Tena kotou e nga whanau.
Just a reminder that Friday the 13th March, was the 3rd anniversary of the day we nearly all drowned at Orokawa as we were being ferried across to take cousin Hilda for her nehu. I did a Report on that incident at that time and had it sent out to the Rawhiti Connection.
I am conducting her unveiling on Easter Saturday. I’ve made enquiries of the whanau if any precautionary measures have been taken regarding the transporting of people on the barges crossing over. I have been assured that strict rulings have been put into place and that life jackets have been provided by local residents and whanau from there living elsewhere, to be worn by all passengers crossing there and back. Apparently, I heard later that there have been a few of these mishaps which have occurred before, but not in such a large number all at once as in our time.
At the time that it happened, my son Russell was working in Aussie and on his return, did a witch-hunt on the guy driving our barge over and wanted to ‘beat him up’ because he nearly lost his mother, his sister and cousins on that trip.
One of the things mentioned to me later when we were towed ashore and after our showers and changes of clothing, the people on shore waiting for us and seeing it happening, were gob-smacked (naturally) and all thought and said, what a heck of a disaster, but then they heard Harata’s and my hysterical laugh, but as I said later, although it wasn’t funny, it was her hysterical laugh that set us both off! And here’s my daughter worrying about losing her packet of smokes from her pocket! – never mind our situation we were in!!!
OK, just thought I’d mention this anniversary anyway. – I lived to tell the tale!!
Na te kuia nei. x x
Here is the account of that ordeal for those who never read it at the time!
March 15 2012
GOOD, GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY!
We had a bit of a disaster yesterday – the barge which carried us from the Orokawa landing to the urupa got swamped and 7 of us ended up in the drink!! This was half-way between the landing and shore,right in the middle of the channel AND it was high tide! We couldn’t touch the bottom.
Ben Te Haara,
Anne Kaire (Kere’s wife),
Ria Kaire (Ngaroroa (dec’d) and Marie’s daughter),
Roxy (Iri Kaire’s daughter),
Harata Hakaraia (married to a Fijian who has a long surname which I cannot spell or pronounce), Penny (his name for short) and Kahurangi and myself.
Now, I said 7 of us, but Ben managed to stay on board with the driver. From where I was in the water it appeared that he was standing on the water!
I do not know the reason we got swamped – there seem to be varying stories – one of which was that the anchor ‘fell’ overboard, stuck into the bottom although the motor was still going, and with all our weight on the barge, it slowly filled up, and we all just gracefully slid into the water!!
Now, Harata had a bandaged leg from her ankle to just below her knee, she arrived at the marae with a tokotoko to help her along. She was also wearing a large brimmed hat and do you know? She, her hat and tokotoko survived the ordeal!
Kahurangi and I hung on to the bag of raurau which we normally take to the urupa, and it was good to have something to hang on to, sort of acted as a buoy – don’t know whether that’s the right word! She was wearing her heavy overcoat which was dragging her down, but she didn’t want to take it off because it had her car keys in the pocket. She also held my umbrella which, she said after, she used to test whether or not she could touch the bottom with it.
I had my zip up boots which I wear for slopping around in at the flat here and she was telling me to kick them off, but I didn’t want to, but then finally I managed to kick one of them off. I looked towards the shore and wondered if I could dog paddle the distance because my jacket would have hindered my arm movements above water.
Now, just digressing a bit. I have known Harata from way back. (Her father was Sam, whose mother Marareira Te Tai, was a sister to my father). She attended Training College after she left Queen Vic and boarded at Taranaki House, a hostel situated at Avondale College for students. We lived just down the road in Rosebank Road (this would have been in the mid-40’s) and she often came to stay with us, and over the years, we have kept up the association. We had lots of fun in those days even though she didn’t drink. Now the most memorable thing about Harata is: her laugh!. It’s loud, and almost like a yodel – I’m not describing that very well, but it’s a very loud distinctive laugh.
Well, while bobbing around in the water, I took one look at her and away we went, laughing our heads off!!We just couldn’t stop but then thinking about it afterwards,it was a hysterical laugh.
When it first happened, the people on shore were shaking their heads, thinking the worst, this is one heck of a disaster they were saying, and then they heard Harata and I laughing, well, we just couldn’t stop, and they couldn’t make us out either. Ben related afterwards that it is so typically Maori, no matter what sort of situation Maori find themselves in, they must have a laugh about it, during and after!
I looked around for Kahurangi and I called out – where’s my daughter? Where’s Kahurangi? She’s ok everyone said. A cruise launch/boat happened to be in the area and he came over and managed to get Anne and Kahurangi to sit on that step-thing at the back of his launch. While that was happening, we were being seen to as well,.
The driver had managed to right the barge and he and Ben neared us and threw a rope out which missed first time (!) but I got it the second time. Another barge had come around by us, one guy swam from shore and came to me and tried to push me on to that standing board behind the barge, but I was too tired, so they ended up by towing me and others ashore. It was good to feel the ground beneath us!
When we arrived on shore in our bedraggled state, Mary Gibson (Tawera and Roy Harvey’s dgtr), came to me and wrapped me in a thick warm heavy duvet, and said ‘come on Auntie, come and have a hot shower’ I promptly replied with “I don’t want a shower, I want a beer!!” There were other women there, local residents I think, who did the same for Anne, Harata and Kahurangi, wrapped blankets around them and organised hot showers for us in the different baches there – we were ever so grateful (that’s an understatement!) They also found dry clothing for us all so we were truly well cared for.
We had a few laughs at the marae after – recalling Ben sitting in the barge calling out to us bobbing in the water – “Stay with the boat, stay with the boat” – he didn’t get wet at all, just maybe the hem of his purple outfit!! When I was relating parts of the incident afterwards, I said, well, the moral of this story is: “Don’t travel on a boat with the Bishop – he’s ok, he can walk on water” !!
I’ll finish off here, but other details we can laugh over when I see you all.
Arohanui to you all out there,
From this same old kuia.