Topic: Te Wairua Maunga

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Memories a Plenty Competition Winners 2009 - Jenny Jeffares Once again, this isn't ancient history: it is a loving but gritty and completely unsentimental look at living at The Mount, in the 1970s - not so very long ago.

Looking strange? See an archived version here

Te Wairua Maunga 
 
Ye gods, the Mount has changed. The 1970s were heady times to slide down the slopes of this precious sentinel into the quiet laidback community. This, before the local council succumbed to high-rise; multiple cross leasing on a single property; expansive housing subdivisions, shopping malls, bridges, motorways, flyovers and amalgamation. A filthy word, that last one. Don’t even think about confusing Tauranga with the Mount back then. They’re different places. Got it? Just like Surf Clubbies and Surfers. Skimpy togs and polystyrene shark biscuits vs. board shorts and custom-made Bob Davies surfboards. The former ignored by the latter at every opportunity, in the water and out.
 
Still got low tide access to Moturiki. Only then, it was Leisure Island and a real Marineland with performing seals and a track wending past them where you threw yourself off the rocks for some Main Beach swell. Howsit…spot ya layda…and bulk surf the catchphrases of the day. With few footpaths, pushbikes, affectionately known as treadlies, ruled the road. Everyone had one. School bike racks were overflowing. Lunchtime and 3 p.m. meant fast getaways and doubling your mate home. For years one old banger was available for that wobbly ride home from the Oceanside pub. Always found leaning on a fence near the infamous Green House at Number 13 Marine Parade. Street lighting was random but we found our way home. Walking the foreshore also a favoured route. Wink.
 
Those with vehicles were cool and envied. More so, if a VW or Kombi. The latter, notorious for falling over around corners overladen with passengers. Think: no speed bumps, seatbelts or roof racks. Boards out the windows were commonplace for a quick hoon down the beach. Once the grapevine mantra of ‘surf’s pumping’ was out, it was down tools and schoolbooks and in the tide by any means possible. Te Wairua Maunga/2 
  
Anyone could buy weed or beer. It was Who You Knew. Growing up, hundreds walked the line between respectability and criminal activity. Some were caught, most were not. Heroin was the scourge of the needy or greedy. Summer brought the ‘varsity kids home. Winter brought the foreigners. Ozzie and city dregs that filled the empty baches and pubs and supplied different mind-bending options and the latest fads. The frowned-upon visitors excelled at stealing the local female talent from under the noses of the complacent Mount boys. It just wasn’t cool, dude. And for a long time being the postie was The Most Desirable Occupation. 
 
The environment welcomed shenanigans. Paddling surfboards or rowing dinghy’s across the shipping lane to Matakana. Failed rowing attempts to Mayor Island. Climbing to the top of the Norfolk Pines and using the beach as a road to Papamoa. The star player in that venture was the long suffering farmer and his tractor hauling you out of the soft sand at all hours. He whose land is now covered in concrete tiled roofs.
 
Golf Road to the Mount was generally white middle-class and holiday baches for the wealthier out-of-towners. Arataki, Matapihi, the wharf area and the airport were the unspoken domain of the working class. Papamoa, apart from being bachville with hardly any permanent residents, was too far for treadlies. Only people with cars or motorbikes ventured out, usually to score hard drugs, break the ton down the straights in the Olds’ car, go to questionable parties or live cheap in vacant holiday baches off-season.
 
Booze Barns and restaurants provided a stage for the local band boys who modelled themselves on Santana, the Eagles, Yes and Bob Dylan. All fed on the laughter-filled journeys to Nambassa and Hinuera for an injection of new sounds. Transport by thumb, house truck, oh to hell with it, any rust bucket whose wheels still turned. Not to mention the special treat of touring bands and the local talent quest at the Soundshell overlooking Main Beach and under Mount Drury’s watchful eye. 

Bay Park echoed its high-powered visitors every summer and enjoyed hosting the national circuit for motor heads. The neighbours hated their guts. It’s now a sea of roofs. There was just something about that high revved formula racing noise on top of the summer heat that one cannot replace with cloned homes and the odd banging saucepan. 
 
Most with fair skin had yet to discover the missing pieces and didn’t know what tangata whenua meant or the Maori name for The Mount itself. His presence, though, was felt. Some knew there was a marae near the airport, but usually as a favoured venue for local musicians. And what a collection of motley but determined muso’s there were too. No one ever Made It. A few came close… but to play guitar or surf well, earned respect. Māori or Pākehā. If you did both well, you were a legend. Oh, we were easy to please.
 
Those nights have passed of clambering over the old hot pool walls, laying back in unchlorinated water, staring up at the mountain’s dark outline while the day’s pool water sucked out into Pilot Bay. Under her spell, with many a romance played out at her feet.
 
Gone, too, the sneaked car climbs to the Mount’s summit.  Sitting on top of the world in that magic retreat with people who mean something was a near spiritual event. Each surveying their own kingdom through different eyes but a common ground; guaranteed to encompass warm, lifelong friendships, shared mischief, summer smells, echoes of the wharf, the crashing of the sea, the mutual but unspoken knowledge that this was indeed special; and of course the spectacular mantle of stars overhead, blanketing us all and close enough to touch. Ah yes, a golden moment in time, the memory archived, to be pulled out and dusted. Like now. She does that to you, Mauao. His wairua flows strong in the veins of many. Let us not forget we are all visitors here and his magic is not something to be taken and sold but shared in the spirit that is
…The Mount. 
 
This page was archived at perma CC in January 2017: https://perma:cc/RV7K-UZS5

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