The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 6 (October 2, 1933)
Come, listen all you travelling folk, who would visit us down under. Listen, and we will tell you a tale of the Daylight Land, Ao-tea-roa, “The Long Bright Land.” Come, stay awhile with us, play awhile with us. Follow the trail of the shining rail, and we will show you our wonders.
“Look, can you not glimpse the crimson flame of the rata among the green glory of the bush, as the train rides by? Yes, that is the tui's ravishing note.”
A merry fellow is the tui, black and handsome and full of sin, as he chatters and chortles to himself up in the tree tops. A clever mimic, he loves to imitate the other birds. He will mock you, too, if you don't watch out. New Zealand provides the finest fireless cookers in the world, gratis. In the middle of the North Island, still following the trail of the shining rail, among the steam holes and boiling pools of Rotorua, you may see the brown man, or rather his women folk cooking their daily food. For in these Fortunate Isles even Nature's chimneys smoke. An amusing fellow the Maori, and a great orator. You will admire his young wahine (wife) raven-locked, liquid-eyed, soft of voice, and sturdy as a young kauri.
The Maoris are a hospitable race, and if you are not too fastidious, pakeha (white man), you will accept the brown man's invitation to foregather with his tribe in the big Whare-puni, or meeting house. This is the great “korero” or talking house where the tribe talk over the war exploits of their forbears. Here they tell their age-old tales, and sing their plaintive chants. Although the whare-puni is lit with a small door and window only, as it is very large, the visitor soon gets used to the pleasant twilight within. The walls are cleverly decorated with grotesque carved figures with lolling tongues. These are warriors of the tribes’ ancestral heroes. Cunningly wrought panels of rapu and dyed flax line the walls between the carvings. Happy sloe-eyed “tamariki” (children) roll on the floor in play, and te-kuri, the mongrel Maori dog, gazes at his master with adoring eyes.
Here a young brave will tell you, oh stranger from over the seas, wonderful tales. Strange myths and legends, stories of fierce taniwhas or water gods. Tales of stream goblins, of evil spirits, of forest fairies; these have been handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. The Maori will tell you in his own poetic way—“Listen Stranger”—
“O tongue of mine
It was not of me
Came this fable.
But I repeat it now
And tell it to the world.”
Here, too, you will learn of his skill, with rod and fly, how he stole the art of making fishing-nets from the fairies. For Ao-tea-roa is the anglers’ paradise, but the tale of the great northern fighting fish, the mako shark and the kingfish, is a story by itself. Of his ancient war canoe races the Maori will speak. Great red monsters, a hundred feet long, carrying two hundred men. The double row of paddles struck the water together, and as they rowed, this was the paddle song they sang:
“Behold my paddle
Held close to the canoe's side.
Now ‘tis raised on high—the paddle
Ready for the plunge—the paddle
Now we spring forward.
Now it leaps and flashes—the paddle.
It quivers like a bird's wing,
This paddle of mine.”
But you may not linger too long with these fascinating people, there are other wonders. Close to this thermal region rise the icy peaks of National Park. Through the heart of the North Island the Main Trunk Railway will carry you to this enchanted mountain country. The Park is New Zealand's greatest playground, left almost to Nature's wild mood, except for the Chateau Tongariro, where you may abide in comfort. Here you can enjoy the delights of page 47 Switzerland on ski, mountain and glacier. As you travel still farther northward, through the vast cathedral-like. Waipoua kauri forest to where the breakers foam and roar over the Hokianga bar, the climate becomes mildly tropical. Here are blue seas and sun-drenched beaches, and in the orchards which surround the homes of the settlers on the Hokianga River, bananas grow and ripen in the sun.
The South, or Middle Island, is a land of lake and beech forest. The solemn glory of the Southern Alps with their glaciers, raging torrents, leaping cataracts, their pyramids of rock and ice, are awe-inspiring sights. The cloudpiercer, Mr. Cook, 12,349ft. high, is the monarch of the Alps. The Milford Sound district, with its fiords and lakes, is beyond compare, and the most beautiful in the world. Yet the half has not been told, oh wanderer—visit this land, which is like unto a Royal Princess by the many names given her by those who love her.
So, haere-mai (welcome) from over the water. Come… Stay with us. Play with us, in the “Long Bright Land.” The “Land of the Long Daylight.” Beloved Ao-tea-roa, and best of all names—that bestowed upon her by New Zealand's greatest statesman, the late Richard John Seddon, of the land he so loved, we invite you to “God's Own Country!”