Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Jack Bannister and Bob Wilson - South Westland Maori

In the early 1990s I wrote an article for the New Zealand Alpine Journal on Maori Mountaineers of South Westland, which was published in the 1993 New Zealand Alpine Journal.

 For years I had this unsettled feeling that the precious photo I took of Jack Bannister and Bob Wilson at Okarito in 1991, was missing. Recently I unearthed it and add it to my blog,  beneath. In the years I lived in South Westland i got to know Jack Bannister and Bob Wilson well. When I moved to Hokitika Jack, frequently stayed with me. He contributed a lot of information to the article below, and also to my book on Ebenezer Teichelmann. It is with great respect I post this photo of two remarkable Kaumatua.



Bob Wilson and Jack Bannister.  Photo Bob McKerrow

The amazing discovery I made in researching this article was that in one small area of  South Westland, New Zealand, in Heretaniwha (Bruce Bay), Hunts Beach, Mahitahi and Jacobs River, a small group of Maori families made a huge contribution to New Zealand mountain exploration.

Bruce Bay was where most of the Maori mountaineers lived. Supplies would come in by ship and be unloaded by smaller boats.


Photographs of families at Bruce Bay waiting for the monthly supply ship.


They lived in a remote corner of South Westland in small settlements of Heretaniwha (Bruce Bay), Hunts Beach, Mahitahi/Makaawhio and Jacobs River and together made a huge contribution to New Zealand mountain exploration. Most are descendents of Te Koeti Turanga.

Colonial historians and explorers undervalued the contribution of Maori guides and companions and writers such as Charlie Douglas, Edward Fitzgerald, Arthur P. Harper and John Pascoe, clearly denigrated the Maori role in mountain exploration and later, mountain guiding. Gerhard Mueller and Thomas Brunner were notable exceptions. Mueller writes with brotherly love about his companions Kere Tutuko and Werita Tainui, and valued their skills and friendship. ‘To Ekehu I owe my life — he is a faithful and attached servant,’ wrote the ever humble Brunner. 2

So many early writers missed out key information which would have proved so clearly that the Maori were ex-perienced mountain people. Take Gerhard Mueller’s friend Kere Tutoko. 3

In 1835, as a 12-year-old, he travelled up the Grey River, on to Kotuku and up the Taramakau River to Harpers Pass, down the North Branch of the
Hurunui, past Lake Sumner, until it reached the Waitohi tributary and so onto Kaiapohia (Kaiapoi). Yet writ ers like Arthur P. Harper, in his book Memories of Mountains and Men, write of the first crossing of the Southern Alps in 1857, when the Maori had been crossing the Main Divide for centuries. This is typical of many reports of colonial exploration where Europeans were not discovering, rather retracing existing Maori routes.The outdoor skills of the South Westland Maori were not confined to the bush and mountains; they also travelled regularly along the coastline by canoe. Kere Tutuko, his brother-in-law Te Koeti Turanga(painting below) and his grandfather Tuarohe, were highly-skilled canoe builders. .

Records show that they made regular sea voyages from Bruce Bay to Te Horo and Anita Bay in Milford Sound.3

The inquisitive exploratory spirit of the early Maori took them to all the remote corners of the South Island, and they quickly gained first-hand knowledge of snow and ice

The mana and beauty of the Pounamu was an added attraction to cross the Divide again and again, all the while gathering further alpine experience. Their pre-European glossary of snow and ice, whilst not as comprehensive as the Inuit (Eskimo), certainly proved that they had rubbed their paraerae (sandals) on the high mountain passes. Whenuahuka described the permanent snow on the high peaks and hukapapa was the name for the huge snowfields. The snow slides from the high peaks were hukamania, and as they grew and took on avalanche proportions, they became hukahoro. The glaciers that drained the snowfields were called hukapo, the glacial sediment waiparahoaka and the snow-fed water, waihuka. Kipakanui, or ice, was seen in the shady valleys in winter, and the thick ice which never saw the sun was named waiuka, meaning solid water. 5

One of the first Europeans to record contact with Chief Te Koeti Turanga, who married Ripeka Patiere, daughter of Tutuko, was Gerhard Mueller, in October 1865, when he stayed at Bruce Bay. lThe first contact modern mountaineers had with the Te Koeti family was in 1895 when the British mountaineer Edward Fitzgerald, with his Swiss guide Mattius Zurbriggen, met Dan Te Koeti, one of four brothers, at the Scott’s homestead in the Karangarua River valley. Fitzgerald was impressed from the outset: ‘Certainly if his physique is a typical instance of that of the Maori race, a fine race of alpine guides might be cultivated from them.’ 6

