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


“Saturday, 16th July.—The display of food provided by the natives for this meeting is very grand. There are 1,200 kits of kumara, large baskets of taro, papa or bark cases of birds cooked and preserved, including tui, kaka, kiwi, and there are also eels. The birds are boiled in their own fat, and covered over with it; they will keep thus for three years. Pigeon, weka, duck, and whio (blue mountain duck) are also included in the papa, which are decorated with the feathers of the birds they hold. They look very well. Pigs and potatoes are abundant. In apportioning page 16 the food, the natives observe great decorum. The name of the tribe, and the place of residence, or either, is called out, and the portion of food for it is struck with a stick; and so on, for the several tribes present, or absent, to the end of the line of food; or for such of the guests desired to partake of the food. Food is seldom named or called for the chief individually; as that would, according to their old customs, render it sacred; it could only be eaten by him.

“This country is the most broken and unavailable that can be met with. It is a perfect jungle thrown up in such confusion, as if man's occupation of it was never intended, at least civilized man's, whose superior ability for subduing a country to his use would be fruitless in a place like this. All the eye surveys is horrid steeps and cliffs, with slippery hills and braes. Climbing over precipices, while holding on by the roots of trees, some of these decayed, is not an agreeable occupation, with heavy winter rains, when every false step you take may send you to eternity.