Picturesque New Zealand/Chapter 4

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Picturesque New Zealand by David Paul Gooding
Chapter IV

CHAPTER IV

Entering the Long Bright World—Ashore in Auckland—Reminders of America—Shops and Shopping

On a South Sea steamer redolent of the scented products of dreamy coral strands, I first saw the long white cliffs that, five hundred and sixty years before, had brightened the leaden eyes of the emaciated passengers of the Maori fleet from remote Hawaikian shores. From one land of stirring romance to another I had come; from Hawaiki, fatherland of the Maoris, to their last and most beautiful home; from a region of drowsy song and laughter to a country of brisk activity. It was early morn, a fresh breeze blew, and the sun, brilliant and unclouded, gave no evidence of the legendary beating it received at the hands of Maui and his brothers in New Zealand's cradle days.

New Zealand has many beautiful marine gateways, and toward the most beautiful of them all, Auckland, once the country's capital and now its largest city, our steamer plowed its way. One of the finest harbors of the world is possessed by this mistress of the Dominion's South Sea trade, a harbor with a setting as pretty as Sydney's Port Jackson.

Auckland not only has an exceptional harbor; it has two harbors, the arms of separate seas. On the east, where the city stands, is the Pacific Ocean; on the west,

AUCKLAND FROM MOUNT EDEN

across a narrow isthmus, is the Tasman Sea. To the first comes traffic from overseas; to the second ply small coasting-vessels, which anchor in the port of Onehunga.

The eastern portal of "The Long Bright World" is reached through the tranquil, island-dotted Hauraki Gulf, one of the greatest yachting centres of the Southern Hemisphere. On the distant right as we entered the gulf on this smiling day were the forested heights of the Great Barrier, an island with charming bays and inlets possessing the unique feature of a "pigeongram" service to the mainland. On the left were the higher wooded ranges of Coromandel, the peninsula of gold. West of the Great Barrier towered the mountainous Little Barrier, a Government bird preserve.

"Most striking of all the islands in the gulf was Rangitoto, an extinct volcano, with long, dark slopes terminating in a ridge with twin shoulders. At its base, totally differing in form and substance, was sandy, pastoral Motutapu, one of the main picnic islands of Hauraki. As we turned into Rangitoto channel the view broadened. In the foreground rose the sandstone cliffs of peninsular Devonport, the green, terraced slopes of Fort Cautley, and Mount Victoria and its signal station, overlooking the wide shell beach of Cheltenham. Here were pretty pictures of lawn and meadow, of imported pine and cypress trees sheltering neat cottages with gray or red iron roofs.

Southerly, across the harbor, were the terraced bulks of volcanic Mount Eden, One Tree Hill, and Mount Hobson. Rounding Cautley's hidden guns, the steamer plowed the Waitemata, "the waters of affliction." On the mainland to the left were long, indented walls of sandstone, green, rolling meadows, groves and hedges of trees, scattered homes, and beach resorts; on shrub-mantled cliffs to the right, the pretty suburbs of Devonport, Stanley Bay, Birkenhead, Northcote, and Chelsea, where the Colonial Sugar Refining Company extracts sugar from Fijian cane.

Straight ahead, climbing hills and filling valleys, was Greater Auckland, one hundred thousand strong. Away beyond, overlooking the Tasman Sea, hung the blue haze of the Waitakere ranges, where the city gets its water supply. Well back from Auckland's shore, across Cemetery Gully, swung the great arch of one of the largest ferro-concrete bridges in the world. On an elevation overlooking the gully stood the huge pile of Auckland Hospital, maintained partly by a Government pound-for-pound subsidy. Nearer the shore the eye was quickly attracted by the shapely tower of St. Matthew's, the city's handsomest and costliest church, and the spire of St. Patrick's. Between these churches rises a building which Aucklanders call a sky-scraper. It has only seven stories, but its position is so elevated and the buildings around it are so low that it looks much higher than it is.

Only two other buildings in New Zealand have as many stories. When it was first proposed to erect a seven-story building in New Zealand, timorous residents of Christchurch, where it was finally built, protested against such emulation of America. "Earthquakes might shake it down," they said.


"Cab, sir!"

