Finding McKenzie Bay!


So, by the end of February 1996, only David, myself and 4 cats were left in the house. Heartbreakingly, the other 2 cats had been mauled by the two dogs who lived 4 sections away. (They were Pokey, our oldblack & orange tortise-shell cat and Booty, our fiesty little black and white. Now we only had Trina, Evie, Midge ( Nadas had named him Lennox after the boxer,) and TC.


One of the features of our house, besides literally looking like it was going to fall apart at any moment, was that it was opposite a rail station, (no building though,) and not just any old rail station either. It was the station at which the trains with goods, coming from either North or South, had to change tracks, to go out west to Ruawai (sweet-potato, kumara) capital of NZ, ) and Dargaville, chief city on the Kaipara Harbour. (World-class fishing.)

We were living right at the intersection of two old rail-roads, and it was decision making time again!!  When we had been living in the Caravan camp, we had been invited to lunch by a couple Dan and Marlene, who  lived out at the Whangarei Heads – on the east coast. While we were driving the unfamiliar road, we had seen a sign almost covered by the long grass, saying ‘McKenzie Bay’. David and I looked at one another knowingly, as we continued our journey. We enjoyed lunch and the hospitality, then slowly went our way back along the still unfamiliar route, looking for the same McKenzie Bay sign. Yes! it was there. We hurried home and settled into our caravan. Making a quick dash for our bibles we read,

 The verse which had spoken to both of us when we were still on the island was Isaiah 56: 5 and 7– and we knew that to find the right house to live in we had to find a name that had a connection to us both, and a monument. We were stumped!!

 5 – I will give, in My house and within my walls, a Monument and a Name better than sons and daughters; .          ……. etc

 7 – These I will bring to my Holy Mountain and make them joyful in my House of prayer; ………..etc

 Although my fathers’ family had come from this area, there were no written records of Maori history, and even if there had been, I only knew enough to hold a conversation, not enough to read an entire history in te reo Maori. (the native language.)

David began talking about his ancestors, where he had been born, in Dundee, in  Scotland, where his family came from – and strangely, how his father had been given the middle name of McKenzie. He had been named after his paternal grandmother whose maiden name had been McKenzie. So, it was a family name for my husband!! We did some research and found that The McKenzies had indeed been amongst the first colonial settlers in this area. Finding that sign at the side of the road had got us really excited, but we still needed a mountain, a monument, and finally, a house!!

 We drove out toward Whangarei Heads, just looking, when we passed Mount Manaia. My clever husband wondered if there was a plaque up on the walkway somewhere, he went to look. Sure enough!!

There was a monument erected to the first colonial settlers of the area, and there was the name, Alex Mckenzie on the plaque!!

We had the mountain, the monument and the name: now all we needed was the House!!

 So, back in Waiotira, we were still wondering what our next step would be. It was already April and the trees were beginning to change into their Autumn dress. My breathing was getting really bad, but I knew that we needed to get ourselves settled some place which was kind of, warmish, before the winter months came in.

 One morning in early May, we got a call from Aileen, a friend who lived on the hillside, about a mile before McKenzie Bay.  Her first words were, “Emmi, I have a house for you, and it’s in McKenzie Bay!”


          TBC ……….Emmi


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