I soon drift off to sleep.



I was trying to come up with a point to make about these beautiful rivers as they flow out of the mountains looking for the sea, and instead are pressed into servitude to man, their water rights even sold as a product that someone is arrogant enough to OWN. My friend Anne-Marie from http://mightier-than-any-sword.blogspot.com/ wrote a post last year called Healing the Tuki Tuki, and has allowed me to share part of it here:


One foot on the shingle
One foot gingerly in the river

A sudden leap

The clear green water closes over me
Nudges me downstream
To where the willows
Dabble their fingers in the river
And dragonflies hover
Like tiny helicopters

Across the river
Poplars dot the scorched hillside
And Te Mata rears like
Some ancient taniwha
Against the cloudless sky

I wallow on the water's edge
Eating peaches
And picking out bright stones
From the shallows
If it wasn't for my reddening shoulders
I could be in heaven

" I never intended to post any of my poetry on this blog, but just this once I've made an exception. I wrote this poem when I was 15. It's about swimming in the Tuki Tuki river in Hawkes Bay, something I loved to do when I was a kid. My family frequented several swimming spots that were perfect for cooling off in the heat of the day, or we'd take a picnic dinner down after work and school had finished for the day. This poem is about my favourite place to swim.
I wouldn't swim in the Tuki Tuki now. This once beautiful river is now a very sick river. Farming along its banks and the presence of two oxidation ponds at Waipawa and Waipukurau have polluted the river to the extent that last month the Hawkes Bay District Health Board issued a warning. Don't fish, don't swim, don't even touch the water. Any of these activities could result in serious illness, even death." - written by Anne-Marie 17 March 2008.

And we panic about the Swine Flu?


Nigel by the Tuki Tuki still protected by the mountain cocoon, at least for now. Anne-Marie writes about this very river perhaps less than 50 kilometres from here. The Oroua is much the same, unswimmable, unfishable before it reaches the sea. What are we doing?


I am not sure what can be done to help these rivers, to reverse the damage done already. We have come to view them as a commodity and the waste we dump in them, the dams we erect, the flow we alter are simply part of our way of life. How long will it be before we need to intrude further and further into more and more wild places to sustain our needs? The Mokihinui river, on the West Coast of the South Island, and ranked 7th in all of New Zealand in terms of natural value, has been lost to a Meridian energy hydro scheme, and now Contact Energy is after the Clutha Mata-Au river where it wants to erect up to four hydro schemes. The Clutha Mata-Au is New Zealands largest river, and a significant treasure to this land. Rather than write here I will direct those interested to the Clutha Mata-Au River Walkway project, whose mission is to protect and improve the Clutha Mata-Au by establishing New Zealand's largest regional river park, including a river length Clutha river trail. http://www.cmrp.org.nz/ . Please visit as well Donald at http://www.likeminds.co.nz , and go to his weekly blog where his most recent post is on the Clutha. It is his backyard.


The Pohangina. Photo by Pohangina Pete.


"Song of the Makaroro"

I lie beside this river
basking in the sunlight
I Listen to Her Song
Here where she is young and beautiful
sparkling like a jewel
Precious nectar which sustains Life
The crystal clear magnificence
of Her symphony lulls me to sleep
wrapped in Her embrace
Enjoy beautiful river
all too soon you leave this paradise
and your Freedom
Servitude and Slavery to man awaits
as we foist upon you
all we no longer need
we steal your song, your essence
and before you reach the sea
your soul
I lean over you
and let my tears fall down upon you
and create briefly
a Ripple
I become you
and my Voice is yours

7 April, 2009

Aroha


49 comments:

Kiggavik said...

Powerful Robb. Very well said, and obviously heartfelt.

Barbara Martin said...

Robb, I echo your sentiments on the environment here. It may come down to halting all industries to preserve the earth from future damage (of course some will think I'm totally daft to propose this type of action).

Beautiful post to remind us all that only we can make a collective difference for the environment.

Lost Coyote said...

I had a conversation with a loved one about the recent trip and post Adam and I took to look at and flip off the damn dam at Glen Canyon on the Colorado. I was told that GOD wants us to USE those rivers for irrigation on golf courses and for electricity for Las Vegas. O.K. added the crap about golf courses...but he told me that "There's NO reason to go out and see that river unless you are going to use it"

I disagree. I think these rivers are worth much more to us, to our souls, than can be quantified...

Lost Coyote said...

