The Manukau is a beautiful harbour; one that features hugely in New Zealand’s history. To Maori it is sacred, a provider and a means of transport. To Europeans, it was an early site for settlement; even rivalling it’s more illustrious neighbour on the other side of the isthmus as a port that was closer to Australia.
It has been abused n the past, used merely as a dump for Auckland’s sewerage, but now it is slowly healing as technology gives us better answers to waste disposal.
The Manukau has another underlying feature--- its ability to take can often far outweigh its propensity to ‘give.’ The infamous Bar at the entrance to the huge harbour has been the scene of numerous tragedies, the worst being that of the Orpheus in 1863, when so many lost their lives.
Today the harbour is still capable of striking back when plans made by men are not always the best. Give it a chance and the Manukau will punish. A family is on mourning today after yet another tragedy, this time a father and his son.
We must never underestimate this harbour. The currents can be unpredictable and even close to shore can present issues that must be taken into account. So many families have lost loved ones over the years and the sad part is that many of these ‘accidents’ could have been prevented.
What appears to be a calm surface is merely a mirage. The tide turns quickly and the mud can trap. If winter holds the harbour in its deadly embrace, then the chilly waters will wreak havoc on fragile human bodies.
We must learn to respect this magnificent harbour. We must take precautions when we enter its domain. No one wants to lose family members. No one wants to read of yet another death and when we do not learn from past experiences, then more fool us for underestimating the powers of this brooding and ever changing harbour.
My heart goes out to the suffering family.