The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 4 (July 1, 1938.)
The Naming of the Waihao
The Naming of the Waihao.
This river gets its name from the small, clear eel which the Maoris call the hao, and the story of its naming is a pretty tale. That authority on the South Island Maori, Mr. H. Beattie, when he told me, half dismissed it from sheer familiarity, though he enjoyed it again as he went back into genealogies which I omit. Yet I doubt if too many have heard even the following bare thread of the story.
A great many centuries before the Maori had settled permanently in New Zealand the people of the tribe of Waitaha came to the South Island.
“Now,” said Rakaihautu to his son Rakihouia, “I will take half of the tribe with me down through the centre of the land and you sail straight round the coast. We shall surely meet again sometime.”
This they did. Rakaihautu went down through the centre, discovering the big lakes and exploring Otago. He found the country very difficult and mountainous and saw many moas. Tradition does not specify that Rakihouia went right round the island, but he is connected with Kaikoura, Banks Peninsula, and the Canterbury Plains. After exploring these places he fished in the rivers till he came to the river that flows out of the hills onto the southernmost edge of the plain.
Here Rakihouia found the small clear eel, the hao, and his wife, the little Tapu, Tapu-iti, liked to eat this eel very much. They stayed beside the river for some time, and called it Waihao, “eel stream.”
Here, indeed, Rakaihautu found them. They had a great re-union and a great feast. Afterwards they went down to the shore and hung seaweed about their bodies, and pawa shell and any other decoration they could find. They thought very well of themselves.
Rakaihautu had had a hard time travelling, but Rakihouia told him of the easy going on the plains and the good eel rivers. So re-united all of the tribe thrust out their chests, stamped their feet, and turning northward, marched singing for two days up to Timaru.
They gave to the Canterbury Plains a fine name. They called it Ka pakihi whaka tekateka a Waitaha—“The plains where pride was shown by the tribe.”
There are two ways to the plains from the Waihao basin. One is along the river valley, and the other is the way the railway takes through the Gorge to Waimate. But if one is travelling to go south, one ascends the Deviation Road from Waihao Downs and comes out near the lower reaches of the Waitaki River, thus to Oamaru.
Nowadays every hotel and nearly every large private residence boasts its smoke-room, and many seem to think this is a comparatively modern idea. As a matter of fact the provision of a special apartment for the use of lovers of the weed dates back for centuries. All the spacious and beautiful English Manor houses of Elizabeth's time had their smoke-room. What kind of tobacco they smoked then is not particularly recorded, but it is said to have been “coarse and strong” for the most part. Comparatively little was known in that day about tobacco culture. Modern methods of manufacture were unheard of and brands like our famous toasted Cut Plug No. 10 (Bulls-head), Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Cavendish, Riverhead Gold and Desert Gold were unheard of. Toasting is a very complex process. It not only effectually purifies the leaf but helps to give it its exceptionally fine flavour and wonderful aroma. The blends named have now been for many years before the public and each year has seen an increased output to meet increased demand.*page 30