The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (January 1, 1930)
Whangaroa and Kerikeri
Whangaroa and Kerikeri.
Friday the 22nd was a day in a lifetime for members of the Commerce Train party. Nothing page 20 they had seen in the North so far was so beautiful as the brilliant scarlet of the pohutukawa on the cliffs above the waters of Whangaroa Harbour. Arriving from Kaitaia via Mangonui, the visitors were met at Totara North, a settlement on the North shore of Whangaroa and conveyed in launches around the harbour. The cruise terminated at Willow Bay, a sheltered cove just inside the heads. Here some hundreds of residents were assembled, and straightway they escorted the guests to a hangi—the Maori steam-oven, in the earth—prepared for the occasion.*
For the benefit of visitors the whole process was demonstrated. On top of the heated stones were placed leaves, and on these a plentiful supply of pipi shellfish, kingfish, snapper, kumara, potatoes and onions; these were covered with damp cloth, wet sacks and earth.
So as not to delay the feast, and, having regard to the hurried nature of the visit, another hangi had been stocked with food a couple of hours earlier, and from this the guests were invited to help themselves into flax baskets prepared on the spot for the occasion. Staid city men, as well as more youthful members of the party, entered heartily into the spirit of the occasion, and sat Maori fashion around the great oven.
The ladies provided a delicious supplementary luncheon of pakeha cooking. It was a feast carried out on a lavish scale, and never was such more heartily relished.
After a delightful hour or so, Mr. Malcolm Stewart, Vice-President of the Chamber of Commerce, expressed hearty thanks to the residents, making special mention of the ladies and the Maoris who had assisted in the cooking. Cheers were given for each group in turn.
From Whangaroa the party were motored by settlers of Whangaroa County to Kerikeri, on a tidal river of the Bay of Islands. Here a visit was made to the experimental plot of the North Auckland Land Development Corporation, where 76 elevated sections have been sold for fruit farming on the group settlement plan, the holders having come from China, India and other parts during the past year. Ten houses have been built, 16,000 passion fruit vines have been planted, also 20,000 sweet orange, lemon, mandarin and grape page 21 fruit trees, 30 miles of shelter belts, and 400 acres of afforestation.
Afternoon tea was provided by the ladies of the settlement in the central homestead, charmingly set in flower gardens, and within view of Rainbow Falls, about to be harnessed to provide power and lighting for the settlement.
At the historic Kerikeri village the visitors saw the two oldest buildings in New Zealand—the mission house, built in 1819, and the stone store, built in 1833.
Private cars from Kawakawa and Waimate North carried the visitors to Kawakawa in time for dinner. Over fifty cars were used in the three stages of the journey from Kaitaia to Kawakawa this day.
At Kawakawa township there was another warm greeting, voiced first by Mr. George Leity, President of the Kawakawa Chamber of Commerce at a smoke social. He spoke of the history of mining in the district, and said that the coal seams had merely been scratched. Capital alone was needed for development, not only in mining, but also in freezing works and other primary industries.
Mr. Malcolm Stewart, replying to the toast, expressed thanks for the hospitality extended to the party, and explained the objects of the tour. Those who had come would in future be “boosters” for the wonderful North. The Auckland Chamber of Commerce would do all that was possible to assist the farming industry with a view to bringing about greater production.
The toast of the “New Zealand Railways” was given by Mr. G. W. Smith, who praised the Railways Management and thanked Mr. Sterling for the attention given to local requests. Railway officials realised that they were running a huge business, and it was a pleasure to work with them.
Responding, Mr. Sterling expressed satisfaction that local difficulties had been unravelled. The Railways stood as a bulwark against excessive transport costs, and he hoped they would continue to give satisfaction to the people of the Dominion.
Mr. D. Rodie, Railways Commercial Manager, said it was the endeavour of his branch to get into touch with commercial men and the people in both town and country in order to provide the best possible facilities for all. They did not sit “on page 22 the high horse,” but were out to give the maximum of service.
The toast, “Trade Commissioners,” was proposed by Mr. C. F. C. Miller, chairman of the Bay of Islands Hospital Board, who expressed pleasure with the visit to the North.
Mr. J. W. Collins, secretary of the Department of Industries and Commerce, expressed great pleasure with what he had seen of the North, and suggested that local people should submit proposals for opening up the coal fields.
Mr. L. A. Paish (Great Britain), replied for the Commissioners. What the North needed, he said, was more capital and more production, and to get these they needed more publicity.