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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 64

Chapter IV. — Taupo

page 57

Chapter IV.


At The unearthly hour of five one morning, we scrambled out of bed to a hurried breakfast, and, after breakfast, into Robertson's coach for Taupo, with a long clay's travelling before us. The distance between Ohinemutu and Taupo is fifty-six miles, and with only one team for the entire journey, the time occupied is ten or eleven hours. Even the most interesting scenery begins to pall upon one's vision towards the close of a journey like that, and one's mind becomes oblivious to externals by reason of an internal craving for dinner and bed. But we had a pleasant day for our travelling, and the novelty of the scenery to us helped to make it really enjoyable.

Passing Whakarewarewa on the left as we came away from Ohinemutu, we travelled for some time beside Waikorowhiti (Whistling Stream), a noisy creek that rushes through the Hemo Gorge, with Moerangi (Sleeping Heavens, or Sleeping in the Heavens) towering high above us on the north-west.

Not long was it before Horo Horo (Fallen Fallen) came into view, and engaged our attention. Horo Horo pervades space. Once within its influence, the eye is always conscious of it. Turn where you will, you behold Horo Horo. Yet, at a distance, it does not look so very big. It is a long, curiously-shaped mountain; its top a level ridge; its sides steep; wooded in some places, cliff-like and gleaming white in others, where land-slips have occurred and left the naked soil. It looks narrow, viewed edgewise, yet the long summit must be a considerable piece of table land. Horo Horo has the appearance of having been dropped from Heaven, readymade, and exactly as it page 58 stands, for the land around it for some distance is all a plain. Whether its name, Fallen Fallen, was suggested by this appearance, or by its susceptibility to land-slips, one cannot say. You fail to realize its magnitude until you notice what a long time it takes to get past Horo Horo, and the prominent place it takes in every view you have of this district. Its height we never did realize, because we did not approach it near enough, but it is said to be 2,800 feet. Before we reached it, and after we passed it, we observed a stately, slender column of rock abutting from its southern end. Viewed from some points, this column presents the distinct outline of a feminine form, enveloped in a mantle. This figure is Hinemoa, as apotheosized by Maori tradition. Mr. M., a fellow-traveller with us, had an attack of verse-fever over Horo Horo. We persuaded him to write down the effect, and now, presuming still further on his good nature, we take the liberty of appending it to our own brief description of the quaint old mountain.

Horo Horo.

All hail, thou ancient, weather-beaten pile!
We greet thee, as we pause to gaze awhile
Upon thy massive, weird, majestic form,
All avalanche-scarred, and bleached by wind and storm.
Ye gaunt and spectral crags, marked out for fame,
Whence came ye, say; and "what's your little game?"

"Lo! last of a long line of mountain sages,
"My descent is from Chaos, through countless ages;
"My feet touch Hauraki, my limbs lofty Aroha,
"I gaze through all time o'er the lonely wild Noroha.
"Time !—yesterday !—now !—to-day and to-morrow!
"Vain figures of speech are to me—Horo Horo.

"A star in the depths of space,
"Beyond all human ken,
"Was once my glorious dwelling place;
"Ah! I was younger then.
"A fiery comet, in its path,
"The star's bright orbit crossed;
"The blazing meteor passed unscathed,
"The star was lost.

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"Its shattered fragments wide were thrown,
"And whirled amidst the blue ethereal.
"A jewel dashed from Heaven's crown,
"Its atoms—black and scorched material—
"Upon one mighty fragment hurled;
"Across the deeps, I swiftly came;
"That fragment—'tis your little world.
"That's how 'I left my hame.'

"Like a cinder from Hell, thro' the realms of space,
'We rushed at a whirling, hurtling pace.
"Molten with heat, passed the nebulous spheres,
"Clouded in volumes of sulphurous tears.
"Fast through the Milky Way we sped,
"Like a red-hot cannon ball;
"The stars and the constellations fled
"Before us in our fall.
"As we came to the clouds of colder climes,
"With burning lips we kissed 'em;
"And we slower revolved and assumed our place
"As Earth in the Solar System.

"Since then—but why should I repeat
"Your planet's brief biography?
"Read Miller, and your Bible for 't,
"Or Huxley's big geography.
"All three are good; I like each one,
"But specially the latter,
"With its notions of caloric,
"And the potency of matter.

