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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 1 (April 2, 1934.)


Train passengers travelling distances frequently see, in lonely country regions, a family lining the doorstep of the old homestead waving in a friendly fashion to them. How many of those comfortably-seated travellers turn their heads away or shrug their shoulders impatiently? They have no time to waste returning the salutation. Yet such an act, which can occupy only a second, may bring hours of pleasure to those remote dwellers. I was in a country home when the express was due. Out on to the verandah the family trooped. As the train roared by, each one waved a hand. One or two passengers waved back, but many more saw the greeting and ignored it. When the express was only a memory, I asked if they derived any satisfaction from their act. “Rather,” was the firm reply, “we're so lonely here as a rule that to receive a return wave makes us think we are, after all, not forgotten, and are one with the people of the towns. It makes our day seem so much brighter.” So—isn't an easy reciprocative wave worth while?—C.H.F.

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As one who was present as a press reporter at both the Thorne trials I might mention one fact of importance in addition to the others brought out by Mr. Treadwell in his recent interesting article. I refer to the fact that experts gave evidence that Mr. Eyre's body was lying in such a position that the shot could have been fired only by a left-handed man, and it was proved that Thorne was an exceptionally good left-handed shot. Then, in regard to the hoof prints of Mickey, the horse, one of these was reproduced in a cast and exhibited in Court. I forget the exact number of horses examined by the police in connection with the case, but it ran into four figures. It was proved that the horse that left the prints had a habit of bearing to the off-side of the road, and this was shown to be one of Mickey's habits. Another point of interest is that one of the witnesses for the Crown committed suicide between the first and the second trials. The incident caused a sensation, but had no bearing on the case.—F.H.R.

Although the Treaty of Waitangi is zealously guarded by the Department in charge of the precious document (the Department of Internal Affairs, Government Buildings), it is possible for the earnest student to view it, and I had this pleasure recently. On my expressing some surprise at the extremely battered appearance of the Treaty, I was told of its romantic history, which, incidentally, does not appear to have come under the notice of any other New Zealand writer. In 1841, when the Government offices at Auckland were burned down, the Treaty narrowly escaped destruction, and was rescued in the nick of time by the then Record Clerk, George Eliott, who then took the eight copies, together with the Seal of the Colony, to the house of Felton Mathew, afterwards the residence of Colonel Wynyard. From there, they were taken, some time after, to the Colonial Secretary's Office, where, it is stated, they remained till 1865. About that time they were lost, and in 1869 the Legislative Council was informed to that effect. The story goes that, a few years later, they were found by Dr. Hocken, in the basement of the Government Buildings, in Wellington. In 1908, the copies were sent to the Dominion Museum. At the present moment the Treaty reposes in a very strong metal box, which is always kept locked, and which in turn is housed in a fire-proof strongroom.—M.S.N.

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In the January issue of the “New Zealand Railways Magazine,” Tangiwai made interesting mention of historic New Zealand banners. The last of the rebel leaders, Titikowaru, used during his skirmishes on the Waimate Plains (the last engagements of the Maori War), a flagstaff, the history of which, if not as honoured as those stored away in museums for future generations to see, is perhaps just as interesting. Years after the grim old warrior's death the land where his war-party had been encamped was divided into paddocks, and a farmhand cut down the flag-pole into battens for a wire fence. He remarked to his employer, after the deed was done, that the timber was too good to waste. And thirty years afterwards it has not gone to further waste, for the posts still stand in place, on a farm that was one of the first in the celebrated dairying district where share-milking was begun as an experiment. So if no more war-parties marched around it to the sound of faith-inspiring chants, and no visible respect was paid to it, the old flagpole may be said to be still playing its part in helping make New Zealand history.—“Waiokura.”

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A humorous paragraph in Dr. Marais' “Colonisation of New Zealand” is that dealing with the departure of the first Scottish colony from the Clyde. A Colonisation Dinner was held, and this was attended by many important functionaries, one of whom ended his speech in poetic, if not too cheerful strain:

“On Zealand's hills, where tigers steal along.
And the dread Indian chants his dismal song,
Where human fiends on midnight errands walk,
And bathe in brains the murderous tomahawk,
There shall the flocks on thymy pastures stray,
And shepherds dance at summer's opening day.”

(Published in the “Glasgow Constitutional,” 26/10/1839.)—“Rauparaha.”