Journey To The Karamatua Valley To Bless Our Pounamu

(for my lovely and loved daughter Jessamine on her birthday)

October 2nd, 2020

1.

. . . . .

From the carpark there is a short dark path upward.
Absorbing the black furry undergrowth of manuka trees!
Across a sunlit paddock to the dieback cleaning station.
The track is newly metalled, the deep ditch on the left clear.
It is the first week the valley is open again after two years.
We come to a big bridge and the splashing of stream water!
. . . . .

2.

. . . . .

We are on the path to find a place to bless these pounamu!
The track climbs and leans in to a long curving embankment.
At the top there is a sudden view down deeply to the right.
Below, the river chuckles past large boulders on a corner.
Yes, there is a place further on where one can reach the river.
Loping down past punga tree ferns we could go off the track!

. . . . .

3.

. . . . .

But the track winds down and beyond this first access point.
The path continues steadily on a long straight ramp upwards.
Here is a ‘triple tree’ with a white bark splash in a mossy circle!
Here is the place where the ‘Karamatua Loop Track’ forks!
We take the right-hand path and stay close to the river sound.
The track cuts in close to a bank alongside the laughing river.

. . . . .

4.

. . . . .

This is where I have memories of swimming as a child.
My mother and father sitting in the sun on the clay bank.
Us four boys floating and exploring in the swimming hole below!
Rock climbing and hopping, moving rocks around, making ‘dams’.
Climbing up the steep clay bank to get a drink or a snack!
The bank on the other side, smooth rocky flats of riverstone.

. . . . .

5.

. . . . .

A historic note reads: ‘The track you are on was once a tram track!’
The kauri logs would be carried on wagons down this railway line!
There’s an old tram wagon on the right, complete with kauri log.
There’s weight in that wooden frame, the metal plates and bolts.
There’s signs with pictures and writing about the past.
And further up, there’s the first set of new wooden steps.

. . . . .

6.

. . . . .

Beyond the steps, paths suggest themselves to the river.
There’s a flat stretch where four short posts are in the ground.
From there we spill down past the nikau and fernery!
The bright lit stream is there, the rocks warm and shiny!
There’s a gentle swimming hole under tall tree ferns.
But we must go on now, the journey to seek blessing is upon us.

. . . . .

7.

. . . . .

The track carries us high again to another flat stretch.
Paths may be possible down through the nikau groves.
Round a bend there’s a sunny wooden bench and a clear view.
‘To the memory of Andrew Stuart Peters’, the plaque reads.
‘Died 28th April, 1992, at the age of 21’, so young we see!
There is a quote: “The sky is his spirit; the earth is his heart.”!

. . . . .

8.

. . . . .

It reminds me of our quest, the pounamu we carry.
The daughter who is 21, the greenstone for her 22nd birthday.
The quote from Psalm 139 as a blessing note inside my pocket!
“Even before a word is on my tongue, behold O Lord,
You know it altogether..!”, …and the Word before the word
That might come when we seek the pounamu blessing.

. . . . .

9.

. . . . .

Looking down far below to the river bend, down ‘fallen tree gully’.
Looking up at the bank behind the bright and warm wooden seat!
The ‘triple bowl tree’ quite special there, sky blue, clouds white,
The green mantle of the native bush, the Karamatua valley.
Two ‘Porowhita’ (Circle) pounamu greenstone pendants!
Being carried up river, up valley, adventuring for blessing.

. . . . .

10.

. . . . .

The Porowhita symbolizes the never-ending circle of life and nature,
Bringing together the head, hands and heart in one’s action.
Stars and the Universe are part of the circle, holding the story of our origins!
Pounamu or Greenstone is regarded as a stone sacred to the gods
By the Maori of Aotearoa. It is worn as a taonga, meaning ‘treasured’.
It should be worn with pride and respect, a gift from the heart!”
. . . . .

11.

. . . . .

Climbing, more steps, the track talks to our leg muscles.
A long winding flat, the splashing sounds of the river far below!
A possible path to the water, now taken, and down we go!
Crashing underbrush, suddenly big rocks, and ‘dead bird gully’.
The dead bird spreads its wings, its bones, on a large dry rock.
Before that is a huge rock, a boulder, a titan of the river.

. . . . .

12.

. . . . .

We climb carefully down and below the mighty grey boulder.
The river slides past wide with easy flat rocks for feet to find.
Downstream from ‘big stripe rock’ to ‘perfect swimming hole’!
But beyond that it is not easy to see how one would go further.
Going upstream, on the other hand, one spies in the distance,
Beloved ‘Big Rock’ to the left where a known good path comes down!

. . . . .

13.

. . . . .

Once more past the dead bird (this time to take two feathers),
Crashing back up on the track, we look for this path.
It’s a good path taken yesterday, on another blessed journey,
And again a few days earlier with Maree on the weekend!
And again years before with Kirree and Megan, where discovered
That one could journey deep and high up the river to ‘new lands’!

. . . . .

14.

. . . . .