"I cannot bear your other great philosophers,
"Who so benignly try to play the 'boss' o'er us
"(Excuse the rhyme just there—'tis lame, I know;
"My muse just jibbed, the jade won't always go),
"Calling all matter, be it small or great,
"Even Earth itself, dull and inanimate.
"Why, I myself have seen the mountains frolic
"With earth and seas, in lively hyperbolic;
"Dancing like conies, or, sometimes in passion,
"Waging big wars in almost human fashion.
"E'en yet, we live perpetually in hot water,*
"Through long past pranks of pillage and of slaughter
"That jealous love to us is not unknown,
"Is proved by Tongariro's case alone;

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"And, let me whisper, long ere days of Noah,
"I used to flirt a bit with Hinemoa.
"Not the same girl who's now in bad repute,
"Through Sir George Grey and Tutanekai's flute.
"No; my fair charmer dwelt down at Ohata,
"And there—but never mind, 'tis now no matter
"What then we did or didn't—'tis not well,
"Or wise, or gentlemanly—to kiss and tell.
"Enough that still I hold her memory dear;
"Observe her image to the southward here.

"But why repeat my proofs of personal entity;
"You know I am a very old identity.
"Avaunt! When dying Earth lies wrapped in gloom,
"My voice once more you'll hear—the crack of doom.
"Till then, farewell, O poor, ephemeral man,
"Whose life, beside mine own, seems scarce a span—
"A small, poor handful of swift-passing years,
"A little hour of sunshine, or of tears.
"For me there is no time. To-day, to-morrow,
"Are words, mere empty words, to Horo Horo."

A few miles past Horo Horo we came to a curious rock on a hillside, christened by Mr. Chantrey Harris, "Charles Dickens' Head,"on account of a fancied resemblance between its outline and the profile of the gifted author. By-and-by we passed Abraham's Altar, a huge rock table piled on the top of stone steps, on which Ngatoroirangi used to offer sacrifices. Ngatoroirangi, be it known, was one of the chiefs who came over in the canoe "Arawa"from Hawaiki, with the first Maoris. After that, we saw the Witch's Stone, and heard its singular legend. Once upon a time, it is said, there lived a witch near Ateamuri, who spent a good deal of her time in catching birds, and in training them to be her familiars. And one day there came to her a certain rascal of the name of Hatupatu, who begged food and shelter of her, and was not refused. Now, this Hatupatu was originally a dweller at Mokoia, in Rotorua, but, through his bad principles and nasty habits, had so alienated from himself the affection of his family, that two of his brothers decided to rid them of a nuisance, by killing him. Getting him away from home by stratagem, they attacked him, slew him, and left his body by the wayside. And a page 61 divine blue-bottle fly came buzzing along, and, for sheer amusement, blew him into life again. (N.B.—I've seen blue-bottles in this country competent to work similar miracles without being divine in any sense whatever.) Well, restored to life, Hatupatu decided to travel, since home, sweet home, was not the safest place on earth for him; and, after some hard tramping, without rations, he came to the home of the witch, Kurangituku. He had winning ways of his own, this young man; and, before the witch knew where she was, Hatupatu had married her. He was a wise young "cuss"in his generation, and saw his way clear to living better than the lilies of the field, and without any toiling or spinning either. Kurangituku waited upon him like a slave, and went out daily, fishing and trapping little luxuries for him. And he improved his shining hour in picking up witchcraft secrets from her. But one day, during her temporary absence, he, in a fit of wanton, wicked folly, killed all her pet birds—all except the riroriro, which, escaping, flew forth, with piteous lamentation, to seek its mistress and apprise her of the calamity. She sped home in a rage; but Hatupatu, anticipating her wrath, had fled. She traced and pursued him, and had nearly overtaken him, when he, availing himself of the power he had gained from her, smote open a rock (this particular rock pointed out to us), entered it, and closed it securely behind him. In her frenzy at defeat, Kurangituku scractched furrows in the rock with her finger-nails, and those furrows are there, in proof of the truth of all this, yet. Knowing the direction of the subterranean passage her husband would follow, the witch now sped over to Whakarewarewa, and awaited his appearance there. When he did appear, he settled matters permanently and summarily by pushing her into a ngawha (hot-spring), and, as her supernatural power did not avail her anything against boiling water, that was the end of her. Hatupatu then went home to see his relations, and, with his wife's gifts added to his own genius, soon exterminated the entire crowd, and lived happily ever afterwards. I regret the total absence of all proper moral from this story, but natural integrity compels me to repeat it exactly as I heard it It will not be necessary, however, to use it for Sunday-school purposes.