This was a prophetic statement from the astute Fitzgerald as Dan and his two brothers Mark and Butler (Buck) Te Koeti, all became guides and mountain men in every sense.Dan Te Koeti accompanied Fitzgerald, Zurbriggen and Arthur P. Harper for the next leg of their journey which took them down the Karangarua River to the sea, along the coast to Gillespies Beach and up the Fox Glacier to Chancellor Ridge. Fitzgerald, not known for his favourable comment about New Zealand mountaineers, comments of Dan’s ability, ‘I was surprised to see how well he walked on the ice where he seemed to be quite at home, though I understood that this was the first time he had ever attempted in his life’ ... and later ‘He was an immensely powerful lad; indeed I was told by Scott that he had carried iron pipes, weighing 140 lbs, up a steep hill in the neighbourhood of the homestead.’ 6

What Fitzgerald didn’t realise was that Dan had spent a 1ot of his time as a shepherd for Andrew Scott grazing sheep in alpine vegetation in areas up to 5000 ft. He discovered much new land, some of it snow covered, so he wasn’t a stranger to snow. One feature he discovered as a shepherd was an alpine lake, situated at just over 4000ft and feeding into the Makawhio (Jacobs) River. Arthur P. Harper named the lake after Dan, Lake Rototekoiti.3



The misspelling of Te Koeti still appears on today’s maps.



Two years later, in October 1894, Ruera Te Naihi, another relative of the Te Koeti brothers, also known as Bill the Maori, joined Charlie Douglas and Arthur P. Harper on their exploration of the Karangarua.

Douglas, struck by ill health again, left Harper and Ruera Te Naihi (photo left) to complete the exploration of the Karangarua and the Twain glaciers that drained the snowfields were called hukapo, the glacial sediment waiparahoaka and the snow-fed water, waihuka. Kipakanui, or ice, was seen in the shady valleys in winter, and the thick ice which never saw the sun was named waiuka, meaning solid water. 5

One of the first Europeans to record contact with Chief Te Koeti Turanga, who married Ripeka Patiere, daughter of Tutuko, was Gerhard Mueller, in October 1865, when he stayed at Bruce Bay. l

The first contact modern mountaineers had with the Te Koeti family was in 1895 when the British mountaineer Edward Fitzgerald, with his Swiss guide Mattius Zurbriggen, met Dan Te Koeti, one of four brothers, at the Scott’s homestead in the Karangarua River valley. Fitzgerald was impressed from the outset: ‘Certainly if his physique is a typical instance of that of the Maori race, a fine race of alpine guides might be cultivated from them.’ 6

This was a prophetic statement from the astute Fitzgerald as Dan and his two brothers Mark and Butler (Buck) Te Koeti, all became guides and mountain men in every sense.Dan Te Koeti accompanied Fitzgerald, Zurbriggen and Arthur P. Harper for the next leg of their journey which took them down the Karangarua River to the sea, along the coast to Gillespies Beach and up the Fox Glacier to

Chancellor Ridge. Fitzgerald, not known for his favourable comment about New Zealand mountaineers, comments of Dan’s ability, ‘I was surprised to see how well he walked on the ice where he seemed to be quite at home, though I understood that this was the first time he had ever attempted in his life’ ... and later ‘He was an immensely powerful lad; indeed I was told by Scott that he had carried iron pipes, weighing 140 lbs, up a steep hill in the neighbourhood of the homestead.’ 6

What Fitzgerald didn’t realise was that Dan had spent a 1ot of his time as a shepherd for Andrew Scott grazing sheep in alpine vegetation in areas up to 5000 ft. He discovered much new land, some of it snow covered, so he wasn’t a stranger to snow. One feature he discovered as a shepherd was an alpine lake, situated at just over 4000ft and feeding into the Makawhio (Jacobs) River. Arthur P. Harper named the lake after Dan, Lake Rototekoiti.3



The misspelling of Te Koeti still appears on today’s maps.



