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The Tutukaka Coast Millennium Time Capsule

Just yesterday we watched a pod of dolphins cruising around the coast, and I had to reflect not only how lucky we are to see such a spectacle, but also how little some things have changed, because our forefathers would have enjoyed the same sights.

This week I have been on an ACT bus tour around Northland, and on Wednesday, in Dargaville, I met up with a special Northlander – Tom McKay. Tom started McKay Electrical a local company that has done business throughout the country and further afield. Tom is 94 years old and he reminded me of our days together as inaugural members of the Northland Business Development Board, when I was the President of the Northland Chamber of Commerce.

Tom was born before the electricity, telephone, and cars. In his lifetime, he has seen man walk on the moon, libraries become electronic interactions through the Internet, and he has seen too many young people fall by the wayside because of a lack of family values, an education system that lets youngsters fall through the cracks, and a welfare system that entices them into a future of doing nothing, achieving nothing, and becoming long term dependents on the state.

Tom reminded me this week on how confusing modern progress can be, and he questioned whether that progress was taking us forwards or taking us backwards. Certainly, in the area of social advancement, we seem to have gone backwards over the last thirty years, and unless we look at new ways and new solutions, the signs are clearly there that more and more of our young people will become marginalised.



Technological progress can be confusing as well. In many of the world’s cities, people now take longer to get to work by car than they did in the old days, by horse and cart!

Horses and carts were the major form of local transport here at Ngunguru for years, until the road was put in, back in 1930. But water was also a major form of transportation. The British Navy took Kauri spars from the coast for sailing boats as early as 1838. Coastal timber was used in Auckland by 1841, and a mill began operating in 1878, employing 50 men here at Ngunguru. Other mills operated at Tutukaka and Matapouri.

Around the turn of the century, a public hall was built in Ngunguru, which unfortunately burnt down in 1950. As I understand it a replacement hall was built in six weeks, which should be an inspiration to those on committees to roll up your sleeves, forget about all the time wasting bureaucratic nonsense and just get on with the job as our forefathers did!

Coal mining got going in 1892 in Kiripaka, and for a time, shipping was more active on this coast than in Whangarei itself.

The present road, which was built largely by unemployed relief workers, was the single most significant event to change the future of the coast forever!

We are here today largely because of the determination, commitment and hard work of Pat Newman. The Tutukaka Residents and Ratepayers Association, some 4 years ago thought that a time capsule would be a great project for the new millennium. As all too often happens,responsibility rests on the broad shoulders of a few - in this case Pat. On behalf of everyone here, I would like to thank Pat for her contribution.

As the dawn broke on the new Millennium, the passing of 1000 years and the dawning of another 1000 years, caused most of us to initially reflect on the transience of life - the seeming insignificance of our own contribution in the whole scheme of things. But then, there came a realisation that each and every one of us plays a very important role in the progress of mankind and the energy of our nation.

What makes a country buzz is that energy, of tens of thousands of people all striving to achieve their goals and aspirations. We all have an inborn human drive to improve life for ourselves, our families, our communities and indeed our country. In pursuing our dreams, each and every one of us becomes a leader, making our own unique contribution to society.

Leadership is fundamental to the human condition. It starts in our homes. Leadership springs from a belief in ourselves, from knowing that we have the power to make a difference, not only to our families and ourselves but also to our communities, and indeed our country. Leadership gives us strength of spirit, helping us to overcome the challenges of life as we move forward.

With leadership comes an understanding that if we all do just a little bit extra in reaching out to others, together we can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of our society.

We are gathered here today to celebrate the preservation of the contributions of families here on the coast, leaders who have helped to shape the present through the pursuit of their hopes and aspirations.

Today we are putting to rest a snapshot of our history, to remain undisturbed throughout the rest of our lifetime, and our children’s lifetimes. It will be our unborn grandchildren and great-grandchildren who will enjoy the excitement of opening the capsule in 100 years time. It will be that future generation who will experience the delight of discovering how quaint and primitive we all were!

To all of those who have helped the dream of a Tutukaka Coast Millennium Time Capsule to become a reality, we thank you.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.


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