page 62

At Ateamuri, on the Waikato, we halted at mid-day for lunch. The river here rushes tumultuously through a narrow gorge in a series of foaming rapids. Close by Ateamuri is Pohaturoa, a lofty vertical rock, rising 300 feet sheer out of the ground. Many years ago, the remnant of a defeated tribe in battle fled to the summit of this rock, and held it against siege for a week, living on fern-root, and hurling down rocks upon the besiegers. At the end of the week, the besieging party quitted, probably more because they admired the pluck of the others than because they doubted their own chances of victory. Giving in was only a question of time, as they must have known; but the Maoris were always fair fighters, and ever admired courage, whether they saw it in their friends or their enemies. Of their love of fair play and objection to take a mean advantage of their adversaries, there can be no better story of illustration than that in the introduction to Old New Zealand (Pakeha Maori's Book), which tells how a certain chief, being in possession of a missionary he didn't want, sent the holy man as a present, with his compliments, to a neighbour chieftain.

"Chief number two, not being in need of a chaplain, having no living vacant, and having perhaps, too, a suspicion that the missionary was unsound in some respect, from the careless way he was disposed of, declined him, and returned him untried. Chief number one was insulted, and declared that if chief number two had not known his own superiority in arms and ammunition he would not have dared to behave in such a manner. When this came to the ears of number two, he divided his arms, &c., into two halves, and sent one to the enemy, with an invitation to war."

Another story, equally illustrative, in the same preface, is of a Maori chief, who, when asked why, when he had command of a certain road, he did not attack the ammunition and provision trains of his adversaries, exclaimed, "Why, you fool! if we had stolen their powder and food, how could they have fought?"

In times of war, Maoris have often been known to supply their enemies with provisions, when short. It is not like that between civilized nations in war-time, I reckon. Fancy the page 63 Prussians going quietly away from Paris, on an impulse of admiration of the noble and plucky way in which the French held on to their beloved and beautiful capital!

From Ateamuri, on past Niho ote Kiore, the old constabulary station, the scenery is comparatively uninteresting. The road winds up hill and down dale, past occasional patches of bush and Maori settlements, right on to Taupo. Plains and mountains, some wooded, some bald, compose the country as far as the eye can reach; and when the flagging horses surmount the last hill that gives the tired traveller his first glimpse of the great lake, his heart bounds with thanksgiving and the prospect of rest. The Taupo road might be much shorter than it is. Probably would be, but for the fact that its surveyors and road makers were paid by the mile for its formation, and had, therefore, every reason for making unnecessary detours whenever possible. But they are all dead now—at least, in the interest of travelling humanity, let us hope So—and so de mortuis nil nisi bonum, and requiescat in pace, and anything else in fact that will keep them dead. In other spheres we trust the system of transit is different, and survey and "corduroy"unknown.

Towards the close of the long, hot summer day we sighted Taupo, with distant Ruapehu's snowy peak all a-glitter in the glow of the westering sun, and Tongariro's vapoury summit, softening into purple indistinctness, close by. In a little space we had rumbled over the Waikato's fine new bridge, and were safely housed in Tapuwaeharuru.

Taupo, or Taupo Moanga (Inland Sea), as the Maoris call it, is an immense sheet of water, between twenty-five and thirty miles in length, and twenty, or more, in breadth at its widest part. It has one little island, Motutaiko (Freed bird) near the middle. On that island the pohutukawa grows, and it grows nowhere else in Taupo district. It looks a poor little object, this Motutaiko, for so vast a lake; Mokoia, in Rotorua, is much better proportioned to its setting. Tapuwaeharuru (Sounding Footsteps), the township of Taupo, is situate at the north end of the lake, where the land lies flat clear back to Tauhara Mountain and the range Maunganamu. page 64 Eastward, extends a series of terrace-like plains, right away to the foot of Kaimanawa, a high, wooded range of considerable extent. North-west are Rangitoto and Tuhua, a wooded chain of mountains rising 3,000 feet above sea-level, with pyramidal Titiraupenga towering like a bleak ruin above the rest. The south and southwest shores are hemmed in by a range of volcanic mountains, first among which stand the giants, Ruapehu and Tongariro, the first 9,200, the second nearly 7,000 feet high, surrounded by the humbler peaks of Pihangi, Kakaramea, Kuharua, Puke Kaikiore, and Rangi-tukua. Pihangi is the loftiest of these minor mountains, and is related intimately in legend to Tongariro.

