The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 11 (June 1, 1930)
Pictures of New Zealand Life — Glow of the Rata
Pictures of New Zealand Life
Glow of the Rata
The Otira Gorge was a picture of glory last month, with the rata trees in full flower for miles along the mountain sides. So, too, were other parts of the great alpine range on the western side, such as the steep slopes around the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers. This summer seems to have been a period of exceptionally rich blossom for the rata and its northern cousin the pohutukawa. Close observers of Nature in the north have noted cycles in the flowering of the pohutukawa, the cabbage tree and the flax plant. The “Christmas tree” and the flax flower with exceptional luxuriance every three years; the cabbage tree, as a rule, flowers only every third year.
The pohutukawa has been particularly rich in blossom this summer all along the shores of the Hauraki and on the beautiful islands.
The Acclimatised Pest.
It is just about time that some restraining hand was placed on those enthusiastic acclimatisation folk who are forever craving to make New Zealand a replica of other lands in the matter of wild life. There is scarcely an introduced animal that has not developed into a nuisance and a source of positive injury to the native forests and native bird life. Deer are the biggest; goats run them a close second; then come the stoat and the weasel, and the opossum, over which so much controversy has raged, must also be included in the list of undesirables. Our native life comes first, and anything that tends to reduce the food supplies for the birds whose existence is bound up with our forests, must be classed as a pest and a peril.
The fact that some trappers make a living from the wily 'possum is no more valid an argument than the fact that a lot of people profit from the rabbit.
There are some queer enthusiasts who would like to see American beaver in our Southern forest streams, and one game hunter who had been to Canada advocated not long ago the introduction of the silver fox as a splendidly profitable bush habitant. An Australian told the present writer that he didn't see why New Zealanders should be so scared of the snake family. He thought the Aussie carpet snake would be a capital addition to farmhouse life; it was “quite harmless,” and it kept the place clear of rats and mice. None for our selection, thanks!
Te Awamutu's Pride.
Quite a model country town is Te Awamutu, a place that has long developed a true civic 'spirit, and has done much to make itself attractive to travellers. It has an atmosphere of the historic too. If you have not seen its pretty church, standing in its churchyard by the willow-fringed Manga-o-Hoi stream, you have a picture of old-time yet to admire. It is a steepled church of the first Bishop Selwyn's time, and it was built in 1854, so that it is the oldest English building in the Waikato, and one of the oldest churches in New Zealand.
Like its sister church amidst the beautiful farming lands of Rangiaowhia, three miles away, it was a Maori mission place of worship, when the Waikato was still in native hands, before the war.page 47
Te Awamutu is very proud of its St. John's, and the church of antique look is tended with a care that will ensure its preservation for many a year to come.
A Veteran Naturalist.
Thirty or forty years ago the name of Richard Henry was often before the public, in association with matters of natural history and exploration in New Zealand's Fiordland. He was one of a small band of Southerners who did a great deal to make that untamed corner of these islands better known to the world, and he was always a strong advocate of the preservation of native wild life there. The Government appointed him custodian of the bird sanctuary, Resolution Island, in Dusky Sound, and he lived alone in that magnificent solitude for years. His home was on Pigeon Island, a bush-covered dot near Resolution, and the Government steamer “Hinemoa” called once in every six months; his only regular link with the outer world.
Henry's periodical reports to the Lands Department on his life and bird-study in Dusky Sound made quite fascinating reading. He was the Gilbert White of Fiordland. Later on he was in charge of the Kapiti Island sanctuary for some years.
Now, long retired from Government duties, Mr. Henry is living at Helensville, up on the Kaipara, a very old man. One would like to see some of his reports of thirty years ago reprinted for popular information.
Don't Like Limits.
There is always with us the malevolent who “can't abide” laws of any kind that interfere with his peculiar notions of liberty. One of this species of the human family is the motorist who wants all speed limits abolished. Following on the example set by the no-limitations faction in England, some New Zealand motorists are agitating for liberty to go the whole hog on the people's highways. They even suggest that slow drivers should be prosecuted for keeping the speedsters back. Fortunately, there is still such a thing as sane public opinion in the matter of road speeds. The scorcher of the highways, whether a motor-cyclist or a car-driver, is a public nuisance and only brings the whole body of drivers into disrepute. The no-limits party is no more likely to succeed in the agitation than the man is who proclaims his impatience with the law which punishes him for getting drunk in public.
It really wouldn't matter in the least if the speed-fiend broke his neck, if he only did it in private, somewhere off the roads. But on the highway there are the rest of us to be considered, and, strange as it may seem, there are actually some of us who still like to walk alongside the roads without having to scramble through a fence whenever a frenzied ass on wheels heaves in sight.page 48
“Under luminous leafy deeps, Which an emerald splendour steeps…”—Alfred Domett.
Historic “Hongi's Track,” between Lakes Rotoehu and Roto-iti, Rotorua, New Zealand. The noted Chief Hongi used this track in 1823 to bring war canoes from the coast to attack the Arawas on Mokoia Island, where they were massacred.