Storylines Trust tour of Taranaki: Day Five

With the sea beside us, we drove the last leg of our tour on Friday 16 September. The mountain peeked in and out of cloud throughout the day, and the landscape became more volcanic, hillier and rockier, as we drove along Taranaki’s Surf Highway.

The first stop for Stuart and me was St Joseph’s School in Opunake, where I spoke with their junior classes. They were an enthusiastic audience, whose rescue ideas included calling on a strong and helpful elephant! They drew some great alternative book covers, and were delighted to spot that Grandpa was on their Scholastic calendar this month.

On our way to Oakura we detoured towards Parihaka, hoping to visit and to learn more of the important history there. A sign on the gate said the community was still observing restrictions as part of their COVID-19 response, so we couldn’t go any further. Instead we spent a quiet and contemplative time right there on the roadside, soaking up the environment and talking history and legends together.

The last stop for me and Cristina was Oakura School, where I read to about 100 Year 0-2 students. For many of these young ones this was their first assembly-style gathering, and first visiting speaker, all at once! They did wonderfully. They had a great ideas session of rescue stories and pavlova disasters, and sorted out the mixed up story pictures. They suggested sudsy shampoo and tickling to get Grandpa out of the swing, as well as pulling back on the swing and letting go to propel / fly him home!

Then all of a sudden our massive week was almost over. After we dropped Helen and Cristina in New Plymouth, the rest of us had time to explore Pukekura Park a little more. We watched ducks on the lake, and wandered through the Fernery, then headed out to the airport for the journey home.

Over a week later, I’m still gathering my thoughts on the tour! It was a full-on week and a wonderful learning curve for me. I am enormously grateful to each of the amazing people who were on tour with me and to the hard-working organisers at Storylines Trust, to the wonderfully welcoming staff of the libraries and schools we visited, and to the creative and enthusiastic children we met along the way.

School photos taken by Helen Villers.

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