I had a conversation with a loved one about the recent trip and post Adam and I took to look at and flip off the damn dam at Glen Canyon on the Colorado. I was told that GOD wants us to USE those rivers for irrigation on golf courses and for electricity for Las Vegas. O.K. added the crap about golf courses...but he told me that "There's NO reason to go out and see that river unless you are going to use it"

I disagree. I think these rivers are worth much more to us, to our souls, than can be quantified...

Donald said...

Robb

Great post my friend and thanks for the mention of proposed dams on the Clutha - I've just done my weekly post on that very topic too.

This is great stuff you're doing with your son and coupled with the comments on the health of rivers and the photos is very strong.

Some years ago friends over the Lindis Pass at Twizel lived by the Fraser River, an elegant little stream that flows through willows that give great shade in the hot summers. Crossed in the appropriate place it'd be about thigh deep and not too fast.

One day a tree fell across it and my friend Al there tidied it up into a bridge with a his chainsaw and strung out an old climbing rope across it as a handrail.

Well we were visiting one day and I saw from the house my son's mum heading that way with him on tow, so being interested I started following too about a 100m behind. He was about 7 years at the time

To my horror it seemed she'd forgotten to be mindful of his safety and he fell off. I knew the river's characteristics at that spot and did not totally freak as I knew there was enough water to break his fall from about 2 meters up, yet not enough to seriously sweep him away. However I did rush up just as he was getting to his feet in the current.

He looked up with a look of wonder and delight on his face and said: "I just saw a fish"! No crying, not a whimper, just all smiles at the wonder of it all.

Cheers

Donald

kylie said...

hi robb
this is a lovely post and one picture in particular reminded me of skipping stones on the tuki tuki as a kid, so imagine my surprise when you mentioned her!
how awful that she has been so terribly polluted

cheers
k

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, Charlie takes after his dad. :D Just think how much he will enjoy life because you have shown him all this beauty so young. What a life of adventure he will have!!!

A great post and super photos!!! You take us with you on your adventures. Thank you, dear friend.

Cheers, JJ

Pam said...

Thank you for another great post Robb.The photos and poems are wonderful. I came across another blog from someone in your part of the world...pohanginapete at http::/pohanginapete.blogspot.com. He talks too, of huts on his hikes, and there is a thoughtful link available through his 14th of December 2008 post about losing a mate through cycling and their previous histories and experiences with nature.Thank you for visiting me and leaving a comment. The Autumn weather here is ideal for putting on the walking boots.We did get out into the country a while back. I miss it.

adam said...

Being spring 'round these parts, water is on my mind quite often. Much is written about fights and even murders over water in the high deserts of the west; and much has been done to sully the natural flow and order of the rivers and streams.
Sometimes those edicts and laws are for the good of all along the water, while some are writs of greed and reflections of power as it has rested through the generations who have 'stewarded' the land and water.
I agree with you, as usual. The issues of water ownership are probably a little more tangled for us here on the high desert, but my feelings are that the use of water that courses its way down from higher up should be more fluid and reflected by year-to-year discussion, no matter where it is. The health of communities, the surrounding land and the stream beds themselves should be taken into account when deciding the year's use and allotments given out.
We are a species addicted to power and security. Laziness plays a part, too, I know that from watching myself in my day-to-day activities. We need change in many ways and lots of aspects on our little planet.
I reckon we'll keep talking and discussing, no?
Thanks for the foot and hand to the earth and the ear to the heavens, Robb.
Adam

Gustav said...

Brother

An enlightening post about a topic that is dear to me.

For I the river flows like time. Each molecule unique, precious and flowing to the sea.