Two years later, in October 1894, Ruera Te Naihi, another relative of the Te Koeti brothers, also known as Bill the Maori, joined Charlie Douglas and Arthur P. Harper on their exploration of the Karangarua. Douglas, struck by ill health again, left Harper and Ruera Te Naihi to complete the exploration of the Karangarua and the Twain

valleys and they returned to Scott’s homestead the following year after 19 weeks in the hi1ls.7





Hapū members at Makaawhio in 1906

Trish McCormack, in her book, The Maori in Westland. 81982 writes:’ Ruera Te Naihi’s assistance to Arthur P. Harper in packing loads and procuring food has largely been forgot-ten’… and later … ‘From Harper’s account of this expedition some of the sterling characteristics of his Maori companion emerge. Unfortunately Harper showed a somewhat condescending attitude to Bill, in view of the the fact that he was not a highly skilled mountaineer like himself.’Ruera Te Naihi later became a ferryman at the Waiatoto River, but was tragically drowned some years later.

The next to make his mark in mountaineering was Butler Te Koeti, brother of Dan, Mark and George. In 1905, fellow South Westlander and close friend Guide Peter Graham, invited Butler to work with him as a guide at the Hermitage. The Maori families of Bruce Bay, Hunt’s Beach, Mahitahi and Jacksons Bay had, over the years, become close friends of the Graham family. This relationship started in the mid 1860s when David Millar Graham, father of guides Peter and Alec Graham, was shipwrecked at Jackson Bay after rowing and sailing round the South Island in an open whaler. Both Peter and Alec Graham acknowledge this in their respective books.9, 10A quote from Alec’s book shows their respect:‘Fortunately for them there were a few Maoris at the Bay and to their kindness they owed their lives. The Maoris helped them make a Mai-Mai and provided them food. My father never forgot their kindness and ever after had the greatest respect and kindness for the Maoris.’



In 1905, Butler Te Koeti and Peter Graham guided Annie Lindon onto Glacier Dome and also took her on the third crossing of Barron Saddle. One of the legendary feats he left was his crossing of Copland Pass from the Hermitage to Jacobs River in 15 hours when there was no formed Copland track. After spending a night with friends and family he returned to the Hermitage the next day again via the Copland Pass. 8

Roads were almost non-existant in South Westland, and beaches such as Gillespie's beach were used as roads.

Unfortunately, a number of Butler Te Koeti’s mountaineering achievements went either unrecorded, or need to be unravelled from being recorded incorrectly. In the publication, Jubilee History of South Canterbury, by Anderson, his name is recorded as B. Kosti, 8and to future generations it would be easy to surmise that Kosti was an Italian guide.Butler Te Koeti enjoyed his mountain guiding and later brought his young nephew George Bannister, who was just 17 at the time, to work at the Hermitage. George quickly teamed up with fellow South Westlander and guide Darby Thomson of Ross, who knew the Te Koeti and Bannister families well. George Bannister quickly learnt the trade of mountain guiding with the first traverse of Nun’s Veil, the fourth ascent of Elie de Beaumont, seventh ascent of Footstool, the third ascent of Walter and Green, 8 but his great moment was yet to come.

In February 1912, Samuel Turner returned to the Hermitage to attempt his second ascent of Mount Cook, this time by the Linda Glacier route. He chose, for his guides, Darby Thomson, who climbed Mt Cook five times before his untimely death on Mt Cook in 1914, and l8-year-old George Bannister. In the early afternoon of 27 February, 1912, George Bannister stepped onto the summit of Mount Cook, and looked towards his birth place.



It was a special moment — he was the first Maori to climb Aoraki, pictured above. It was a perfect day and it is quite likely he would have seen Mt Tutoko in the distance, named after his great-grandfather. His client, Samuel Turner, describes the moment: ‘lt was a glorious day and a more glorious view. It pleased Bannister so much that he could not attempt a description. It was the tirst time a Maori had reached the summit of Aorangi, Cloudpiercer, or the long white cloud, as his forefathers called it, and afterwards called Mount Cook; but although most of New Zealand is now owned by white men, some of whom do not know the consideration due to the native race, nevertheless the mountains were never bought from the Maoris, and must belong to that race still.’ 11George Bannister must have mourned the loss of his friend and fellow guide Darby Thomson when he was killed by an avalanche on the Linda Glacier, while descending Mt Cook in 1914. It was also the year George walked

