I was well known in my youth as an ‘effective’ thrower of stones and can still bring down a pteradactyl gliding amongst low cloud (imaginary now, most of my throwing) and while I can still get great distance from a smooth, flat pebble, I can’t quite reach the waters of the estuary from my veranda. Close, but even if I wait and wait, I don’t get that satisfying ‘plop’ us stone throwers love, more likely a yelp from my neighbours dog or the crystalline shattering sound that comes from a glasshouse under fire. I can see the estuary, though, from any spot on my land, provided there’s no shrub or tree between me and it.
Jacob’s River estuary is broad and shallow, tidal and beautiful. It’s home to patiki and tuna, dotted with maimai and a little spoiled by floating green algae monopods in the summer but long ago, when the water ran clear in both of the contributing rivers, the Pourakino and the Aparima, it was home to an elusive character who gave his name, but not his head, to the estuary (you’ll soon see what I mean!).
Jacob was he tangata Maori with a full moko on his face and well aware that the sealers who called into the harbour at the mouth of the river
that emptied the estuary, knew the value of such a decorated head, to collectors in England. Accordingly, whenever the long boats began their
oared journey from the sealing ships moored off shore, Jacob would ’go bush’ in the ngahere that clothed the banks of the estuary in those
pre-logging times. The sailors searched, Jacob hid and was never uncovered and relieved of his prize possession. There are sadly, no photographs of Jacob, either standing proudly for posterity nor fleeing unceremoniously into the scrub. He remains a mythtical character (Mystical/mythical – that should be a word, right!) and nothing more is known of him, but that’s enough really. Proud of his looks, fleet of foot and a man with reliable friends, our Jacob!
And so we have his name and the reason for his fame tied to our water feature and we are the richer for it.