Tongariro figures prominently in several legends, all more or less interesting. That one accounting for the active volcano ranks first in importance. Tradition sayeth that when Ngatoroirangi (Great Runner from another world) came from Hawaiki, he brought with him some of the sacred fire from there. This he left with his priestess sisters at Maketu, while he, with his favourite slave, Auruhoe, went out exploring Taupo. Thinking that Tongariro would be a good spot to view the country from, he and Auruhoe climbed that mountain; and the extreme cold up there affected the slave so severely as to bring him to the point of death. Ngatoroirangi cried to his sisters to bring the fire quickly, and they obeyed, hurrying along so swiftly that the sparks flew right and left, and lit up the ground wherever they fell. (This is the Maori account of the origin of the hot springs). But before they reached the summit of Tongariro, the poor slave was dead. And his master, in grief and rage, seized the best firebrand, and flung it into the crater. There it burns to this day, and will continue to burn, say the Maoris "aake, aake, aake," ("forever, and ever, and ever.") The crater is called after the slave Auruhoe, or Ngauruhoe, and the mountain is held sacred from ascent by the Maoris, whose tapu prejudices, however, are always amenable to the almighty dollar. Ngatoroirangi, it is said, lived and died in the Taupo district. His sisters, still carrying fire, wandered over the country at large, leaving hot traces wherever they camped, especially at Orakeikoraka, Paeroa, Whakarewarewa, and Tikitere. page 65 This theory, as to the origin of the hot springs, might be more tenable if the heat were really fire heat; but it isn't. Auruhoe ejects only steam, and mud, and sulphur. All the hot patches of country are steam holes, geysers, boiling pools, and boiling mud. And more than one learned geologist asserts that the phenomena are the result of the chemical action upon each other of antagonistic minerals that run in strata through an immense tract of land some hundred and fifty miles in extent.

What one may term the personal legends of Tongariro number two, and differ considerably in their main features.

The first mentions Tongariro as a maiden of great beauty, loved to distraction by her two nearest neighbours, Ruapehu and Taranaki. Taranaki was the favoured lover, but Ruapehu had rather the advantage in point of size and mana (power, or prestige). He wasn't above spying, however—at least, by proxy,—and Karanga-hape, another mountain, was his agent and spy in general. With this gentleman's aid then, he kept himself well advised of his rival's and the lady's little "carryings on," and he contrived, now and then, to spoil a good deal of fun. Still, taking things "by and large," as the saying is, Taranaki made quite the best running, and Ruapehu was often sore at heart about it. Matters went on in indefinite perplexity for some time, Tongariro flirting scandalously, Ruapehu aching to eat his rival for breakfast, Karangahape keeping up the excitement as he well knew how, and Taranaki making the most of his frequent opportunities. One evening, however, when the latter was availing himself of a cloudy hour to do a "special mash" with his lady-love, and Karangahape was reporting the same with all the embellishments natural to your true scandalmonger, Ruapehu's indignation got the better of his politeness, and he lit out and dealt Taranaki a sudden kick that unsettled him completely and sent him flying across country at a terrible pace. Not so fast though, but he found opportunity to pass the kick on to his enemy, the spy, with such interest that Karangahape, once a single mountain, is now a scattered range. All night Taranaki travelled, hot, and hurt, and raging; till, at daybreak, he found himself on the coast at New Plymouth, and liking the look of the page 66 place, he cooled off and settled down to think out some plan of adequate revenge. And there he is yet, rearing his splendid snow-capped head to a height of 8,270 feet. But he has changed his name, under pakeha influence, to Egmont, a name aristocratic enough, I daresay, but no great improvement on the old musical one of Taranaki.

In indignation at her lover's summary disestablishment, Tongariro changed her crater, and now sends out her warm breath continually towards New Plymouth to show the exiled one that her heart still burns for him. Ruapehu is forever freezing and frowning in disapproval, but it don't amount to anything. Nothing he can do will prevent the vapoury telegraph.

The other legend changes Tongariro's sex, and marries him to Pihangi, his fair little neighbour. Taranaki, living near, gets coveting his neighbour's wife, and pays her more attention than is strictly proper; and she, naughty dame, rather encourages him than otherwise. Tongariro, having a vague suspicion that all is not as it should be, watches the pair, and discovers enough to make him feel justified in heaving rocks and fire from his crater at Taranaki's head. Taranaki simply drew his snowy korowai about his head and turned a cold shoulder to his adversary—this literally, for, Taranaki's shoulders, you observe, are always cold. This freezing contempt only exasperated the jealous husband more, and he one night, having interrupted a piece of gallantry quite too utterly unbecoming, blew up the biggest stone his interior contained, and sent it spinning at his rival. It struck where it was intended, bounded off again, and fell into Lake Taupo, where it still is, the cottage-loaf-shaped island in the middle. And then Taranaki took the hint and left, dragging his legs after him so that he made the course of the River Wanganui. And the place that once knew him knows him no more. He so thoroughly uprooted himself that he left a big hole behind him. This, in time, tilled with water, and is now Rotoaira.

