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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 4 (July 1, 1935.)

A Maori Farewell

page 21

A Maori Farewell.

Never can I forget the thrilling and heart-touching Maori gathering in Parliament House on the morning of the burial in 1906. The tangi chants, the weeping for the beloved White Chief, the high wild calls of farewell, were a grief-cry from the primitive. But even more deeply poetic than those tangi voices was a written farewell from the high chiefs of Waikato, signed by the Hon. Mahuta, M.L.C., the old chief Patara te Tuhi, Henare Kaihau and others. This is a translation:

“… . We farewell him who has been taken away by the Great Creator to the pillow which will not fall, and to that bed which cannot be raised. Alas! Alas! Our grief and pain overwhelm us. Depart, oh the mooring-post of the canoes of the two races. Depart the mighty totara tree of the forest, felled by the axe of Death the irresistible; death the swallower of greenstone treasures… . Death is the great King of this earth; it comes in many forms; it has all power, and none can disregard its voice, be he ever so great or so small. We, your people, lament. The heavens, too, have cried out; the storms arose, the lightning flashed, the thunder rolled across the sky; the soft wind of the crying of the earth was heard; the great stormy wind passed through the forest. The other trees are sad, the cry, they suffer and groan with pain. Afterwards the people know of the death; and there is nothing greater than death… .

“A man imagines he will continue for ever in the world, but he dies. The world thinks it rules itself, but when an earthquake shatters it, that is its form of Death. In like manner the waters think they have dominion, but when they dry up that is their Death. Stones rejoice in their hardness, and consider they cannot be broken up, but when they are shattered their death is accomplished. Death in its various forms rules everything and cannot be averted… . But the results of our parent's work, the great treasure left by him, the result of his life's labours in this world, will not be lost and will ever be remembered by succeeding generations. Heaven and earth may pass away, but good works shall never pass away—they live for ever.”

Mr. Seddon laying the Foundation Stone of the New Zealand International Exhibition at Christchurch, 1905.

Mr. Seddon laying the Foundation Stone of the New Zealand International Exhibition at Christchurch, 1905.