East Cape beginnings and Opotiki

Over the next few days I am going to post about a trip we took this summer around the East Cape of New Zealand.

I have long wished to go on this journey.
The Pacific Highway from Whakatane round to Gisborne takes in one of North Island’s most isolated areas – rich in Maori heritage and spectacular rugged coastlines.

I expected it to be fully worthy of a weeks travel in the Kiwi Blog Bus. And it was indeed. Just a shame about the weather.

After leaving Whakatane our first port of call on State Highway 35 was Opotiki.

We had a quick stroll around the old colonial town and stocked up on groceries before heading out. There were some excellent historic photographic information boards around the town detailing what it used to be like and how it had developed.

We managed to soak up a little more history with a quick visit to St Stephen the Martyr church where Reverend Carl Volkner is interred after being murdered nearby in 1865.

Volkner, a German missionary, was hung by a tree by followers of a new religion, Hau Hau, who suspected Volkner of being a government spy. Apparently: an hour after the hanging his body was taken down and decapitated. The Hau Hau prophet, Kereopa Te Rau, removed the eyes and swallowed them during a service he took at the church. The government responded with military reprisals and Kereopa Te Rau was later found guilty of  murder and executed at Napier in 1871.

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