Weekend Trip - Saturday 8th to Sunday 9th November 2008

Historic Triumph for ATC Party

Of the three ATC parties who ventured into Whirinaki Forest Park on the morning of the general election, two decided to attempt the Opureke-Matakuhia crossing, undeterred by the failure of two previous ATC-led campaigns. The two parties engaged in tense and protracted coalition negotiations which resulted in overall leadership going to the major party (Philippa, Sue, Graeme and Anthony), while, despite having expressed disdain for the baubles of office, the minor party (Athol and Geoff) won the right to carry the mountain radio. (Tramping pundits suggest that the outcome of the coalition negotiations is testimony to the relative inexperience of the minor party, as much as to the astute bargaining skills of the major party leader).

The day started well, with steady progress being made as the track climbed through forest dominated by large old matai, grading into totara, and finally into red beech at the higher altitudes. At this point, a rapid and unanticipated deterioration in the ‘fisical’ situation made it increasingly difficult to maintain the party’s direction and momentum. There was much flip-flopping from left to right in a bid to overcome unexpected obstacles, but party discipline was maintained (thanks to the wooden spoon conspicuously attached to the pack of the major-party leader) and eventually conditions on the ground improved. Coalition morale soared as we found ourselves back in the mainstream and by nightfall we were safely ensconced in the Upper House (aka Upper Matakuhia Hut).

A schism in the ranks the following morning saw one major and one minor party member form a new grouping in a brazen attempt to outflank the leader, but coalition unity was eventually restored, and the team arrived at the road end well before Big Blue, proving once again that a mixed-member party with the right stuff can still be first past the post!

We were: Phillipa Geary (leader), Sue Grant, Athol Berry, Anthony Hayes, Graeme and Geoff Fischer (scribe)