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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 1 (May 1, 1930)


Whakarewarewa lies in a valley at some distance from the lake, and one and a half miles from the town. Every other attraction is, of course, entirely overshadowed by the thermal activity, which is much more intense and spectacular than that at Ohinemutu. The village itself is a collection of huts and small houses all thrown irregularly and close together on a narrow area. To the right, as you enter, is a native reserve, a comparatively small section. Here there are a number of boiling pools, some of them too deep to fathom. There is also one large pool where the village youngsters may have their cleansing bath as often as they please without mother having to turn on the caliphont or father lighting up the copper. Much of the village cooking and washing is also done here; there are even several houses scattered around almost on the brinks of the pools. To live on this thin crust of ground, which shakes and trembles and might at any time blow up altogether. seems absolutely foolhardy, yet the Maoris have been born and bred to it, and hence feel no concern. There is, however, the real danger of tuberculosis, for which the continual warm, moist, unhealthy atmosphere provides an ideal breeding ground. This was one of the reasons which prompted the Government to set up a Commission in 1926 to investigate among other matters the desirability of demolishing the present village and reconstructing it along model lines some distance up the adjoining hill. A new road was put in hand some time ago, but nothing else has been done owing largely to lack of finance and the difficulty of concluding negotiations. page 55 Here, as elsewhere in Maori settlements, the ownership of land is a very complicated problem. One piece, no larger than a small room, is said to have thirty-nine different owners! In the interests of the Maoris themselves, however, change of site and reconstruction are urgent needs, and it is hoped that difficulties may be smoothed out before very long.