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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (October 2, 1933)

John Rochfort Begins His Survey

John Rochfort Begins His Survey.

Turn now to the difficult and oftentimes perilous task which John Rochfort found ahead of him, and which he completed after many months of severe travel and survey examination and Maori anti-Pakeha demonstrations and threats and, on occasion, of ball cartridge fired over his head.

Mr. Rochfort, in his report to the Engineer-in-Charge, North Island, after describing the route he explored, narrated his adventures with the Maoris through whose tribal lands he travelled with his party. He commenced work at Marton, at the southern end of the route, on June 26, 1883, and after about a fortnight's exploration, during which it rained almost incessantly, arrived at Ngaurukehu. At Turanga rere, on the plateau at the base of Mt. Ruapehu, he met the first Maoris, and although they wanted to detain him until a general meeting page 43 of the people was held, the opposition was feeble, and he went on. At Karioi he was stopped by some armed Maoris, occupying part of the Rangataua block (Government land), who declared that Adamson, employed by him on this work, had sold land on behalf of his wife—Nika Waiata (“who by the way, is a great warrior,” he wrote)—to the extent of three thousand acres more than belonged to her. (The man he mentioned was Tom Adamson, a bold frontier figure of those days. He had been a scout in the Maori wars, he marched with Major Kepa's Wanganui Contingent, and he was often called Kepa's Pakeha-Maori. He was a big, hardy fellow, and he always travelled barefooted and wore semi-Maori costume.)