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On Saturday, 21 March 2020, The MOTAT Society held another of our successful Society Excursions. This time we took to the water...­

Since we were facing the rumours of a National Lockdown we felt fortunate to be able to venture out on the Kaipara Harbour for a scenic and historical tour aboard the veteran voyager “Kewpie Too”. I say fortunate because we embarked under COVID-19 Alert Level 1 cautions and disembarked under COVID-19 Alert Level 2 restrictions. Understandably numbers were reduced due to health concerns for some of our older members, nevertheless 10 hardy souls spliced the main brace and enjoyed a delightful day both on-board and ashore for a tasty luncheon at Shelly Beach.

Originally booked for 20 confirmed members, covering a cross-section of disciplines – active Volunteers, MOTAT Alumni, Staff and spouses - we decided that the recently announced COVID-19 cautions enabled us to proceed, although those who had booked and considered themselves aged or immune-compromised were advised to consider their participation and were able to withdraw without penalty. With appropriate social distancing, sanitisation and a supply of Minties from David Kannu, we departed M2 in our regular coach and arrived in Parakai in time for group photos, to find a queue of friendly souls from local environs with whom we shared the trip.

The harbour sea was calm and our journey around the Kaipara was as smooth as silk. The commentary, in laconic style by Captain Terry, was as informative and easily paced as any on a world-class attraction. After a morning of learning the history of the harbour - fishing, timber, ship-building, sand dredging etc - we were deposited at the jetty and enjoyed a short walk to the Shelly Beach Cafe for lunch a la carte (I can thoroughly recommend the FnC). The boat stood-off the wharf to allow locals who were fishing to resume their snapper seeking.

After lunch a few took the chance to explore the surrounds on foot, whilst others engaged with the day's most successful fisherman who had landed a whopper snapper.

Back aboard our historic ship we cruised leisurely back to Parakai on the high tide with an excellent sun on our backs and great views of the Helensville coastline including those of the sculptures at Gibbs Farm, a park owned by Alan Gibbs, a kindred soul with an intense interest in technology and innovation. (A trip to Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park is on the agenda for a future MOTAT Society excursion.)

Arriving back at the bus we were greeted with news that NZ had moved to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 which focussed our minds on what a wonderful day out we had been able to enjoy in Godzone. With a move towards Lockdown imminent nobody quite knew when we'd next be able to enjoy such a day again, a reminder to make the most of every opportunity as it presents itself.

We're currently working on the details of future excursions so keep an eye out for our Events & Announcements Newsletters for our announcement of our next excursion which are free for MOTAT Society members.

- by John Tutchen

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