MORE TALES FROM ACROSS THE DITCH

The view from Takapuna, across Waitemata Harbour to Auckland.
I took this picture from the site of one of my favourite watering holes of the ’60s,The Mon Desir Hotel, now a very up-market apartment complex.But, on a quiet evening, if you listen carefully, you may hear ghosts!

The author beside a Maori carving in the Arataki Centre.
I don’t remember who this carving represents, but I know it’s not Ure as Ure’s “statue” is just off-camera, to the right.
Looking south from Arataki Visitor Centre in the Waitakere Ranges.
Beyond this reservoir is Manukau Harboour.

One of the (many!) things that caught my eye on the recent New Zealand trip was some clever welding, where someone had fashioned a novel letter box in the form of a weta. “wetabox”? Unfortunately, the road up the Waitakere Ranges is very twisty and the “weta box” was on a blind bend so I couldn’t take a picture. But I want a weta box like it! (I think I’ll have to have some other kind of box as our letter box is cemented into the front wall beside the gate.)

For those unfamiliar with these creatures,they are like very large crickets and are among the world’s oldest survivors. Scary-looking? Maybe, but they are pretty harmless. They have had some bad press, though, including being blamed for killings of sheep and less than fifty years ago a woman claimed that some weta had carried away her baby!

And yes, I did see one in Auckland.Not a very big one. In our bedroom. It probably came indoors while the window was open and crawled across the sleeping face of My Hero. Wasn’t he lucky that the Lady Who is Not Scared of Crawlies was on hand! Yep! I’m the one who deals with weta, crickets, roaches. Even spiders, although it took half a lifetime to overcome my “arachna-cringe.” And there is NO WAY I’d tackle a funnel web spider.
I should, perhaps, mention that my dealing with bugs et cetera involves removing them without killing them.Unless said bugs are mosquitoes or flies. These I squish and toss into cobwebs.But I would be a fool to try removing a funnel web!
I have never eaten weta, although,as a child I occasionally ate the larvae of the huhu beetle. Not keen on raw (ie,live!) grubs, I rather liked them tossed on a hot griddle. A sweet, nutty flavour as I recall; some people liken them to chicken.
And before my comments box is flooded with “yecchs” and “ughs” let me remind you that there are many people who are willing to pay top dollar to eat snails (as long as they’re called escargots!) and oysters and caviar and all manner of other meat.
Writing this has whetted (weta’d?) my appetite…time to raid the pawpaw tree!