It’s bang on 4.30am and mountain guide Paora Brooking is waiting in a pick up truck for cameraman Pat Makiri and I at the base of Hikurangi Maunga by the Pakihiroa Bridge. “You’re a minute late”, he growls, “film crews are always late”, he mutters to the Swiss tourist sitting beside him. I think he’s joking.
We’re here to capture what we hope will be a magnificent sunrise some 1,700 metres up in the sky. Pat’s not that hopeful. He’s shot ‘heaps’ of sunrises from Hikurangi and as every photographer and camera op in search of sunrise perfection knows – there are days when you should just stay in bed. Like the time I attended the Hikurangi dawn celebrations for the new millenium in 2000 – let’s just say Tamanui had other plans.
As we climb old Hiku in four wheel drives, the air becomes three layers of clothing cold and the wind howls menacingly. Are we going to get the goods? After an hour or so a red glow pierces the horizon just as we arrive at the viewing site directly facing east. The smaller mountains Aorangi and Wharekia are directly before us. Amber light illuminates the carved sculptures of Maui and his whanau. Spectacular.
We climb a ridge. Bad idea. We're exposed to the elements and the camera’s getting blown about on the tripod. Mild panic sets in at the mere thought of missing the shot – we’re filming on behalf of Ngati Porou after all. We up sticks and relocate parallel to Te Waha o Ruaumoko, the carved gateway to the realm of Maui. As soon as we do the sun emerges from yesterday like a fiery orb. Maui the Trickster faces his nemesis once again. Golden rays beam through the gateway. Poetry.
Below: Pat Makiri captures the "money shot". (Photo by Tina Wickliffe)
“That’s the best one!”, a triumphant Pat proclaims. Paora replicates the shot on his smart phone – Facebook wept. The Swiss lady is overcome with emotion and is chanting. I’m just taking it all in… when I’m not taking really awesome selfies.
Below:Tina Wickliffe takes a selfie with the main man, Maui- Tikitiki- a Taranga.
Paora sums up the golden moment. “If you want to find out what being Naati’s all about, come to the maunga, come back home – as soon as you get here you’ll feel it, and it’ll let you know”. Every Naati should experience that feeling at this special place. Just make sure you’re exactly on time.
Celebrate the dawn of the new year by attending the Hikurangi Dawn Ceremony on January 1st. For more information about the ceremony please click here. For information about tramping or guided tours please visit the Experience Hikurangi section of ngatiporou.com Limited edition calenders featuring Te Takapau a Maui (the majestic carvings created for the Hikurangi Millenium Celebrations) can be ordered online from this site also.