Note from a Martian lake
because we were talking recently about the aesthetics of pollution, I wanted to show you these photographs, which were taken from the road that slouches between the eastern shore of Lake Waikare and the muddy ramparts of the Hakarimata Ranges. Lake Waikare is New Zealand's answer to the Aral Sea: always shallow and turbid, it has for the last century been robbed by pipes and poisoned by the run-off from dairy blocks.
As you can see, the surface of Waikare is now as red as the surface of Mars. In the distance, to the west, the history-burdened strip of land called Rangiriri separates Waikare from the abandoned highway known as the Waikato River. It was at Rangiriri in 1863 that the Kingitanga chose to build their largest fortress, and to make their most ambitious stand against the invading army of General Cameron. Farmers pulling up turnips for cows sometimes still discover musketballs, or the fruit stones that the defenders of Rangiriri reputedly fired during the last hours of their stand.
In 1863 some of Tawhiao's fighters escaped from their overrun pa by swimming or paddling waka tiwai across Waikare. Today they could wade comfortably through even the deepest sections of the lake. Note that duckshooter's shut, which sits half a kilometre from shore, and yet lacks a jetty. Michael Fay will never found a yacht club here. Auckland weekenders will never park their SUVs beside two-storey baches.