The welcomes and entertainments to the Commerce Train Pilgrims became even more warmhearted as the party moved northward. With feelings of gratitude to the kindly people of Kaikohe and Okaihau for their generous hospitality, and their sympathy for the loss of a member of the party, the delegates went on to Kaitaia, a 60 miles drive. Leaving the train at Okaihau, the motor route lay through the fertile Waihou Valley to Rangiahua, where the party stayed for morning
“In the shade of the whispering trees…“—Chas. Kingsley.
(Rly. Publicity photo.)
Kauri tree and Maori climber in Waipoua Forest.
tea. Then followed a sylvan journey of delight, the drive through Mangamuka Gorge. Reaching Victoria Valley, the boundary of Hokianga and Mangonui counties, the travellers changed to cars from Kaitaia for a run of eleven miles to that town. An excellent lunch was followed by a drive to Ahipara and a 20-miles spin over the firm sands of Sixty Mile Beach. There was a picnic tea, with Mr. B. J. Reynolds as host. In the evening there was a dinner in the Princess Theatre given by the Chamber of Commerce, County Council and Town Board. Colonel Alan Bell, president of the Chamber of Commerce, presided. A welcome, characteristic of North Auckland, was extended by Mr. W. Vickers, county chairman.
Mr. Malcolm Stewart, Vice-President of the Auckland Chamber, said the visitors had been deeply impressed by the resources of the district. He understood that the local butter output was over 1,000 tons from over 400 suppliers, also that Kaitaia swamp land was being drained, which would provide from 10,000 to 15,000 more acres for dairying on what was known as one-cow land.
Mr. A. P. Crane, of Whangarei, gave his reminiscences of the early days in the Far North.
He suggested that the executive of the Northern Chambers of Commerce should organise a return visit to Auckland and to Southern districts. He praised the energy and courage of the pioneer farmers, and particularly the women of Mangonui County.
Mr. W. Alexander, formerly of Invercargill, spoke of the pleasure of his first visit North, and said he could not pay a greater compliment than to compare the quality of the land favourably with that of older settled Southland.