This was my first shore greeting as I passed down the steamer's gangway to encounter cabbies, express-men, customs officials, and policemen. I had hoped to hear the welcoming voice of a friend, but he had gone to Wellington, expecting me on a steamer which I had missed in Tahiti through an agent's inability to distinguish the difference between eastern and western time.

No, I did not want a cab; I wanted a ride in a "tram." The factory whistles were blowing five o'clock when, soon after landing, I saw a sign reading: "No standing in this car." Recollecting street cars of the United States with passengers crowding platforms, fenders, and roofs, I thought: "That's the car for me." Following the example of a score of workmen, I slid hastily into a seat. It was bare and hard, but that sign was so comforting that I read it again, and wished for a similar order on American car lines. Then I chanced to look at the aisle. It was little more than a foot wide! All the seats were narrow, too, and shoulders and legs necessarily encroached on the aisle, to the discomfort of the conductor.

Along this passage the conductor squirmed with a leather pouch or bag slung in front of him. In his hand he carried a box-like affair holding a row of tickets in blocks of various colors. To aid him in removing the tickets he carried on his breast a small sponge, with which he frequently moistened his thumb and forefinger. When I handed him a coin, his hand dropped into the bag. Immediately there was a great rattling. The conductor was drawing on his stock of coppers, each as big as a half-dollar, but worth only two cents. As most of his fares were pennies, quarts of coin seemed not unknown to him.

Just past a corner our car was stopped. Something had happened.

"What is the trouble?" I asked a man.

"They put a bloke off," said he. "There were too many in the car."

Too many in the car! Oh, America!

To me Auckland held a special interest. Here the globe-girdling fleet of the United States Navy had been generously entertained in 1908, and I knew that New Zealand's second capital had begun life on the banks of a creek seventy years before. At that time this stream flowed undisturbed into Waitemata Harbor; on this day its channel, filled, and paved with asphalt, was known as Queen Street, the business centre of the city.

New Zealand has no other street like Queen Street It is the city's connecting link with the world beyond the sea. At its foot anchor steamers that trade to all the continents and to the islands of the South Seas. There

QUEEN STREET, AUCKLAND

I have seen lumber from California and Oregon, kerosene from New York, mixed cargoes from Europe, and oranges, bananas, cocoanuts, and pineapples from the South Pacific. On it front handsome business blocks of from three to five stories; also a costly post-office, and a new town hall containing what is said to be the finest pipe-organ in Australasia.

On Queen Street there are bustle and entertaining details of life. There are lorries, black-roofed furniture vans, carts, two-wheeled drays, motor-cars, and, last and least, baggage-carts with old men lounging on them. Near these aged carters are other old men—bootblacks whose charge for a shine is "sixpence and as much more as you like to give," as one of them said to me. On this same corner from a half-dozen to a score of Maoris are always taking life leisurely—well-fed men who at all times are ready for a "long beer"; and women with pipes and papooses. And if it is Sunday night, at the junction of Queen and Grey streets there usually may be found Billy Richardson, stanchest of Prohibitionists, sternly reprimanding lovers of "shandy-gaffs" and things stronger, and perhaps once more telling his auditors that the Germans will be upon them and theirs if they don't soon reform. Then, too, there are always to be heard on this street Socialists and the Salvation Army, each claiming to possess the millennial formula.

In my opinion, Auckland is seen at its best from the summit of Mount Eden, but there are others who prefer the vistas of One Tree Hill. Mount Eden, like so many volcanic hills of New Zealand, looks like a succession of terraces or steps. This was not its original shape; the terraces were made by warring Maoris. Eden is a great scoria heap that rises six hundred and forty feet above the sea. In it deep pits have been dug to get scoria for building material, streets, and railroad ballast, and at its base to-day stone quarries are worked.

Mount Eden is surely one of the most romantic and historical spots of New Zealand. Around it hover memories of war and intrigue, love and shadowy tradition. Where sheep now peacefully browse, human blood flowed and hideous clamor rose, for it was long the chief fort of the Tainui tribe, which started the first Maori war in New Zealand, and in the large earthworks food-pits of warriors are still seen to-day.

