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There is always a silver lining. Here is our new water feature, we hope that it will have a permanently flowing waterfall that we can enjoy from our conservatory and garden. That's something we didn't have before.

Storm dreaming | The amazing waterfall that wasn’t

I had a dream

Storm dreaming. About fifteen years ago I had a dream. I was an old lady, with long grey plaited hair. I was welcomed to a home and taken on a path beside the garage and around the side of an old wooden house with a red roof. Coming around the side of the house I looked up the valley to the most amazing view.

The whole upper valley was native forest and in the centre of the valley, in the distance there was a waterfall, with beautiful trees growing all around it.

And then I realised it was my home, the home that I was born in and have lived in for most of my life, the one my great-grandmother built on land our family settled in 1865.

Storm dreaming Valley of pasture and native forest New Zealand
My family has lived on this land for seven generations and it is time to regenerate it to make it the very best it can be.

But I did not know the waterfall, it did not exist. And from that moment on I have wondered where the waterfall was to be. I knew the shape of the valley where the waterfall stood, but it was only hillside, not even hanging rock. Would it come when the forest grew and rainfall increased? And from that path the view is hidden by an old macrocarpa hedge, how could that be?

Changes in the landscape

When I had that dream the upper half of Ōkururu was gorse, pasture and pine. With only tiny patches of forest and scattered trees.

Slowly over the years I have watched as the invasive and introduced gorse took over pasture as one landowner after another was unable to control it, try as they might with good intentions when they started.

Eventually the gorse gives way, as it grows it opens up and lets light into the shadow’s underneath. In this warm and dry nursery native seedlings fledge and climb reaching for the light. Invisible for many years suddenly they burst through almost all at once and shame the gorse into retreating.

Storm dreaming Banks Peninsula Storm 2021 Marie Haley The Seventh Generation
The upper Goughs Bay before the storm, slowly regenerating back to native forest from pasture and gorse.

At first I counted three. Mahoe, round and golden shining mounds of green leaves, one here, one there, and one over there. Then I saw the ribbonwood standing up and standing proud, pointed on the top with determination to become.

As gorse flowers fade the kanuka becomes the snow of Christmas in the southern hemisphere, hillsides glowing white in the hottest sun. Like an ebbing and flowing of life, gorse fades, kanuka blooms, kanuka fades, gorse blooms, year on year. And with each passing the natives win.

It became a symphony of colour and diversity, this year I had commented that the natives were just about to take over to finish the race of hare and tortoise. The gorse was getting older, 20 years at least, and the gaps in it were forming, the natives were released.

The terrifying storm

Then the rain kept coming, raining here for weeks. Then in Cyclone Ruby the hillsides gave away. Great crashing walls of gorse and rock fell crumbled in a heap and gashes of red lava are features that will stay.

Storm dreaming Marie Haley inside forest reserve
The storm ripped out the forest, and exposed the rock underneath and created new waterfalls.

The gorse will race to grow back and be thick by next January, that is fine the hills will mend and in a few years they will blend.

It’s the waterfall that astounds me, it’s right there where it was in my dream, where it never was before, or perhaps where it’s always been?

It’s still surrounded by forest, it still has some growing to do, above it are mudslides through pasture with scattered gorse that’s wild. It won’t take long for the gorse to win because that is natures way, it is a race for succession, to rise then fade away.

So I know with absolute surety a few things from this dream. I know the future of this valley, no matter what man might do, I know the power of nature and I trust in that too, I know that I will grow old and the woman that I will become.

And I know that this storm was always part of my life story, as certain as it can be, that it came without any warning as the worst disasters do, and it’s shifted my whole worldview.

Now we are going to cut down those macracarpas, that hide our valley view, from our house we can see the river naked and exposed, down in the valley far below. And we can see that beautiful nature spinning out its web, turning to gorse from pasture and onto forest too.

I never dreamt that we would have a storm like this, and when I woke from the storm I wish I had been dreaming, but now I know that in the storm there are dreams that come true. It was true storm dreaming.

You can help us make this dream a reality to re-fence and protect what’s beautiful please SHARE our give a little page to support this to happen.

Marie Haley

I am your guide, Marie Haley, I was born and raised on Banks Peninsula. The seventh generation direct decedent of Akaroa’s very first French settler. I grew up on the family farm following in the footsteps of my Grandfather, and his Grandfather before.