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Volcanoes, lahars and long white clouds

By Dorothy Preece.

Calm seas and light winds were the order of the day for 20 Mercury Bay Historical Society members when they took a boat trip round Coromandel harbour and surrounding islands last week.

Geologist/historian Ash Franklin provided an expert running commentary on the geological formation of the land and islands, as well as insights into the history and lifestyle of the early Maori occupants of the land. Many fascinating and surprising facts were revealed to his totally engrossed and appreciative hearers. They saw evidence of volcanoes, glacial valleys, geological upheavals, Maori earthworks and much more.

Mr Franklin concludes that the long white clouds that led the first Polynesian explorers to Aotearoa, would almost certainly have been ash clouds from successive volcanic eruptions, which would have been visible for hundreds of miles across the Pacific and could be followed directly. “You can’t use stars to navigate to a place, until you know exactly where that place is,” he said. “When you know where it is, then you can use the stars.” He said most people are unaware of the level of ancient trading activity, seagoing voyages from far-off lands, that occurred in the very early history of human activity in Aotearoa New Zealand. These world voyages are proven by archaeological finds.

Chairman of the Society, Alastair Brickell said “the outing was originally organised by the former chairman, the late John Jackman, who died on Tuesday, 18 April”. Members agreed that the day out was a perfect way to remember John.

Captions: Mercury Bay Historical Society members ready to leave Hannaford’s Wharf

Standing at back: Left to right - Geologist Ash Franklin, Mussel Barge Snapper Safaris skipper ‘Darryl’ and Society Chairman Alastair Brickell.


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