Hooked: Napier, the city of Anchors

Boats, I’ve noticed, tend to decay. The sea finally gets them, dissolves them. They eventually become ethereal, and an invisible part of the tides.

Not so with anchors. They’re the parts of the lost boats that stick around. And just like their initial job description, they end up on land. Held fast to it. And there for ever, it would appear.

The city we find ourselves in is chokka four-square full of anchors. They are just about every corner, like a co-ordinated toe-stubbing campaign on a stubborn, immoveable scale.

They’re on land to stay, well hooked into the earth.

And it’s also doubly symbolic that in this town full of anchors that same earth was once in serious upheaval, its contours crossing and cursing.

Why, the place where the harbour once was, where the sailboats gathered at Commodore Vigor Brown’s dock pier, was coughed up more than two metres, four day later. Where the yacht club once raced is now the runway for the airport.

Napier. You may recall - 3 February 1931.

But, despite all the shaking, the anchors remained. Stolid, unshaken, un-moved. They’ve held fast to the land.

Which reminds me of a poem I once wrote, post 1931 – which is another angle on all of the above:

People run off

the weathervane said

People tend to get lost in land
and run off
to find themselves at sea

- like rivers must run
and ultimately mingle,
so it is with people too.

People tend to get lost in land
and find themselves at sea.

So that is why it is
I have painted myself
with the legend
‘To The Sea’
- unlike my unspeaking next-door friend -
and whichever way the wind might be,
people, I’ve noticed have
tended not to disagree.


All of which gets me thinking anew, along new longitudes of thought.

What might the future of our big boat made of clay, our island Te Motu Ara i Roa Waiheke, anchored so serenely in the sparkling waters of Tikapa Moana, the Hauraki Gulf.

Or our little jewel of earth, floating in our solar system and our galaxy of other stars. All by itself.

Here’s hoping we can live in them sustainably, lightly, reverentially; and for us, all of us, the boat, our mooring and ourselves, to last as long as any shore-side, dug in anchor, anywhere.