(The journey the day before was undertaken only for your pounamu.
When I came home mine (Thine Own) was waiting in the mailbox!
That day’s journey is misty in memory now, as I’d known seeing mine
I would journey yet again, for a double blessing, even further!
To a ‘new land’ past perhaps the furthermost waterfall off the track.
But I remember seeing a tree, roots covering rock like I’d never seen).

. . . . .

15.

. . . . .

We find the hidden path, it starts rather obscurely!
One’s feet drop down among tree roots, down steep and narrow.
But not today, just noting now the beginning of where to access!
Yes, where the track climbs again at the end of a stretch
On a corner where a fairly clear downview is seen…
We continue the track: more wooden steps soon to climb higher.

. . . . .

16.

. . . . .

Scanning the skyline across the valley to see the tall trees,
There’s a moment where the memory of yesterday swells.
The tree I had seen, the roots on the rock indescribable!
Was it that tall tree now holding its top past the treeline?
Can we catch a glimpse through the trees to a rockface far below?
Is it ‘that rock there’ and ‘that root there’, only so barely seen now!?

. . . . .

17.

. . . . .

Onward higher, the track goes up two flights of wooden steps,
One 7 steps, one 12! with the river far far below.
If there were paths, the slope of the bush-covered bank
On the right, is now uncertain, scary, and debatable in scope.
Any path taken to the river would crash down a high gully
(Past tall tree trunks, fallen logs, and thick undergrowth!).

. . . . .

18.

. . . . .

On the right comes ‘big hanging rock’ in among the trees!
A slender young native in front with buttressed white roots.
And looking down off the track, can be seen here and there
Evidence of a former path, gravel traces on rough slopes!
Diving down from so high, our feet feel the folded path.
Dropping left and right, we descend with knowing in our heart.

. . . . .

19.

. . . . .

Near the bottom, there’s a large rock wall to clamber down.
Our arms hold a tree branch to swing to lower ground!
By big rolling rocks (‘Big Hanging Rock’ one of many),
There’s patches of flat ground and a way to the river.
Climbing up over a boulder and into the light,
We see now ‘Big Cave Waterfall’ in all its might!

. . . . .

20.
. . . . .

A torrent – a cataract! – of water splashes down!
The main stream hits a large rock of the deep pool all around.
Before the waterfall is a large ‘viewing rock’ of height
With an embedded jutting rock just right for a seat!
Face to face with this cave made of two enormous leaning giants.
Waterfall sideways-slicing between them, with all darkness behind.
. . . . .

21.
. . . . .

No further can we go except peer further into this cave.
The mossy wet stones and rushing water say, ‘only for the brave’!
Mesmerised by the sound, by the weight of this landscape,
We take time to sit, rest awhile, and notice each feature.
Then one suddenly sees possibility, of entering the cave to the right!
If crossing the river back down yonder over some boulders.
. . . . .

22.
. . . . .

There is the challenge, and there is the call!
To enter the mighty cave behind the waterfall!
The entrance, wet but not splashing, not high enough for backpack.
Throwing backpack before us, we crawl into the dark crack.
Looking up, the underside is like the roof of a dragon’s mouth.
Massive black rocks like loose teeth piled up on the sides.

. . . . .

23.

. . . . .

Tongues of water erupting from mysterious inlets further back!
The forward slice of the waterfall now blocks the triangular entrance!
There are places free of rain, free of splashes, firm of ground.
And deep crevices with hints of sunlight leaking into the darkness.
Leaving the backpack where it’s dry and venturing further,
Exploring a left-side channel, finding footing on rocks but no sunlight.

. . . . .

24.

. . . . .

And in the ‘throat’ where the roar, wet darkness, and heaviness collide!
A tumble of rocks is lit from above, from a ‘pyramid room’ inside!
The rocks form a staircase; one looks up to vaulted ceiling.
Is it able to be entered? With wetsuit, raincoat? Mind now reeling.
Is there ground there or is the floor a pool of shining water?
What mysterious light is this in this darkness, dear daughter?

. . . . .

25.

. . . . .

This is the place, furthest inroad to this part of the river.
A place for the blessing of pounamu, heart now a-quiver.
(But I have left the backpack back there with the daughter’s pendant!
So only mine (Thine Own) I am wearing for this part of the ritual!)
I take it off and find a rock face running with dark water,
And hold it there, cold and wet, chant Aums and Gayatri mantras.
. . . . .

26.

. . . . .

I have to remember to leave this loud and dark-sounding water!
Return to the entranceway, the backpack, the daughter.
Clambering out into sunlight I think of the taniwha of this river,
(And the forces that didn’t crush me in the fear of an earthquake!).
My pounamu (Thine Own) is shiny and green like this river.
As I stand up I recognize I have said, ‘Mana Wairua’.
. . . . .

27.

. . . . .

Mana: ‘standing strong’; Wairua: ‘standing in spirit.’
Mysteriously blessing words I received in the cave of this waterfall.
I sit once again on the viewing rock, eat food, and drink some water,
Remembering again only now the other pounamu of my daughter!
I’m contemplating the gentle swimming hole again at the base of the boulder,
When my senses detect a way ahead, a way that might lead us further!
. . . . .

