Saturday, February 14, 2015

Thames (NZ): LANDMARK - TABLE MOUNTAIN (Te Kohatu-whakairi-a-Ngatoroirangi)

When you return to Thames, do you ever look to spy Table Mountain up the Kauaeranga? Appearing majestic, but speak to anyone who has been there, and they often describe the nightmare of tramping in the swampy area. It has remained a fascinating subject for photographers throughout the decades.
Taken from the supplement to the Auckland Weekly News 28 SEPTEMBER 1905 p014
Source:  ' Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19050928-14-3 '
Table Mountain – Te Kohatu-whakairi-a-Ngatoroirangi; ‘up-raise rock of Ngatoroirangi’. Ngatoroirangi was the priestly navigator on the Te Arawa waka, said to have raised a rock in the ranges to signal his arrival. English name deriving from its flat-top physical shape.
Source: TCDC Places of the Coromandel

In "Te Takoto O Te Whenua O Hauraki, Hauraki Landmarks" by Taimoana Turoa (Edited by Te Ahukaramu Charles Royal), further information on the mountain is given. The Tribal area is Ngati Maru, Ngatei Hei. It is 846m high. "Maori stories report the presence of eels, kokopu (freshwater fish) and koura (freshwater crayfish) in the swamps."

There are reports of kauri logging and collection of Kauri gum in the area, along with some limited mining. During 1918-1928, 0.3 million feet  of kauri was collected from the Table Mountain area. Jim O'Neill "had a hauler 600m in up the southern slopes of Table Mountain feeding a second hauler at loading skids beside Kauaeranga tramline." (Kauaeranga Kauri by B W Hayward) There were also larger amounts of kauri gathered in the surrounding area.

In the 1900s, there is a store that gives its address as Table Mountain. Magill's Store, Table Mountain. There is a John Magill at Gumtown, so this could be a different location.
Description: Looking northeast along the Kauaeranga Valley, near Thames, showing Table Mountain (left distance, partially obscured), and the Maori Chief formation (centre), with the Kauaeranga River visible in the foreground

It was not just photographers that were fascinated by Table Mountain and the Kauaeranga River, many artists over the years have painted the scene.  The one below was done by D Barker of Thames, c1970

Further information on Table Mountain:
-> YouTube video of tramp across Table Mountain
-> Geology and eruptive history of Table Mountain area, Coromandel Peninsula
-> TABLE MOUNTAIN (2,745’) is a flat topped mountain with extremely steep sides. There is a very impressive backdrop to the Kauaeranga Valley.
-> Toss Hammond Oral history - trip to Table Mountain 1888 at The Treasury
-> Map of the Kauaeranga Valley and Table Mountain.

A comment below mentions another artist who painted around Thames. Here is some background on artist William Henry Longmuir Smith: