I know exactly where I was, and what I was doing, 47 years ago at 11 pm on the night of the 8th May 1973. I had wandered down Maida Vale Road in Roseneath and was standing at the south end of Balaena Bay. A great northerly gale was blowing with such force that sheets of spray were being whipped off the black heaving waters. I was quite alone. There were no cars or vehicles on the road, or other people out walking in the wild night air. The whole world seemed asleep, but for me.
I remember all this so precisely, only because I made a rough pastel sketch of this scene in a small notebook and inscribed it with the date and time. Otherwise this tiny passing moment from my life would have vanished into complete oblivion.
Back then I only knew this stretch of water as Evans Bay, a name artificially imposed on it by the English settler colony to honour one of the founding members of the NZ Company, London born barrister George Evans.
The tangata whenua of Te Whanganui-a-Tara knew it as Te Akau Tangi, the sounding coast or crying sea shore. When I look back again at the image of these waters, as they were on the night of 8th May 1973, this is the name I now think of, so rich and true to the spirit of the place.