I yearn to set foot in a river with you again soon.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Clare,
The mountain rivers do invoke something very powerful in me, some ancient connection. Thanks for noticing.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Barbara,
When it comes to protecting the Wild Places we have left I am in complete agreement with you. What we do to rivers once they leave that environment is obscene. I fully realize I am in the process of becoming a zealot but I can live with that. Thanks, as always, for tuning in.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lost Coyote,
I have similar people in my life, well maybe not ones who would tell me God wants us to USE the land, but ones who have absolutely no understanding of WHY I would possibly want to roam in the mountains.
Hard to break through that wall unless you can do the hard yards to get there and SEE.
There is so much of why the worlds rivers are the way they are in the statement of your loved one. All we can do is love them and keep talking I guess. Roam on my friend!
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Donald,
Happy to mention to the Clutha, and hope we can drive a little traffic to Her plight.
Great story about the young boy and a perfect example of what stopped me in my tracks. Maybe we shouldn't be so quick to supress the natural urge to investigate and TRY things in our young ones.
On the other hand, it is my older boy I need to suppress a bit currently as perhaps a complete lack of exploration outdoors as of late is causing him to get inquisitive about other aspects of teen age life I would rather he avoid. Time to go bush with my son.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Kylie,
I am glad to read this struck a chord with you and that, like Anne-Marie, you connected to this river as a little girl. My tramping mates John and Nigel, both Hawkes Bay boys, also have powerful feelings towards Her. Rivers can be very mystical indeed.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
I truly hope Charlie does gain a lasting appreciation of Nature, and I hope even more it is there for him to relish and enjoy. Cheers JJ, have a great weekend, hopefully roaming about taking photos!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Pam,
I always enjoy visiting your place. Pete is indeed in this part of the world, Tara and I just enjoyed a lovely lunch with him this past weekend, and he does indeed roam the Ruahine ranges as well. I met Pete years ago at a hut and enjoyed a cup of tea and his company then he went on his way. Years later I too stumbled across his blog and I contacted him, and to my surprise he remembered our brief meeting. He has been instrumental in inspiring my own place here with his beautiful writing and photos, and I am glad to write, has become a friend. This world of blogging can produce some very cool results.
Hope you enjoy some Nature in your day Pam!
Aroha,
Robb

Jamie said...

Hey Robb,

Nice post man. I'm with you on the rivers. They are our sustenance, our cleansers, our hope.

We'll fight for them aye...and hey, don't go sounding all old aye, you're not a grandfather yet!

Jamie

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Adam,
"Water, water, water...There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount, a perfect ratio of water to rock, of water to sand, insuring that wide, free, open generous spacing amongst plants and animals, homes and towns and cities, which make the arid West so different than any part of the nation. There is no lack of water here, unless you try to establish a city where no city should be."
Edward Abbey - Desert Solitaire

I guess ol' Ed sums it pretty well for your part of the world, and others as well really, even here. This is where I have problems with the term "sustainability" being chucked around. Seems to me to be a pretty tough caper to "unpollute" a river. Kind of like trying to unboil an egg. Our stewardship of the rivers here is pretty shabby all up, and it seems we will demand more and more from them, power generation, supporting the insatiable thirst of dairy farming (very profitable), and hauling away our human waste. I truly believe that our generation has passed this mortal coil the great wars will be fought over water. Unless we change things in a hurry.
Thank you my friend for tuning in and Listening to my ranting. You are indeed a fine Teacher. Rave on brother.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Gustav,
Yes indeed brother, to walk along a crystal clear mountain river with you (again) would be a very soul satisfying experience. Glad you appreciate the words and I know they are also within you as you slake your thirst from those pure Tasmanian waters.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Jamie,
Cheers mate, always good to read from you, and follow your ongoing exploits. I think once you get deep in any mountains and see those pure streams and rivers they get inside your soul.
Don't mean to sound old, but reading of you running around the hills makes me pine for the days of two good hips and being able to run, or cover more ground. But slow and easy has its values as well, and I ain't dead yet! Thanks for the encouragement brother. Kia kaha!
Cheers,
Robb

Robin Easton said...

I am left hungry for the wild, always when I read/feel your words and insights and see your magnificent photos. EVERY time you remind me who I REALLY am and why I am alive. Nothing else really matters. Although it can seem like it does when we have to work to put food on the table and pay those bills. But that is not who I really am. Who I am is the spirit you express in these mountain stream photos and the energy of the this land. I miss the wild more than words could possibly convey, but for a time my life course "appears" (only appears) to take me further away from the wild...BUT with time I will have infinite time with the wild. I am hiking 2 - 3 times week, just a few miles across the high desert (usually at sunrise or sunset), but hope to get onto the big mountain this summer.

Thank you for just "being" and choosing to be who you are. But then maybe we don't have a choice, my Wild Brother. We are compelled (driven) to be with that which we love most.

I loved dearly Charlie's turtle tracks in the snow (on my contest); I was hugging him because that made me SO happy. I love the photos of both you and him and the water and the land. All speak of great joy and love of Life. The trust important things. The MOST important things.

Thank you dear Wild Brother.
Aroha always,
Robin

Robin Easton said...

