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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 2 (May 1, 1934.)

Variety in Brief

page 36

Variety in Brief

A month or two ago there appeared in the “N.Z. Railways Magazine” a comment on the Maori names which some parents inflict on their unfortunate children. But in choosing the names of their houses other folk are even more careless and inconsistent. In an important southern city, for example, there is a beautiful house set back in a beautiful garden, for which the owner has had the misfortune to choose the name “Whare-kuri,” which means “dog kennel.” Probably the householder meant to use the much more suitable name “wharekura”; but an altered vowel can make all the difference to the meaning of a Maori word. Another home I know has as its name “Waiwera,” which is beautiful in sound, but hardly appropriate to a happy home, as it means “hot water.” Some years ago a young man on marrying the girl of his choice brought her to her new home on which he had the name-plate “Ohinetahi.” He may have meant it as a prayer to the gods, for it means “the place of one daughter.” The gods, however, usually send showers of blessing to the faithful petitioner, and in this case have answered the prayer abundantly by sending eight daughters and one boy. A clergyman friend of mine was called out some time ago in the darkness of night to help to settle a family squabble, in which the man and wife were having one of their many rows. Before he could pacify their anger daylight came, and on leaving the house he was amused to find on the gate the name “Rangi,” which being interpreted means “Heaven.” A rather pretentious house in another part of the city has been given for its name the high sounding word “Wirenga.” Why, it is hard to say, for it means “broth” or “gravy.” Not far away there is another house, which has been given a Maori name which is appropriate enough—“Naumai,” which is an equivalent of “haeremai” and is the word for “welcome.” But while “Welcome” is in invitation on the doorway, on the gateway is the legend in plain black letters “Beware of the dog!”—Rotia.

One of the most popular outings in Southland is the annual regatta at Bluff, the province's leading port. This is held each year on New Year's Day, and invariably attracts a big crowd. This year the regatta was a two-days’ affair, and marked the diamond jubilee of the Regatta Committee's formation. Although hundreds of privately-owned cars brought loads of spectators, special trains were necessary for wise people who preferred the security and comfort of railway travel to the dust and risk inseparable from car travel on such an occasion. It was estimated that 4,863 people visited the port by train for the regatta. A special word of praise is due to the Acting-Station-master at Bluff, Mr. J. Hickey, and his excellent staff. Arrangements were perfect. Apart from the usual cheerful bustle of the passengers themselves, there was an entire absence of flurry, the staff functioning like a well oiled machine. Trains arrived and left on time without hitch or accident, all enquiries were courteously answered, and the observer received the impression that the officials themselves enjoyed the bright scene almost as much as the holidaymakers—though in putting up such a sterling performance there must have been a lot of worry and organising work of which the ordinary layman would be blissfully unaware.


New Zealand is possessed of many fine coastal and harbour headlands, capes and islands. Among the most picturesque of these numerous islands is “The Castle Rocks” or Seven Churches” as it was called by the missionaries, situated in Whangaroa Harbour. Rising sheer above the blue harbour waters, this island is composed almost entirely of huge rocks. It has seven distinct tower-like formations on it. A few stunted trees growing between the grey masses of stone give the island a grim, majestic appearance. Also in Whangaroa Harbour, are the two well-known rocks, St. Peter's and St. Paul's. These both received their names from missionaries who arrived early in the “eighteen hundreds.“—“Matai.”

An intriguing point made by General Peyton C. March in his recentlypublished book. “That Nation at War” (Doubleday, Doran and Co.), is that the lack of railways in Russia contributed the deciding factor in the revolution. “The supply of forage to a huge cavalry force,” says this writer, “reached a point where all the railways and other forms of transportation were given over to carrying supplies for the horses, to the exclusion of munitions and food for the rest of the army and the people of Russia. The first outbreaks of discontent, which finally swelled to open rebellion, were based entirely on this matter of lack of supplies.” One remembers that Russia had been equally handicapped in her war with Japan, which she lost through lack of good transport.—M.S.N.

Over ten years’ residence at Frankton Junction has given me the opportunity of studying the army of railway employees whose home town this is. A stranger in their midst—not connected with the railway—I felt rather “out of it” for a little while, but now many of these people are my dearest neighbours and friends, and surely it would be difficult to find a more intelligent, a healthier, or a more selfrespecting body of men, women and children in the Dominion. One often hears’ of the medical profession hanging together; the “legal fraternity” is proverbial; but the railway family” at Frankton would be hard to surpass in loyalty, between its members, to its calling, and to the Department. These cheerful folk get the best out of life, too! Their settlement is a centre of culture, and their jolly gatherings (whether in the railway social hall or upon the well laid-out sports ground) are the envy of the town. If this happy state of affairs exists at other railway settlements, as I have heard is the case, then it is no wonder that young and old can place themselves in the hands of such estimable people with confidence, and so make a journey by train in peace and comfort. “Pohutu.”