The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 9 (January 1, 1930)
The Waipoua Kauri Forest
The Waipoua Kauri Forest.
After a day and an evening of the most generous hospitality and most pleasant of speeches, the men of commerce had a day in the wilds, motoring through the grand and ancient forests of the Northland. The first part of the journey was by train from Dargaville up the Kaihu Valley—once a great kauri - timber working district — to the railhead at Donnelly's Crossing, thence there was a motor car procession through the Waipoua State Forest to the western parts of the Hokianga county. For mile after mile the way was among the trees, greatest of all was the kauri. It was explained that no exploitation has been carried out in the forest proper (24,000 acres), and none is contemplated until it is found possible and practicable to regenerate the present stands of kauri. For this purpose Waipoua has been created a forest experiment station, and will be used for the purpose of testing the possibility and practicability of extending the range of the kauri over areas where it is not at present growing—namely, on the barren gum-lands surrounding the forest. When the kauri pine first caught the eye of the visitor, it was seen that the forest contained all of the native pines, such as rimu, miro, white-pine, totara, cedar, tanekaha, silver-pine, and matai. Most of these species are very numerous in their seedling stages in the portion of the forest lying to the east of the main road.
“Here The Dairying Country Is A Richer Denmark.”
Top: A Northern clearing. Centre: Emerging from the marvellous Mangamuka Valley. Below: Colonel Allen Bell (right) welcomes the General Manager of Railways (Mr. H. H. Sterling).
The Heart of the North.
There was much to be seen this day (Wednesday, 20th November), around the Kaikohe-Waimate country, the pleasant lands of Taiamai. The principal trip of the morning was to the Ngawha hot springs, between Kaikohe and Ohaeawai. Here there are boiling springs, warm pools, boiling mud pools and most of the thermal phenomena of Rotorua. A company is now busy there making preparations to develop the working of cinnabar, in which some of these springs abound.
An unfortunate happening here, a tragically sudden end to a useful life, was the death from heart disease of Mr. W. M. Passmore, an Auckland business man. He collapsed and died on the morning's excursion to Ngawha; the exertion of the walk to and from the cars was too much for his weakened heart. His friends of the Commerce Train attended at the railway station next morning for a reverent and regretful farewell to the remains of a much-liked member of the touring party.
In the afternoon there was a quiet visit to the annual Agricultural and Pastoral Show at Waimate North. This was the forty-second annual show. As the visitors approached in cars driven by Kaikohe settlers, they were impressed by the richness of the pastures and the charm of the old English mission settlement. They appreciated, too, the quality of the exhibits, which demonstrated well the resources of this district of good soil and mild climate.
The Kopa Maori.
(Rly. Publicity photo.)
Top: When the pie was opened. Centre: Strange food—fingers before forks. Below: Maori cooking.
“An Eden For The Tired And The Retired.”
(Rly. Publicity photo.)
Top: Famous Keri Keri, scene of the first wooden and brick buildings in New Zealand. Centre: Whangaroa Harbour, the glory of the east coast of New Zealand's Northland. Below: Commerce Train party entertained by residents at Willow Bay, Whangaroa.
Here, at Waimate, amidst rural scenes of a most satisfying comfort and charm, where cattle and sheep, and grain, grass, and fruit all thrive and flourish exceedingly, the travellers saw many reminders of the heroic era in pioneering. The missionary came inland here before the trader or soldier. The prettiest and most productive parts are those pioneered by the mission families. Waimate, Pakaraka, and surrounding places bear strong impress of the hands of the early apostles of the Churches—the Williams brothers, Selwyn, Davis, Burrows, and their contemporaries and successors. Shingle-roofed churches of antique design, stoutly built of heart of kauri and totara, stand amidst lordly groves of oaks and elms; around their doors the graves of the white pioneers and Maori warrior chiefs.
Waimate churchyard in particular is a place to take the eye and the fancy. The mission station dates back to the year 1830; its centenary is to be celebrated on this 12th of January by the erection of a lych-gate at the churchyard and by placing a tablet in the interior of the church in commemoration of the Rev. Samuel Marsden and the early missionaries. Here at Waimate is the oldest oaktree in New Zealand; it was originally grown from an English acorn planted at Paihia and transplanted to this mission farm in 1831.
In the afternoon, going from Waimate to Okaihau Station, the travellers’ cars skirted Lake Omapere, notable because it is the largest of the very few sheets of fresh water north of Auckland. Omapere is shallow; it is two and three-quarter miles in length and two miles in width; the area 2,880 acres; its surface is 750ft. above sea-level. It is proposed to generate electrical power for the district at the swift outlet, the Rere-a-tiki, which is the source of the Utakura River, flowing into Hokianga Harbour.
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.
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.