PS I forgot to tell you how deeply moved I am by your poem. It brings tears to my eyes. You express with deep passion the soul of the river, that it has it's OWN life force independent of what we humans we "DO" with/to it. The river is a life force unto itself. Your word slavery is true beyond words and peirces my heart. Rivers all over the world are tamed, directed, used as septic systems, used and abused on every level, put into servitude, their energy blocked and harnessed for human use (power and artificial lakes, etc.) I too have cried many tears into many creeks, streams and rivers.

Thank you gentle soul for seeing and feeling this all so deeply. Thank you for talking to the spirit of the river. I KNOW that it hears you. So do I. And thank you for what you give Charlie. He is sooooo beautiful and you both look SO happy. I am moved. Aroha Wild Brother, Robin

Lost Coyote said...

Hey, I notice your white cup in a few of your posts. For those of us new to your site, what's the story?

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Robin,
Thank you for your comments on the poem. Always good to get feed back as it can be hard to share those words. I know I am not a very good poet, I have little concept of imagery, syntax, and allegorical relationships, I just write what I am feeling in that moment. So that truly was a moment by a Ruahine river. I knew you would understand that.
Yes, Charlie has some interesting roaming ahead, this year he turns 7 and I will take him to Top Maropea for his first ever over night mountain experience. I am looking forward to that. Yet it is my older boy I think I need to be in the mountains with at the moment.
Ed Abbey once wrote "Wild Places are the only thing left worth saving". Some may view that as radical, but the more I think upon that he is also writing that the only by saving Wild Places can we possibly hope to save ourselves. I know you understand that as well Wild Sister. Rave on my beautiful friend. Kia kaha!
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lost Coyote,
Ah, thank you for noticing! The tin cup does represent a certain connection to the mountains for me. Some of which is it is the first item I ever bought here in New Zealand for my mountain endeavours. And to me it represents a certain freedom and essence of what is really important. A battered old tin cup, knocked about from being attached to my pack getting smacked into rocks and trees and scrub, yet also held in my hand over many camp fires with good friends, or by myself, holding coffee, tea, soup,water, or a wee dram of some fine scotch whiskey. It is an old friend. There are many new finangled contraptions out there now, big insulated jobs with screw on lids and steam release valves I suppose, but holding that old tin cup in my hand means something much deeper to me brother. Maybe one day we can sit around a campfire here with Adam and put some thought into it. Kia kaha LC.
Cheers,
Robb

Lost Coyote said...

I'd like to sit at that fire good man...

ezra said...

Robb,

Greetings from Madison, Wi. I love the blog; I love the photos, the trips, and your commitment to your soul. Good stuff.

I will check your blog often. Seeing these photos and reading your words bring back many good memories. I look forward to someday having another beer with you.

Since I am still living in the driftless area of the great Midwest I seldom get to hike the mountains. But many a summer days are spent fishing the trout steams of southwest Wisconsin and kayaking the surrounding rivers.

My in-laws recently purchased a cabin near Hayward, Wi and my wife and kids (three gorgeous daughters) will be spending many a summer days chasing the loons.

Take care my long lost friend. Thanks for tracking me down...I will stay in touch.

Larry Hale

ophelia rising said...

Robb, this touches me in a way that I can only compare with how we feel about our children. Seeing your beautiful Charlie, and thinking of my beautiful Jack (who, if they knew one another, I think would be great friends, by the way), I compare them to the river and to our green earth, in that we MUST take care of them and nurture them as our own. As in any child of the earth, so too is our earth, the place where we live, our waters and streams, our rivers and oceans. It is the life that sustains, just as our children sustain and enliven us.

It is all so precious, and so real, and so, so delicate. So imperative that we treat each other and where we live with respect and sensitivity. I ache, sometimes, for the harsh, brutal take on life that permeates our modern world, and cry over the bitter and numb way that people regard each other, and the other living things here on earth. I hope it turns around, but I have my doubts. Still, what can we do but hold onto a hope, a shadow of an image that lives on. I am doubtful and encouraged. I am disillusioned and optimistic.

Perhaps both perspectives contain wisdom. I have to stay with the hope.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Larry,
Haere mai, Welcome, my long lost friend. So good to reconnect with you, and I am glad for this place here as a way to catch up with what has been happening in my life.
A beer with you would be a real pleasure mate, be it on the Terrace at Madison, or pulled out of a cold mountain river after a days enjoyment of all the mountains offer. I daresay a few trout might be waiting for you brother!
Those Madison and Minneapolis days are gathering a bit of dust, but some of those friendships, like yours, will always endure. Cheers Larry.
Aroha,
Robb

wild bri said...

