One of the deep secrets of this forest is its history of human occupation. Everywhere in the forest are the faint traces and whispers of a lost civilisation. A stone age people lived here for 700 years, depending entirely on the forest for their food and shelter. They lived in a mystical state of oneness with Tane, creator of all things, and his children. Their lesser gods manifested in the trees and animals. Nothing was considered inanimate or without purpose.
Several different tribes of Maori have lived in the Whirinaki valley through the centuries. It has seen many battles, including several during the Land war of the 1860s. In the most recent times it is the Ngati Whare Iwi that have had management/occupation rights here.
This tribe is closely inter-related with its neighbours – Ngati Manawa and Ngai Tuhoe.
The arrival of Europeans to the Whirinaki brought big changes. Timber was needed for farm fencing and housing and this valley had a forest of huge trees. The milling of timber started here in the 1920’s. Mills flourished for 60 years up and down the valley until a dwindling resource and public protest brought it to an end. Minginui, founded in 1949, was built to serve the Forest management and timber milling industries. The house you are staying in was built at that time, and provided accommodation for the shop-keeper and successive mill workers. The last mill closed in 1989.
Today Minginui is a quiet place, industry has moved on and the people here now are mostly descendants of the tangata whenua that have lived here for all those centuries. Although it lacks some modern amenities, there is a freedom and friendliness here, not experienced in bigger towns and cities – a slower pace of doing things, that allows visitors and residents alike, to relax and enjoy a simpler life.
So nau mai, haere mai, Claude and Joy welcome you here.
Enjoy your stay… connecting with Nature.