Wednesday, August 12

Taheke, Hokianga

I was going to move onto other subjects but I changed my mind. I'm going to show you some more early photos and continue telling the story of my father.

In the Far North, Taheke Hotel was where my family lived in the late 40's. In the gumfields nearby there were wild horses. Maori would round them up and sell them and my father purchased some. One was called Five Bob because that's how much my father paid for it. He would tame the horses, many of them becoming extremely docile.

I don't know the name of this horse but I remember that the dog was called Whisky. I remember the day he died, his tongue was so pale it was almost white, and it lolled out of his mouth.

Below is the hotel. My bedroom was behind the dormer window on the right. The wallpaper in this long skinny room moved when the wind blew and I found this creepy, particularly at night. To make matters worse, I had picked up from the predominantly Maori population a scary belief in “spooks” to use the vernacular. It seemed that everything had a spirit, taniwha were everywhere and the world was a very dangerous place.

This is a view from the hotel, in this case showing cattle being driven along on their way
to the abattoir or as we euphemistically called it, the freezing works. The age of cattle drives is over, roads are too busy. Now cattle are trucked.

The drovers would often stop and have a beer and let their dogs and the cattle have a rest, and I remember being given an old stock whip by one of them which I kept for a long time. My father would do tricks with a stock whip so I was not discouraged from playing around with one myself. I can still use one with a certain amount of dexterity but I don't own one anymore

However it was knife throwing that I was best at. In fact I still have the knack of making a knife hit a target sharp end first and I practise whenever I can. Nothing is safe around this place.