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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 1 (April 1, 1935)


Lord Bledisloe, in his capacity of Governor-General, untiringly urged the people of New Zealand to make a study of their stirring history, and he reminded his listeners that the Dominion had possessed heroes and heroines whom posterity at any rate would honour as having illuminated the country's national story. His advice cannot be repeated too often, for the young generation especially is apt to imagine, from its popular reading and the cinema, that one must go abroad for great stories of adventure, of frontier life and of heroic endurance and endeavour. The fine things of our past are too little known; the teaching of New Zealand history is insufficiently attended to in our schools. If ever there was a country that developed the spirit of the frontier and the life on the edge of peril and romance it is New Zealand. The episodes here narrated are selected as examples of the brave and self-sacrificing character of many New Zealand women who played a truly heroic part in the face of death on land and sea.

Aliumai te Paerata, the heroine of Orakau. (From a drawing by T. Ryan, at Taupo.)

Aliumai te Paerata, the heroine of Orakau.
(From a drawing by T. Ryan, at Taupo.)

The courage and devotion of our New Zealand women, both Pakeha and Maori, in the pioneer era of this Colony, have perhaps not been recognised adequately by those who followed after them in the days of peace when the rough places had been made smooth and the frontiers of settlement obliterated. Those whose memories carry them back to the times when there was a “furthest out,” when work on the land and travel through the back country were accompanied by hazard, can appreciate thoroughly the trials and dangers to which many frontier women were exposed. But the new generation cannot know of these things at first hand; the times have changed, and New Zealanders, present and future, must rely on printed records, and these are all too few so far as the adventurous phases of Colonial life are touched upon. The real history of New Zealand was not made in the towns or in Parliament but on the farms and the long, irregular border lines where Maori and Pakeha touched each other, sometimes with friendly hands, sometimes at short rifle range or the point of the bayonet, or the swing of a tomahawk.