from Bruce Bay to Hokitika to enlist for the First World War, only to be told by the doctor he had flat feet and would never be able to do long route marches. George promptly walked back home, completing the 400km walk

in about a week.l2 However, nine others of his extended family were accepted to fight for their country. Two of them became famous when Butler Te Koeti and Dave Bannister competed in an unofficial world wood chopping championship in Niepe Forest in France on 9 April, 1916. The reigning world champion axeman, serving in the Canadian Army, challenged the best axeman in the British Empire. He wasn’t to know that two New Zealand Maori from South Westland had been wood chopping all their lives. The crowd was stunned when the brash Canadian lumberjack was beaten. Butler was placed first and Dave second.

3

George Bannister was later recorded as doing the first ascent of the high peak Mt Lyttle with Tom Sheeran in 1931 while he was building the Douglas Rock Hut in the Copland Valley. Guide Mick Bowie tells of the way the hut was constructed.‘They selected suitable totara trees, felled them, and somehow took them to a large rock about quarter of a mile from the hut site. Here they arranged a sawing pit, cut them with a pit saw into lengths and thicknesses needed, and without waiting for the timber to dry, carried the boards back to the site, and built the hut. The roofing iron was taken up the valley by packhorse.’

Mick Bowie also recounts the story of George Bannister carrying a 100 pound roll of malthoid on his back and treating it like a feather. Mick, carrying only a small pack himself, had trouble keeping up with George on the journey from Welcome Flat to Douglas Rock.

8

Perhaps the last comments on George Bannister are best left to an outstanding female climber of that era, Dora De Beer of Dunedin, who wrote the following in the 1954 New Zealand Alpine Club Journal about Lyttle Peak, Navigator Range.‘George was a gentle, attractive giant, partly Maori. He had been a guide, and was at the time working on the new hut erected to replace the old bivouac at Douglas Rock. He helped cut the track up the Ruera, and once at least, George visited our camp (1931) there bringing mail and stores, also a delicious soda loaf he had baked in a camp oven. He died a short time afterward, and the rock in the Ruera (Bannister’s Rock) we named after him.’ 13

George Bannister is buried in the Whataroa cemetery, alongside members of the other great West Coast guiding family, the Grahams. And, on a fine day the high peaks they spent so much of their time near, watch over the graveyard. Jim and Bill Bannister, both brothers of George, contributed to the mountain scene. Jim was on the third ascent of Mt Sefton with Darby Thomson and Samuel Turner and Bill worked on the first Hooker Bridge.Bill Bannister’s trade as a bridge builder had taken him all over the country, and his work on the Hooker bridge was one he recalled fondly. In 1914, while his brother George was guiding at the Hermitage, Bill built the first wooden bridge over the Hooker. The bridge was carried away in an ice-flooded river in 1927. Bill’s son, Jack Bannister, still living at Mahitahi in South Westland, clearly remembers working with members of his own family and Dan, Mark and Butler Te Koeti, cutting tracks up the Copland Valley. “The tracks were so wide you could have driven a jeep up them,” he said. 12

For a number of South Westland Maori families it could be said that the Copland Valley was their second home for many years. They cut the early tracks, built the first Douglas Rock hut and were involved with subsequent

hut building at Welcome Flat, track upgrading, rescues and recreational hunting. But when the occasion was right, family climbing had its place.

Bob Wilson,* (* Bob died in late October 1991, shortly after proof-reading and approving this article) formerly of Hunts Beach and now living at Haast, recounts a story of a double crossing of the Copland Pass, when he was 12 years old, with Butler Te Koeti. “We were in at Douglas Rock hut and the conditions must have been right. Butler suggested we go over the Copland. We left very early in the morning, crossed the pass and went down to the Hooker Valley, recrossed the pass back to Douglas Rock and down to Welcome Flat late in the evening where our horses were waiting.

We rode back in the dark to Bruce Bay, arriving about 2AM.17

In under 24 hours a 12-year-old boy had crossed the Copland Pass twice. The family history is full of amazing endurance feats — remembered by the old people, Mick Te Koeti, Bob and Kelly Wilson and Jack Bannister — but few have been written down.

