Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Cultural and Social Heritage - family and beach - Christmas on Coromandel Peninsula

The crimson flowers of Pohutukawa at Christmas - photo courtesy  Chris Ball

The Pohutukawa flowers are blooming - this Christmas 2017 particularly vivid in colour. Once again our extended family gathered together for a Christmas on the Coromandel - beach style.  Typical for the hot summer weather - barbequed  meat  and cold salads from the garden and cold desserts - pavlova said by New Zealanders to be a New Zealand invented dish. 

With the barbeque, food and pulling out of that special table cloth or plate grandma used to use at Christmas, the vase full of flowers by the other grandma along with a visit to the cemetery where they are buried to put Christmas flowers on gravestones, a special table runner given by a family member   several years ago and now added to the  Christmas customs developed over four family generations on the Coromandel Peninsula.  

Last year at Hahei on Christmas day we counted 1500 people walking up Grange Road to the start of the track down to Cathedral Cove. Cathedral Cove is a popular spot for tourists to visit and seems so  again.  On Christmas Day 2017 the same tradition happened again  for many.

Cathedral Cove Hahei  November 2017 - photo courtesy Chris Ball
 
For our family  Christmas Day as well as the conversation about traditions and customs passed down from generation to generation, it is stories and tales of family and family christmas at the beach. The days remembered of camping in tents  "at the beach", cooking on a primus stove.  Holidays up the Kauaeranga Valley or Broken Hills or Wentworth Valley Campground at Christmas time. Time at Opoutere Youth Hostel - one family we know has been going there for forty six years.

For our family  Christmas Day as well as the conversation about traditions and customs passed down from generation to generation, it is stories and tales of family and family christmas at the beach. The days remembered of camping in tents  "at the beach", cooking on a primus stove.  Holidays up the Kauaeranga Valley or Broken Hills or Wentworth Valley Campground at Christmas time. Time at Opoutere Youth Hostel - one family we know has been going there for forty six years. 

Hoffman's Pool - popular swimming hole for holiday makers and tourists up the Kauaeranga Valley - photo 2010 courtesy Chris Ball
 Then there are the motor camps on the Coromandel Peninsula  - Whangamata, Tairua, Whitianga Hahei, Cooks Beach, Pauanui - all visited and stayed in by family and friends over the years. Tales passed on of camp fun and swimming, surfing and fishing at the beach.

All  tangible and intangible representations of the value systems, beliefs, traditions and lifestyles passed down from those early pioneers on the Coromandel Peninsula from generation to generation, gathering and adding to on the way down.

Whangamata Motor Camp July 1994 - photo courtesy Chris Ball
I believe these  cultural and social heritage representations provides humanity and no less those living on the Coromandel,  with a sense of identity and continuity. They are important parts of our past and will be important parts of our future.

In 2002 ICOMOS  (  the International Council on Monuments and Sites ) wrote on cultural heritage that:

" Cultural Heritage is an expression of the ways of living developed by a community and passed on from generation to generation, including customs, practices, places, objects, artistic expressions and values. Cultural Heritage is often expressed as either Intangible or Tangible Cultural Heritage "(ICOMOS, 2002).

Seems to me that this International Council sees this to be an important part of place and people and should not be ignored, disregarded or forgotten completely.

It has become very important to record our tales, traditions and cultural and social heritage of the Coromandel Peninsula - both the tangibles of what we can see and the intangibles which we cannot. Many of these are in danger of being lost, ignored, overlooked  or forgotten about in the rapid change taking place.

Coromandel Peninsula has changed very rapidly over the last 25 years. Tents and tiny holiday baches have given away to very large baches or what is now called holiday homes. Where once it may have been for most a holiday once a year at the beach at Christmas, the Peninsula is now visited on almost a weekly basis. The bach that once was shut up and locked for the rest of the year is often now rented out to holiday makers and tourists  - Book a Bach, etc.  

Bach " Linga Longa " Beach Road Whangamata 2009 - now pulled down - Photo courtesy Chris Ball
Two motor camps at Whangamata - Settlers and Pine fields have closed - giving way to subdivisions and holiday homes.

Williamson Park - the land gifted by early Whangamata settler, Philip Williamson 
has been altered and changed in recent years  - the majority of pine trees cut down, as was said they were a safety danger to the public. The park this christmas is to become the venue of more privately run concerts with alcohol sales at some of these. Progress we are told ?
 
Williamson Park renovations September 2016 - photo courtesy Chris Ball

 This year the Totara cemetery gates at Thames were closed and locked on Christmas Day for those families attempting to visit their family members buried there. Imagine the surprise felt when reading this news on Thames Genealogy and Resources Am of the belief that now we definitely do need a friends of cemetery group to help look after our cemeteries on the Coromandel Peninsula. Without this we are in danger of letting our family graves - sometimes of several generations being lost or forgotten completely. 

Important as genealogists the world over working on family trees or family history count cemetery records as a significant source. Some of the cemeteries of the Coromandel Peninsula could be said to be associated with the foundations of this place - just as St. John's  Parramatta is the oldest burial ground in the Colony of New South Wales Australia associated with the foundation of the colony and many graves of those identified as having arrived with the First Fleet in 1788. Also with links from there to here for Rev Samuel Marsden buried in St, John's cemetery is said to have visited as far as Thames aboard the Active.

Was interested to read a pdf online that Auckland Regional wrote on Cultural Heritage - very relevant:


" Cultural heritage is central to our present and future identity.
Our culture is the system within which we live now.
Heritage is the part of our culture that we have inherited
or learned from generations past. Our cultural heritage
includes physical structures and places such as historic
buildings, archaeological sites and artefacts. It can also
include music, language and traditions."
                            From What is Cultural Heritage Auckland Regional Council p2
                          What is Cultural Heritage

Yes - there are some tangible and intangibles of our past history in New Zealand and no less on the Coromandel Peninsula, that should be preserved, written about. Not forgotten or overlooked in so called progress as we bulldoze forward to the future as it is a relevant part of our past and is our past, present and future identity of who we are in this place.  

A blending of the old and the new at Tairua Marina - old ss Ngoiro and the new marina villas and buildings December 2017 - photo courtesy Chris Ball