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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 11 (February 1, 1937)

Pictures Of New Zealand Life

page 35

Pictures Of New Zealand Life

Naming the Camp Hut.

Correspondents every now and again enquire for a suitable Maori name for a country house, or a club and camp whare in the bush. “Something Maori” is always requested. It is desirable to use the original native name of the locality, if it is known and is suitably descriptive or historically interesting. In the absence of the ancient name, an appropriate title can be coined; the Maori tongue lends itself admirably to the sweet-sounding and poetically descriptive place-names. It is necessary to know the place or to have a topographical note about it before deciding on a fitting name.

In the case of an Auckland club which asked for a hut-name, I happened to know the exact place, a beautifully secluded valley at the meeting of two streams on the southern side of the Wairoa Ranges, South Auckland. It is a peaceful nest surrounded by rugged spurs and ranges all densely wooded; in the distance below are green farms.

The names suggested for such a retreat among the hills included the following: Waikohu (misty river); Te Ngahere (the forest); Rua-ruru (owl's nest, cave, hollow tree); Te Hapua (the dell); Te Kohanga (the nest); Awarua (two streams); Whare-huna (hidden house); Waimarie (peaceful); Marino (calm, quiet); Waireka (sweet waters); Korihi-manu (chorus of birds); Waha-o-Tane (voice of the forest-god, the morning song of the birds); Te Wharau (the camp shed); Mohowao (bushmen); Piri-rakau (cling to the forest).

My preference among these, as I explained to my correspondent, was for Waikohu or Te Rua-ruru. The euphony of the names depends, of course, on the right pronunciation.

I give the list I suggested for the sake of the interest to others seeking appropriate names.

By the way, Piri-rakau is the name of an ancient tribe of bushmen in the ranges south of Tauranga; their descendants live there still, in the forest edge. They were so-called because they clung to the forest as their shelter and defence and their chief source of food supplies.

Since I wrote the above the Auckland club referred to has selected Te Hapua from my list as its choice. An excellent name; it is pronounced with the first “a” long.

Along the Northern Wairoa.

The town of Dargaville was recently visited by a warship for the first time, the Wellington, one of New Zealand's own. Dargaville is forty miles from the open sea, but the Wellington could have steamed up the great Northern Wairoa River for many miles further. The channel of navigation is deep enough for ships of two thousand tons for fifty miles from the sea. We used to see, in the sailing-ship days, the tall spars of large barques against the sky, almost alongside the smokestacks of the timber-mills far up the broad river. I have seen a thousandton barque loading kauri at Mangawhare, a short distance below Dargaville. Deep-sea vessels were always in, loading for colonial and foreign ports with cargoes of kauri and white pine; tugs were passing up and down the river towing in some inward-bound vessel in ballast to load, and hauling to the harbour mouth the deeply-freighted sailers fresh with paint, deck-loads piled above the bulwarks, and casting the loose to the winds of the Tasman Sea. That phase of the Northern Wairoa life has passed. Now the shores, stripped of their timber, are a great dairying land; and motorcraft, working every creek, have replaced the sails. There is tidal influence all the way for nearly fifty miles above Dargaville, although there is no trace of salt water. The fresh water is backed up by the flowing tide far below, and recedes with its ebbing.

The North Auckland country is well railroaded now; still there are attractions in a run up the river that a land journey does not give. The scenery quickly increases in beauty once Dargaville is left astern. There are farms and orchards, and tall forest remains in places.

The settlers who pioneered these parts and made the lonely places fit for man displayed, perhaps unconsciously, appreciation of the beautiful in the selection of their farm sites. Very pretty and inviting are many of these riverside nooks, with the homestead overlooking some noble curve of the broad river, green pastures as level as a table, orchards of apples, peaches, lemons and oranges, old-planted grapevines that sometimes trail their clusters over the fruit-trees and dip their heavy bunches in the running water. The homes of the pioneers of the Wairoa were pointed out as I went up the river in one of the small steamboats long ago; the sites where the explorers of these forests settled in the early days remote from civilisation and hewed the woods away. There were the farms of the McGregors, the Patons, the Wilsons and many another. At Mataiwaka we passed the old home of Tirarau, who was the greatest chief on the river—a warrior who was so beautifully tattooed all over that his face and body carving was famed throughout the Island.

page 36