It was a glorious, sunny day in Wellington yesterday. I had planned to spend most of it writing and editing, but common sense told me that I should make the most of the pleasant weather before it changed again. Locals may say, “You can’t beat Welly on a good day,” but equally, you don’t really move here for the sunshine. Nestled on the coast of the Strait that runs between the two islands, the days are frequently changeable. But I digress; Mother Nature beckoned, and so out I went.
I met up with a good friend of mine at the marine reserve at Owhiro Bay, and our home educated children poked around in rock pools searching for starfish and crabs. The rocks were covered in beautiful deep-blue Vellela jellyfish, also know as ‘by-the-wind sailor’ and ‘purple sail’ jellyfish. Vellela are carnivorous, and they catch their prey with their tentacles which swirl in the water. These tentacles bear nematocysts, and while the toxins in them are relatively benign to humans, they are deadly to the plankton and other oceanic organisms which form the Vellela’s diet.
We took a walk (and the children scooted) to the Te Kopahou entranceway and Visitor Centre situated at the start of the Red Rocks/Pariwhero Walkway. The rocks themselves were formed 200 million years ago by undersea volcanic eruptions. Small amounts of iron oxides give them their distinctive colouring. Various Māori legends say that it is blood which makes the rocks red: Maui stained the rocks with blood from his nose before catching Te Ika a Maui – the North Island; Kupe wounded himself on sharp paua shells; Kupe’s daughters, pining for their father after he was gone on a long voyage, gashed themselves on the rocks.
We didnt quite make the walk to the Pariwhero themselves as we bumped into local eco-artist and scientist Raewyn Martyn, who was installing natural art on the rocks and driftwood around the coast. Raewyn is the writer of “GREYWACKE LOVE POEMS: returns” and she uses a biodegradable plant-based and bacterial plastic (biopolymer) with pigment from greywacke rock to “paint” on the landscape.
Raewyn has developed this substance with polymer scientists at Scion, a Crown research institute, and Victoria University Wellington’s Ferrier Institute over a period of 18 months, and it reacts to heat, light, moisture and microbial activity. It will eventually safely dissolve back into the landscape if it is not reconfigured and reused.
My eldest child was absolutely fascinated by this and did his usual of asking ALL the questions. I am always incredibly proud of him, and it seems he made an impression on Raewyn too as she signed her book for him, and gave him a piece of the biopolymer to experiment with.
I, of course, went and spoke to the sea for a while, and let its meditative effects wash over me – no real pun intended, although an unexpected wave did hurtle to the shore and soak my legs up to the knee. I will never tire of that feeling, nor the unique and indescribable grounding it gives me.
I might have stayed at home yesterday, written another 2000 words and chipped away at my Works In Progress. Instead, the universe decided it wanted to gift me with inspiration and awe. It wanted me to get out and look up and breathe a little more deeply and free. Or maybe it was all merely a coincidence. Either way, it was a glorious day.
You can follow Raewyn at her Instagram @fallenwalker and at her blog http://walkerfalls.wordpress.com