There's a dead tree standing by the side of a small lake beside State Highway 1 out near Grovetown that has intrigued me.
It's gnarled and grey and standing in a concrete base with stones around it.
I've asked lots of people whether it is significant, and only one person has been able to give me any sort of explanation. He said it was fished out of a swamp by Peter Yealands, the wine man who does most of his work with big machinery.
So I got in touch with Peter and asked whether the story was true, and for the background.
He said the stump was beech, possibly hard beech, and came from the swamp when he developed the vineyard on the land in 1998. It was about three metres below ground, which suggests the whole block was covered in native bush at one time.
There were other logs in the same area, but none particularly significant. There was a lot of what looked like manuka that was well preserved.
Peter preserved the log with epoxy resin before setting it in concrete, and had planned to hang a sign from it, but decided to leave it plain.
A lot of people gave him flak when it first went up, but that seemed to have calmed down, and most comments these days were favourable, he said.
The lake he developed was a swamp, and many years ago the sea lapped sand dunes where the railways have a siding opposite the vineyard.
Peter remembers the previous owner telling him he had discovered numerous adzes and other Maori artifacts on the land.
He has also been told that the Wairau River once joined up with the Opawa River at the swamp, and a Maori elder told him there was once a species of eel in the lagoon that disappeared.
It's not a big area, but it seems to have a lot of history, which is not surprising considering it is pretty close to the Wairau Bar, the first place in the country where there is a record of human habitation.
I'm pleased to know the background to the tree now, and to the land. When I drive past, instead of scratching my head, I know what it stands for. It's not quite a memorial or a piece of beautiful sculpture, but in many ways it is just as significant.
And I gather it is a fairly typical Yealands thing to do.
- The Marlborough Express