The poem and drawing (above) were done over 30 years ago as part of my pictorial diary. My friends and my sister both shared a few consecutive summer holidays up at Kerikeri with me. I remember clearly the balmy summer days, the crickets and cicadas chirping, the slow moving stream to cool off in, and the cafe trips to the white restaurant on the other side of the road.
We spent about a week on these holidays – doing little but reading, swimming, sometimes kayaking, walking the bush walks and going to the restaurant nearby. It was a time to relax and talk about the future and our own dreams. As this poem I wrote at the time shows:
Our first trip North had taken in the whole sweep of the upper North Island, and KeriKeri became cemented as the place to return to. These were my flatmates at the time, and I can remember feeling as if I was in a timeless zone, never growing old, always with the future ahead of me.
This last month my sister and I went back up that way, and I was astonished at the changes to Kerikeri. Now the Stone Store is no longer beside the main road north, but that road is diverted outside the township. It adds to the peace of the historic building and area, but is now a major tourist attraction, with a pedestrian bridge coming from the main carpark. This bridge crosses just where we used to swim.
Still, something of the old feeling came back as I walked the orchard and bank of the stream. The old Stone Store is much as it was, but with costumed salespeople instead of the ordinary folk that used to man it.
I purchased a few candles and an ice cream which I ate on the grounds of the old Kemp Homestead beside the store. It is still an utterly delightful spot.
The whole experience was novel – from the discovery that the township is booming and a steady stream of cars file through regularly, through to the preservation of this small historic area that meant so much to me as a young woman. I’m glad it still receives the attention and care it gets, and gladder still that I experienced it before it needed to have so much tourism-focussed attention. It would be impossible to swim in the stream beside the house now, and I’m sure the cafe is much busier.
We could find no motels with vacancies when Helen and I went this summer, but thank goodness for Air B&B because we found delightful accommodation with alpacas, just out of town. Back in the day, we used to stay at this charming A-frame cottage, for a pittance, which added to the sublime holiday.
Anyway, enough of the reminiscences. Onwards into life. . .