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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 65


If the visitor wants to have a comprehensive view of the town, let him do as we did, and mount the steep flagstaff hill, which looks down upon the river, spanned by its noble bridge on iron piers; and there, while his sense of smell is regaled with the sweet scent of the blossoming withhin, his ears ravished with the dulcet chorus of the warbling larks and linnets, let him feast his eyes on the magnificent panorama which unfolds itself before his gaze.

Away from the symmetrical town, nestling round its two sandy moles, and skirted by the silvery river at your feet, your eyes are drawn as by some irresistible fascination to yonder mighty altar, uprearing its spotless architecture right away up from the [unclear: pony] brethren around it till it stands out clear, distinct, sharp cut, in virgin purity, looking like 'a great white throne' let down from Heaven.

It is Mount Ruapehu, crowned with eternal snows, draped with samite, and glistening in the sun; and yet so calm, peaceful, pure, that as you gaze the spell works, and you stand hushed, subdued, and yet with the sense of a great peace within you, as you think of the pure majesty of the Creator of that wondrous pinnacle of light and glory, and can feel that even the tiny lark poised above your head, throbbing with song, has its every feather noted by His all-seeing eye, and that in the boundless infinitude of His love, you too, have the portion of a child."

That is what the correspondent of the "Sydney Town and Country Journal" wrote about the view from the flagstaff, but had he seen the same at sunset, when the glittering white changed to the faintest pink and deepened to a rosy red, while the sky blazed with ultramarine, vermillion, and gold, and after a while he would have seen the whole slowly grow grey, fade like a dream into the shadows of night, but leaving a tawny glory in the west like a pillar of fire.

The river is, perhaps, the most important in New Zealand. When the present snagging operations are completed, steamboats of a light draught, will be able to proceed up about 140 miles, and though there are no very extensive plains between Wanganui and Taumaranui, there are numerous valleys running into the Wanganui, capable of supporting large populations. A main road is to be constructed from Taumaranui to tap the Central Railroad, page 32 which runs through very good land, and, moreover, will be the direct road to the Tuhua or King Country, where authorized prospectors have quite lately discovered gold, (it has yet to be proved whether in payable quantities or not). But at any rate, the new country will support a large proportion, and the time is at hand when it will be opened up.

Between the town of Wanganui and Aramoho, is a fine reach of water, of great depth, used as the course at the Wanganui Regatta, said to be one of the finest, if not the very best, bit of water for acquatics in the Colony. And very gay the river looks, when the banks are lined with the well-dressed crowds, and the Garrison Band enlivens the gay scene. But the Wanganui Clubs were no match in 1885 for the Canterbury boys, who went away from here the champions of the meeting.

From the town to Kennedy's, or Upokongaro, is seven miles, a good road on both sides of the river, or a fine row in a boat, not sufficient current to make it too great an exertion, and just sufficiend to paddle lazily back with. Kennedy's consists of an hotel, kept by John Kennedy, stores, also belonging to him, school house, Church of England, and the Court Theatre, a large room, in which is a pretty stage and a beautiful act drop, painted by Charles D. Barraud (subject, Rio Janeiro). On this litttle stage have been mounted some of the most successful pieces produced in this district by amateurs.

There are a good number of families about Upokongaro, and no place in New Zealand enjoys a greater reputation for hospitality.

From Kennedy's, the river winds a great deal through wooded banks to Kaiwaiki, fourteen miles. At Parikino and Atene (Athens), are native settlements, but at Ranana, Major Kemp's settlement, about 2000 acres are under cultivation. The cottages, or native whares, are all comfortable. There is also a fine runanga, or meeting house, while a European baker supplies bread to the settlement.

The scenery between Ranana and Jerusalem is splendid, weeping willows overhang both banks of the river, the quince trees are in groves, the peach equally plentiful, and innumerable sheep and cattle dot the hill sides, all the property of the natives.

At Jerusalem, there are about 3000 acres of fine grazing land. There is a Roman Catholic Mission Station, in charge of the Marist Fathers, the Rev. Fathers Soulas and Lepreke, being at present stationed there. A community of Nuns, under Sister Mary Joseph, late of Napier, is also located there. Considerable improvements are being made by the missionaries, a convent and church having just been built. The sisters are chiefly engaged in educating the Maori children.

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Paparoa Wanganui River.

Paparoa Wanganui River.

page 33

The Island of Moutoa, on which a battle was fought between the friendly and hostile natives, and which saved the town of Wanganui from invasion, is the next point of interest, and the scenery grows wilder and grander every mile. The numerous streams that contribute to the main river have each some special beauty of their own; falls, rapids, gorges, and every now and then splendid passed valleys until Taumaranui is reached. The river upwards from Taumaranui is not so accessible, but it increases in grandeur, and we are told on the authority of Mr. Knorpp, C.E., the scenery-is equal to the Rhine and Danube Rivers.

Those who think of forming a party to ascend the river, should first obtain Major Kemp's permission. Probably the best plan would be to consult Mr. R. W. Woon, Native Resident Magistrate, and as a steamboat will be ready for traffic in January next, probably facilities will then be offered that are not now available.

Mr. S. H. Manson, in view of the increasing up-river trade, has, in addition to the stores already established on Taupo Quay, Upokongaro, and Murumotu, opened an additional one at Taumaranui, at the place where the junction of the river and road traffic will join to connect with the Central Railway. This will be a great boon to travellers, who will be able to obtain stores. The building is a weather-board one, and no doubt as the traffic increases Mr. Manson will provide further accommodation for travellers.