Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 6, Issue 4 (September 1, 1931.)

Pictures of New Zealand Life

page 17

Pictures of New Zealand Life

Our First Century.

It is not too early to begin thinking about the methods of celebrating New Zealand's centenary as a British country, which comes round in a little over eight years' time. The present period of financial stress will pass, we are surely due for a cycle of prosperity before 1940. Ways and means will be found; there need be no hesitation about that. Auckland city, through the Mayor, has already put forward for consideration a tentative scheme for a week's historical pageant illustrating the pioneer history of the colony and Auckland in particular. This programme appeals greatly to the imagination. It is proposed to reproduce scenes that live in our history—the early contact of pakeha and Maori in peace and war, the coming of the pioneer ships, the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, some of the stirring episodes of the wars, the old-time regiments, the picturesque Maori life of the days when New Zealand was young.

There is a vast amount of work in the preparation of such a moving pageant, and it will require much money, but Auckland will be equal to it, and if it is gone about in the manner in which a great film company produces its best work it will be an enormous attraction to the Dominion's people. It will, too, attract visitors from overseas, and it should be devised largely with that end in view. It will pay, there is no doubt about that.

So, too, with the Centenary Exhibition which it is suggested should be held in Wellington. Our Capital City certainly is entitled to its turn of such an exhibition, epitomising the progress of a century of endeavour and the production, wealth, novelty, and beauty of our land. It is something big for which to plan; a great and fitting crown to our first hundred years as a civilised land.

The Sacred Pigeon's Rock.

This land of ours is studded everywhere with hills and rocks which carry like imperishable pegs curious bits of folk-lore, poetic tales of long ago. Here is an example out of many not previously recorded. There is a great grey rock in the heart of North Auckland, on which the beautiful place-name Taiamai is based. In Mr. Ludbrook's sheep-paddock, close to the township, of Ohaeawai, and about a quarter of a mile east from the hotel page 18 stands a grey rock, ten or twelve feet high, rugged of form, much cleft and grass-grown. An old Maori of the Ngapuhi tribe, Rawiri te Ruru, took me to see the sacred place, which he said was tino, or exact spot from which the whole district took its name. The great rock he narrated, about a hundred and fifty years ago (six generations) became celebrated as the favourite haunt of a kukupa or pigeon remarkable for its size and its beauty. Forest then all grew around, with here and there clearings made for cultivations, and this rock in the forest attracted the beautiful kukupa, which often was seen resting and sunning itself and preening its irridescent plumage, and its pure white breast feathers.

The legend grew that this wood-pigeon was a bird of supernatural attributes; that it had come from some distant place, from the ocean, hence the name given it. Tai-a-mai, or borne from the sea. The local chief of that day, one Kaitara, rahui'd the bird; that is, he protected it, forbade anyone to molest it, and indeed none wished to, for all believed that it possessed a mana tapu, a sacred influence of its own. So it became a kind of tribal mascot. At last it vanished as mysteriously as it came; and the Maoris, finding that it appeared no more, transferred its name to this conspicuous rock, its onetime resting-place. A fragment of place-nomenclature this, quite unknown to the European residents of those parts. And, by the way, Taiamai is a name that does not appear on any of the maps of the district. It should be preserved, for it is a good name, and an easy vun to spell, as Mr. Sam Weller would have said.

Big Fishing.

Figures are hateful, some one said; out with statistics and let us have something more human. But there is something peculiarly charming about figures when they register one's big fish catch. I have seen a stolid silent Englishman break into transports of delight and utter quite ridiculous things and cut a ridiculous caper on the green at Taupo landing place when the largest rainbow trout in his basket registered just seventeen pounds on the scale.

I scarcely dare to think of the things he might have done had he emulated his compatriot, Mr. H. White-Wickham, of London, and hauled in a fish weighing just on 800lb. as that enthusiastic angler did last season. The fact that it was a mako shark and not a troutlet would not matter; it was caught with rod and line.

Eloquent to the lover of good fishing are some sea-sport statistics to hand from our Northland. During the last season, according to a report at the annual meeting of the Bay of Islands Swordfish and Mako Shark Club, held at Russell lately, the total number of big game fish caught was seventy-six. This number included a world's record mako, a shark of 798lb. caught by Mr. White-Wickham. The principal catches were: 41 mako sharks, average weight 248 3/4lb.; 20 swordfish, averaging 279lb.; 6 hammerhead sharks, 333lb. One thresher shark was also caught; it scaled 523lb.

These figures are only for the principal fishing-ground in the North,; there were catches of big fish also off Whangaroa and Whangarei.

Some Bush Lore.

From North Auckland a native friend learned in practical bush craft now and again sends me a note of interest concerning the trees and shrubs of our indigenous forests. He has gathered from his old people, and from his own experience, a mass of information about the medicinal value of many of our plants. Some of this is becoming generally known, such as the usefulness of the common koromiko (veronica), but there is a vast amount of lore on the subject quite a sealed book yet to our botanical chemists and medicine-makers.

A curious item from my correspondent concerns the neinei or dracophyllum, that tropic-looking slender tuft-tree with its trunk branched in candelabrum fashion and its long narrow grass-like leaves crowded in rosettes at the tips of the page 19 branches. It is called by bushmen the spiderwood. This neinei, says my North Auckland correspondent, is the sacred tree of Tawhaki, that heroic figure in Maori-Polynesian mythology who climbed to the upper heavens by a vine, or, as some say, by a spider's-thread, in search of his vanished wife. The heart of the tree, as seen by the Maori eye, shows Tawhaki in the act of ascending to the sky.

There are fanciful allusions to the legendary Tawhaki in the tree-lore of other parts of the country. Up in the Urewera Ranges once I was admiring the rich showering of crimson flowers on a large rata tree close to the track we were riding along. My Maori companions said, “Those blossoms are the blood of Tawhaki, in our old stories. When he was ascending to the tenth heaven by a magical vine, some of his blood fell and stained those forest trees. Also, we call the rata flowers the eyes of Tawhaki.”

The Railways And Deep-Sea Fishing. (Photo, W. W. Stewart) En route to the Bay of Islands. Auckland-Opua Express emerging from the Parnell Tunnel, near Auckland. A large Mako Shark (weight 521lb.) caught recently by Mr. G. Ellis, near Cape Brett, Bay of Islands.

The Railways And Deep-Sea Fishing.
(Photo, W. W. Stewart)
En route to the Bay of Islands. Auckland-Opua Express emerging from the Parnell Tunnel, near Auckland.
A large Mako Shark (weight 521lb.) caught recently by Mr. G. Ellis, near Cape Brett, Bay of Islands.

Reverting to the neinei, it is strange to see it growing close up to the ice of the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers; in fact it can be seen on the mountain side high above the glaciers, and a clump of these tuft trees makes a quite fantastic foreground for a picture of the wonderful pinnacles and the pure white down-slant of the iceflows. I think that South Westland region is the furthest south habitat of the dracophyllum family.

Personnel in Industry

(1) The most useful man in Industry is he who can visualise what is to be done and who can successfully lead a great many people to carry out his wishes.
(2) Next in value is the man who Cannot visualise what is to be done, but who has the ability to direct many others, and the willingness to be guided by his superior.
(3) The next most valuable man in Industry is he who can see what is to be done, but who can only direct successfully comparatively few people.
(4) The next in value is the willing and loyal individual worker.—(Advertising World.)

page 20