Monday, 21 June 2010

Waikaremoana a History by Sir Rodney Gallen

Waikaremoana a history by Sir Rodney Gallen
Sir Rodney Gallen is a retired lawyer (now aged 71) who lives in Havelock North, near Hastings a former and now retired High Court Judge. Sir Rodney Gallen KNZM is also a talented local musician.

LAKE WAIKAREMOANA AND TE UREWERA NATIONAL PARK Like rough-cut emeralds, Lake Waikaremoana (Sea of Rippling waters) and its little sister, Lake Waikareiti, are set perfectly in the 225,000 hectares of Te Urewera national Park – the largest untouched native forest reserve in the North Island.
The primeaval rain-forest is home to many native birds and remains today as virgin as it was in the 1840's, when Pioneer Missionary William Colenso traversed this remote homeland of Tuhoe, “Children of the Mist”.
The lake itself is a very new feature on a geological time-scale. Previous to its appearance, a very deep narrow gorge cut through the land-block which forms the highlands of Ngamoko and Panekiri. Some 2200 years ago a tremendous landslide rumbled down, probably as a result of a severe earthquake or possibly as a result of continued erosion. The landslide came down from the Ngamoko Ridge carrying millions of tons of fractured rock into the canyon. Across the canyon a huge pile of debris about 300 metres high came to rest. The area is formed from young mudstone, siltstone and sandstone, mostly about 10-15 million years old. These sediments were originally part of the sea floor, but about two million years ago uplift brought them above sea level. The mountains and hills of the area have been shaped by continuous erosion. Major valleys like the Aniwaniwa Valley have been carved more deeply from softer mudstones, while the more solid sandstones have tended to form ridges like Panekire. This vast dam enabled the rainwater to collect into a lake which as it rose gradually backed up the various branches of the former stream to form the many arms and inlets of present day Waikaremoana. As it rose and submerged the forested slopes the trees were killed, although the sturdy trunks of many of them remain standing today. When the lake is low, hundreds of them appear near or above the surface. Toward the end of the 18th century narrow strips of land bordering the lake were designated as bird sanctuaries. Trout and deer were introduced and a ranger was stationed here in Opourau (Home Bay). The Lake House, previously sited above the camp, was a popular Tourist Hotel Corporation hotel and was the end of the road from Wairoa until the road through to Rotorua was completed in 1930. The largest of the 3 hydro-electric stations, Tuai, was completed in 1929. The water released from this was impounded, in the man made lake Whakamarino, and by 1943 this was being used as a supply for the lowest station Piripaua. As work was completed there, the upper development at Kaitawa commenced.

As much as possible of the leakage from Lake Waikaremoana had to be sealed off so that the flow of water could be regulated. Kaitawa commenced operation in 1948. The creation of Urewera National Park was announced on September 29th 1953.

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