28.

. . . . .

If we cross once more to the other side of the river,
Is that a way upward on the side of ‘Big Buddhahead Boulder’?!
Thus backwards we clamber down rock again ‘cross the river,
Wander carefully by mossy garden where ferns are the feature,
And hoisting up by flaxes and holding onto tree trunks,
Come high past a dry cave merging back into black water!
. . . . .

29.

. . . . .

Will we be blocked? Is it safe? Is this foolish?
But no, there’s a staircase of mossy black rocks like a flourish ~
‘Go this way! One foot there, the other on small stone,
Climb to the top, push past flaxes, now, you’re on your own!’
Pushing off jutting rocks to clamber out over the top.
From the crown looking down to a new world, heart stopped!

. . . . .

30.

. . . . .

The ‘new land’ at the top of the Buddhahead Rock Cave Waterfall:
You are standing on ‘Big Triangle Rock Lookout Point’!
Below, down the gently sloping and widening rocky face,
Is the deep culvert stream wedged in-between this and the far rock.
It tips past an ‘almost-blocking-stone’ and over the edge,
Where our eyes dare not peer, else risk a rush of vertigo!

. . . . .

31.

. . . . .

Looking up is the true magnificence, for off high in the distance,
Is the immense cliff-face ‘Wall’ of the side of the Karamatua Valley!
The ‘Wall of the Grandfathers’, the ‘Wall of Wisdom Books’.
The ‘bookend’ is like a gibbon’s face; the wall itself a ribbon
Spelling out ‘WONDER’ in rock letters, or (as figures) six/seven grandfathers.
So huge yet so rarely seen, from the trees underneath or the track inbetween!
. . . . .

32.

. . . . .

From this high point we can even see down the valley to the sea!
From here a wood pigeon throws itself into blue and to green!
We take out our pounamu and place them on rock in the sunshine.
We ask for Mana Wairua to flow deep into our bloodstream.
Up on Big Triangle Rock Lookout Point, we see the cliff-face above,
The forest, this boulder-filled big world, and this nature-filled big dream.
. . . . .

33.

. . . . .

In this ‘new land’ of giants, we climb rock again to another level.
Behind tree roots, following flowers, we look down into a secret grotto!
In Boulder City we look behind, the water’s dropped down far below.
The river runs over fallen log jammed and splashes deep off the end!The canyon walls grow high left and right; on the left it’s at least 20 metres.
There’s no way we’ll get much further; in this space we’re little creatures.
. . . . .

34.

. . . . .

Sure enough, there’s a big cut, a narrow torrent of water.
‘Had enough?’ the taniwha says, but there’s only one solution.
Stepping down on one rock, climbing up again right next to the river,
Across the cut, then back again, under an overhang with concentration!
Along ‘Rolling Ravine’ we come to the end of the journey.
Round the corner of the cliffs is ‘Kauri-Log-Jam-Flume-Turning’!
. . . . .

35.

. . . . .

It’s like an ‘inside world’, beneath tall walls of cliff.
Fairly gentle altitude increases now as the river relaxes.
There’s a ‘saddle seat’ up high for sitting off the side of a boulder!
Looking across to nikau splendour with a white rock just poking out
From a grey face, and a small place where the river is crossable.
But further up, the flume of the mighty kauri log jammed in the water!
. . . . .

36.

. . . . .

Sitting here on ‘Saddle Rock’, having reached ‘the end of the journey’.
If it’s passable, it’s possible another day we might do it.
But here it’s a long way back to the Buddhahead Cave.
It’s time for another drink, some more food, and a candle.
With candle flame like a foreigner deep in exotic country,
A small framed picture of Sai Baba, and two pounamu, we give thanks.
. . . . .

37.

. . . . .

Then we see it, the perfect pouring, where the river is crossable.
The ‘perfect swirl of a water pour’, a beautiful crystalline sluicing
Over between two rocks, and the rocks also beautiful.
And there appears a small step below to bend down to ponder
The curl of this water form, the gentle twist in its arc,
And to bring to the end of this journey two taonga pounamu.
. . . . .

38.

. . . . .

The cords wrapped tightly around hand and around finger,
The greenstone pounamu are held in the water to linger.
They are bathed, they slide around, skim and dance on the surface,
They slide beside, they move apart, they dip and flash like fishes.
In ‘The Perfect Swirl’ they return home, like in South Island rivers.
Pounamu, wairua, mana taniwha, taonga of father and daughter.
. . . . .

39.

. . . . .

That’s the end of the trail, of this tale, of this journey.
But for one final footnote once we trekked back to the beginning.
In mists of memory I’m sure we had seen near the carpark
At another time, the legend told by the Maori whakairo carving.
Of two lovers who ‘hid behind a waterfall’ and now (reading again),
See ‘mana whenua’ and know (with ‘mana wairua’) the final double blessing.
. . . . .

E N D

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