It’s a fortunate day when you come to a good home

 

Nau mai, haere mai ki te whare o Silkannthreades! 

Welcome, welcome to the home of Silkannthreades, in the South Island of Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand . ~

When the early pioneers arrived in my part of the South Island*, they saw a landscape similar to this,

Norman, Edmund 1820-1875 :Canterbury Plains,- New Zealand. / Drawn by E. Norman. Maclure, Macdonald & Macgregor, Lith, London. Lyttelton, Published by Martin G. Heywood, [ca 1855]. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=8818

Norman, Edmund 1820-1875 :Canterbury Plains,- New Zealand. / Drawn by E. Norman. Maclure, Macdonald & Macgregor, Lith, London. Lyttelton, Published by Martin G. Heywood, [ca 1855]. http://mp.natlib.govt.nz/detail/?id=8818

 which had been surveyed, and made user-friendly for colonial settlement, by criss-crossing it with names like Canterbury, Christchurch, Avon, Armagh, Lincoln…..

 Lincoln, NZ, named for  the Earl of Lincoln, UK.

Lincoln, NZ, named for the Earl of Lincoln, UK.

….. whether any of the sites thus labelled bore any resemblance to their namesakes in the old world, I do not know.

The Liffey at Lincoln

The Liffey at Lincoln.  The Liffey?!!!  perhaps it looked like this somewhere  in Ireland in the 1850s.

I suspect not. Most likely, the nomenclature came about via  some wishful thinking, some lazy thinking, and some self-important thinking, coupled with a desire to impose current theories of civilization on the perceived wilderness.  And whether these familiar names plonked upon the unfamiliar lands helped the settlers adjust to their colonial lives more quickly, or merely made them homesick for the real thing, I also do not know. I imagine it could have been almost as disorientating as our current practice of giving names like Pitcairn ( the Island) to a street  in the middle of an inland suburb in Christchurch!

So, as much I do not know, this I do know:

that, 4th September is a fortunate, white-stone day

because, on that date, fifteen years ago, my family and I stepped off the plane,

and began our life in Aotearoa New Zealand; a country which, to me, needs no reference points other than its own.

We had been globe-trotting for 18 years and it was time to settle down. Not in a place masquerading as a new, improved version of another land, or a place oddly correlated to  memories of distant countries, but in a place uniquely and unmistakably itself. A place we could simply know as home; and a good one, at that.

Rakaia Gorge

Rakaia Gorge (with thanks to my brother for his photo)

Home Thoughts
…..
But if I sing of anything
I much prefer to sing of where
The tram-cars clang across the square,
Or where above the little bay
John Robert Godley passed his day,
Or where the brooding hills reveal
The sunset as a living weal.

I think, too, of the bridle track
Where first they saw the plains curve back
To Alps, of how that little band
Of pilgrims viewed their Promised Land.
…..

I do not dream of Sussex downs
Or quaint old England’s quaint old towns:
I think of what will yet be seen
In Johnsonville and Geraldine.

Denis Glover (1936)

To mark, yet again, the fortunate, fourth day of September, I substituted the traditional white stone with the white pages of a book; the book being  A Good Home . It is written by the witty and wonderful blogger,  Cynthia Reyes, who knows a great deal about good homes (and good gardens).  She would be the first to agree that it is, indeed, a fortunate day when we come to a good home.

Map Legend:

* The South Island of New Zealand was  known as  New Munster from 1840 to 1853. Wikipedia   says that Governor William Hobson named it so, in honour of his birthplace in Ireland. Happily, the South Island now (since 2013!) has official recognition for its original name Te Waipounamu (Greenstone waters).

© silkannthreades

 

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93 thoughts on “It’s a fortunate day when you come to a good home

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Daniella, I don’t know much about my country’s history (most of the history taught at school, in my day, was about England and Europe), so it is refreshing for me to learn more about where I live. My blog prompts me to research and learn; it’s wonderful, and wonderful that you enjoy it too.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Aww, thanks. One thing missing from this post. Some celebratory food. A lovely pavlova from our own Annabel Langbeinhttp://www.annabel-langbein.com/recipes/fantasy-pavlova/62/ should do the trick until I get round to making one myself.

      Reply
  1. Tiny

    Your new header is gorgeous! And the post is very interesting…it’s funny that we can feel at “home” but still un-newing ourselves. Loved the old image of your part of the island too.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Changing the header made me nervous….will people still know me, I wondered! All is well. I am pleased with it and I am glad you like it also. Do you feel that you are still getting to know the US?

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I hope it is a forever home, although, sometimes, I don’t trust the itchy feet of my peripatetic nature. This is the longest time we have spent in one place, as a married couple.

