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Around its shores sweep the currents of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean which meet in a foaming swell of broken water over the Columbia Bank just west of Cape Reinga.
Cape Reinga Lighthouse is one of the most vital trademarks of Te Paki. Its light once shone from Motuopao Island where it had been installed in 1879 but its beam was not visible from the waters of North Cape in 1941 a lighthouse was built at Cape Reinga using the original lens from Motuopao.
The remains of the original tower can be seen on the northern end of the offshore island. An automatic battery operated unit now stands on Cape Maria Van Diemen and the Cape Reinga light is now electric. It was automated in 1987 and is now managed by computer from Wellington. The 1000 watt light bulb, magnified by the lens systems, throws a signal of warning 49 kilometres out to sea and is often the first light in New Zealand that sailors see. Cape Reinga is also known in Maori as Rerenga Wairua the departing place of spirits.
Maori believe that when a person dies, after their tangihanga (Maori style funeral) their spirits departs on a journey wandering up Ninety Mile Beach to Rerenga Wairua and from here, down the Pohutukawa tree and off to our Homeland. It is because of these beliefs that there are no shops at the Cape and there are areas that are roped off as well as signs say
ing no entry.