While reading a beautiful photo book about the Wairarapa (Wairarapa: A Place Apart - photos by Pete Nikolaison, text by Michael Wall) from the NZ Pacific Studio library, I came across the following paragraph:
"Forty two kilometres north of Masterton we reach Eketahuna which, for reasons which are not entirely clear, many New Zealanders consider to be a mythical place; a kind of Antipodean Brigadoon. But be reassured, Eketahuna is there right enough and, if the town has never figured out how to turn its ambiguous celebrity status to its advantage, it has erected several large Kiwis to reassure visitors that they are still in God's Own."
Charmed by this description I turned to the internet for more information, where Kiwi Slang revealed that the slang definition of Eketahuna is:
"The middle of nowhere. The archetypal small country town with few amenities and which nobody is expected to know anything about. Similar to Timbuktu, and the mythical town of Waikikamukau."
Well I am here to tell you that Eketahuna does exist, and that this morning I had the lovely experience of chatting to radio announcer Hugo Manson live on the local radio station, which is run from the War Memorial Hall.
I also checked out the fantastic local cafe (which had a roaring fire), some tantalising gift stores... and of course, several large Kiwis.
And if you still don't believe that Eketahuna exists, you can check out this song by Mike Harding - it was inspired by the town.
2023 Burns fellow Kathryn van Beek has an MA from Victoria University Wellington - Te Herenga Waka’s International Institute of Modern Letters. She is a winner of the Mindfood Short Story Competition and the Headland Prize. Her collection of short stories, Pet, is available as a podcast, and her work has also appeared in Overland, takahē, Newsroom, and the Sunday Star-Times. She lives in UNESCO City of Literature Ōtepoti Dunedin with her two rescue cats.