The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 2 (June 1, 1931)
The Holy Isle
The Holy Isle.
Beauty of landscape all around. But the feature of Mokoia's life and scenery and atmosphere that has always impressed me most is a certain mystic quality, its air of tapu over all. The stories and histories I heard from this old man, and that—men who were born on the Island and would die and be buried there—show that Mokoia is in very truth a place saturated with the mystery that comes of centuries of human life on one small spot, and with the genius loci of primitive man. Long ago it was named Te Motutapu-a-Tinirau, after a South Sea sacred island famed in tradition. It is still the very home and citadel of tapu.
So lovely a place should not be so deserted, but I hope it will never pass out of Maori hands.
Paepaerau village could be made a home of the ancient race typically and distinctively Maori, preserving all the ancient forms of architecture and art-craftmanship and cultivation, with canoes on the beach as when I first saw it. So preserved, it would be the most attractive thing in Lakeland, a retreat to which all the pakeha's sordid and blatant modernity would not be admitted. It is a natural sanctuary. The stone images of the old gods are preserved there still—one is on view to the pakeha, the others are buried. That ancient atua Matua-tonga, the mauri or talisman of the kumara gardens, symbolises the aura of sanctity which permeates the sland. The Motu-tapu-a-Tinirau with its Maori twilight story should be as classic a place to us as ever Mount Olympus was in the golden age of Greece.page break