On Mount Eden I stood in the midst of a volcanic region, and on the verge of a crater one hundred and twenty feet deep. At its bottom were scoria stones that once were red-hot, and from its grassy slopes, everywhere marked by sheep tracks, red scoria obtruded. Over the tops of the mountain's pines I saw many isolated terraced hills, set in wildernesses of broken stones; all fiery furnaces once. Within a radius of five miles of Mount Eden there are said to be fifty extinct volcanoes. First nature threw missiles from them; centuries later came the Maoris, who converted them into forts, and from their heights hurled spears and swung stone axes, and heavy clubs of stone and wood.

The view from Eden's summit is one of the finest panoramas of the world. There are more majestic views, but scarcely any more varied. New Zealand, at least, has nothing to equal the picture I saw on my first tramp to Eden's grassy crest. Eastward stretched the distant mountain shores of Coromandel, the intruding Pacific and its island barriers, and the manifold reaches of Hauraki Gulf. Almost lost in the haze were the Barriers; in the foreground were rock-strewn Rangitoto and islands of flatter mould; nearer still was the slender green arm of the North Shore, once probably an island. Northward lay the white clay expanses of the kauri-gum land, sparsely inhabited hills covered with scrub and fern, and the Waitakeres and their native bush. To the south were low mountains.

In the west, between Waitakere's shores and Manukau Heads, was a glimpse of blue. It was the Tasman Sea, which under the name of Manukau Harbor pushes itself so far inland that it almost mingles with the Pacific. Where the waters of the two seas so nearly meet, two inconcurrent tides ebb and flow. When one tide is high the other has receded, yet at high tide they are only a thousand yards apart.

Auckland has been called a city of parks. It is more. As seen from Mount Eden it seemed a park itself,—a rolling park with meadows, fertile hills, trees and hedges, bowling-greens, football and cricket grounds, race-courses, and harmonious intervals of water.

Fronting Hobson Bay rambled Remuera, a dream of beauty; farther west were the sequestered homes of Parnell's wooded shores; back of them were the meadows and forested nooks of the Domain. In Auckland proper appeared the masts of shipping, smoking factory chimneys, church steeples, the dull-gray of cement-surfaced business blocks, the lighter gray of cottage roofs, and the rose tints of painted siding. This monotony of color was relieved only by isolated red roofs and verandas and red and yellow brick walls. In Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, and Newton were row after row of workmen's homes with scarcely a variation of color. In the suburbs of Kingsland, Mount Eden, Epsom, and One Tree Hill, and in Parnell and Remuera, were flashes of color, and red roofs were in greater number.

In these suburbs many Auckland business men have their homes. The majority of these are cottages, inclosed by hedges or fences of pickets or galvanized iron. They are neat and cozy, standing in grounds beautified by flowers, shrubs, and trees, and frequently by lawns. Usually far more attention is given to the shrubbery than to the lawns. In all parts of New Zealand parked walks border ragged, neglected grass. Many of these homes have names, and their owners show a love of privacy. Like the Englishman, the British colonial loves seclusion, and to obtain it he sometimes raises hedges from ten to fifteen feet high.

Of Auckland's parks, Albert Park, in the downtown district, is the prettiest, and Cornwall Park, sweeping down from and including One Tree Hill, is the most magnificent. Cornwall Park was presented to the city by

ALBERT PARK, AUCKLAND

the late Sir John Logan Campbell, "the Father of Auckland," and its three hundred acres have been estimated to be worth more than one million dollars. In Albert Park are cannon from Waterloo, Crimea, South Africa, and New Zealand battle-fields; and around the bandstand Admiral Sperry and other officers of the United States Navy planted sixteen oak trees in August, 1908.

Another attractive reserve is the Domain, an area of two hundred acres embowered in wild and cultivated verdure. On its reclaimed swamp are cricket grounds where nearly a dozen cricket matches are played simultaneously every bright Saturday afternoon in the cricket season.

From Albert Park it is worth while to step into the public art gallery, adjoining. In this art exhibition, the best in the Dominion, are good examples of landscapes, marines, and portraits by New Zealanders.

