Western Leader : February 7th 2012
www.westernleader.co.nz 22 WESTERN LEADER, FEBRUARY 7, 2012 NEWS Reporter Jay Boreham gets out of the office and takes to the water in a little-known spot on the Manukau Harbour Significance, above: Reporter Jay Boreham is led through the area of natural and historical significance. Photo: FIONA GOODALL Corporate gain, right: Kayak tour operator Chris Caldwell turned his back on the fast-paced corporate life so he could work on Slippery Creek. Photo: JAY BOREHAM Historic tour of creek by kayak Office furniture: The Slippery Creek estuary is now Chris' office and his kayak acts as his chair and desk. Photo: JAY BOREHAM Early work, below: A section of the Manukau Harbour survey undertaken by Commander Byron Drury, right, in 1853. Photo: SIR GEORGE GREY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS AUCKLAND LIBRARIES 2011-249 On tour: Chris takes the lead to point out the wildlife. Commuters speeding by on State Highway 1 barely spare a glance at tidal waters that were once a busy corridor for Maori and European settlers. Slippery Creek at the far-eastern reaches of the Manukau Harbour is now all but forgotten by travellers. Also known as the Opaheke or Hingaia Stream catchment, the creek flows through Drury into the Manukau. Chris Caldwell was so inspired by its beauty and the area's colonial history that he gave up his job and changed his life. The former IT manager turned his back on 30 years of global cor- porate computer projects and set up shop on Slippery Creek. He bought a bunch of river craft, whipped up a quick website and Slippery Creek Kayak Hire was born. His office has been replaced by the south Auckland waterways and his chair by a kayak. The gentle lapping of water has replaced the sound of frenzied typing that once accompanied his daily office life. I'd been in corporate for too long, 30 years or so, so I decided on some- thing different,'' he says. Slippery Creek has certainly offered him that. Skimming up the creek towards Hingaia Chris takes a break from paddling and points up the harbour. Barges used to travel up here from Onehunga to pick up coal and bricks from the old Drury mines and brickworks.'' Drury's namesake can be thanked for that industry. In the early months of 1853 HMS Pandora, under Commander Byron Drury, conducted an in-depth sur- vey of the Manukau Harbour. The task was part of the Great Survey of New Zealand which started in 1848 and was completed in 1856. The importance of the Manukau had been noted by colonists who petitioned for the harbour to be comprehensively charted. Navi- gation was its main focus but the Great Survey had an underlying economic and commercial impera- tive. Commander Drury is often mis- takenly said to have discovered the harbour's far-eastern waterways and established the town of Drury. But researcher and historian Michelle Smith says colonists were already well established in the region by the time of the survey. Thomas Runciman and his family were the first settlers there in the late 1840s. Drury was known then as Runciman Township before it was renamed after Commander Drury who charted the Manukau. Runciman became the place a little further south which originally was named Oira.'' While the settlers can be traced back to this time, the region's Maori can track their ancestry back to the great waka Tainui which entered the harbour in the 14th century. The catchment was occupied by several tribes including Te Akitai, Ngai Tai, Ngati Tamaoho and Ngati Pou who were all unified under the wider tribal confederation of Te Waiohua. They moved across the catchment in a seasonal cycle of hunting and gathering. While they mainly inhabited the shores of the inlet or the Drury hills, two pa at either side of the river mouth, another south of the creek at the head of Waihoihoi Stream and two more in the Red Hill area were used to fall back to for protection. Maori and European settlers alike also travelled up the harbour, using the Slippery Creek area as an access point to the Waikato. While steeped in history the area is also rich in animal life too, Chris says. His sharp eyes quickly find a kingfisher perched above a small island. As well as being an area of his- torical significance it has also been classed as a place of regional natu- ral significance, says the Forest and Bird Society's former Manurewa chairman Dene Andre. It is a place where the salt water and fresh water combine and create a unique environment that ranges from mangroves to raupo -- bullrush -- and rushes.'' A variety of birds can be seen including the endangered dotterel, white and blue heron and royal spoonbill. The inlet's waters are also a nur- sery for a variety of saltwater fish including parore and kahawhai, as well as freshwater fish like white- bait. Those not interested in learning about the history and natural sig- nificance of the area can enjoy the exercise and soak up the sensation of gliding about the inlet in a kayak. Chris has plans for birthday trips and treasure hunts -- and for corpor- ate types to get out of their offices for team-building exercises. Contact Slippery Creek Kayak Hire on 294-7567, 021-818-376 or www.slipperycreek.co.nz.
February 3rd 2012
February 9th 2012