It was 6.30 a.m. on a warm summer’s morning at Pohutukawa Beach Camping Ground. The camp, being one corner of a 600 hectare district park, was trimmed with birdsong in readiness for the sunrise. Among the campers, the early risers were already moving around. At the far eastern end of the camp Brenda Bongle had not long ago left for her morning run.
As she jogged west she passed an ex-army tent in camouflage colours and with netting spread over it. The tent was empty and the site was silent.
A little further along the coastal strip, next to one of the main tracks to the beach was the tent of young Rongo Brown. Rongo poked his nose out from his tent. He sniffed the air and looked around in the half light before disappearing back inside, only to re-emerge more completely a few minutes later, just as Brenda was approaching. Rongo looked up at the sky then across to a high hill to the south.