The island in Taupo is not much, viewed as an island; but as a pebble, well-aimed, it would be rather effective, no doubt, and page 67 well calculated to make any one start out looking for new lodgings as Taranaki did. As regards that mountain's final location, both stories correspond.

A thrilling tale is told of the Waihi part of the coast of Lake Taupo—a tale all the more interesting in that it is both tragic and true. It is of Tukino te Heuheu, a Maori chief, whose personal attractiveness and amiability were only transcended by his matrimonial propensities and successes. Ten wives had this noble old Mormon, and they were all as proud of him as could be, and he might have had as many more if he had liked. The ambition of every woman within a radius of many miles was to be married to Tukino te Heuheu. This borne in mind, you will admit that he was really very modest and moderate in only marrying ten.

He was very handsome, history says; stood nearly seven feet without stockings, and had silvery hair. Whether the latter phenomenon should be attributed to years, or to experiments in hair-dye, one cannot affirm with any degree of certainty. Anyhow, the ladies admired him. A lady of my acquaintance a little under five feet in stature, and consequently madly enthusiastic about height in the other sex, exclaims, "No wonder! Seven feet!"

Well, one night, when darkness lay heavy upon the land, Te Heuheu and his ten spouses were asleep in the chief whare; and there came unto Te Heuheu his younger brother, who said, "O, Tukino, do you not hear a noise as of land falling?" And Te Heuheu roused up and listened awhile, and answered, "No, my brother, it is only the voice of the wind and the rain."

Then the brother, full of forebodings, said, "Let us at least go away somewhere till morning." And Te Heuheu, looking round fondly upon the ten lovely slumberers, remarked, "Not with this hat on," or words to that effect. Then the brother, hearing the noise wax louder, fled away by himself. And when morning lighted the earth again—lo! where was the pa of Te Heuheu? Vanished! A heavy land-slip had buried the whole tribe.

The young brother, Tuikau te Heuheu, gathered men together from another tribe, and they set to work to dig out the entombed ones. And after long, hard toil they got down to the chief's whare, page 68 and found him there close clasping, and clasped by, the dearest wife of the ten, and they brought up these two and decided to let all the rest bide where they were.

There was an immense tangi, and Tukino was buried; and, in due course of time, exhumed again that his bones might be scraped, according to custom, and deposited finally in the crater of Tongariro—no less! But as the bearers were carrying him up, they heard strange subterraneous sounds, and, becoming alarmed, they put the bones hastily on a rock—where they remain yet—and fled. This affair helped to make Tongariro still more strictly tapu than before.

The traveller who has time will do well to make a proper circuit of Lake Taupo. He will find much to interest him by the way. He will need horses and a guide, and had better test his own steed a bit before starting, for those Maori horses are a caution. They go well enough. Himmel ! how they do go upon occasions; but they spread their legs in all directions, and there's no more certainty about their action than about that of an aggravated hornet. One of our party mounted one of these fiery chargers one day, for a journey of ten short miles or so, and he didn't sit easily for a fortnight afterwards. He said that if he were given his choice between riding that horse, or any of its relations, again, and riding an earthquake, he would say, without hesitation, "Bring on your earthquake."

Hot spring phenomena abound on all the Taupo shores; some of exceptional repute are at Tokano, on the south-east point of the lake. There are comfortable camping places all the way round, and very beautiful scenery in some places. Maori settlements are frequent, and the natives hospitable.

We did not try this trip, but everyone who does speaks of it as highly enjoyable in fine weather. Some of the rivers, by-the-way, abound in acclimatised carp, which afford good sport to disciples of the rod. A man told me that he had caught twenty-pound carp in Rotongio. I knew it was a lie. But I didn't say so. I even sympathised with him, and encouraged him to tell some more. It is human nature to lie about fishing achievements. Even Jonah page 69 was not exempt from the weakness. Nothing short of a whale would satisfy him in that yarn about being swallowed. And there seems to have been no aggravating naturalist handy to explain that whales, as a rule, can't swallow anything bigger than a herring.