Perhaps the most readily recalled name in Maori mountaineering is Joe Fluerty. In 1926, some entries began to appear in the Glacier Hotel visitor’s book under this name; the comment ‘packing stores’. Thus starts the illustrious guiding career of George Bannister’s cousin, a larger-than-life character, with a quick wit who soon became a master of step-cutting, learning much from Alec and Peter Graham. Surviving movie film footage shows the sheer brilliance of Joe’s step cutting in one sequence as he cuts up a vertical ice wall. The other outstanding mountain guide of the 1930s,Jack Cox, pays tribute to Joe’s skills, “I learned the art of step cutting on the daily glacier trips, with much help from Joe Fluerty who was a master of all climbing skills.” 14

People liked Joe Fluerty. His trips were fun, safe and comments in hut books written by his clients, record great enjoyment and fun on his trips. There is a wealth of information available on Joe Fluerty, who in his 18 year guiding career, touched the lives of so many people.Joe started off his career by packing tins of kerosene and food to huts, glacier guiding and guided ascents of peaks like Moltke, Roon, Drummond and St Mildred, before graduating to the high peaks.Horo Koau, later named Mt Tasman by European settlers, is a mountain of special significance to the Maori

people of South Westland. It stands supreme over all the others, including Aoraki (Mt Cook) and is clearly visible from most parts of South Westland on a fine day. As a boy and young man, the view of Horo Koau became part of Joe Fluerty’s daily vista. Unlike Aoraki, which he considered tapu and once turned back close to the summit, 14 Horo Koau was a mountain he wanted to climb.On 10 March, 1932, Joe Fluerty, together with fellow guides Jack Cox and Jack Pope, did the first ascent of Mt Tasman from the West Coast side of the Divide. The Christchurch Press of 12 March describes the climb.

‘The party left the Glacier Hotel on March 8, for the Almer Hut, next day crossing over Newton Pass to the bivouac on the Pioneer ridge at the head of the Fox Glacier. On Thursday morning the party set out at 3AM, crossing the Fox Glacier neve, and ascending the steep couloir between Mt Tasman and Mt Lendenfeld, and reaching the Divide at Engineer’s Col. From here, except when negotiating an awkward schrund below the shelter of Mt Tasman, where the party was forced out on the east face, the main north-east arête was followed for its entire length, the ridge between the shoulder and the summit being exceedingly narrow. On the descent the party

deviated from its route at Engineers Col and made the complete traverse of Mt Lendenfeld to the bivouac… The whole climb occupied 11 hours 20minutes.’ 8

Next year Joe played a key role in the rescue of Mark Lysons, who broke his leg on Mt Goldsmith.14

In the one day, Joe helped carry Mark Lysons back to Almer Hut from near Teichelman’s Corner, splinted his leg in the hut, went to Franz Josef township to get a doctor and rescue party and returned to Almer Hut the same day. The next day he helped carry Mark out to the road. In January 1935, Joe, together with Mark Lysons, guided Molly Williams on the first traverse of Mt Haidinger, a long 21 1/2 hour climb.16 The following year Joe guided a Dr Bradshaw on an ascent of Lendenfeld.8

Apart from the numerous guided ascents achieved by Joe Fluerty, the one quality that fellow guides commented on was his uncanny navigation skills. Gar Graham, who still resides at Okarito, recalls a crossing of West Hoe

Pass in 1936, with Joe and two clients: “Joe led us over West Hoe Pass in complete white-out conditions and with an unerringly accurate sense of direction, led us to Chancellor Hut,” said Gar Graham.15

Gar also recounted the dark night that two tourists failed to turn up for dinner at the hotel, and Joe led Gar out to find them. “Around midnight Joe discovered the cold couple sitting under a bush, off the track up near the Callery River. He had found them without using a torch and to lead the couple back, he picked up a handful of glow worms, put them on his shoulder and told them to follow the lights back.”

