Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 8 (November 1, 1937)

Paddle and Song

Paddle and Song.

The river fogs of early morning were quickly licked up by the mounting sun, and a hot day's work lay ahead for our canoe man. The current was smooth but strong. The surface of the river shimmered and sparkled. Bates kept close in to the east bank to avoid the greatest strength of the stream. He passed the place where Mercer township now stands, and a little way above the mouth of the Whangamarino he crossed to the opposite side of the river. He called in at Te Kohekohe to see the chief Te Wheoro and picked up there a young fellow to help him in paddling along as far as the Opuatia Creek mouth, eight miles higher up on the west side.

Now and again the hard-toiling pair met a canoe full of Maoris floating easily downstream, the crews singing as they leisurely dipped their paddles. When these canoe-folk came close enough to recognise the pakeha, they usually began to chant with great animation and good humour a little song about Bates himself that was well page 18
(From a drawing by Lieut. H. S. Bates, 1862.) On the broad Waikato River.

(From a drawing by Lieut. H. S. Bates, 1862.)
On the broad Waikato River.

known all along the river:—

“Kei taku pikitanga
Ki runga o Peowhairangi,
Te rongo o Te Peeti
E aki ana-e.
(“On my coming southward
From the Bay of Islands
I heard the fame of Te Peeti
Dashing like a wave
Upon the coast.”)

The heat of the day and the toil of paddling against a strong current presently oppressed the pakeha. His shoulders ached for a rest, the light was dazzling on the smooth waterway; he wanted to shut his eyes and doze awhile. So, soon after passing a sleeping village called Te Takinga Wairua (after some old legend about a man meeting a spirit of the dead) he lay down with a flax mat around him in the bottom of the canoe, and left his Maori mate, Hami, to keep the dugout moving.