It is possible to go sailing or rowing on Lake Taupo, but it is not wise, unless the weather presents a very settled aspect indeed. The lake is subject to sudden, violent storms, and the Maoris are utter fools at navigation, so if one of these storms comes up when you are out with a Maori crew, you have scarcely time to say your prayers before you are past need of them. The natives attribute these sudden tempests to the unstable temper of a taniwha. The Taupo taniwha is not a dragon, but a fierce, old, red-haired man, whose abiding place is a cave on Motutaiko. He is always hungry, and likes man-meat; so he is always on the watch for boats and canoes. When he sees one, he gets up a storm immediately and reaps the harvest. There is one place in the lake, between Motutaiko and Te Karaka Point, where the water is always in commotion, even in the calmest weather, and near this the Maoris can never be persuaded to go. They say it is the old man Horomatangi's special trap. Probably it is really a sub-marine volcano. Or it may be a small maelstrom, caused by opposing currents. A tiny steamer was built some time ago for the navigation of Lake Taupo, but it did not pay, and it got disabled, and now it lies idly and forlornly in a small bay of shallow water.

All the Taupo country is volcanic. The soil is principally pumice and sand, and presents a sterile aspect mostly. But a few miles further back it is fertile enough, T believe. The district is well watered by rivers and creeks. The Waikato, having its rise at or near Tongariro, flows into Lake Taupo at Tokano, at the south end, and out again by Tapuwaeharuru, at the north end; and this, the Maoris say, without mingling with the Taupo water at all. From Tapuwaeharuru it winds and widens right along to the Bay of Plenty, on the west coast, where it finds rest at last in the sea.

We stopped at Noble's Hotel part of the time of our stay at Taupo, and can strongly recommend it. And we stayed another page 70 part of the time at Mr. Edward Lofley's private accommodation house in the paradisiacal glen to which he has given his name and much beautifying labour, and we can strongly recommend that And we stayed another part of the time at Wairakei, but our recommendation of that won't go into a single sentence—so more anon.

In Lofley's Glen one gives oneself up to laziness. So sheltered and balmy and restful is it that one's active faculties succumb. There is as great a dearth of external excitement as in the Happy Valley of Rasselas; but Mr. Lofley can give you some most exciting reminiscences of his own career in this country, and if you form one of a sociable party, as we did, you can pass a very pleasant time at the Glen. It is a curious place. You approach it by a gradual and winding descent through a valley, by the border of the creek. Mr. Lofley has planted trees of all varieties everywhere; when they are all grown the place will be a perfect forest. Rounding a high steep bluff at the foot of the descent, you come suddenly into the Glen, with its quaint little cottages set here and there amidst shrub and flower-beds. A hot creek runs right through the valley, and gets married to a cold one just below the main buildings, and then the twain, made one, flow on in cheerful unity down to the Waikato. Another instance of two souls "going whacks" in a single thought, or, rather, in a single gully. Two hearts that beat, or gush, as one. Natural selectionists should find food for thought in the wise union of the hot and cold temperaments displayed here. The practical Lofley found a unique and profitable bath. He has covered it in for a considerable distance with raupo; has cultivated foliage all about it; has fenced off both hot and cold with a partition, and hollowed out each compartment till swimming depth is obtained; has made a waterfall just below, and built a good dressing-room on the bank, with steps down into the water. You can parboil yourself in the hot section, till you feel sufficiently done; then roll easily over the partition into the cold section, and freeze yourself firm again. The water is not anything like freezing, really; but, in sudden contrast with the hot, it feels so. If you prefer a lukewarm bath, page 71 there it is,—where the two streams join and run down to the fall. You can run down with them, if "so dispoged," and, standing below, can let the warm stream play in full force on your shoulders and back. Altogether it is a fascinating bath, and people go a long way to enjoy it.

There are other curiosities about the place, notably the carved door of Mr. Lofley's dining-room, and some other grotesque Maori images about the grounds, one of which would present a more proper appearance if he had been carved in breeches, or at least a kilt.

Lofley for years followed the avocation of guide in this district, and won himself a high reputation in that way. He brims over with a quaint originality, and tells some of the funniest anecdotes of his experience.

On the second day of our stay in the Glen we went sight-seeing. Following the warm creek some way down the gully, we turned to the left, up a hill and down again, till we came to the steep bank of the Waikato. That river just here presents a strangely beautiful aspect. Bright blue in colour, wide and deep, and comparatively still—save where it whirls in little foaming eddies—it Hows between steep, vertical cliffs for a long distance.

