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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 2 (June 1, 1928)

On Classic Ground

On Classic Ground.

Taupiri (70 miles) is the most charmed spot of all Maori poetrs and legendry in all the Waikato, as it is also the most beautiful spot of mingled mountain and river and woodland land-scape. Here the hills on either side of the river become mountains and closely approach each other—the graceful conical mount of Taupiri, very nearly 1,000ft, high, on the east and the high spurs of the Hakarimata Range on the west. This is the grand gateway to mid-waikato Ages ago the Waikato River, which formerl lowed across the plains to the southern part of the Hauraki Gulf, found its was through here by an earthquake-rift in the hills, and wrought a wide and deep passage for itself at the back of the ranges. It comes down here in a glorious glimmer-glass reach from the rivers-meet at Ngaruawahia; then as it reaches Taupiri-foot it takes a magnificent sweep to the north-west. Our train runs close beside the blue shimmering waterway, brimming to it willowed banks.

We pass immediately below a steep foothill of Taupiri; a high green mound with sides trenched in the lines of an ancient fort, its summit covered with white-painted burying enclosures. This is the most venerated place in Waikato, the sacred resting place of the chiefs and many of their people. Here repose the remains of the Waikato kings. Before the Waikato War all travellers along the bank where our train now runs were forbidden to tread on this sacred soil, which was tapu to the water's edge. They were compelled to cross the river by canoe to the west side until they had passed the sacred spot, when they could recross. Horsemen in those days had to swim their horses behind the canoe.

Over yonder, on an alluvial flat between the river and the Hakarimata Range, there are time-stained relics of an old mission station, the Rev. B. Y. Ashwell's establishment in the “fifties” and early “sixties.” This station, an oasis of civili sation in the wilderness, gave hospitable wel come to many a canoe party of white travellers in the days when Waikato was wholly Maori land. Over there, too, near the soft green acacia grove that marks the mission site, was the large Native town called Kaitotehe, which was made the subject of a drawing by the artist G. F. Angas, who came exploring these parts in 1844.