The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 11 (February 1, 1937)
The Hawke's Bay Mail
One of Napier's most perfect mornings filled me with reluctance to leave for the Southern trip. From the windows of the Masonic Hotel the bay looked warm and blue and inviting, and on the long slow Pacific swell two or three trawlers were patrolling slowly.
The coaches of the Wellington express stood clean, and cool, and fresh at the station; and the roomy, comfortable single seat promised a day of lazy enjoyment in the contemplation of the varied scenery of three provinces.
Smoothly and without appearance of undue haste the train pulled out, and during the short stop at Hastings a diversion occurred. A party of Maoris stood on the platform farewelling a friend, who was most truly a rangatira. His healthy, cheerful, brown face was well set off by his well-cut suit of rough tweed, and the manner in which everyone, pakeha and Maori alike, greeted him, irresistibly suggested that greatly overworked word “personality.”
At last he took his seat in the smoking carriage with a pleasant “Tenakoe” directed generally at the occupants. On the other side of the aisle from him was a party of four young fellows, who started up and maintained an animated conversation on every variety of gossipy subject. As the mail ran smoothly southward into the Te Aute district, one or two motor cars raced the train in the customary way. Here was a topic ready to hand, and the four made the most of it. One of them was particularly emphatic on the subject of road versus rail. In his opinion, the only way for a modern reasonable human being to travel was by motor. One by one he produced his reasons, and in the hope of getting them endorsed, he turned to the rangatira with the question:—
“Don't you think so, Kerehi?”
Then spoke the oracle.
“Well, I like te motor. I have one of my own and I use him a lot when I run round Hawke's Bay after stock—you know, Hastings, Havelock, Give, Greenmeadows—ho! all round. Now to-day I making for Poneke, Wellington. I don't want te car. I take te car, Henare want to come with me. Pretty hot in that car and Henare get thirsty—I get thirsty. Stop at te pub for beer. Drive a few mile, stop again for beer. Get to Palmerston North and have dinner and some beer. Too tire to go on. Then we stay te night, and next day we drive to Poneke. I think that trip cost too much.
“Now, look here. I get te comfortable seat, I can stretch out my leg—go for a walk on te platform—get a cup of tea. No Henare, no petrol, no driving. That motor car being pretty warm to-day and full of carbon monopoly—you know te gas that choke you.
“This railway carriage, he pretty comfortable, I think—don't waste no time. Pefore half past four I get to te hotel in Wellington, clean, fresh, not tired. You looka here, young fellow, you can have te car. I have te railway train every time. What would you say, Mister?”
The round pleasant face and shrewd brown eyes were swung in my direction.
“You are right, most decidedly,” I answered, and I have continued to think so ever since.page 26