The first wonder we saw was the Crow's Nest, a geyser that plays at regular intervals, sending up a fountain of hot water from five to a hundred (?) feet in the air. I give the above wide margin because, no matter what assertion you make about the height of geysers, someone is sure to contradict you. No two people ever agree about these things. Some say that Crow's Nest has been seen to throw up to thirty feet; others assert that it never goes higher than ten. When we saw it the altitude of the highest spray was about fifteen. With a margin of from five to a hundred therefore, one has a chance of being correct. But take your choice of heights, reader; say thirty feet, if you like; say sixty—say a hundred. It will be all the same in a thousand years.

Lofley told us a good story about some tourists who visited Crow's Nest a year or so ago. At that time the interval between the eruptions was exactly four minutes and a-half, and the regularity page 72 of action could be betted on. The geyser was quiet when the tourists reached it, and they climbed up the cone to look down the crater. And there they got to disputing, I don't know what about, but probably it was over the height the water would go. One gentleman, be it noted, was a rich Aucklander, who had no family himself, but owned a brother who had comparatively little wealth and a number of children. And this rich Aucklander was foremost among the disputants, and stood on the very edge of the crater. Well, Lofley, who knew the habits of the Crow, just stood down outside the cone, and looked at his watch, and smiled and winked at the universe as one anticipating a lark (no ornithological joke intended). And then there was a sudden rumbling roar, a hiss, and a swoosh, and up went a million (?) gallons of water, fizzing a thousand (?) feet into the air! and a crowd of yelling tourists fell backwards from the cone, and rolled off in all directions. They were none of them hurt—of course, Lofley knew they would not be—beyond a slight splashing or so, but they thought they were killed out and out. Lofley went to pick up the rich Aucklander, who, opening and shutting his eyes in a feeble, death-stricken kind of way, gasped out, "Good—good-by! I'm gone! I—I leave everything to Sam." Sam was his brother.

Threading a circuitous path, o'ergrown with fern and ti-tree, we came presently to the Witch's Cauldron. Standing to leeward of it is quite equivalent to a vapour bath. It is a huge cavernous hole in the side of a hill; full of water that boils furiously and perpetually. The steaming, and hissing, and seething of it are awful. Every now and then a little extra activity below sends the water splashing in big waves over the edge of the basin into the river. The rocks around and above are of every colour of the rainbow almost—yellow, pink, brown, crimson, and blue-grey. All round the cauldron is warm ground, and within a hundred yards of it is another, almost as well deserving the title as the first. All this bank of the Waikato is studded with springs and steam-escapes, and in most of the craters of these grow fern and lycopodium of a lovely vivid green.

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On our third day at Taupo we attended, from curiosity, a Native Land Court. It was held at Tapuwaeharuru, in a long wooden building used generally as a concert-hall, evidently. The drop-scene screening the stage presented a most grotesque appearance. It is the work of the amateur Constabulary of this district, and they certainly deserve credit for the powerful imagination and reckless liberality of colour displayed in this their handiwork. I should say that the design had been wrought out immediately after a haka and unlimited waipiro. In the centre of the curtain is a huge, red, crab-shaped human face, with great ears projecting off the upper corners, great eyes glaring out above a wildly wondrous nose, great claw-like hands striking out immediately below the ears, and a great tongue lolling out of a hideous red cavity of a mouth The tongue and eyes suggest the Maori grimaces in a war-dance; the general effect is suggestive of the ugliest nightmare ever a human being suffered.

The Court was in full action when we entered. The Judges and clerks were busy scribbling away for dear life; Mr. E. was alternately interpreting and keeping in check the eloquence of a voluble Maori; Mr. M. stood propping up one of the stage pillars and making notes. That is, he was ostensibly making notes; my own private conviction is that he was, de facto, making more poetry, and illustrating it with caricatures; but, of course, I may be in error. Once I thought I caught him "making eyes" at a pretty damsel near the door; but here, of course, I may again be wrong.

The natives were resting in their customary attitudes of ease on the floor, round the room and down the middle. They were very quiet and well-behaved, listening intently to the evidence given, and giving their own in turn with lucid intelligence. The evidence, as interpreted, would have been a great deal more interesting to us outsiders if there had been less pedigree in it. The Maoris are terrors for pedigree. They are worse than racehorses or prize bulls; trying to understand their history is almost as maddening as trying to understand the book of Genesis. And trying to understand their land a flairs would addle the brain of a Prime Minister. The relationship between tribes and individuals page 74 is a thing no mortal could ever hope to understand. It is more puzzling than the position of the man whose son married his wife's mother-in-law.

