The Coromandel Peninsula was a place that almost as soon as we arrived in New Zealand was top on the list of places to visit. And locals agreed. In fact, our landlord lives in the Coromandel region and promoted a visit.
To be honest the 3 hour drive from Auckland takes no time at all. In fact, the drive up the Thames Coast Rd is quite spectacular, and a little treacherous in parts. Green hills, mountain ranges meet the ocean at the windy road. Manaia is a small town along this coast road. It should be noted that Manaia is also a town in the Taranaki region.
What I am loving most about undertaking this challenge is researching the place names that I visit, and that Dulux have chosen to be apart of the Colours of New Zealand. Manaia is particularly interesting, and one I would never have known about if I had not visited the place. The Manaia is a mythological creature in Maori culture, and is a common motif in Māori carving and jewellery. It is usually depicted as having the head of a bird and the body of a man, though it is sometimes depicted as a bird, a serpent, or a human figure in profile. Other interpretations include a seahorse and a lizard.
The Manaia is traditionally believed to be the messenger between the earthly world of mortals and the domain of the spirits, and its symbol is used as a guardian against evil. In this form, it is usually represented in a figure-of-eight shape, the upper half culminating in a bird-like beak. This form was also widely used in designs of door and window lintels and other architectural features, as well as in ceremonial hafts of weapons. A study of Māori carving suggests that every naturalistic figure there is an equivalent Manaia form which can be seen as a distorted profile-face version of the equivalent full-face figure. It may be that the Manaia represents some spiritual or inner facet of the full face figure.
Driving through Manaia at dusk you certainly get the feeling that this is where the spirit world and the mortal world meet. This is definitely Tolkien country!