The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 7 (November 1, 1928)
To Please a Maiden's Eyes
To Please a Maiden's Eyes.
“I shall,” said the young tohunga, “cause this tree to spring into flower before your eyes.” With those words he put forth all his occult powers, the command of mind over matter, which had been taught him by the wise men in the sacred house of instruction. He recited in quick tense tones his magic prayers. And, all in a moment, a miracle! All at once the tree burst forth into a blaze of blossom. All its naked boughs were covered in a breath with golden hanging flowers.
The amazed girl saw, and was conquered. No man surely could rival that wonder-feat of her priestly lover.
And ever since that day, says the Maori, the Kowhai has flowered on leafless branches, a sign and a reminder of the ancient miracle.
(The Scarlet Cianthus, which is called by the Maoris the Kowhai-ngutu-kaka, or “Parrot's beak,” because of the shape of its very rich flowers, does not carry any special association with native folk-talk. It is the yellow Kowhai that is heard in tradition and song. “Te ura o te Kowhai” (the glow of the Kowhai) is a common expression, and the Maori was as quick as any Pakeha artist or poet to appreciate the beauty of the drooping clusters of golden blossom reflected on the glossy waters of a lake or harbour, or in a gliding river. There is a mystical “Kowhai-turanga ora,” or “Tree of Life,” in the classic legendry of the Waikato people; it is used symbolically in song and speech to-day in allusion to powers and authorities—the British Crown was thus referred to in an address I remember—to which the Maoris look for help and life.)