One point seems pretty clear—that, if, in a land treaty between, say a hundred related Maoris and a pakeha company or individual, ninety-nine of the former give their signatures and get the purchase-money, the hundredth can at any time enter the plea that he was not a consenting party to the transaction, did not give his signature, and so render null and void the entire bargain. If, at the proposal of the others, he consents to accept as his share any particular section of the land, then he is cut out, the original treaty stands good, and the purchaser only loses that particular section. But if he, the Maori, will not accept that arrangement (and very often it is a pre-arranged thing with the whole tribe that he is not to), then the unlucky pakeha is no longer in it. He can't recover his purchase-money, because it is long since converted into rum, and rum is not easily converted back into money again, especially after it has been drunk. He can simply sit down and have his friends comment on his asinine stupidity in not hunting up that hundredth signature, when, probably, at the time of signing, the hundredth man was a hundred miles away. Or he may take his case to Court, and, at great expense, win (or lose) it. Or he may, if he has the money, and deems the land worth it, pay that hundredth thief another sum, equivalent to the first, and get his confounded signature, feeling that if he could only have it written with the rascal's life-fluid, the price would be a mere bagatelle.

The Maori ethical system is simplicity itself. "Do others as you will take mighty good care to prevent others from doing you."

Sometimes they agree to sell a block of land to one pakeha, draw two-thirds or more of the price, carefully shirking conclusion of the bargain; then sell it again in the same way to another, and even to a third and fourth, if the chance occurs; and then, to the remonstrance of purchaser number one, two, or three, they will reply, with child-like plaintiveness, "We couldn't help it; it is notour fault; the pakeha tempted us, and so we sold." "Yes," we heard one Hibernian sufferer in one of these cases exclaim page 75 "Yes, an' it isn't the land alone that ye've sould, ye dhirty, swindlin' anthropophagies, ye!" It was a cruelly long word to hurl at them that way, but they deserved it.

The business occupying the Taupo Court when we had the pleasure of spectating (that word's mine), was the rehearing of a land case that had been decided upon some time before. Mr. Robert Graham was the person chiefly concerned, and the decision was in his favour entirely, as it was on the previous occasion. Indeed, the rehearing of it at all was, as far as we could make out, an expensive absurdity, and no one was surprised at the result.

The disputed land was that of Wairakei. About eighteen months ago, a great Taupo chief, Poihipi, who died just lately, made a present to Mr. Graham, in gratitude for much kindness shown to him and his by that gentleman, of all the hot springs, geysers, creeks, &c., of Wairakei. Mr. Graham then purchased the remainder of the block from the Maori owners, had it surveyed and passed through the Court, and considered himself—as he had every right to—its owner. But some meddling individuals, under plea of "The Thermal Springs Act," interfered, and tried to get the natives to take back some thirty-three acres in the vicinity of Te Huka Falls. The natives refused, saying the land had been given to, and bought by, Te Kereama, and they wanted no reserve. Then the opposing side went strenuously to work to oversee the original Court sanction by bringing about a rehearing. They succeeded so far, but the result was entirely the reverse of their anticipations. The natives—all those who were of any importance, at least—sided with Mr. Graham. They had all signed a deed of conveyance in his favour two days after the land had passed through the Court, and they wanted no reserve. So the Judges, of course, confirmed the previous Court order, made in June, 1881, six months prior to the passing of the Thermal Springs bill, and Mr. Graham holds the land now in indisputable possession; having, however, suffered considerable expense and fatigue in his determination to retain what was being so unfairly wrested from him.

The witnesses—natives—showed real acuteness under cross- page 76 examination, and were smart in repartee. One, being questioned as to the relative ages of two brothers, parried the enquiry very cleverly for a while. At last the exasperated counsel thundered out, "Now, which of these two men was the eldest?" "Why the one that was born first, of course," answered the witness quietly. "Yes, exactly; but which was born first?" "They are aged," was the reply. "I am not nearly so aged as they. How can I tell which was born first, when I was not there?"

In connection with this same question one was asked to give his definition of hearing and seeing—which was the more trust worthy sense, the counsel wanted to know. "Sometimes one, sometimes the other," was the oracular response. "Sometimes hearing is to be believed, sometimes seeing; sometimes both, but generally neither."

From this sample of evidence the reader may imagine what the hearing of a land dispute amounts to, and the effect it must have on the patience of those concerned.

* Reference to Hot Springs.