SHINE BASIN – Maori origin concepts

We feel privileged to welcome guests to Shine Basin Vineyard. You will have an opportunity to experience the beauty of the area and feel a sense of connection with the environment that we enjoy.

Shine Basin was the name given to the inland basin around the Clutha River during the gold rush of the 1860’s from the shine (gold) extracted  there. Our vineyard sits almost centrally in this huge basin bounded to the north and west by the Pisa Range, the south by the Old Woman Range,  the east by the Dunstan Range and the north-east by the St Bathans Range.

The first light of the day touches the tops of the Pisa Range and the last light turns the St Bathans Range pink. Overnight a moonless night highlights the Southern Cross amongst a vast haze of stars forming the milky way. During the day harrier hawks (kahu) patrol the huge expanse of sky.

It is inevitable that such grandeur brings a sense of proportion to our lives in the knowledge that we as individuals form but a small part of something far greater all around us. It is a reminder of human frailty as the natural elements transcend all else. The summer sun is severe but the clearest of light brings out intensity in the colours. The winters are harsh but sun on a hoar frost is a sight to treasure. The ferocious north-west wind, whilst a torment on the ground, produces the most amazingly beautiful lenticular clouds.

In this environment of extremes the finest quality Pinot Noir grapes thrive. The vines race to deliver their fruit in a six month growing season from bud burst in early October to harvest in April. They change from the dormant naked- looking sticks of winter to manicured green hedges in summer before turning to the spectacular yellows, oranges and reds of  autumn.

At Shine Basin we accept that it is the responsibility of all humanity to respect and care for our environment and planet. As individuals some of us are privileged to serve as temporary custodians (kaitiaki) of small parts of the world, thereby creating what we experience as a spiritual connection with the land. We hope that visitors might gain some sense of this relationship although it is difficult to describe. Fortunately in New Zealand  we have the benefit of Maori culture to express such concepts far more eloquently than can be expressed in pure English. What follows is a pakeha’s description using Maori terminology of this  spiritual  relationship with the land.

The land represents our earth mother, Papatuanuku, who provides nourishment for us, not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. Ranginui, the sky father, contributes life and knowledge. In this sense all humans are unified by being children of the earth and sky.

People disperse and find their own place on the land with their families. Over generations, the families living in a particular area become the tangata whenua (people of the land) for that small part of the world. These people and that land are like a family being provided for by Papatuanuku. The people become kaitiaki (guardians) of the land. The tangata whenua come to be able to speak authoritatively about where they live, the plants that grow there, the wildlife living there, the weather patterns and the natural cycles occurring. Over time the tangata whenua are able to recount the history of their ancestors. Such tangata whenua come to identify themselves, not so much by name, but by their ancestry and where they live – their mountain and their river. Every individual then possesses a turangawaewae  (a place to stand) or more-so a place where they feel connected and that offers a sense of belonging and security.

When you visit Shine Basin we invite you to reflect on the concept of a turangawaewae. We are yet to be true tangata whenua but are working on that. Our turangawaewae lies in the shadow of Mt Pisa on the river terraces of what was the Clutha River and is now Lake Dunstan. Our ancestral history is recorded on a carved post (pou whakapapa) standing near the entrance to the vineyard. As time passes our ability to speak with authority about the physical environment around us grows.

We invite you to visit Shine Basin, enjoy the property and respect it as if you were the guardian. We hope especially you will benefit from some of the physical, emotional and spiritual nourishment that the land can provide and that you find your own turangawaewae.