Living Legends is planting at Whakaipo Bay Recreation Reserve. It is one of the most stunning locations that Living Legends will be helping to restore. This former farm is now a very significant recreation area for Taupo and the wider New Zealand community.
The Māori History of Whakaipō Bay
Ngāti Tuwharetoa te iwi.
Ko Ngāti Kāpawa te hapū.
Whakaipō means ‘Night Arrival.’
The Ngāti Kāpawa hapū (family group) of the Ngāti Tuwharetoa iwi (tribe) lived at the eastern end of Whakaipō Bay, where once a fortified pa called Maunganui a Wawatai stood at the top of Tahunatara Point. In later years there was also a thriving pa site at the bottom of the Point. The clay cliff of the Point had tiered gardens, one of a few such gardens in New Zealand during pre-European times. The white clay cliff acted as a solar panel for the gardens giving the gardens a tropical temperature, perfect for growing kumara (a Polynesian sweet potato). The local family were joined at times by nomadic families who followed sources of food in the surrounding area. There is evidence today of kumara pits and a tuwāhu (a place of worship). There are also remains of the front of a whare (house), and worn stone where pounamu (treasured greenstone) was polished. When the lake was lower than its current level, rocks were visible in the bay that had holes that were carved where the anchor of waka (canoes) were tied at bay.
In the middle of the bay there was once a wānanga (training ground) for warriors, where they would practice with their taiaha.
In the western end of the bay, in the 1800’s a Māori village and its people were sadly buried in a landslide.
Te Tuni Point at the western end of the bay was mined for obsidian. The obsidian was traded for pounamu with South Island Māori tribes.
Today the hapū have a private area at the western end of the bay below Tahunatara Point where they gather together, and own a boat ramp that the tribe can fish the lake from. Ngāti Tuwharetoa make this area and the facilities available to schools for camps throughout the school year.
- The Māori history Whakaipō Bay was told by Ngāti Tuwharetoa kaumātua Reverend Sonny Garmonsway
The Girl Guide History of Whakaipō Bay
Women’s intuition chose the spot at Whakaipō Bay to be the Girl Guide camp site for the Taupō faction. Margaret Lindup spotted the bay when out on the lake one day, and knew straight away that it was meant to be. So strong were her feelings, she had to let the Lands and Survey Department know of her change in mind, despite the fact a site on Mt Tauhara had recently been put aside for the Girl Guides, including completed fencing. The staff of the Lands and Survey Department gave the women a temporary five year lease for Whakaipō Bay, perhaps expecting another change of mind. But when Margaret’s husband Allan, who was an engineer, along with Warren Gibson, another engineer from Wairakei helped the women to move and build their camp buildings, the Lands and Survey Department knew that it was not a temporary structure! Don McLeod transported the camp building from Waipapa and used his D3 caterpillar tractor to make the road in, which is still the same road used today. The Girl Guides were there to stay. The women won back the respect of the Lands and Survey men when they saw the women hard at work on their working bees.
Three women were behind this resurgence of the Taupō Girl Guides in the late 50’s after it had died down for seven years after its 1940’s beginnings. Margaret Lindup, along with Marg Williams and Jill Dawson, together saw “a vision for the women of tomorrow”, and the three women are remembered by a memorial stone placed at the campsite. Their legacy also lives on in the laughter and joy of the girls and women who have been gathering here at Whakaipō Bay since 1964.
The Taupō Girl Guides have attended every Whakaipō planting day since the first native tree was planted. 2011 will be their 23rd annual planting. Traditionally after the end of every planting the public have gathered back at the Girl Guide campsite and the girls barbeque sausages for everyone and have a billy boiling away for hot cuppas. Long may this tradition continue.
- Historical Girl Guide Taupō information obtained from the collection of Margaret Lindup.
Recreation at Whakaipō Bay
Locals have been coming to Whakaipō for years for picnics and swimming in summer. It is also a place for fishing, walking, riding bikes and horse riding. The locals have often gathered together to preserve the area for recreation, protecting the bay from urbanisation, motorised vehicle use, and anti-social behaviour by using Taupō District Council security.
The W2K is a popular mountain bike and walking track that travels from Whakaipō Bay to Kinloch, attracting 50 to 100 people a day! Volunteers from Bike Taupō took five years building the track in association with the Department of Conservation. The track was opened in April 2008, and a headland loop extension added in 2009, with the total length of the track now being 25km. It was the first mountain bike track to be built in the Taupō area since 1981.
In exciting new news, the track is to be extended a further 60km down the western shores of Lake Taupō as part of Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail project, and will become an optional three day ride, with ferry connections. This will be a wonderful asset to the community and local economy.
Annual Native Tree Planting History
The Department of Conservation has worked closely with the community to develop Whakaipō Bay as a recreation area for the people. They are also committed to helping towards the Waikato Regional Council’s aim to reduce nitrogen impact into the lake by placing limitations on the grazing licences, and planting trees to help reduce erosion. Both exotics and natives have been planted.
The Department of Conservation landscape architect designer Herwi Scheltus put together a planting plan for Whakaipō Bay which was approved by the local community as they viewed it to be in line with their vision of preserving Whakaipō Bay as a recreation space. The plan is to retire four gullies from grazing to be planted with native trees. 2008 was when the first gully planting began. This year the fourth and final gully will have the first of its trees planted. This year will be the 23rd year in a row that people have been meeting at Whakaipō Bay to plant native trees.