I have never felt connected to the Whanganui River.

That is despite growing up right alongside it in Taumarunui, more than 160km north of Whanganui, a two-hour drive along State Highway 4.

The 290km-long river runs along the slopes of Mt Tongariro, going northwest until it reaches the King Country town.

There it meets the Ongarue River at Ngāhuinga, or Cherry Grove, a domain full of flora, fixed barbecues and the football fields I played on as a boy.

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Skipper Sam Mordey travelled to Downes Hut on the MV Wairua to recreate what was daily life for almost 70 years on the Whanganui River. Photo / Bevan Conley
Skipper Sam Mordey travelled to Downes Hut on the MV Wairua to recreate what was daily life for almost 70 years on the Whanganui River. Photo / Bevan Conley

More than 20 years on from those days, I climbed aboard the Motor Vessel Wairua and spent the majority of 10

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