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Photographer's Note

This is the view from our front driveway. Pre-200 years ago this sight would have been quite rare in Auckland, New Zealand. It was mostly Maori canoes sailing in these waters then.

The "Spirit Of New Zealand" is a steel built barquentine, 45.2m (148ft) in length overall including the bowsprit, square rigged on the foremast. She is operated by the Spirit of Adventure Trust Board and operates as a Sail training vessel for Secondary School students (aged 15-19 years) and handicapped people from throughout New Zealand. Adult voyages are also held. The Spirit of Adventure Trust is dedicated to the Youth of New Zealand. Each year it brings together 1200 young people throughout the country.

The Spirit of Adventure Trust was established to provide the youth of New Zealand access to a character development programme through sail training. During the course of each voyage, the Trust aims to give young New Zealanders an equal opportunity to learn and develop from each other qualities of independence, understanding and community spirit through the medium of the sea.

The Spirit of New Zealand is sailing past Rangitoto Island on the Hauraki Gulf. Rangitoto Island is the largest and youngest of about 50 volcanic cones and craters in the Auckland volcanic field. It erupted from the sea in a series of dramatic explosions around 600 years ago, and is now extinct. It dominates the local seascape and a visit there is like stepping into another world.

Rangitoto's lava rock seems an inhospitable environment for plant life, yet the island hosts over 200 species of native trees and flowering plants, more than 40 kinds of fern and several species of orchid. Many plants form unusual hybrids or adopt strange behaviours because of the unusual conditions. The crimson-flowered pohutukawa is Rangitoto's dominant tree. Rangitoto has the country's largest remaining pohutukawa forest.

Rangitoto's name is derived from the phrase "Te Rangi i totongia a Tamatekapua" (please don’t ask me to pronounce that!)- “the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed.” Tamatekapua was chief of the Arawa canoe which arrived in NZ about 1350 and was engaged in (and lost) a major battle with the Tainui at Islington Bay on the far eastern side of Rangitoto.

The island is not rich in landbirds, probably because of the comparatively recent vegetation growth, but shores are well frequented by a variety of seabirds and there are two thriving nesting colonies of black backed gulls. Fantails, grey warblers, silvereyes and moreporks are some of the birds which inhabit the Rangitoto forest. Introduced possums and brush-tailed rock wallabies which by the 1980s were threatening to destroy the pohutukawa forest, have now been eradicated.

I have scanned this photo and cropped it.

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Additional Photos by Janice Dunn (Janice) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 920 W: 68 N: 1359] (4403)
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