Far North in the South Pacific
|Maori lead horseback rides on Pakiri Beach (James Heremaia/courtesy, Tourism New Zealand)|
Just up the coast in Pakiri, I went horseback riding with Sharley Haddon of Pakiri Beach Horse Riding. Her husband was a former professional rugby player for the All Blacks, New Zealand's national team, and is a direct descendant of a local Maori chief. The couple owns a big, working farm, a herd of horses, and a vast stretch of undeveloped beach. On a ride with Sharley and her sparkplug of a blue heeler mix, she told me stories of how her husband's forefathers landed their canoe on that very beach when settling New Zealand 1,000 years ago. It was a heady experience sitting astride a spirited Arabian, pounding through the surf, and listening to this proud, Raven-haired woman.
In a nearby village, I also got the chance to meet 75-year-old Hector Buzby, a celestial navigator and builder of traditional, oceangoing canoes. Two white horses with unkempt white manes whipping in the wind greeted me as I pulled into Buzby's grassy driveway overlooking the sand dunes dropping to the beach. Buzby sailed to Tahiti in one of his two-hulled constructions and showed me his latest kauri-wood creation, which he plans to sail to Easter Island, 4,500 miles of blue water due east, with a group of hand-picked Maoris.
"I get a chance to educate kids, working with traditions like these," Buzby told me. "This is how we remember who we are."
Contact: Pakiri Beach Horse Riding
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication