Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Beach Road Reserve Playground Whangamata

                                    " Hauturu The Friendly Taniwha  " Beach Road Playground, Whangamata
                                                                           Photo by ASB 2013

A habit from my working years and something I was encouraged to do - by an enterprising business owner - read everything cover to cover in the newspapers every day. Newspapers are a part of the past of NZ History right up to an hour ago. For a person who has a passion about our early New Zealand history, I have found that often the history may be found in newspapers and not always elsewhere.
Now why is this blog headed Beach Road Reserve Playground, Whangamata. Well true to working years tradition I read our local newspapers that come out once a week from cover to cover. On the Coromandel Peninsula Eastern side we get them all - the Leader, the Hauraki Herald, the Peninsula Post and not to forget a favorite of mine - the Coastal News. 

My mother used to report for the newspapers in the area for many years as well as write a column - " On the Beach." Think our side of the Peninsula is like all of New Zealand looking at all the newspapers on offer on Newspapers of New Zealand. They are our information sources - giving us the " hatches, matches and dispatches", who caught the big fish or who caught the shark and let it go( latest Coastal News 30/01/2014) and what happened last week.
Now what have newspapers got to do with Beach Road Reserve  Playground, Whangamata and New Zealand history which is a part of our past.
The Dolphin  - carved by one of the local loggers
with a chainsaw from the stump of the pine felled at Beach Road Reserve in the early 1990's
photo by CRB 1994

Well  last year reading cover- to -cover, the Coastal News, attention was drawn to changes for the Beach Road Playground at Whangamata planned by Council. Twelve years ago the Beach Road playground went through refurbishment and I wrote in " This and That " in 2001 that "recent years have seen changes to the Playground equipment because of the Playground Safety Laws. However Taniwha Hauturu has remained." I did not take photos of the upgrade to the playground or of " Taniwha Hauturu"

We have remained amazed since 2001 that the most used playground equipment has been what we still today call "  Taniwha Hauturu " The playground is relatively new history compared to the usual time of great grandparents and grand parents I write about. The history is written in " This and That " that the playground was a Garden Club  project during 1970 along with Lions and other organisations. My mother's specific project was the tyre play equipment. 

Born from  the story my father used to tell grandchildren and others. It was understandable wildlife and the reasons for not swimming by oneself in the harbour would be woven in to the story. My father was an Honorary warranted Wildlife Ranger with what was then New Zealand Forest Service, Wildlife Service  ( pre - Department of Conservation Days).

The other day having picnic at Beach Road Reserve Playground, once more the story was shared of the tyres at the playground and conversation about possible changes to the playground equipment once more. The thought is that  many physical heritage buildings and objects in New Zealand are demolished or changed. However there is no reason why stories as they have always been amongst families and communities passed down - some recorded. No doubt many families have stories passed down and told again and again. I think of our playground story, the "Wolfle Bug" story told to me to stop me playing in the drain on the farm and the "Spider" Story about Robert the Bruce passing on to me - keep trying. 

Yes this playground story can be read on the wonderful digital archives where it has been preserved by the National Library but here it is shared also on this blog. ( With photos also, because although we were told the story orally and were busy as a family seeing the playground to fruition, we just forgot to use photos to illustrate the story.)

" Hauturu the Friendly Taniwha"

" Once upon a time there was a Taniwha who lived on Hauturu (Clark Island). This  Taniwha was named Hauturu because he lived on the Island and helped his mother to guard all the plants and the Tuatara.
The Island in the photo is Hauturu ( Clark Island )

 However even though the Taniwha had lots of work to do, he in fact felt very lonely. For the Taniwha was still a child and longed to play with other children. In fact, the Taniwha was very friendly and loved people. However, not many people and especially children came to visit and play on Hauturu (Clark Island).
This was because they could only walk over at low tide with their parents and could not stay long as they had to get back to the Point before the tide came in.


                                       A very calm sea - Hauturu Island offshore

The Taniwha's mother knew Hauturu felt like this so, when the time was right taught him how to swim. Hauturu was excited - now he could visit and play with the children in the town. However, Hauturu was not allowed to do this until he could tread deep water and do sidestroke. Hauturu practiced and practiced swimming and then one day Hauturu's mother said " Hauturu you can swim over now but you must wear a life jacket, come back before breakfast and only play in the shallow area of the harbour.
Harbour 4 August 1988
 - Where the trees are is Beach Road Reserve Playground
Photo by H. M Stewart
Off Hauturu set and there he met the grandchildren of Jack Stewart. It was a lovely time playing with them. They had many friends and Hauturu let the children slide up and down the shiny scales on his back. Everyone was laughing and having fun, including Hauturu who was a true kid at heart.

Over the years, Hauturu travelled over once a week to play with the children near the Slips. Nobody minded that Hauturu had to go home in time for breakfast for they did too. In addition, just as Hauturu had work to do looking after plants and Tuatara they did too because there was always schoolwork to do."

 On the foreshore in front of Beach Reserve Playground
Photo about 2000

Yes the slips, pine trees and tuatara from Hauturu ( Clark ) Island  have gone but the tyre playground equipment has stayed on and who knows how many children have played " on the shiny scales over the last forty years. In their memories live the experience and for some the story. 

Playgrounds have been an integral part of past New Zealand history. The rocket at Waihi, the concrete boat Wakatere at Thames, the swings and seesaws at most playgrounds and " Hauturu " are all an integral part of childhood and history.
I wonder what future stories there will be about the Beach Road Playground, Whangamata.
Tyre Equipment , ( Hauturu ) Playground Beach Road Reserve, Whangamata
photo by ASB 2013
Reference Source :

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  1. Such nice blog .Thanks for sharing such great information for me. I hope you will share some more information about Please keep sharing!

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  2. Thank you Greengrass - stories and history are for sharing and passing down to our families and friends