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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 5 (August 1, 1934)

Variety in Brief

page 41

Variety in Brief

Who does not thrill to the sight or sound of a train gliding past? Who ever could think of a train as unromantic? Is it not the finished product, the symbol of a one-time vision —a dream come true?

Whether we see a train as a small snake-like speck away in the distance—its engine gradually eating up the miles along the shining railroad track, till it finally comes upon us in all its magnificent vigour and energy—pulsating with life, or whether it just remains a distant scene gliding gracefully along adding a piquant touch of life to some beautiful scene, it is ever a welcome sight.

How often the sight of the train heartens lonely men and women of the way-back country, by its mere passing, bringing as it does, a feeling of something tangible—fleeting though it be—of the city and Life! And to the juvenile heart—joyous moments as they wave happily by the wayside, eagerly watching for an answering wave from some window when the train speeds upon its way; and to get down to the mundane—well, no need to enumerate upon the many uses, and the great practical service it renders to humanity in general. Therefore, may we ever “toast” the modest engine-drivers as they so efficiently and capably handle the engines—never looking for the limelight; and may we ever be fervently thankful for the trains when we go speeding along in them—outward or homeward! along the silver railroad track—O.M.S.

Close by the Dunedin railway station, in a green and flowery spot, reposes Josephine. A sturdy and healthy looking relic of the past. Josephine—the first railway engine to run on the Dunedin-Port Chalmers railway, way back in 1872. Very different from our modern engines is Josephine; she is a bright green in colour, and about the length of an ordinary shunting engine; she has two ungainly V-shaped funnels (out of all proportion), one at either end, and halfway between the boilers is the enginedriver's cab. It is a far cry from the daring days of 1872 when Josephine must have rushed disgracefully along the permanent way at a speed of fully twenty miles an hour. She has had her day, and now she thinks of her past glories as monsters of the present move to and fro in the railway yards behind her. Not so long ago Josephine was granted a new lease of life, and for a time attracted a little of the attention that once had been wholly hers. That was when she occupied a position among the Government exhibits at the big Dunedin Exhibition, 1925–26. Josephine formed the “then” of a then-and-now exhibit; the “now” exhibit being the giant “Passchendaele,” the biggest locomotive built up to that time by the Government Railways Department. —C.H.F.

A custom of the Maoris in some parts of New Zealand was to render “tapu” suitable saplings of the totara tree from which ultimately canoes could be formed. In such saplings, a cut was made in the bark by means of a stone adze, the result being a gradual line of decay above the incision. This became extended as the tree grew. Such trees when fully grown, if found suitable for canoe purposes, would be felled from below the “tapu” cut. The line of decay greatly facilitated the hollowing of the log, as fire could be readily used for carrying on the work. In the Waimea (Nelson) district, examples of trees prepared in this way are still to be seen. Probably the most outstanding of these is one situated towards the north-east corner of Snowden's Bush—a delightful spot for tourists on the popular “Three Bridges” drive. —Sark.

A crudely carved piece of old wood in my possession may stand as a good illustration of varying values. The earliest mention of it is that when Turi was leaving Hawaiki, he lifted it to point at the disappearing coastline with the exclamation, “He, the extinction of Thigi,” or as we say, Fiji. With the Maori habit of naming articles from episodes with which they had been connected, the paddle was afterwards known as “The Extinction of Fiji.” Settling at Patea, Turi entered into alliances, matrimonial and possessive, with the Tangata Whenua, its earlier owners, and with them engaged in feuds with tribal enemies further up the river. Returning from a great battle, the locality of which less than fifty years ago was still believed on certain occasions to echo faithfully its dread sounds, Turi again lifted the paddle and pointed down the river. But it slipped from his hand into the water. Several generations later two lads bathing in the river about two hundred yards below the spot where the paddle was lost, discovered, in diving, a strange paddle. With the Maori's insistent memory of details, the incident was recorded so faithfully that it was identified by the priests, from its crude pattern of carving, as the lost “Extinction of Fiji.” Thereafter it was cherished as tapu, the only article in existence believed actually to have belonged to the great Turi. After the Maori war it was given by a chief to a member of the Armed Constabulary, who since his early boyhood had been intimate with Maoris, and who settled in Patea. His family caring less for the old trophy, it hung about during several changes of habitation, till someone who was building a pig-sty noticed it, and thought it would make a good strong batten for the yard fence. Fortunately, it fell out of the dray while being carried along a by-road for its intended purpose, and a passer-by threw it into the grass beside the road. As it had been promised for many years to the writer, on returning several months later from a distant school, she made instant and vigorous search, and found it. —“Waiokura.”