Leg 3 – Matakana to Puhoi, day 3

Tuesday 13 August

Old Kaipara Rd to Puhoi (17 km)

Very early in the morning, Marius drove us to Warkworth. On the back seat, the kids were in thrall to their ipods. Hannah was hermetically sealed off from the world with her earphones booming death metal in her head. Etienne was tapping away on his screen. Oh what a beautiful morning it was: golden, slanting light, fiercely green fields and placid sheep. And wobbly little lambs! Lambs do terrible things to my sanity; I am a martyr to my impulses. “Look at that adorable wittle wamb!” I oozed in a high-pitched baby voice. “Isn’t it P1010956wuvable? And it’s got such baggy legs and a sweet wittle tail!” Without lifting his eyes from his ipod, Etienne, mimicking my voice, said: “And it’s going to eat lots and grow big and then it’ll get gobbled aaaall up!

We were dropped at the humiliating place where we lost the plot on July 30. In this photo, Hannah is standing at the farm road we were meant to take on the left. The tragically unobtrusive trail sign is on the right, at about 3 o’clock.

We followed the track through farms and native bush, heading up Moir’s Hill and then down through Dunn’s Bush to Saleyards Rd in Puhoi. I had a song beating in my head all day. Usually, getting a song on the brain is a bit like trying to flush half a mouldy sandwich down the loo. It just keeps bobbing back to the surface. Last time the mouldy sandwich was “Shaddap you face”. Ewww. But today the song was a goodie: Mindy Gledhill’s gentle and beautiful “All about your heart”. “I don’t mind your odd behavior / It’s the very thing I savor / If you were an ice cream flavor / You would be my favorite one .… Oh, I´ve loved you from the start / In every single way …. Believe me when I say / It’s not about your scars / It’s all about your heart.“ Listeners bring their own frame of reference to song interpretation; for me this song is what a mother wants to say to a treasured child P1010960overcoming self-harm.

I love Kiwi sculptures. Artists do wonderful things with corrugated iron and repurposed scrap. Today we saw this quirky bird in a farm garden. We also P1010964encountered this postbox, which looks like it might be Big Ears’ upgraded retirement home in a desirable lifestyle block.

As we descended Moir’s Hill, we had our first feral wildlife encounter. For some time we had seen cloven hoof prints in the mud and speculated as to whether these were from goats or pigs. Since I have never seen feral NZ pigs, I was curious to know if they resemble the wild boars Asterix and Obelix prefer for num-nums. There was rather a lot of freshly turned earth near the track, and that indicated pigs’ rooting. Suddenly, from behind a gorse bush, came a loud noise: something like the vulgar love child of a snore and a groan, with a light belching overlay. “Goats!” exclaimed Hannah. “That’s not a goat, it’s a pig!” I quavered. “No. Goats over there,” she said. “No. A pig over here,” I insisted. We were both right. Ahead, a herd of black goats bounded soundlessly away but there was clearly something hidden and petulantly piggy immediately on our left. “Aren’t we going to try to see it?” I asked Hannah’s back as she marched away. I followed her very smartly. If either of us were injured we couldn’t continue the walk and raise funds for mental health recovery. Well, that’s our noble story, and we’re sticking to it, OK?

P1010971In Dunn’s Bush, the path followed a fence line, which had some superbly lichened old posts. Hannah said this one reminded her of Uncle’s wonderful hair.

In Puhoi, the trail stops. One may kayak downriver to resume walking in the Wenderholm section. Marius is determined we shall do the kayaking option. Hmmm. We are not gifted in any way with boating. When the weather is warmer, however, I might consider drifting the distance while clinging elegantly to a pink pool noodle. Watch this space.

8 thoughts on “Leg 3 – Matakana to Puhoi, day 3

  1. ”clinging elegantly to a pink pool noodle”

    This I have to see, Hannah please when your Mom is ”elegantly clinging” you have to take a photo, we have to see this.

    Keep on walking, writing and sharing photos.


  2. Hi Beautiful Hearts – I love your beautiful photos and your courage in sharing your hearts and minds and your powerful story in what you will do for each other in search of and in attaining mental health and wellness. I think of you every day and wonder where you are at, and it is a honour to be able to read and see where you have been. I love the wellingtons ( I have a pair of dotty ones- which makes all ventures into the garden joyful). Love the fence posts too, years ago a gave a gift of a wine flagon which had been made from an old New Zealand fence post. And the lambs………we have just been on a 560km drive ( and I thoughtof you both and the wow of you walking such distances) and it was such a delight to see the tiny, tiny lambs with tails almost as long as there bodies suckling joyfully and prancing around. There are also fields of dafffodils out in parts of NSW, and they are being to appear in Victoria. Love you lots,admire you tremendously Ron xxx

  3. What a beautiful and moving song “All about your heart” is. It has simply moved me to tears. For me it just encapsulates the love of one person for another as they walk the walk alongside another person living with the struggle of a mental illness, in all it’s painful and hopeful moments. I like the talk of starry nights and very especially of sunflowers. Sunflowers are the emblem of an organisation I once worked for, the Schizophrenia Fellowship of New South Wales – the idea being that as a sunflower blooms and grows it blossoms follow the sun during the day. I wish I could be there walking with you both. You are both in my heart and this spring I plant sunflowers for you both and Marius and Etienne and for all those I love who strive for their recovery. “I loved you from the start”- these exquisite words make me think, Mairi, how you have loved Hannah from before you laid eyes on her, and you writing of the joy of yourself and Marius at her birth. How beautiful that you all have each other and how this joy was exponentialised when Etienne was born. Beautiful Hannah, know for sure you were loved into being. At times it is beyond difficult knowing, understanding and believing this. My prayer for you is that you will. Love Ron xx

  4. Mairi-Anne and Hannah – thanks so much for sharing your incredible walking, passion for your cause and your vulnerability. I am crying and laughing right along with you. I love the fact that you’re physically fighting back darkness by being together and out in the beautiful NZ scenery … this would not have been possible (safe) back in South Africa … so you’re exactly where you need to be.
    Hannah – I am in awe of your typing skills – who need vowels anyway?!
    Hannah and Etienne – we will hopefully meet you one day, but I feel I know a bit about you from your parents loving words in countless emails – know that you are incredibly loved and treasured.
    Marius, Mairi-Anne, Hannah and Etienne be well and safe and may spirit shield you all from harm.
    Love and Blessings
    Jan, Garth, Shebie and Bron (blissfully in doggie-dreamland on the couch here in Weatherford, Texas as I type – looking carefully at my fingers as I do!!!)

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