Joan Wyatt – A trip to Hakana Bay


By Joan Wyatt

It was a sunny afternoon in August of 1974 when with two little boys and an elderly neighbour Rex and I set off to look at a section in Hakana Bay, Port Underwood. All we had to go by was a very faded photograph from a land agents window along with directions of a sort.

At Waikawa Bay store we ran out of sealed road and headed out this winding gravel road. From Karaka Point the road became narrower and there were no houses between there and Whatamango. We began the large climb up the winding road which was more like a farm track of today than a road. On reaching the top of the hill we pulled over and stopped to look at the wonderful view that was before us.

Taking another look at our directions we set off down the other side of the hill to Hakahaka where we should find a turn off to Hakana Bay. We passed by the settlement of Hakahaka, one or two batches, and an old farm house in the middle of the paddock. From here the road was not much more than a track and there was grass growing down the middle of it in many places. We drove and drove for what seemed like forever and the little boys becoming restless with the twisting and turning of the Ford Falcon wagon. Every now and then we came across strips of seal and for a few short moments the road was easier. These few strips of seal still remain today.

Passing land marks we had been told of Portunderwood farm and then the top of the Tongue, we thought we must be close now. Across the Bay we could see with a clear view what we thought was a half built building or the remains of an old one on a distant point. A few more corners was the old cow bale to our left and a square of large old macracarpa trees where once a house may have been. Then we spotted a little graveyard on the side of the road and across a bit further was the cairn. This was to be the place we would meet the folk attending the church services held there from time to time and get to know the locals further down the port.

At last we found what must be the section at the bottom of a hill. We ventured out of the wagon and began to look around at the area with an existing batch on the left and an empty section to the right. On reaching the beach, the small boys played in the gravely sand while we had a well-earned cup of tea from the thermos.

We purchased the section a few days later. Now, our true Hakana Bay story was about to begin, camping in two old caravans that first Christmas and beginning to build the house the following October.

Things were a bit different then as all the hills behind us had been recently burnt off and young pine trees planted. The Bay itself had three existing dwellings, Henry Bothwell who lived there permanently with his wife, next to him was an A frame batch being built by Graeme Chant and family from Culverton, and to our left Don and Lynne Gardener had a three bedroom batch. At the top of the hill were the concrete walls which belonged to Doug Bothwell, son of Henry. The rest of the ridge was covered with old man pine trees and scrub apart from a shack out on the end of the ridge where today the Mills family batch stands. Across the Bay was Carlton, owned by Cappy and Denice Harris and at the head of the Bay was the old homestead at the farm of George and Doreen Yorke one of the early homes in the area and Carlton being the other. Between Yorkes and Carlton there was a wharf and also the remains of another one in front of Carlton. The old red woolshed still stands on the corner along with the stock yards as one turns towards the locked gates to Fighting Bay.

Our house did get completed and over time the road improved but we never gave up on having an axe, saw and shovel in the back as they were needed on many occasions early on. The Bay has also grown as there are now 10 dwellings and one empty section. Hakana Bay is a very friendly Bay with just about everyone visiting, caring and sharing with one another. Families have grown up and new generations are coming now, so long may it last as you all build your own stories of the Port.