      Reply
  2. Steve Schwartzman

    Regarding Aotearoa, I recently read the following in The History of New Zealand by Tom Brooking: “Some scholars argue rather that Aotearoa means the land of long daylight because tradition is consistent that Maori arrived in the summer, and New Zealand has much longer evenings than tropical Polynesia.” Have you heard much about that alternate explanation?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, that is one possible explanation. From a tourism point of view, one could argue that is a preferable translation. After all, it could be worrying to come to a country that is under a cloud all the time!

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          A lot of New Zealand reflects a romantic 19th Century construction. 😉 In truth, tourists probably don’t worry too much about our name or its meaning. They simply want to absorb the scenery.

      1. Clanmother

        Thank you, dear Gallivanta! I am always glad when the plane comes to a complete stop at the terminal! It is good to be home, but the song that was going through my mind was Caledonia.

        Reply
  3. Letizia

    Ah, the white pages of a good book – nothing better! I hope to go to NZ one day. The photos on your blog only makes me want to go even more. My parents are going next year and they want to visit gardens. If you know of any they should visit, do let me know. They plan their trips around the gardens they want to visit – a good way of planning any holiday!

    Reply
        1. Letizia

          Oh how incredibly sweet of you! But they always use those trips to have another honeymoon of sorts and take the opportunity to discover quaint boutique hotels and b&bs. But again your offer is so sweet and generous.

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          That is a very good and very wise idea , and there are lots of lovely places to stay. They will be spoilt for choice. 🙂 But I am here if needed. If I were travelling around NZ, I would have the greatest fun trying out little boutiques and B&Bs.

  4. Karen

    A lovely way to celebrate the move to your new home. Living in New England, much of our area is named after the towns where settlers came from. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Glad it looks good. I am trying to update my profile and header and other bits and pieces but it’s not working out as I want it to. Probably too late at night for me to be trying to do it! The header photo is a clematis paniculata near my house. https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2014/09/04/o-bright-day-marked-with-a-still-whiter-stone/ It is beautiful at the moment. We have been all over but our last home before Christchurch was White Plains, NY.

      Reply
      1. Joanne Jamis Cain

        I think your blog looks great. I always get a bit nervous when I play with my blog or events site. I have a webmaster now who does the hard stuff.
        If you didn’t know anything about blogging before (like me), I’d say we’ve done a pretty good job of educating ourselves!
        How long did you live in the US?

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, I have to educate myself as I go along, so I am not doing too badly. 😀 We were in the US for about 3 years in all but not consecutively. Always in NY though.

  5. shoreacres

    Such a nice touch, to change your header photo to include your white flowers — your “white stone” for your home from the previous post. And I’m really a little surprised. I would have thought, despite your travels, that you were rooted in NZ.

    One thing piqued my curiousity: the use of the phrase, “The Land of the Long White Cloud.” Is that a translation of Aotearoa? And is there, in fact, a long, white cloud that’s a noticeable feature of the landscape? In some places, a cloud is as much a part of the scenery as anything else. I’m thinking of Table Mountain in Cape Town, for example. There, the cloud is often called the “tablecloth” — an image that evokes its own sense of home.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I do find New Zealand to be very cloudy at times, but exactly why (or if) New Zealand was originally called Aotearoa seems uncertain. http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/1966/aotearoa Land of the Long White Cloud is probably the most widely used translation of Aotearoa. When I was very young, we travelled from Fiji to New Zealand by sea. I only have a vague recollection of seeing New Zealand from the sea ( a grey, misty view) and that makes me a bit sad because viewing your land from the sea gives you a very special understanding of your homeland. These days the biggest/broadest view we get of our land is usually from the air. That perspective is special, too, and I can see clearly, in my mind’s eye, the Alps, the braided rivers, the Plains; all telling me that soon my feet will be on familiar ground. The cloud formation which I most associate with the Plains is the Nor’west arch which is like the Chinook arch. What that looks like from the sea, I don’t know. 😦

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Although I have been here for 15 years as an adult and have strong family ties with New Zealand, I still feel new. 😦 I am not sure how long it takes to be un-new. 😀

      Reply
  6. womanseyeview

    How nice to feel settled. I’m intrigued by the opening graphic – did the South Island have so little vegetation or no forests? Reminds me about how little I know of your home country!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The South Island had forests and vegetation but the Canterbury Plains were described like this by Charlotte Godley in a letter to her mother in 1850.
      ” I was quite determined to see the plains if possible, but of course Arthur could not attempt to get up the hill; so I persuaded one of our passengers, who had been up once on his own account, that he would like to go up again on mine, and we found a very good, though steep, path to the top. The view was really very fine, on one side the harbour, as smooth as a lake and quite encircled with high hills, and down below, on the other, the vast plains, as level as the water, and nearly as innocent of anything like cultivation or habitation, and reaching away to a very fine range of snowy mountains, which, though the day was very fine, was half hidden in mist. A river runs through them, close to which is the site for the town of Christ Church, and near it are about 150 acres of wood. Indeed, I hear there are many patches of wood on the plains, but on the whole there is a scarcity of it, and it is the only thing wanting to the beauty of the country.”

