The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 1, 1933)
On the Look-out
“Good evening, everybody.” This is the chorus of a popular marching song on the Tararua Ranges, as relayed to Ruru by the wekas of Mt. Hector.
“One more river,
That's the Waiohine;
Jolly nasty river,
One more river to cross.”
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Waiohine, by the way, is a map misspelling of the real name of the mountain river which gave a tramping party such trouble. It should be Waiohina. The name has a poetic origin. The mists and the snows resting on the Tararua Ranges were figuratively spoken of by the Maoris on the eastern plains as the “hina” or “white hair” of the mountains. Hence the river which flowed from those wintry heights came to be called Wai-o-hina, or “Water of White Hair.”
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A New Zealand man who sojourned on Pitcairn Island, has expressed the opinion that the simple-life islanders wanted shaking up a bit in the way of industrial development and more contact with the big outside world. This aroused a retort from a Pitcairn resident in Auckland that the island folk are quite contented and happy as they are. They had all they wanted for a carefree life. Still, that will not satisfy our modern progressivists. I can picture a hustling captain of industry, or an efficiency expert let loose on inefficient Pitcairn to work it up to the requisite pitch of sophisticated advancement. There are so many things we could introduce there by way of persuading it to get a move on.
There are, to begin with, our gas bills, electric light bills, radio licenses, telephone accounts, tight boots, tight husbands, Alsatian dogs, motor cycles, thirty-seven different kinds of inspectors, “Pro Bono Publico” and “Indignant Ratepayer,” midnight jazz parties, policemen, opossums in the orchard, fishing licenses, fourteen thousand and eighteen regulations, Rotary Club speeches, Hollywood cuties, and the rent. When the carefree Pitcairn has begun to assimilate that little lot of concomitants of civilisation we can send him some more to help him onward and upward.
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The talent for working shapeless wood into a thing of beauty is inherent in the race; many Maoris have a natural gift for using the carving chisel. The Ngapuhi people of the North have been in danger losing olden customs; and indirectly the Governor-General has set in motion a general movement for their revival. And it has been remarked that the people will make none the worse farmers for a reconstruction in some measure of the stimulating past.
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The case for the establishment of a Wild Life Control Council is strengthened by the frequent reports of the destrucition of the native bird life by the many pests. Various interests and activities could be co-ordinated with benefit to New Zealand's bush and its feathered inhabitants if one strong body were in a position to deal with all the problems concerned. Friends of the birds are also friends of the forest, and no doubt a Council could do much by its influence to save the bush along the main routes of travel, where the indigenous woodland is so much more attractive to the eye than any plantations of foreign pines and firs.
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Sportsmen sometimes complain that game for their rifles and shotguns is becoming scarcer in New Zealand. As far as concerns the gunners, it is scarcely to be wondered at that wildfowl are decreasing, considering the havoc that has been made in the past among the native duck and other birds, and the decrease of the page 16 feeding areas by the draining of swamps and unwatering of lagoons. But there are still far more deer than we can well deal with, and the forests would be the better for a great reduction of their numbers. Perhaps when they are considerably fewer, New Zealanders will begin to appreciate the good red deer again, and even take to venison as a change from mutton.
Those who look for strenuous sport with the rifle might be invited to try their stalking and marksmanship on the hordes of wild goats that infest the Mt. Egmont State Forest Reserve. It is quite a sporting proposition. The goats will give the riflemen a merry enough run for it, and the sports will have the satisfaction of knowing that every billy and nanny laid out will help to save that glorious bush.
Kapiti Island was an example of a half devastated bush area, all the undergrowth and young plants and ferns eaten, until the Lands Department took it in hand, sent a custodian and riflemen there, and had the hundreds of goats shot out.
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“Ruru's” province does not embrace international politics, any more than it does domestic party korero. But all this angry talk about the Japanification of China, which really does not matter to us, suggests the timeliness of a reminder that Japan has always been our very good friend, that she was our stout and useful ally in the War—remember those Jap. cruisers off Wellington Heads waiting to escort our troopships over the dangerous seas—and that our interest in the Pacific will best be served by remaining the best of friends. Also, and by the way, we never read of Jap. pirates capturing steamers and holding prisoners for ransom—a thriving Chinese industry.
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Pukeroa Park, that beautiful hill above Rotorua town, is about to revert to its former use as a recreation ground, now that it is no longer needed for the big war period hospital. It is a place of history as well as green loveliness. The great palisaded fortress of the Arawa once stood there. It should never be forgotten that the Rotorua citizens and the Government owe Pukeroa to the generosity of the Maoris. Fifty odd years ago the Arawa exhibited a spirit of chieftainlike generosity that some commercial-minded pakehas could not understand. The Government policy in establishing a State Spa at Rotorua was welcomed warmly, and apart from the sale of thermal areas to the Crown at very low prices, many absolute gifts were made. One of these was Pukeroa Hill, which was to be used as a recreation reserve by both Maoris and Europeans.
Now we may hope to see the removal of the structures which cumber the old citadel of the Arawa, and the spacious ground become once again the gathering place of Rotorua's two races for sports and holiday-making. It is really a wonderful public possession, capable of being made more beautiful and interesting still, by the planting of native trees—much neglected in Rotorua town so far—and, I suggest, by using native art-craft in wood-carving for the entrance gates, as in the days of old.
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New Zealand's principal fault just now appears to be that it is producing too much that is too good. Alongside the newspaper heading “Higher Production—Big Butterfat Increase,” the other day, was the announcement, “Low Butter Prices Continue — Cheese Market Weaker.” All previous records in dairy produce yield have been broken by the grading figures for the 1932–33 season. So bad times simply seem to stimulate better quality. Very fine indeed—if we could only get the cash for it. Now it seems also that Nelson grows such wonderful apples that they are often too big to export, the graders say they are over the odds; smaller ones are more acceptable. Our honey is produced in such quantities that it is not easy to market it all; our eggs are better than any other eggs ever known to the henneries of the world. The land literally overflows with milk and honey. Even our fighting fish are the very best in the sporting market, and our geysers are hotter stuff than any other spouters known. All we want, as I said before, is for the world to come running this way with its money-bags.