The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 4 (July 1, 1938.)
Pot and Pan.
We are getting through the winter nicely, thank you; and soon spring will be with us prinking and preening in its new green overcoat. What joy to contemplate the annual rebirth of the earth, the ubiquitous upreaching of verdant fingers fumbling the wayward sunbeams—or words to that effect. How good to see life yawning and stretching beneath its lush coverlet, the hills swelling, the streams yelling “it ain't gonna rain no mo',” and birds, beasts and little lepidoptera leaping to Pan's ragtime. Oh, tantivvy and hey-nonny! Also, attaboy!
But how completely the seasons prove the platitude that one man's fortune is another's bad break! For, while we of the south go to Pan those of the north go to pot. In Sascatchewan and Michigan, in Hampshire and Hamburg the frosts of winter tingle the toes and tint the nose of the nomadic northerner.
Birds of Passage-money.
But this is the time for the annual migration of the wise birds of the north who have the wherewithal to flap their wings. This is the time when Silas E. Scape and Colonel Grouse-Moor consider pegging a claim for a place in the sun. This is the time when we say, “Come to New Zealand!”
We do not command, we do not boast; we offer a plea. We've got the goods; therefore we plea. All the best people do it. In England they plea, “Come to Oogle on the Ooze,” “Come to Catchup cum Mush!” “Come to Woop-Slushing!” Why should we be too high-hat to do it?
There may be no reason why the British public should come to Woop-Slushing; the reasons why they should not may be overwhelming; but they like to be invited. They feel insulted if they are not asked to Little Poshing-in-the-puddle or Bounding-on-the-Lea. They feel neglected if they are not confronted with posters urging them to come somewhere for the summer.
And so we repeat “Come to New Zealand!” and for the benefit of those who are not sure where it is, we explain that it is in the lower right-hand corner of the atlas and can be detected with the naked eye. It's the bit that looks like a fish-hook with the bait half nibbled off.
Some of the more captious may complain that whoever prepared the atlas might have painted us a little closer to the Motherland. Whilst admitting the romantic advantages of being a far-flung outpost, they might submit that New Zealand has been hit to leg for a boundary. But we explain that our apparent surfeit of latitude is the result of our native astuteness and is a tribute to the old pioneers who were more Scotch than scotched against. Well did these exiled scions of Scotia know the advantages of advertising. Well did they wot the truth that “Distance lends enchantment to the view” and “The longer the road the more desirable the destination.”
The Last Post.
Being kind of skidded off the earth's bulge allows us to claim the last lamp-post in the world and affords us direct communication with the Bay of Whales, which even the most prejudiced must concede are valuable publicity points. A leaning to lamp-posts is a good old British custom. Many a traveller would feel the journey justified if he could boast in the bar of the Pickled Beagle that he had held up the last post on earth while he waited three hours for a girl from Bluff who personified the old adage, “When in Bluff, bluff as Bluff bluffs.”
Blubber and Whale.
Comparative consanguinity to the Bay of Whales is good sales talk too. There's something about a whale that lingers in the imagination, especially when it has been separated from its bath-water for a long time. The word “whale” reminds one of Moby Dick, and also of Jonah (who possessed inside information about whales), and his wife (who possessed inside information about Jonah). There's something romantic about the cry, “Thar she blows!” provided it's not the caliphont. We believe that a stuffed whale hung over the High Commissioner's door would go big and add considerably to our prestige as a fisherman's paradise.
Not that we need it; we have everything else. We are air-conditioned, steam-heated, ice-cooled, sea-soaked, up-ended, rolled out, washed down and copiously clad in Nature's greeneries. We can catch trout in the rivers, shark in the sea and cold on the mountains. We can pluck bananas in the north, oysters in the south and roosters all over. We can get sunstroke at one end and frost-bite at the other. There is more air than we can use, and there are so many mountains that, if they were ironed out, they'd have to shift Australia to give us room.
Getting Things Sheep-shape.
Not that we want to go flat out. We have to think of our sheep; it's only fair, seeing that we have twenty times as many sheep as human beings. A sheep would rather nibble three blades of grass at an altitude of fifteen hundred feet than a field of turnips at sea level. It may be uphill work, but it saves wear and tear on the neck; and the sheep gets it in the neck soon enough. You have only to try eating asparagus off the carpet to sympathise with the sheep's point of view.
A Little League of Nations.
But, to return to our muttons, no visitor need ever feel lonely in our variegated vicinities. We are a vest-pocket edition of the world. We have the steppes of Russia, the streams of Scotland, the cliffs of Cornwall, the jungles of Java, the waterways of Venice, volcanoes as vigorous as Vesuvius, the forests of Sweden, the mountains of Switzerland, the cheese-consciousness of Holland, and the hot-spots of Hades.
Who said “see Naples and die?” We say “see New Zealand and get an eyeful of the earth.” Amongst our mountains the most uppish Swiss can toss a yodel and swallow it again on the rebound. An Austrian may view the trapezic tempestuousness of his native thar—so near and yet so thar! To the canal-conscious Italian our Wanganui river is no Venetian blind. What it lacks in gondolas and bridges and dogs’ palaces it makes up in water—which wanders in pellucid placidity all in the one direction, and, unlike Venice, there is no danger of a bottle being dropped on you out of a top window.
No American need feel homesick with Egmont's sky-scraping proclivities to contemplate. Certainly there is no lift yet, but we believe that it won't be long before the progressive Taranakians bore a hole up the centre of Egmont and put one in to uplift our visitors from the land of Speedom. An American gets dizzy on street level and is liable to topple upwards. For the tourist who is not absolutely tied to Friday night there are the baths at Rotorua in colours to suit all skins, except Hottentots; but even they can get inked at the local hostelries if they crave a black-out.
The far south is replete with curling (which has no connection with the prevailing waves), oysters (both in shells and in offices), threepenny bits, four-penny beers, cold lakes, warm welcomes and skirling (done by forcing a lot of air through small holes until it shrieks with agony).
For further particulars, “Come to New Zealand!” We can't bring it to you because it's in constant use. Anyway, what would the little godwits do if they arrived and found it gone?