Hey Robb
Thanks for the comments. Looks like you live in a pretty amazing place as well. My little sister just got back from student teaching in Hamilton for two months and she really fell in love with NZ.

D'Arcy said...

Dear Robb,

I read this post several days ago, but then got pulled away before I could comment. I've been studying water lately, and I've been more conscious about the kinds of water I am putting in my body. It's truth that water makes up life, and if we don't protect it, then what will happen to all living things? It's sucha simple logic that it pains me how complicated people tend to make such things.

Marja said...

Your son is so cute. Loved to read your passion about the beautiful treasures we inhereted from mother earth and who are so less valued by many or taken for granted. You certainly have found your mission and I applaud you for that. Keep up the good work as the rivers are the veins of this country keeping it alive. I so love the rivers here. They are so beautiful and give a sense of peace. I thouroughly enjoyed both Anne Marie's poem and yours Robb
Aroha Marja

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Ophelia,
I have come back to read your comment a few times, and I still cannot come up with words except thank you and that once again I feel very kindred to you. You write "I am disillusioned and optomistic", and that can be EXACTLY how I feel at times Ophelia. It is part of that melancholic shadow which is always nearby, and as I wrote recently to Gustav can also be filled with hope and possibility as well as melancholy. You got it exactly. And you know my wonderful friend, it also makes things more beautiful sometimes too! Kia kaha Ophelia.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora wild bri,
Haere mai to you. I really enjoyed my visit to your place and I seem to be developing a real affinity and connection to that desert country. There are truly some awesome folk roaming and contemplating that lovely landscape. Glad to include you amongst them. Aotearoa is much different, though we do have a high desert volcanic plateau here in the north island which surrounds our active volcanos, Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro.
Glad you stopped by and please visit again.
Cheers,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'Arcy,
I absolutely agree with how simple it should seem to be, yet there seems to be a lot tied up in what both Adam and the Lost Coyote commented on. That is, in my simple understanding, the mixing of this devastating quasi religous philosophy of Man's emminent domain over Nature, and relevant and crucial stewardship of these ever dwindling resources. A pretty simple, but volatile equation. We need to keep creating awareness. Paris not far away eh!
Aroha,
Robb

Mike said...

Hi Robb.

I'm not familiar with the area, but I'm curious about the signpost in the vicinity of where the three children were killed. I guess it's an irony that by the nature of rivers, many of the best swimming holes tend to be underneath structures that are likely to collapse from time to time. Anyone who happens to be underneath at the time must be considered extremely unlucky. Even as this occurred, I remember hearing many strongly expressed views (including from positions of authority) that it would be unrealistic and silly to fence off such places because there would be so many such places and the risk was so small compared with what everyone would lose. As far as I know, nothing further occurred with regard to fencing off popular swimming areas, but perhaps this sign was a compromise.

Do you think the sign is a knee-jerk reaction? It crossed my mind that so soon after a major slip, the area above might be genuinely less stable than many people might assume, and perhaps it actually is more likely than usual to come down further in the near future. I'm coming from a perspective that's fully ignorant of any first-hand assessment of the area though, qualified or not.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora marja,
I am so happy to see your return here, and your place, and hope you are enjoying both the glow of being home, after being home. You know what I mean eh!
Thank you for your love and concern for ALL our beautiful wild places, mountains, rivers here in Aotearoa and everywhere. Our voices do matter.
Aroha to you my lovely friend.
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Mike,
Somewhat like the Cave Creek tragedy years ago, this event really struck this area hard, and being that the land next to the river is a privately owned camp ground I am not sure, but would have to think they might have some liability issues. As well as being sign posted the section in front of the cliffs is "fenced" off, though easily climbed over, which we do, and I have seen many others do as well. I have not swam there since as the sandstone and clay cliffs looks dangerously unstable to me, and big piles of fall debris obviously pretty fresh would deter even the most fool hardy swimmer in my view.
We, my family, do swim in many other places exactly as you write, underneath structures that are likely to collapse from time to time, and I guess quite simply do so at our own risk. Horseshoe Bend, Vinegar Hill, and Raumai, all local swimming spots, all have cliffs and current debris which could be considered at risk, even dangerous, yet on a hot summer day will all be filled with swimmers of all ages. The difference, I guess, is no has died or been present when these natural falls might have happened, so far. My guess is that Totara reserve has been "closed" is due to the unstability of the cliffs and in consultation with qualified engineers after the death of those kids.
Cheers,
Robb

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Robb, every time I visit your blog, I feel as if I stepped in heaven. :D

Hugs, JJ

Sugar said...

