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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 14, Issue 2 (May 1, 1939)

A Savage Bit of Country

A Savage Bit of Country.

“Next day (Friday, 15th July, 1849), it rained very heavily. We started at 9 a.m. for Otaki, on the Manganui-a-te-Ao, where the hui is assembled; and crossed a most hilly, dangerous, slippery road, up hill and down dale. The mist was hanging thickly over the cliffs, leaving a beautiful mountain scene to burst unappreciated on the eye, as we scrambled over cliffs that looked so precipitous that you seemed about to fall head-long into a horrid abyss. We arrived at Otaki about 2 p.m. after travelling a distance of six or seven miles from Te Arero.

“The encampments of Otaki were most picturesque. Tents of blankets,
(Rly. Publicity photo.) On the upper reaches of the Wanganui.

(Rly. Publicity photo.) On the upper reaches of the Wanganui.

and calico, and toetoe huts, spread themselves on various embankments around the pa, which is surrounded, except at the entrance, by high rocks. The rain continued to pour, but there was no diminution in the busyness and chatter of the natives, who were running about for shelter, and erecting houses in all directions.

“It is quite a politic act for an Agent of Government to be present at such meetings, to hear what is discussed among the Maoris, and to correct the erroneous impressions that gain ground amongst them respecting the proceedings and intentions of the Government. Such feasts or assemblies as these, under the direction of old and influential chiefs, are productive of great good; as they engross the native mind with the subject, and prevent worse feelings from gaining ground. They are naturally a people fond of change and excitement, and something to occupy the mind should be encouraged.