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

The Bays of Rotoiti

The Bays of Rotoiti.

That was the beginning of a long-ago cruise with a capital Maori mate, sailing or paddling from bay to bay, making the acquaintance of the small communities of the Ngati-Pikiao tribe who lived in the lovely indents of Rotoiti's in-and-out coast, camping where we listed, exploring little silent islands, and the grand old Maori forests. What glimpses of charm we had of wild life around the lakes! We came silently upon the wild duck and the weweiia, the little dabchicks, and the teal in the quiet waters; we even surprised a melancholy bittern fishing on the Ohau banks. Our sail easily wafted us along, and when the wind dropped and we had to take to the oars we moved almost as silently, so that we seemed to enter naturally into an intimacy with the things of Nature. In a noisy-power-launch we would have missed all those curiously confidential touches of the wilds.

There are some almost faery places about Rotoiti. There are some tiny lovely dots of vegetation seemingly floating on the lake; there are two islets, as pretty as a picture, with their flax bushes and shrubs and dangling creepers and flowers all mirrored in the smooth waters on days of halcyon calm. There is a rocky isle, Pateko, half-way down the lake, a place of legend and elegiac poem. Long ago it was a fort and a refuge; nowadays it is the burial place of the small hapus who live on the nearby southern shore of Rotoiti. Every little bay has its shining crescent of sand; and on the grassy terraces near the east end of the lake there are settlements with here and there a carved house.

The trail of modern progress is over most of those villages, but the communal house of meeting retains the old style, artistic in form, blending well with the landscape.