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes! She was from Wales and when writing to her mother about the more southerly parts of the South Island, she often referenced the Welsh landscape. I love the way she is so positive about this ‘new’ to her landscape.

  7. Cynthia Reyes

    What a lovely post.
    A fortunate day indeed, Gallivanta, when we come to a good home. Thanks for solving the mystery of your fortunate day. What a remarkable tribute you’ve written to your good place, a country you so obviously love. May I also say that New Zealand is blessed to have you too?

    And thank you most kindly for mentioning my book, Gallivanta. I’m honoured.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It was fun to mention your book, Cynthia. Last night I was howling with laughter aboout your first days in your job in Canada as a telephone operator. 3am laughter not greatly appreciated by trying-to-sleep spouse. 😀 I don’t know how you view the WordPress posts but I hope you saw that, in my sidebar, I featured your book, as well as a painting of a New Zealand clematis to complement the clematis on your book cover.

      Reply
      1. Cynthia Reyes

        I can see them now, I do! How lovely. Thanks for showing the cover of my book.

        Is the clematis fragrant? It looks divine.
        Re: the certain incident in A Good Home – I sure hope you didn’t commit any of those ‘indignities’ when you first arrived in New Zealand!

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I have committed indignities but not in NZ, to the best of my knowledge. A name that stood out for me in your book was Mandeville. We have a Mandeville nearby, I presume named after a Viscount Mandeville. I wonder if this is the same Mandeville who was the Governor of Jamaica.
          The clematis…..the one in my street is not fragrant but there are references on Google to fragrant clematis paniculata.

  8. lensandpensbysally

    Wonderful to learn more about your family history. I always wondered about the name of your blog. Now I know it’s origin. It would be a dream fulfilled to visit New Zealand. Fortunately, I can visit through your sensibilities.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Mmmm…..my sister, who lives in Australia, says that I have a New Zealand accent. But people in New Zealand sometimes ask me where I am from! New Zealand is waiting to welcome you, Ute.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          In fact, between1843 and 1914 around 10,000 settlers arrived, mainly from northern Germany and by the beginning of this century it was estimated that 200,000 New Zealanders were likely to have German heritage. (From James N. Bade. ‘Germans’, Te Ara – the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 9-Nov-12
          URL: http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/germans )

  9. Virginia Duran

    NZ looks like a great place to settle! Love the scenery in the picture of the road with the mountains! Oh and the Canterbury Plains look absolutely amazing, there’s no greatest architect than nature, that’s for sure. Happy Sunday 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The scenery in that photo is spectacular, and distinctly New Zealand. And, indeed, there are very few buildings that take our breath away, like scenes in Nature do. Enjoy your week.

      Reply
  10. inavukic

    Ah, New Zealand – so much a part of my family’s history – North Island, though from modern day super life to 19th century ruts of the gum fields, I still remember so many of my grandfather’s stories 🙂

    Reply
      1. inavukic

        I have lots of family there and New Zealand plays a special part in Croatian history abroad. Good for you to listen to Simon Mercep, like his grandfather. mine came there as a thirteen year old from a Croatian island and was too young to dig for gum but not too young to be the cook for the workers, do the laundry etc all in those wonderful but harsh surrounds of the forests … this was early 1880’s! Few years later he could do the “real” work 🙂

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          13 seems so young to us, now, to start work! My grandfather probably started work at about thirteen. Did your grandfather learn Maori? I was very interested to read about the late Dame Mira Szászy DBE, CB, QSMJP, BA, DipSocSci, LLD (Vic)
          Dame Mira was the first Māori woman to graduate with a degree from The University of Auckland. She was the daughter of gum digger, Lovro Petricevich and Makareta Raharuhi of the Ngati Kuri tribe.

        2. inavukic

          No, I don’t think he learned much Maori as he went to Broken Hill mines in Australian few years later. Others did, I know that, and some of my cousins had married Maori ladies and so a great past. In those days of 19th century it was people from Dalmatia, Croatian coast who went abroad as ships would pass by and all they had to do is have their piece of paper stating who they were and pay the fare :). Then to be 13 was considered pretty grown up when it comes to work 🙂

  11. YellowCable

    I used to wonder what would be like to keep moving around all over the world. I have heard that the military personals (at least in the US) get moved around the globe often and their families have to follow. I suspect the kids will be fun but I am not sure about the parents. I think it would feel really good on planning to settle down in one place… your real home eventually. Nice post.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you YC. Many many families are global citizens these days. There probably weren’t quite as many when we were moving from place to place. For some, the constant change works well, for others not so much. And some children find it more stressful than the parents do. In the end, I think we all want to find a place of certainty.

      Reply

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