Updated: Feb 4, 2020
Like many I have a great love of our country. I am a Kiwi through and through. Whilst I love exploring and traveling overseas when I return through the airport and hear the waiata (song) being sung to welcome us home it moves deep into my heart. I enjoy taking the odd road trip around the country. On one such occasion I headed to the far north to a small place called Ngawha which has incredible healing natural hot springs. Ngawha is a small rural area that sits between Kawa Kawa and Kaikohe.
People from all around the world travel to these special pools to heal and rejuvenate their bodies by soaking in the hot natural waters. Mud and all. Ngawha leaves you with the temporary smell of the springs on your skin. The pools are not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you wish to experience healing as nature intended it, then I recommend you visit them. (And, bring gratitude when you do.)
The purpose of the trip was to bless and name a pounamu – a greenstone carving I was going to gift to a friend. It was a special gift because when I selected this particular piece I had been guided by my Nani in spirit. (Coincidentally that friend later became my husband - I’m smiling as I write this). The name had not come to me at that point, though I knew it would soon enough.
As usual on my road trips I had the company of our bird of prey - the kahu (hawk) which flew through the sky with wings fully extended. They always bring me a certain warmth, a feeling of familiarity and companionship. I stopped in Kawa Kawa for a short break and was looking forward to soon arriving at the hot springs. It was late afternoon, the sky was thick with dark grey clouds and heavy rain had been coming and going. I felt a growing need to connect with the pounamu. Up until my purchase of it the greenstone had traveled from the river bed to the carver then passed through several hands before me. It was time to bring an energy, warmth and love to it. I pulled out the greenstone and placed it around my neck.
On leaving Kawa Kawa I saw the kahu flying over the paddock, parallel to my car and I smiled. Outside of the township I picked up speed again. With my right hand I reached for the pounamu around my neck, and for a moment glanced down at my lap. Then suddenly the sound of the kahu screeched an unearthly piercing sound in my ears, soon followed by a voice saying, “Look up Maria!”
It was my grandmother who passed away in 1953.
In that instant I looked up. A few seconds passed as I focus on the view before me. Stopped at the bend of the road ahead, in the middle of the right lane was a large black SUV waiting to take a right turn down Whangae Road. The SUV was difficult to see as the foreground was of the dark forest green trees and a moody dark sky. The SUV had no indicators on and there was no waiting lane. They had just stopped!
Traveling in my Toyota Camry at 90km p/hour I was rapidly upon the SUV. I had only a few seconds to decide whether to slam my breaks and smash directly into the back of the SUV catapulting them and me into the air; or dart left and take my chances down the muddy grassed bank and do what I could to avoid a terrible nose dive into the ditch, farmers fence and paddock.
Both hands on the wheel, I swung left, missed the SUV and careered along the grass bank. I was locked and focused until I came to a stop many metres down the road. I don’t know how I controlled the wheels to maintain a straight line, and not spin out of control on that wet grassy bank. It baffles me to this day. Aside from damaging my front bumper, and sitting in shock for several moments as I took stock of what had happened – all was intact and okay.
The indecent aspect of this story is the SUV didn’t take a right turn down Whangae Road. Whilst I was still on the grass bank they drove slowly by, looked across at me and then headed away. Those arseholes (yes, I define them as arseholes) did not pull over and inquire on my well-being or to offer help. Appalling!
After a time of collecting myself, checking the car was road worthy, I made it to Ngawha in one piece. The delight of the night time rain, the moonlight shining between clouds and some rolling thunder made for a dynamic experience at the hot springs that weekend. My sleep that night was deep and I fell into a place of great gratitude to both my grandmother and the mighty kahu for bringing my attention back.
I blessed the pounamu over that weekend and gave it a name. Given the experience I had enroute to Ngawha I called her Rangi Kahu (hawk of the sky). Consequently this name too belongs to land that is part of my ancestral heritage through my grandmothers lineage. The name Rangi Kahu can also be translated to ‘heavens blanket’. Either way, the names and meanings are beautiful. I securely wrapped the pounamu and placed it in the soil beneath the root of a tree. And there it stayed until it was ready to be collected by my dear friend on his travels.