As a teenage climber I remember older mountaineers who knew Joe Fluerty, saying that he was able to smell his way to Fox or Franz out of the high mountains. Dorothy Fletcher recalls her father, Alec Graham, saying that Joe knew whether people were in the hut or not, when he was some distance away. He would tell Alec that he could smell them.16

Jack Cox also talked of Joe’s keen sense of smell and superb navigation skills.Hundreds of quotes on Joe’s humour abound, and a typical one comes from a former client of his, the Rev. Bower-Black:“At my request, the Maori guide Joe Fluerty was assigned to us, and to say that we all liked him is a mild way of putting it. He is one of the senior guides, and has the Maori unfailing patience and good humour. He is capable and reliable, and his sturdy figure striding on ahead gave us a feeling of confidence and security. Joe was full of mischief and as ready as an Irishman with his tongue. ‘Why do you wear those pieces of cloth round your ankles?’ asked a rather gushing lady at one of the huts. ‘To keep the dust out of my eyes,’ retorted Joe. Whereat the boys gurgled gleefully and the lady took it in good part.’ 8

The Second World War disrupted the proud West Coast guiding tradition. Joe Fluerty enlisted, together with Mark Lysons. Joe never returned to Franz, and his fellow guide Mark Lysons, with whom he shared so many memorable climbs, was killed at Monte Cassino.16

Meanwhile, some fifty years after they started their apprenticeship with the mountains, Mark and Butler Te Koeti, in their early sixties at the end of the war, continued to do a lot of track work up the Copland, with Jack

Bannister and Bob Wilson, both of whom still live in South Westland.12

Arthur Graham describes a meeting with Mark Te Koeti in the Copland Valley.“In 1948, my cousin Stephen and I had crossed the Copland Pass and were slogging our way down the Karangarua Valley towards the main south highway. Some miles from the highway we came across old Mark Te Koeti who had, at that time, a contract to upgrade the track.“Neither of us were quite sure which of the old Te Koeti brothers we were talking to and it was obvious that Mark was equally puzzled as to who we were since we had not been in the district for many years. Imagine the light in his eyes when we told him we were the sons of Peter and Alec. ‘You’ll be wanting some tucker, lads,’ said Mark. ‘Take my horse and get down to the camp — there’s some cold mutton, bread and cheese — make yourselves at home and get a brew going. I’ll be along later.”“Sure we were hungry and there was no denying the warm sincerity of this fine old Maori, but to leave him to walk home was unthinkable.

“You’ll promise to get a feed at my camp then,” said Mark. We promised, and so, with handshakes all round we were on our way. The more we thought about the offer the more we disliked the idea of breaking into his hut. It was a tough decision and having finally arrived at the hut, we sat down to discuss the situation again. Yes, we must go on in otherwise Mark will be greatly offended... Mark turns up in the nick of time and we follow him into the hut. The billy is soon boiling and Steve and I do our best with the tucker and huge enamel mug of hot tea. There followed a friendly conversation, enquiries as to the health of our parents and reminiscences…”8

Today Jack Bannister, Bob and Kelly Wilson and Mick Te Koeti, all in their late sixties or seventies, continue to pass on the valuable knowledge of the the land, mountains, rivers and sea.


Wood chopping at Bruce Bay in 1990, when people from the extended whanau from all over New Zealand came to celebrate the history of this small community. Photo: Bob McKerrow




A small article in the West Coast Times, dated 3 September, 1991, shows that the Runanga Te Koeti O Turanga is still strong:

‘Four generations of Wilsons, a well known Westland Maori family gathered at Jacobs River last weekend for a double christening ceremony in the old church there. There was standing room only in the old church where 64 people gathered to witness the christening…’

Ka pu te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi

A new generation takes the place of the old.



Sources:

1 Gerhard Mueller, My Dear Bannie

2 Philip Temple, New Zealand Explorers

3 A.A. Pullar, Wilderness Days in Bruce Bay

4 Keri Hulme of Okarito, personal conversation.

5 Barry Brailsford, Greenstone Trails

6 E.A. Fitzgerald, Climbs in the New Zealand Alps

7 John Pascoe, Mr Explorer Douglas

8 Trish McCormack, Maori in Westland

9 Alec Graham &; Jim Wilson, Uncle Alec and the Grahams of Franz Josef

176 comments:

Marja said...

Astonishing how much knowledge you have in this case of the Maory mountaineering. Interesting! My physique isn't that strong and I am amazed to read that a 12 year old boy did that track in about 24 hours. I find 4 to 5 hours tramping enough for the day. Wish you a nice day. Ka kite ano marja

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Marja

We are all built differently and have different gifts. These young maori lads from south Westland did amazing feats, but sadly in their era, were not recognised. Now their true achievements can be accurately written about.

Cheers.

Bob

Sam Sachdeva said...

Hi Bob,

Are you involved at all with the Sumatra earthquake? I'm a reporter at the Press newspaper in Christchurch, NZ, and would like to know how the situation is over there.