Kia Ora, Robb!!

Your passion for our earth still amazes me. It's sad to see so much of man's footprint on such an amazing place. I'm always saddened when our Southern California beaches are closed because of sewage spills. It happens so rarely anymore, but still...

Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora JJ,
I could write the same about your place, a beautiful treasure and my original place, or Turangawaewae.
Aroha,
Robb

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Sugar,
So good to read from you, and I appreciate you stopping by. I was listening to a gentleman on the radio, a world leading authority on water and from California talking about our need to better respect and repair our water systems as we are nearing a real drastic tipping point. Over a billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water, that seems like a tipping point to me. We have to change one person at a time. Cheers Sugar, will stop over for a visit!
Rangimarie,
Robb

Gustav said...

Brother

I am listening to your laughter ringing through my mind at this very moment. It is hearty, it is Viking, it is You.

I High Five to you now. Can you feel my paw upon yours?

Do you remember throwing all of Gyro's chairs into the tree in front of our Mifflin Street abode, 727 East Johnson?

I remember Gyro trying to stop you throwing his beloved chair into the tree. "No Dobber, No!" You retorted " Gyro its got to go!"

Then I remember you and Sara pulling away from the curb in your pinto and looking at the tree filled with chairs.

I tried calling you last night. Left a message. I love you brother.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Brother,
It was your 21st birthday. We saw the Grateful Dead at the Coliseum that evening, I met Rick Parduhn for the first time that day. The chairs did indeed "have to go". I can recall those details with great clarity, in spite of the celebratory aspects of the day, and they seem like only yesterday.
I look at Taylor now, then myself in the mirror, and I wonder.......
Aroha,
Robb
ps. Have a safe and happy journey back home brother.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Robb, both your poem and your friend's poems are wonderful. It seems we will be in an eternal struggle with what is pure and magnificent, in trying to build the edifices of human technology. At this rate, our realizations will come too late. I'm naturally an optimist but the writing is on the wall about man's subjugation with Nature. It's not that we INTEND her destruction. But our profit motives and limited perspectives keep us anchored in an acquisition mentality, instead of an experiential mentality. It seems that most people have given themselves up to fear, and in trying to assuage the chronic creeping fear--of loneliness, deprivation, scarcity, enmity--we forget about the imperative for pursuing EXPERIENCE. Without a experience of the natural world, life becomes stale and much less meaningful.

We live in cages of our own device.

When I'm here in Maine, feeling the embrace of the forest, I sleep in peace....

Now you have moved me to do a blog post on this.

THANKS for your passion and wisdom, Robb.

Ruahines said...

Kia ora Lynda,
Thank you so much and I am moved to know I have moved you to write further on this subject. We have started a ripple... Kia kaha!
Aroha,
Robb

Gustav said...

Brother!!

I have returned from the magnificent Overland Track through the ancient mountains and rivers of Tasmania. I feel bewildered in the chaos of the city but feel as pure as a waterfall streaming down Cradle Mountain.

At one point we were hiking through three feet of snow on the upper ridges of the trail. The trip was magic and you were in my thoughts often.

I will call you later in the week.

Mike said...

Hi Robb.

I read this article in the DomPost this morning, and it reminded me of this post:

Death of a waterway

"A wilderness river protected by an act of Parliament is being turned into a fouled, murky waterway by intensive dairying, Fish and Game says. Its Hawke's Bay regional manager, Iain Maxwell, says the Mohaka River, protected by a conservation order, has been degrading since intensive dairying began at the head of the Taharua Valley, southeast of Taupo, in the late 1990s.

[--snip--]

"Hawke's Bay Regional Council can do little to stop dairy effluent leaching from the Taharua Valley farms' sponge-like soils because its district plan lacks controls on intensive farming.

[--snip--]

"One of the farms in the area is Taharua Farm, owned by Reporoa brothers Alan and Frank Crafar, who own about 14 farms in the central North Island. Taharua was convicted and fined $37,000 last year for breaching its effluent consents."

If you scroll to the end of the article, Stuff has embedded a YouTube video from NZ Fish & Game that compares the upper reaches of the river with the lower reaches.