The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 1 (May 1, 1928)
Land of Plenty—and Peril
Land of Plenty—and Peril.
Now we are well out on the plains of rich volcanic soil, with here and there an ancient lava flow, that the Maoris of old called Tamaki-makau-rau, or “Tamaki of a Hundred Lovers.” This was debatable land, contested by many tribes, who fought for these food-teeming lands of warmth and fertility, and for the bays and estuaries and creeks that yielded a continuous harvest of delicious fish and shellfish—the kaimataitai, or food of the salt sea. It was, however, a land of peril, for it was traversed by warparties from north and from south, and the inhabitants had ever to be on their guard. They lived in terraced and trenched and stockaded villages on the hilltops; this Tamaki-makau-rau Plain was anciently a bristling series of mountain castles, with plantations around the mountain bases and in the sheltered hollows of the lower craters.page 11
Away on our left, rising like a massive monument to the warrior might of the vanished race, is the lofty round mountain Maungarei, called by the pakehas Mount Wellington. It commands the tidal river Tamaki, which comes sweeping up round its base, and it must have been a formidable fortress in the pre-European era, when its serried terraces, one rising above the other to its scarped summit, were occupied by stockaded dwellings and storehouses. Near its base were the large palisaded towns of the Ngati-Paoa tribe captured by Hongi Hika and his Ngapuhi musketeers a little over a century ago.
The stone walls, constructed of rough blocks of blue - grey lava from the tossed-about volcanic-rock streams, are a feature peculiar to these Tamaki-Manukau levels.
Now the spreading city and suburbs shade off into the country, and beyond Otahuhu and Papatoetoe we are fairly out in the small-farm area. Otahuhu, where the Tamaki tidal river and the of the Manukau almost touch each other, is an olden canoe-portage of the Maoris; here they could cross from east coast to west. Here, too, is historic pakeha soldiering camp-ground. Otahuhu was the first field base of the British and Colonial troops in the Waikato War; here Auckland's citizens were mobilised for service against the Maoris, and there was a great canvas camp, besides a stockade in which defaulters broke blue metal for the military roads, did pack drill, and—if they were British “Tommies”—took their doses of the “cat” at the triangles for offences against discipline. The railway runs parallet with the Great South Road, along which thousands of soldiers marched in 1863 and 1864, with rumbling guns and miles of transport carts.
The headwaters of the Manukau Harbour gleam here and there to the right; softblue in the distance on the other hand to the east are the rumpled ranges of the Wairoa and Hunua.