Growing up on a farm, I learned a few things about gates. They come in two varieties, the regular hinged sort, which are fun to swing on when your parents aren’t watching and for the lazy teenager, can usually be opened without needing to dismount your horse or bike.
And then there’s the Taranaki sort.
I grew up with Taranaki gates and wholesomely loathed them. For the uninformed, a Taranaki gate is essentially a broken segment in a regular seven-batten fence, held together with wire loops, and often reinforced with gnarly barb wire.
To open them, you must dismount your bike or horse, and then engage in a battle of endurance to flip over the wire loops. Succeeding without any cuts can feel like a rite of passage. Alas this is short lived, and after remounting your vehicle and travelling through the gate, you are then forced to repeat the drama.
Eventually in the 90s the barbed wire variety were gradually replaced by a modernised electrified woven wire version with cheap bright orange plastic handles. Unfortunately this was not an improvement. Whereas before my worst fear was avoiding barb-wire scratching or finger wedging, I now had to put up with faint electric shocks pulsating through from the poorly insulated, but tightly sprung handles. My strength was once again put to the test, but now with each passing second gradually weakened by the leaking current. It was a set up for failure, and ultimately instilled a deep-seated fear of all things sparky.
My contempt for Taranaki gates continued.
Sometime in my teens I had an epiphany.
These despicable gates were actually named after the Taranaki region, like, where the mountain is. Or, maybe the Taranaki was named after the gates. Who knew? As the epiphany passed, I put them out of my mind, and after abandoning any possible career in farming, had not given gates of that scale any further thought.
That was, until we visited the Taranaki last weekend.
They were everywhere.
So, when I saw this sign, I was greeted with a flashback of struggling despair, but also some bemusement.
Finally, I had seen a real Taranaki gate.