Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The energy of Opepe Cemetery

 


B introduced me to this place, tiny Opepe Cemetery just off the Napier Taupo highway where he said not many people knew about which is maintained by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 


Opepe was a settlement in New Zealand, a few miles southwest of Taupo. It was the scene of an attack between European militia and Maori on 7 June 1869 in which nine members of the militia were killed.  The Opepe Maori settlement was at the intersection of two major pre-European walking tracks (Taupo-Napier and Urewera-Tokaanu). It was the birthplace of the Maori leader Te Rangitahau


During Te Kooti's War, in early June 1869 Te Kooti and about 150 of his supporters moved towards Lake Taupo in the center of the North Island. At Opepe, just short of Taupo, they ran into party of fourteen Militia, who were camped in the abandoned village. Nine of the militia were killed with no loss to Te Kooti. One of the men, who was drying his uniform, escaped completely naked across rough country in mid-winter, and was awarded the New Zealand Medal. A military stockade was built at Opepe in 1869 but closed in 1885. The township thrived for several years in the late 19th century. 


We walked through a 10 minute native bush walk before we reached the cemetery and strangely enough we could both feel the strong energy in the air.  At one point as I was rounding a corner a huge fern frond dropped to the ground next to me and nearly made me jump.


There are 2 tracks that lead off from the main entrance, one that is about 90 minutes long and the one we took. Two of the graves hold the bodies of the nine members of the Bay of Plenty Cavalry who were killed on 7 June 1869 by Te Kooti's advance guard: Alex McKillop, Charles Potier, Hector Ross, Michael Slattery, Ernest Lawson and Charles Johnson.


The other three are the graves of later settlers: Edward Andrehen, Henry G. Leslie and W. Turner.  The totara headboards are the original ones, which have been repainted several times over the years. However, they were showing the effects of time, and it is suspected that water ingress was causing the paint to peel and crack. This process has been completed and the headboards were re-installed in the little cemetery at Opepe by Department of Conservation staff on Christmas Eve 2010.

12 comments:

  1. Have driven that road several times and did not know about this.

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  2. Completedly naked?! Sorry, but... "funny" thought.
    Beautiful nature and graveyards always have ... some atmosphere...

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  3. I always find it interesting to hear something of the history of your country. Glad to see that the graves have been maintained over the years.

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  4. There is so much that we miss on our travels. I have no idea how many times I have driven past without knowing it was there.

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  5. ...the native bush is lovely. it reminds me of Maui. It's nice that you are able to find so much history and I thank you for sharing it.

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  6. Yours is the second blog post I have read this week that got me thinking about the special places that you really have to live on a place to know about, visit, appreciate. As a tourist one might visit once, get a good photo, perhaps get some info off a board, but it is a whole different thing to have the time to get the feel of a place, absorb whatever message it might have for you.

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  7. A beautiful area with a rich history. Thanks for sharing it, Amy.

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  8. It's always fascinating to learn something of the history of your country, Amy.

    Good to see that the graves have been well-kept over time.

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  9. What an interesting place. Thanks for sharing it. I might have to check it out.

    It's great to see your post at 'My Corner of the World' this week!

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