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

The “Waka Maori.”

The “Waka Maori.”

There were many canoes in use then; every village around the lake had its little flotilla of dug-outs; it was a pretty sight to see three or four of the largest wakas from Mokoia bound for Ohinemutu on some fine summer day, with sail set, making a race of it across the sparkling lake before a beautiful north-east breeze. Long ago they used raupo-reed sails, closely interwoven, very light material; but in my day at Rotorua the popular sailcloth was flourbags, which were deftly cut to shape and sewn with a sackneedle.

Here on this happy little island with its contented industrious community I heard several haka songs extolling the fertility and fruitfulness of the soil and the abundance of food from land and lake. These were often chanted by a merry company of girls and women as they came carrying baskets of food to visitors at a feast. One I have translated thus:—

“Bring, oh bring
Your calabashes to Mokoia,
To the isle of food and life!
In the fruitful summer time.
In the good harvest month,
Gather here, O ye people,
Come to the isle of the full calabashes.”