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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 9, Issue 6 (September 1, 1934)

Pageant of the Pioneers

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Pageant of the Pioneers.

IT is not too early to set going our preparations for New Zealand's centenary celebrations. While Wellington has a tentative proposal for an exhibition—the question of a suitable site is a troublesome preliminary—Auckland has a programme outlined for a week's pageant of history, on shore and harbour. It will be, as sketched so far, primarily a pageant of the pioneers, portraying with all the needful vividness and detail the phases of life in our first century, beginning with the missionaries and the traders and the Maori life, and depicting episodes in the coming of the early settlers, then the Maori wars, with some of the thrilling passages in the long conflict and the adventures of the frontier settlers; then the peace-making and the festive gatherings of the native folk welcoming their pakeha friends. Then, too, the social life of the pakeha town, from the days of crinolines onward.

The old-time naval and military pages in the story of Auckland, or of Wellington, are capable of being illustrated with most dramatic spectacles. Then, too, there could be a Maori village, a model pa all of the ancient time, by the waterside in one of Auckland's bays; and canoes could be brought down from the Waikato, and new craft built, or rather chopped out, for a revival of the great war-canoe races on the Waitemata, such exciting contests as we used to see on the Lower Waikato and on Auckland Harbour in the Nineties.

Ships of the Past.

But the phase of New Zealand's story that I, for one, would like to see reproduced thoroughly well, and one that will necessitate more trouble and technical accuracy than most of the other features of the spectacles presented in the living panorama of history, is the reproduction of one or two of the old sailing ships that brought the British immigrants to New Zealand.

The pioneering era may be said to have ceased in this country when the big square-riggers ceased to carry passengers and steam took sail's place. The earliest ships, such as the Duchess of Argyle and the Jane Gifford, which brought the first regular immigrants to Auckland, and the Tory, which pioneered Wellington, were small vessels compared with the clippers of the Sixties and Seventies. It should be possible to have replicas of these vessels, true to period in dimensions and rig, sailing up the harbour and landing their passengers on the beach as they did long ago. There are old laid-up craft to draw upon and reconstruct; or replicas could be built. It would take money, but nothing satisfactory can be done without liberal expenditure, and this is the event of a century—and the outlay would be justified. Auckland and Wellington will attract travellers from all over the Pacific, but particularly from Australia, if really original and dramatic spectacles are presented on a large scale.

One's imagination is greatly drawn by the idea of those old-time sailing-ships landing their sea-weary pilgrims of whom Thomas Campbell wrote in his poem for the Wellington pioneers, that when they'd ploughed the stormy deep they'd plough a smiling land. There are some fine lines in Alan Mulgan's poem of the pioneers, ‘Golden Wedding,” picturing the summer-time approach to New Zealand's shores after the storm and ocean-stress of a four months’ voyage:

“… Watches curve and run
In easy flight under a waxing sun;
The full-flowered masts are towers of
The wind is merciful, the waters bless;
Till one calm eve, blue-robed and
sunset-browed, A white cloud hangs too white and
clear for cloud, God's friendly half-forgotten hills still
stand, And the long loneliness is over—

The Settler and the Manuka.

That quotation from “Golden Wedding,” a poem which is a perfect epic of the country settler's life, a capital “dipping book,” takes one on to the sights, sounds and scents of the new country as they impressed the pioneer. How good this from Mr. Mulgan's description of the manuka, a plant which would be treasured and grown in gardens and parks if it were less common:

“Tent-life, the slab-side shack; camp-oven bread;
Tea-tree for firewood; shelter, even bed.
Easy to clear away, and how it burned!
And how it came up when your back
was turned!
Spoiling your paddock with a host of
Cursed for, a pest in those lean
struggling years,
It grew, this homely root in alien soil,
Close to their hearts, this shrub of sun and toil,
This warm, wind-incensed pasture of
the hills,
White with pure starring. Save the
strange heart fills
With love of this, it will not love the

A Camden Town (North London) Debating Society has been wrestling with the old, old problem. To smoke or not to smoke? The question, although badly moth-eaten, still crops up periodically at debating societies. Voting was equal on this occasion—pro. and con. So the President (a medical student) gave his casting vote in favour of the weed—and the trade doubtless breathed again! “There's no harm in tobacco,” declared the President, “so long as you exercise common sense and avoid brands too rich in nicotine. It's poisonous stuff!” So it is. But since the introduction of toasted New Zealand tobacco, smokers in this country, at any rate, need not fear nicotine poisoning with its train of evils. The wonderful purity of the four well-known brands, Riverhead Gold, Navy Cut No. 3 (Bulldog), Cavendish, and Cut Plug 10 (Bullshead), is due to their all being toasted, which process also accounts for their exquisite flavour and beautiful bouquet. Finer tobacco is not to be had for love or money. And yet it is quite moderate in price.*

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sight as much as possible. Godets are unobtrusively inserted. Soft materials for summer frocks have a greater fullness, deep inset pleats, flounces, godets and accordeon pleatings being used.

Coats are loose or close fitting, long or short, plain or decorated with flat surface trimmings such as buttons. The three-quarter length swagger coat is popular with the ensemble or three-piece suit. The long coat is cut on slim lines with a fitting back and an easy-fitting front. Collars are of all kinds, but the scarf-collar is specially popular. Revers are in pairs or single. Sleeves are plainer. Every dress has a coat, cape, bolero or jacket to go with it.

Buttons form the most important trimming for suit or frock. Scarves appear in great variety; plaid taffetas are chic. Belts are important.

Hats have shallow crowns and brims of all widths. Does the shallow crown portend the return of the hat-pin? I think not. A thin elastic at the back saves the situation. Fascinating little caps and berets match smart scarves.

Among the accessories, notice the lovely silver and enamel hair-bands and bangles. Bangles are from one to two inches wide.