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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 2 (May 2, 1938.)

Variety In Brief

Variety In Brief

Roman Catholic Centenary Celebrations At Auckland.

Writing to the Minister of Railways, the Hon. D. G. Sullivan, at the conclusion of the recent Roman Catholic Centenary celebrations at Auckland, the Rt. Rev. James M. Liston, Roman Catholic Bishop of Auckland, expresses appreciation of the arrangements made for the transport of visitors to and from the celebrations, in the following terms:—

“Now that the Centenary is over I count it a duty and a pleasure to offer you both my warmest thanks for the splendid assistance given by the Railway Department, and our cordial felicitations on the most efficient arrangements. The Officers of the Department, one and all, showed us every possible courtesy and consideration, and its excellent provisions meant much for the comfort of our visitors. We feel deeply indebted for all this service, and ask you to accept for yourself and to extend to the members of the Railways Staff this expression of our deep appreciation.”

* * *

National Park. Autumn Afternoon; A Strange Illusion.

The heather was in bloom.

The clouds hung low, hiding the Great Ones from sight … many-headed, steam-reft Tongariro, the grim and looming cone of Ngauruhoe, the vast silver crest of castled Ruapehu. The wide stretch of the upland moors was dark, the golden sheen of the tussocks blurred, the boulder-strewn glens of the mountain rivers dim with purple mist. A hawk rose, flapping, from a dark bog, with dangling talons. There was no sound in that upland world but the cold sough of the snow-wind coming from the hidden mountains.

But the heather was in bloom. The bogs and the long tussocky stretches were patched with lagoons of purple colour. We left the car, and plunged into the tough springy carpet. The flowers were pearled with the water of the mist, each delicately-cut bell holding one shining bead. In our quest we left the road farther and farther behind, plucking the resilent stems into handfuls. The moorland stretched and stretched. There were tiny pools of clear water with their margins lined by the odd lichens of that upland region, their colourless shallows stained by the purple colour of the heather. We could hear the long sighing ripple of a stream of snow-fed water breaking on the boulders of its tumbled bed.

If there were ranks of tussock plumes like the spears of old Ngatoro's grizzled warriors, the mist hid them, and we did not see the spiked flax-bushes that grew with the heather. We were twelve thousand miles away, and the mist that brooded on the Great Ones was the mist on Ben More, or Lochnagar, or on the crest of Cairn Gorm that looks down so solemnly over the lands of Moray.

We carried our plunder back to the car, and the road beckoned us on, flowing smoothly, dipping down in long undulations into the mist toward that great bowl of the hills which holds, like a rugged casket, the jewel of waters which the Maori calls Roto A Ira.

Suddenly, from the clouds, the stern head of Pihanga took shape. The mist was thinning, swirling, and dissolving, and the glimmer of the lake began to be seen.

Now, indeed, the illusion was complete. Roto A Ira was a grey loch, rain-blurred, with grey glens running down to the colourless water, and deer tracks around its pebble shores, and Pihanga, withdrawn aloofly in the shroud of the mist, could be nothing but some legendary peak of Highland song and story.

I thought for a time that I heard the sound of pipes, far away across the water, playing the lament of “Lochaber No More,” and then I knew it was only the whine of the wind blowing down from Tongariro, and I watched in vain for a stag, stepping proudly, with tossing antlers, to break from cover, or to see shaggy Highland cattle peering through their hair in the sedge at the margin of the lake.

Instead the sun came, tearing great rents in the mist and destroying the illusion, and the road carried on, on relentlessly, until we could see before us the inland sea of Taupo, shining like dazzling silver through the sun and the falling rain.—Joyce West.

* * *

Taha and Rangi were in love, but this could not be allowed, for had not their grandparents fought and called down curses on one another's heads too awful to mention? However, one day Rangi was missing; she had gone gathering pipis and had not returned, although her basket of shellfish had been found on the mud bank. From the sand hills one brave reported seeing a small canoe heading for Te Maika, but only the one occupant could be discerned in the little craft. Hastily manning a canoe a dozen irate relatives paddled down to the heads hot on Taha's trail. However, when they reached the beach, the little canoe was drawn up on the sand, but only one pair of footprints could be seen. Thinking their quarry had gone elsewhere the angry searchers made back to Kawhia with the object of exploring the Oparau River.

Taha had, however, taken the precaution of making his small sweetheart lie flat in the bottom of his canoe, and upon reaching land he had carefully carried her, until both were on the grass. Leaving no tell-tale tracks in the sand, they hurried on to the green hills of Tararoa where Taha installed his bride with some friendly kindred, thus again proving that “love will find a way.“—Hobo Turi.