Friday, 10 May 2019

Papa Cliffs And Feral Goats - Memories Of Whangamomona

Whangamomona
Artist: Roger Smith, 2019.
Prints available here.
In my fourth form at boarding school I spent a short term holiday with a school friend, on his family farm in Whangamomona.

Whangamomona is in upland Taranaki, inland from the town of Stratford.  It is tough, unforgiving country with steep papa clay bluffs that are prone to slips.  Farming such country is a challenge and using horses in the back country in those days were a necessity.

My friend Cliff saddled me up a horse and we went riding to the back of the farm with mobs of feral goats scattering ahead of us.  They were, and remain, a serious pest.

I recall two other abiding memories from that time:  the bone-chilling cold of a winter's morning with heavy dew hanging off the wire fences, and the local country dance which took place in the Whangamomona hall.  The dance band consisted of a guitarist/vocalist,  a Hawaiian (slide) guitar player and a drummer.  They haled from Stratford and had travelled inland for the evening's event.

Lots of brown beer bottles were in evidence as were the rows of gumboots left at the hall door.  The supper was stupendous!

They were happier, community times and a life that is fast disappearing from the provinces.  Whangamomona faded fast but was reborn as a 'Republic' a few years ago and now has a thriving backpacker clientele.

My school mate Cliff went on to become New Zealand's Mastermind, a commercial pilot and a radio DJ in Whakatane.

The hospitality of his parents and the care-free times we had in the early Sixties remain pleasant memories.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

I woke this is morning weeping

I woke this is morning weeping.

I can't recall this expression of sadness ever affecting me as an adult.

I wept for the loss of life in the Christchurch massacre.

I wept for the loss of innocence in our society, for the families that are literally shell-shocked by the massacre of innocents at the two mosques.

That this racist attack happened in a  city that was for me, a remembrance of  idyllic childhood visits to grandparents, is almost beyond comprehension.

A city that has had to bear so much in the last decade with two major earthquakes this morning faces the horrific reality of what happened yesterday afternoon.

New Zealand will never be the same -  it is no longer the country of safe haven that we prided ourselves on.

But as a  nation we will not be cowed by these random acts of violence against our citizens.

This morning I weep for the families that have been decimated at their place of worship.

You are not alone.

We are with you.