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Life in Early Poverty Bay

Bushes in the Early Days

Bushes in the Early Days.

Mr. Harris went on to say that, in the early 70's, there was a large Native population on the banks of Te Arai river. It started near the Arai bridge on the Opou side and was called Tapatahi. Pipiwhakau was a bush of some hundreds of acres. To-day, there remained, but a few scattered trees, principally kahikatea. A year or two before his return to Gisborne, a fire had gone through a large portion of the bush, and, for years afterwards, strong winds would play havoc with tottering giants and, as they fell, the noise would be heard for miles around. Not infrequently Natives had been lost in the bush. Later on it was cut out by the late Mr. William King. Kiekie thrived in great abundance and it produced a delicious fruit, with two crops. In olden days it was a case of woe betide anybody who touched the early crop. As a warning a rahui (embargo) was adopted. It took the form of a pole with some kiekie vine at the top and it was used there in 1873 for the last time. There was also a bush next to Kupenga where the Dunlops lived called Meremere. It was principally page 163 tawa and was felled for firewood and was burned mostly by the residents of Gisborne. The late Mr. Robert Knox had a large number of men carting and cutting. Whakawa was another fine white pine bush; it adjoined Glencoe, Whatatuna, Rakukaka and the flat on Papatu had large patches of bush. Okanga, too, had numerous clumps of kowhai, some 30 inches in diameter. This was all on Opou station. To-day nothing was to be seen of it. A great part of the flat on Opou station from Rakukaka to Papatu was a burnt forest. His father had told him that in his young days it was all standing bush. On his own part he had seen white pine trees close on five feet through. No puriri was to be seen, with the exception of two trees, south of the Big River. Old Makauri had a big forest of purin, remnants of which were to be seen today. These were only a few of the bushes—those known to himself. Well might Cook say, when he viewed Poverty Bay from Titirangi, that it was heavily timbered.

Late E. F. Harris, Second generation and father of Mr Frank Harris.

Late E. F. Harris, Second generation and father of Mr Frank Harris.