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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)

From the Island Top

From the Island Top.

One day I climbed to the top of Mokoia with my friend Tutanekai the tounga, a lineal descendant of Hinemoa and Tutanekai of romantic memory. We pushed up by overgrown tracks, where the ancient homes of man are covered with shrubs and flax bushes; past the earthworks of immemorial forts, along little gullies and through witchy thickets. My companion pointed out this tapu place and that, and told how in the long ago this fruitful isle was “covered with people.” On the open breezy summit we came to a little square redoubt-like enclosure, nearly six hundred feet above the lake. It was once a fort, now a burial place. Tutanekai gave its name, which translated is “The Pinnacle of the Place of Abundant Food.” The name giver of ancient days likened the whole island to a great pile of food. What a picture from that green and lofty lookout! The lake lay all round us, as smooth as if polished. Ferny and wooded spurs radiated from our citadel down to the bright waters. Blue ranges rimmed the skyline; we saw the glimmer of little lakes; the woolly, curly steam columns of far away, and four miles south across the lake the white page 31 buildings and the green groves and parks of Rotorua town. We watched a trail of smoke emerging from the bush on the Mamaku Range—the incoming train from Auckland.

It was hot on this hilltop; Tutanekai and I presently sought the shade of the small woods on the south side, and loafed there awhile in great content, and the learned man told some of the tales of old. How sweet a retreat this day, so near and yet so far from the busy spa town:—

“A soft air lifting like a sigh
Some tree-fern's fan, as if in sleep
It stirred in the noon stillness deep,
Then sank in drowsy trance profound.”