Saturday, December 25, 2010

Maumahara mo Waiparuru

Just when I thought there wasn't much else left to photograph for Timespanner to do with the Grafton Bridge ...

... and the gully below -- I find this.

I was aware that Caroline Robinson had done work during the road realignment project in the gully this last decade, but I didn't know part of it could be viewed, with safety, from atop the bridge itself.

Peering through one of two holes cut through the protective shielding (said shields designed to stop suicides and other projectiles from off the bridge to the motorway below) ...

... something can be seen in the middle distance.

Ah. There you go. Caroline Robinson's "Mamahara mo Waiparuru", a monument in steel and basalt to the Waiparuru Stream which once flowed in open air through the bush-clad gully between the eastern slopes of Symonds Street cemetery and the houses of the well-to-do, and the western catchment from off the Domain and Outhwaite volcanoes.

The Waiparuru is overshadowed these days in popular imagination due to Richard Simpson's campaign to have Parnell's Waipapa Stream suitable recognised historically. Take care in reading the account by Simpson in that link -- he still hasn't corrected glaring errors, such as the fact that Low & Motion left Mechanics Bay not in the 1860s as he claims, but in the mid 1840s. See my timeline on the area.

The other thing is -- the Waiparuru was essentially a swampy outflow from the volcanic slopes. The map above, from the 1840s (Roll 61, LINZ records), shows the stream's marshy progress at the bottom of Grafton Gully, fed by streams from the Domain and then, further down at Mechanics Bay, fed by the Waipapa as well to create something like a marsh in the wet season. Before the construction of the Strand, Parnell Rise, and reclamations channelled the waters and tamed them, and before the motorways in the 1960s-1980s finally buried them.

From the interpretive plaque by Caroline Robinson, today much tagged and marked by those who pass on by up at the bridge:

These stone and steel markers in the gully below
trace a meandering pathway reminiscent of that travelled by the
Waiparuru Stream on its way through the Grafton Gully to the
Waitemata harbour.

This pathway is a passage of time and a journey of release.

Maumahara was a creative collaboration that will encourage us to
remember. It is a prayer for deepening our relationship with the land
and with each other, through honouring our past, present and future
natural and cultural heritages.

More information on this page.


  1. That is VERY cool! Love it. BTW hope you had a good day yesterday

  2. I did, Liz, thanks. Spent time once I came home redesigning th' ol' blog ... ;-)

  3. Oh very neat! One of those obvious but yet hidden gems! Nice spotting :-)