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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 8 (November 1, 1935)

The Wisdom of the Maori

page 49

The Wisdom of the Maori

Railway Station Maori Names.

The Thames-East Coast Line. OwhāTroa:

O = food for a journey; wharoa = long-continued or lasting for a long time. Otorohanga is a name of similar meaning in one sense.


Bad water.


Fishing water, apparently referring originally to the ocean beach.


Sea shore, water side.


To bite frequently, or nibble.


O = food; mokoroa = a large white grub found in the kahikatea and other trees. Also the place of Mokoroa.

Te Puna:

The water-spring.


The tide standing still as if asleep. Compare with Tennyson's lines: “But such a tide as moving seems asleep, Too full for sound and foam.”


The resting-place; anchorage.



Te Maunga:

The Mount; the famous fortified hill Maunganui (“great hill”) on the east side of Tauranga Harbour mouth.


Level cultivation ground with beds or raised plots.


The western sky.


Paenga = site of a building, &c.; roa = long.


A plain or level expanse grown with tupakihi or tutu bushes.


Ponga = the fern-tree Cyathea deal-bata; kawa = unpleasant to the taste, bitter. Kawa was also a ceremony in which a sprig or branch of a shrub, sometimes a small plant pulled up, used in house-opening ceremonies.


Puke = hill; hina or hinahina = the small tree Melicytus ramiflorus, or mahoe, commonly called white-wood.


A famous ancient pa of large size overlooking the Bay of Plenty in the mouth of the Waitahanui stream. O = the place of; tama-rakau = the warriors (lit. the young men who bear arms).


Crooked or curving stream.


To carry on a litter. Also, part of a charm or incantation in legend—“Matiti, Matata,” meaning “Open up, split open,” addressed to a magic rock of refuge.


Fern-tree stream.


A ditch or trench dug out.


An historical name, dating back several centuries to the arrival of the ancestral canoe Mataatua. Wairaka, the daughter of the chief Toroa, jumped ashore with the end of a line here, when the canoe was in difficulties entering the mouth of the harbour, saying as she did so: “Ka whaka-tane ahau” (“I shall act like a man”).


The single branch.


Tane the God. The name of a celebrated ancestor of the Urewera tribe who explored these parts, in the Whakatane Valley, and travelled to the heart of the mountains at Ruatahuna. The township (now railway terminus) founded in 1896, when the Opouriao block was subdivided for close settlement, was named after him.

The Waikato-Rotorua Line.


A single kiwi (apteryx bird).


“The great mouth,” i.e., gateway to a pa. Named after Te Waharoa, the great warrior chief of the Ngati-Haua tribe.


The tip or point; Matamata-hara-keke = the tips of the flax leaves.


Properly Hinu-wera, hot oil or burning fat.


The place of the koroire, a ring-necked duck once found in the streams here, now extinct.


A stick or peg; to pick potatoes, etc., out of the ground with a stick.


Nest or hole of the owl, often in a hollow tree. Commonly and erroneously pronounced like “p'tar-raroo.” Correctly it is “Poo-tah-roo-roo,” giving equal value to each syllable.


The parties of travellers. (In full, Nga-tira-haere).


Ara = the track or trail; hiwi = the ridge or hill-top. The way to the summit of the range over which the railway passes to Roto-rua.


The black-stemmed fern tree (Cyathea medullaris). Originally this place was Kaponga, the silver fern tree (Cyathea dealbata). The name was altered officially when the railway line was being made, in order to prevent confusion with another Kaponga, in Taranaki. But it is to be noted that the mamaku (korau) species of fern tree is not found in this Mamaku district.


Slaughter; vengeance; to lie dead in great numbers.


Ngongo = drinking funnel, mouth-piece; taha = calabash (the hue gourd). Tradition says that the chief Ihenga when exploring these parts five centuries ago, was given a drink out of a calabash by a fairy woman on the mountain now called by that name, above the present station and the stream (also called Ngongotaha). The shape of the mountain was also fancied to resemble a calabash lying on its side.


A projection, promontory. The name of an entrenched hill above Rotorua lake shore, near the site of a mission station of a century ago.


Roto = lake; rua = two. The second lake discovered by an ancient Maori explorer. Coming from Maketu, he first saw a bay of Rotoiti (Small Lake) then continuing his journey he found this lake, which he called Rotorua (“Lake Number Two.”)

page 50

The World'S Newest City.

(Continued from page 15 )

little cities, is unique. But these people do not leave the situation there. They are ceaselessly and intelligently working to make Napier an ideal New Zealand centre. I have said nothing, so far, of those amenities whose standard everywhere in New Zealand, leads the world. Deep drainage, electric light, four modern cinemas, paved streets, telephones, ample water supply, and all other aids to the comfort of living exist here. Fishing and shooting are handy. There are countless tennis courts, croquet lawns, and good recreation grounds of various sorts. There are two good golf courses, the nearest of which we show in the picture. The Maraenui Club is less than three miles from the town, and its green fees are 2/- a round or 10/- weekly. Here is an instance of the devotion of the towns-folk of Napier. This was an ugly swamp area a few years ago, and today it has a comfortable golf house, smooth, wide fairways, and eighteen interesting holes. From its putting green, there is a radiant far picture of the “minarets of snow” on the distant ranges.

The hotels are, of course, excellent, and being entirely new, are the last word in up-to-dateness. I always enquire at the bookshops of a place to get a line on its cultural ideas, and discovered that Napier absorbed a remarkable number of the good English literary weeklies and high-class magazines. I attended a meeting of the Napier Society of Musicians, and it might have been a London show. Blythe's restaurant room, in which it was held, is genuinely beautiful, in keeping with the rest of this fashionable twentieth century emporium, and the crowd to my eye made a restful, albeit smart picture of good frocking and correct evening male wear.

Napier is “on the way.” Its period of reconstruction is over. It is marching now to be a Riviera resort. Be reminded that its newborn beauty of buildings, its modernity of street line and civic planning, are set in a base of age-old natural loveliness, and an arbour of garden sweetness that only time can perfect.

I look forward confidently to the day when, among its tens of thousands of annual visitors, there will be only an occasional one who even remembers that dark day in its history. I noticed already that organisations of professions and businesses are starting to find that their deliberations would be most efficient if held in Napier. That is a sign pointing the way.