The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 8 (February 1, 1931)
Our Women's Section
Far away across the rolling Pacific, isolated and remote, there lies a little land—remarkably green—swept throughout by great sea winds. It has been mentioned somewhat rarely in books—indeed, it is astonishing how little the average Englishman knows about it. He has a vague idea, gleaned from a pernicious geography book, that a savage race, known as Maoris, inhabit a group of islands in the far Pacific; he has gazed in awe at a crude representation of a giant Moa stalking the land, has heard of the wonders of Rotorua, and perhaps a whisper of Waitomo. As a result, his picture of Britain's smallest Dominion is wonderfully vague and distressingly inaccurate—a nebulous vision of colossal sheep stations, great crude farmers, and a people dwelling in semi-barbarism, remote from all the refinements of civilisation.
Imagine his surprise, and probably his bitter disappointment, when he sails through Wellington Heads in the summer, sees the grand gorse-clad hills, the busy crowded wharves, the quite remarkably large and modern shops! Gone are his dreams of riding miles through virgin bush, of boiling the billy and listening to the clear ring of the bell-bird in the “leafy deep.” Mr. Kipling has deceived him cruelly. His first impression is one of narrow streets, dense traffic in a restricted area, a little commercial city peopled by a disconcertingly English type of man and woman. This country, he feels, has little to offer him.
By and by he will discover that between the rather uninteresting and decidedly unbeautiful towns of this strange little island, lie great tracts of land whose sheer beauty will leave him staggered and unbelieving.
His train rushes across golden plains of ripe wheat, making him think of Canadian prairies. Far before him is a low line of intensely blue hills—indeed, there is an amazing blueness over everything which is unfamiliar to an Englishman—a fine clearness of atmosphere, giving sharpness of outline.
“What a land for the painter and the poet!” murmurs our English pilgrim to the man in the next seat of his railway carriage.
“Yes,” answers the other, “and we are just beginning to realise it—been too busy settling down so far!”
“Really,” the traveller replies, and delves in his memory in an effort to drag up to the light of consciousness some page 50 fragments of long-forgotten history. “By Jove, yes!” He had heard something of a rather unpleasant “scrap” with the natives. The New Zealander smiles, points out shearing sheds, butter factories, small and prosperous townships, far removed one from the other by very green and well-watered paddocks.
Now the train begins to ascend the mountains, just as a typical glorious New Zealand sunset throws a lurid and blood-red glow over all things.
“But this is perfectly marvellous! ‘Your country seems to combine all the characteristics of the world-blue tropical seas, golden rolling plains, long, low, caressing hills, and now rugged mountains. Why on earth don't you people write about it? Over there they have simply no idea!”
Now, once more, the train is slipping through bush, almost terrifying’ in its strange grandeur—half-frowning, half-menacing, where once noiseless brown skinned Maoris slithered through the undergrowth in search of food.
That night, in his hotel, our Englishman read a poem about New Zealand, by William Pember Reeves:
“Lo! here where each league hath its fountains
In isles of deep fern and tall pine,
And breezes snow-cooled on the mountains
Or keen from the limitless brine,
See men to the battlefield pressing
To conquer one foe—the stern soil,
Their kingship in labour expressing,
Their lordship in toil.”
He looked out to the bush-covered hills, and up to where the Southern Cross shone cameo-cut in the warm darkness. He was beginning to understand something of the charm of this country, the indescribable fascination of it, the sheer exultant beauty of it. And across the little slumbering township came a wind—keen, with the salt tang of the great seas.
A stretch of Mediterranean blue, Girt about by sharply outlined hills, And vaulted by a mass of ever-changing clouds.
This is Wellington—
An unpretentious pile of dwellings
Devoid of beauty.
But every where just now
Is warmth and colour and a glow,
As if the sombre hills
Were flaunting brazenly
A message of defiance
To the smoky chimneys,
And the somewhat blatant respectability
Of a young commercial town.
I climb the jagged hillside,
And along the ridges, till
My heart has caught the golden fragrance
And the flame
Of this gorse.
And when my foolish feet
Have wandered half across the world,
And my eyes are aching with the
Splendour of the East,
I will look into my heart
And see—–Oh, Wellington—
The blazing glory of thy gorse.
Summer once more! And everyone is planning a holiday—thinking of days down by the sea, lounging happily in the sunshine, far from the dust and grime of the city. All the shop windows are vivid with really “dashing” bathing costumes, tremendous “Lido” hats, sunshades, beach-wraps of gay towelling, “Sun-tan” powder, and all the et ceteras with which the modern woman adorns herself for her worship of the Sun God.
This year beach pyjamas will be much in evidence, and are a very necessary part of one's wardrobe. Strange how our ideas of things change—at one time the idea of a woman wearing pyjamas of any sort was positively shuddered at. Later she was permitted to follow her lord and master, and reached the stage of possessing very alluring garments (not merely designed for utility as men's are) for the actual business of sleeping. Now we may stroll quite unconcernedly along the seashore, drink our tea, and wander at will—attired in a most attractive species of that one-time purely masculine property, the pyjama.
You won't need nearly as many simple summer beach frocks as usual, and will be quite freed from the misery of ironing those innumerable pleats! Also, think of the ease and speed with which you will be able to change for a dip, and the perfect comfort of the little two-piece suit—absurdly easy to make, quickly washed, and conveniently carried.
Choose some bright, vivid material—blue skies and seas demand colour, as does our holiday spirit. There are countless varieties of fadeless materials everywhere, chintzes, prints, shantungs, etc., which will defy the kisses of the sun and flaunt their beauty most daringly right through the season. Spots and stripes, flowers and modern “futuristic” designs are suitable. You can use all your originality and individuality in devising a really unique and unusual scheme for your beach pyjamas.
Those in the illustration are very easily made. The full, almost Turkish trousers, are on a hip yoke, close fitting, and have a little sleeveless top of plain material. There is also a coatee to be slipped on when the wind is a little chilly, and the whole effect is quite French and very attractive. Monograms, appliqued nautical designs, bows, etc. All these add to the chic appearance of your holiday lounge suit. Coloured shoes and a soft floppy Lido hat, and you are ready for the beach, feeling deliciously cool and comfortable, and looking worthy of your surroundings.