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Pioneering Reminiscences of Old Wairoa

Wairoa's Locale

page 18

Wairoa's Locale.

Standing midway on the East Coast between Napier and Gisborne, the town of Wairoa is a convenient starting-point for—

Waikaremoana, the Sea of Rippling Waters;
The inland highway to Rotorua through
most magnificent scenery;
Te Reinga Falls on the north;
Morere Hot Springs and Opoutama Beaches
on the east.
Delightful Prospects——Bush and Sea.

Come to Wairoa.

To one who has seen the beautiful lakes of Killarney, Lake Waikaremoana appeals to me. Both are lovely, both are full of historical associations, strange customs and romantic stories. Just now, bearing in mind the love that my Irish friends bear towards Killarney, I will not institute comparisons. From the point of view of scenic attractions—leaving out all legend and romance—the new scenic route from Wairoa, through Frasertown and Waikaremoana, to Rotorua is one of the most interesting tours on the East Coast, with a charm all its own, and travel in this elevated region will not only invigorate the body but charm the eye. The run from Frasertown to Lake House lies most of the way on the north bank of the page 19Waiau, and fringed with English trees presents in the autumn a glorious sight. At the top end the river (Waikare-iti) lies on the right-hand side of the traveller, and provides a musical setting to this part of the journey. At Lake House the inner man is well catered for by the Tourist Department, and if he is prolonging his stay he can fish or shoot deer (but nothing else) or he can paint, or make the round tour in a well-appointed launch. When satiated with the natural beauties of the Sea of the Rippling Waters and the traveller departs for Rotorua, he can travel many miles round the lake and then on over "The Summit" through some of the finest bush to be found in New Zealand, and when the improvements now being carried out are complete it will also be a safe travel route. The word "bush" is, to a certain extent, a misnomer, as it suggests to the tourist a species of shrub or undergrowth, whereas it means an area of forest giants with hundreds of years to their credit, extending as far as Murupara, in the Urewera country, the home of the Urukehu, the red-headed inhabitants of the past, with the dainty patu-pai-arehe, the goblins and the ghosts of that interesting region. The highest peak on the route is 3,100 feet above sea-level—Lake Waikaremoana itself, which has a coast-line of nearly 100 miles, is 2,050 feet above the sea-level. The highest point near the lake is Puketapu (the sacred hill), 3,905 feet; Panekiri, which the Maoris climbed to attack the rear of Colonel Herrick's force in the early days, is 3,890 feet. The greatest depth of the lake is 850 feet, and the average about 500 feet. All the page 20creeks run into the lake and keep it full, providing also many beautiful waterfalls—A-Niwa-niwa, Mokau, Te Tangi-o-Hinerau and others. Lying to the right of the traveller, but higher up, is Waikare-iti, studded with bush-clad islands, and offering to the traveller jaded with city life, a wonderful respite as he plies the oars circum-navigating the islands over this lovely stretch of upland water. Taihoa! Not just yet, perhaps, but it may be soon, Waikaremoana must come into its own as the most attractive scenic area on the East Coast of New Zealand.

When Dr. F. F. Ormond purchased the Orangitirohia block on the north side of the river, not all the Natives had been satisfactorily dealt with, and a "Native difficulty" of the first grade soon arose. One man made demands on the purchaser and on the Provincial Council for utu (payment) for the land in which an ancestor had been buried. At last the Hon. J. D. Ormond, then Provincial Superintendent, wrote to Dr. Ormond and asked him to settle the matter at once, the best way he could. He did—most effectually. Sending for two men with spades he invited the Maori on to the land for a settlement. "Show me the spot where your ancestor is buried," said the worthy doctor, and this the Maori did. "Dig him up, Charlie," was the order, and as the men inserted their spades one at either end of the grave, made sacred by the most sacred of the tohungas, Hori fled from the spot, and nothing more was ever heard of the claim!