Does it have a colour at all? A few days in my turangawaewae (literally a place to stand; more generally, where you come from) of Taranaki had me thinking nostalgia has the colour black.
But not in a bad way.
The black of the volcanic iron sands on the beaches - it makes me remember the beach trips of my childhood when you left the safety of your towel and ran across the scorching sand to the cool solace of the ocean. There were countless picnics at New Plymouth’s Ngamotu Beach, where you’d lie under the pohutukawa trees and get ready for that run across the sand. Bacon and egg pie, sandwiches and orange cordial. The taste of childhood.
In retrospect, New Plymouth doesn’t have a standardly beautiful beach, yet a working port and towering power station chimney give it character and a certain grim beauty.
|The port, Paritutu, and the power station chimney|
The black of the sugar loaves rearing out of the sea at the harbour. I’ve just had to google why they are called sugar loaves. They are the Sugar Loaf Islands and, along with the pinnacle rock Paritutu, are the remains of a ring fracture or eroded volcanic vents, yet for me they’re an indelible memory of Taranaki.
The black of Mount Taranaki (2,518 metres) against the Summer twilight. I grew up under the shadow of this mountain, though until 1986 it was Mount Egmont, named by Captain Cook after some British nonentity.
The black of the rocks along the shore. There’s now a coastal walkway/cycleway stretching 11 kms from the Port to suburban Bell Block. The path runs close to downtown, along surf beaches, across several rivers, through a wetland and emerges in a park.
There’s a beautiful bridge that on a perfect day, rare in Taranaki, frames the moutain.
If you squint, the mountain is visible in the photo.
|Wave. Or whale’s ribs? And where’s the mountain?|
There are a number of sculptures along the path, not least the 45 metre high Wind Wand, another Len Lye design that was too complex when he came up with it, but modern teachnology and engineering made possible.
Or maybe it’s just the black heart of the bitch nun who haunted my high school years and, apparently, haunts me now. You know who you are Sister Barbara.
Now I have to add silver to my memory bank. The recently completed addition to the Govett Brewster Art Gallery is the spectacular Len Lye Centre, a home for the kinetic artist’s works and archive. Disappointingly few of his sculptures on display but the architecture of the Centre alone is worth the visit.
|The Len Lye Centre|
|The White Hart, scene of my youthful exuberance, reflected|