Visiting Otatara Pa and my thoughts...

Moari carvingsAs we were leaving Napier we stopped in to visit the site of the Otatara Pa. A large town used to be on these hills in pre-European times, and this area used to be very close to the marshlands and inlets that were in the area before the Napier earthquake. Now all you can see is farmland. The tell-tale sign that there used to be a town is the terracing that was typical of Maori villages. They have erected some fences and carved poles, I guess more for the tourists than anything else (?), but it does give you a sense of the history of the place.

One thing I find the saddest is that the sites of old Pa are all around the country - and yet typically we don't even know about them. We happened to stumble across this Pa - it was not featured in any tourist brochures we read about Napier and the Hawkes Bay. Sites of battles, wars, and things that should be important to New Zealanders are now privately-owned farmland and the only way you can typically spot it is if there is noticeable terracing on the land.

The site of Otatara PaWe have a huge problem in our country as the government tried so hard to forget our past - it isn't taught in schools, and general NZ public don't know anything about what has happened and shaped our country. I feel this has a huge part to play in the general lack of identity that a lot of New Zealanders feel; and definitely obvious as you see so much ignorance about Maori rights, equality and land rights. For example, I think all New Zealanders should know about events such as what happened at Parihaka, and yet most will look at you blankly if you bring it up.

I think it's awesome that the Otatara Pa is open to the public, it's definitely good to visit. The whole walk takes about an hour, but even walking up the first hill is worth it (about 20 min return).