The Mataura River is my river or as part of a Maori greeting “Ko taku awa te mataura”. Before addressing anyone in Maori – in a formal setting – one should introduce oneself by giving a rundown of ones ancestry. So my greeting includes the Mataura river as Mataura is my birthplace. I don’t feel as much affinity with Mataura as I do for Colac Bay (where I spent most of my childhood). However I do feel a certain sense of belonging as we approach this small Southland town.
Travelling from Central Otago to Southland we see signs of recent massive rainfall. The Clutha river is running high and fast, and is a dirty, muddy brown. Although an ideal river to search for leftover gold, we are not tempted to try. Creeks often dry at this time of year flow freely. Many paddocks we pass are waterlogged. The Mataura river is flooding, too. At Gore, it’s overflowed its banks and is lapping grassy parkland as the bulk of the water speeds by. While in Mataura, the river traversed a narrower section and roared over a small waterfall. Last time I saw the Mataura river it was so low I wondered how the trout were able to survive along its route. Today there is an excess of water for them.
Last Thing to Do Before Leaving Town
A visit to Mataura wouldn’t be complete without saying hello to my mother and father. It’s now over two years since we laid Mum to rest with our father. While in Alexandra I’d gathered some of my niece’s lovely roses to lay on their grave. However I doubt the flowers will stay there very long. Mataura cemetery is on a hill overlooking the town and has always been a very windy place. This day was no different.