If you see this and have time for a quick email/chat, can you send me an email at sam.sachdeva@press.co.nz?

cheers,
Sam Sachdeva

Gollum said...

Another great piece Bob.

I walked up the Mahitahi as a teenager. The second day was as tough a day in the bush as I can recall. But the great moment was reaching the top of Mueller Pass the next day and seeing a staggering view of snow, rock and ice in front of us. A truly unforgettable moment.

It is sad that the erosion of the moraine wall has made the old Copland Pass route so difficult. That used to be a great trip.

Cheers

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Gollum

Thanks for your nostalgic reflections. Those West Coast valleys and their headwaters were so accesible in 1900 and got progressively during the 20th century. Now, they are epic journeys to reach the divide.


It was a real joy to talk with Jack Bannister,Bob and Kelly wilson over many glasses of whiskey, and hear of their travels as youngsters over all this sacred land.

We must go back together and visit the Mahitahi some time in the next year or two.

Take care. Bob

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Sam

I have just sent you an email. I hope it reaches you. Bob

Jamie said...

Kia ora Bob,

Always dig your stories on the Maori mountaineers.

Take care

Jamie

Gollum said...

Bob

I am certainly up for a trip back to the Mahitahi.

Up the Mahitahi, hop over Mueller Pass into Zora Canyon, up the Landsborough, cross into the Karangarua (I think), and then out to the Copland.

Would take at least 9/10 days and the countryside is as good as it gets.

Cheers

v奎峰奎峰 said...

辛苦了!祝你愈來愈好!........................................

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Jamie

Thanks for your feedback. With youth and fitness on your side, I think you should lead Gollum and I up the Mahitahi.

Kia kaha.

Bob

Bob McKerrow said...

Dear Gollum

That great French mountaineer, Gastom Rebuffat said " I prefer dreams to memories." How true.

I dream I can do it but I wonder if my new knees would cope. I suggest we bring Jamie as a guide, to carry our loads, and then it may be possible for me.

Let's keep dreaming Gollum.

Bob

Jamie said...

Haha,

If its going to be roleplay I'm definitely Bill the Maori;-)

Bob McKerrow said...

Yes Jamie, you can be Ruera Te Nahi, Bill the Maori. He could carry over 100 pounds so you are just the guide we need. Bob

Gollum said...

I would definitely need some training to work off twenty years of corporate fat.

I figure a walk up the Hopkins/Huxley, followed by something a bit more strenuous, like the 3 Pass Trip at Arthurs Pass, would be ideal preparation for a serious South Westland tramp.

It doesn't have to be a dream.

Bob McKerrow said...

OK Gollum, let's turn the dream into reality. You lose that corporate fat, and I'll do the same.let's keep in touch.

Bob

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misty said...

Hi Bob,

I recongnise the photo on the top of your page of Jack Bannister, he was my grandad, my father is William Bannister- Jacks son, i have lost complete contact with my family ever since i was around 5 so this history you talk about really interests me. Can you be of any help to help me contact Jack or a similar relative?? I would greatly appreciate your assistance :)
misty bannister

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Kia ora Bob

My son Drew is organising to climb Aoraki in January 2012 to commerate George's ascent 100 years before in Feb 1912. Drew is George's great grandson. Is doing it to highlight our tipunas mountaineering and guiding feats which as you mention are not widely acknowledged and only a limited number of people including yourself have written about them.

Cheers Neil B.

Bob McKerrow said...

Kia Ora Niel

What a joy to get your message.

I am delighted that Drew, George's great-grandsone is attempting Aoraki in January 2012 to commerate George's ascent 100 years earlier in Feb 1912. Is is important for today's Maori to remind people of the great feats of our Tipuna skills in the high mountains. I climbed or white baited with a number of the modern Maori, Kim Logan, Mark Whetu, Ed Nepia who are carrying on the tradition. Kim was abetter mountaineer than a whitebaiter for he hardly ever got more than a handful of Inunga in his net. I agree the mountaineering and guiding feats are not widely acknowledged and need to be promoted reverendly.

Please convery by warm wihse and Karakia for a safe journey. Remember, George never out his foot on the head of Aoraki, he stood out of respect a few feet below.

Kia Kaha Niel. Arohanui to the whanau !

Bob

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