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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 7 (November 1, 1929)

Te Kooti's Meeting House

Te Kooti's Meeting House.

From Ruatahuna we commenced our course down the Whakatane River. Four miles tramp brought us to Mataatua, probably the largest village in these parts, and famous for its carved meeting house, Te Whai-a-te-motu (The Chase of the Island), built for Te Kooti many years ago. The walls are hidden with reed work and the carved representations of great chiefs of ancient times were fine examples of Maori art. We were most cordially received at this village by Hohi Tari, a beautiful Maori maiden, who was amused by a request to pose before our camera. The village is named, Mataatua, after the canoe which was supposed to have brought the ancestors of the people from Hawaiki.

From Mataatua the journey was continued until we reached the historic Two Poplar Trees, planted to mark the last resting place of Captains Travers and White and a number of their men who fell in the Ruatahuna Campaign, 7–8th May, 1869. That night we made camp at Ohaua-te-Rangi, a native village where we had hoped to meet Te Kotahitana, an old tattooed Hauhau Chief, but were informed that this gentleman passed away over 12 months previously. Continuing on to Whataponga, a distance of eleven miles from Mataatua, we experienced a little difficulty in finding the native track leading from the Whakatane to Waikare-whenua, the tributary which page 44 follows from the gorges of Maungapohatu. However, we were fortunate in meeting a kindly native. Tahi Matate, who guided us over the Wharau Range in order to avoid a particularly bad ford in the Whakatane. This proved a rugged piece of climbing 2,500ft. over a densely wooded mountain track worn deeply by generations of Maori marching. Tahi's pack horses for this portion of the trip were more than appreciated by us. The track crossed over the Manga-tawhero spur, which had been a war track in days gone by. The first military force to travel this track was Lieutenant Colonel St. John's Column, in 1869. This portion of our journey was made through magnificent rata, tawa and mahoe forests. On reaching Waikare-whenua we continued a few miles before reaching the junction of the Waikare and the Whakatane, at Te Kuha-o-Wheterau, when we bid Au Revoir to Tahi, our guide. I might mention that this good fellow had notified all the villages ahead of us that a party of pakchas were approaching and, at these villages, we were shown great hospitality in true native fashion. The next stage of the journey was in the direction of Ruatoki. We were again compelled to ford the Whakatane River many times, occasionally having to make a detour over some high bluff. We passed a picturesque native village, where lived, with his wahine and family, a kindly old gentleman named Noema, who had, along with others, been advised by Tahi of our approach. It was at this village that some of our party ate roasted corn cobs for the first time.

“Tis passing sweet to wander, free as air, Blithe spirits in the bright and breeze-bless'd air,“ —Ebeneser Elliot. A primitive pit saw logging camp in the Urewera country.

“Tis passing sweet to wander, free as air,
Blithe spirits in the bright and breeze-bless'd air,“
—Ebeneser Elliot.

A primitive pit saw logging camp in the Urewera country.