In the Auckland Museum, also near Albert Park, is to be found New Zealand art of another sort. There, in the best display of its kind in the Dominion, are exceptional specimens of the intricate carvings of the Maoris. The section is populated by a multitude of carved wooden figures with miens ferocious, grotesque, solemn, and dull. There are tattooed faces, rows of big teeth that seem eager to crunch; tongues from one to two feet long that silently defy; three-fingered hands grasping war-clubs; other hands resting on abdomens, as though their owners had the stomach-ache. From pataka and whare, from isolated panels, statues, and ancient village gateway, large staring eyes of wood and shell glare at one inquisitively, contemptuously, or ignore the visitor altogether. All these effigies in wood are painted dull red with a preparation of powdered clay mixed with fat, and some of them are generations old.

On the right of the entrance to these labyrinths in wood where I entered, were the remains of a huge statue, perhaps originally twenty feet high. Its tongue was two feet long, its mouth was as large as a whale's, and in its right hand it held a weapon, as if on sentinel duty. In the rear of the hall stood an immense tiki, representing a mother with two children in her lap. The chest expansion of this figure, which once probably was at least fifteen feet high, was so great that not less than ten or twelve feet of tape would be required to take its girth.

Beneath this statuary was a great war-canoe. It was eighty-two feet long, had a maximum beam of seven feet, and could have seated at least one hundred men. It was one of the largest of Maori war-vessels, yet not nearly so large as some ancient canoes of New Zealand. One of these had a hull one hundred and eight feet long, but including its elaborated stern and bow, its total length was nearly two hundred feet. So wide were some canoes that four or five paddlers could sit abreast, the inside men being reliefs. Two hundred years ago double canoes were common in New Zealand, and there were outriggers also.

More interesting than the war-canoe were the museum’s carved native houses. The largest and finest was about fifty feet long and half as wide, and several years were spent in its construction. The first of its features that impressed me were the wide gable boards, the large carved figures of men, and the ridge-post terminating in tikis. The tiki at the base of the post seemed to feel the weight above him severely. He was like Atlas with the world on his shoulders. His hands were braced against his sides, and in fancy I could almost hear him groan. The fellow at the top was almost, grinning; he had his feet on the man below and carried no burden.

The veranda was very different from European verandas. Instead of stepping on it, I stepped in, as in Maori houses generally, over a board running the full length of the porch. In this thatched, low-walled house the rafters were scrolls of red, white, and black; the sides were lined with heavy slabs of wood bearing carved illustrations of noted ancestors; and in the space between these panels were varied designs of split rods, painted red, white, and black, and flax strips.

The food-houses in the museum are, like all patakas, raised on posts. They were built thus to protect the food, seeds, and personal belongings of the leading tribesmen from rats, which once were so numerous as to provide the Maoris with one of their chief articles of diet. As a rule they were built with more care than other houses and were more finished and decorated. Frequently the carved panels were lashed to studs adorned with feathers, and nearly all the carvings were on the outside of the building. In this way the pataka differs from the wharepuni, or sleeping-house, which is carved mainly on the inside. The embellishments of a pataka would not be complete without an effigied warrior on the apex of the front gable boards with extended tongue betokening defiance, and hands on abdomen as an indicative, if not an actual, sign of plenty.

The larger of the museum patakas must have been a very important storehouse, for on its gable boards were carvings of the mythological manaia, a taniwha, or supernatural behemoth, and on its ridge-pole running lizards were portrayed. To the average Maori a lizard is a terrifying spectacle, but just why nobody knows. Perhaps the Maoris originally came from a land where their progenitors battled against crocodiles.

In a glass case below the patakas were burial chests probably two hundred years old. They were strange creatures of wood crudely representing the human form. One was short and very bow-legged, and he was all abdomen from thigh to neck. His eyes were closed and he was yawning heavily, as befitted one going to his last sleep.

In this same room were more impressive reminders of shroud and bier. In glass cases were preserved heads of ancient warriors, tattooed, and with hair attached. Among the Maoris the preservation of the heads of enemies as trophies of war was a common practice. This was done by removing the brain, eyes, and tongue, cleaning the interior and filling it with dressed flax; and

Maori carvings and tukutuku panels1.jpgMaori carvings and tukutuku panel2.jpg

MAORI CARVINGS

by curing. The dressed head was first steamed in an oven, followed by several weeks of sun drying and smoking over wood fires at night. Once the Maoris sold many of these preserved heads to traders in the Bay of Islands, who sent them to Sydney, whence they were shipped to Europe. The traffic finally was stopped by the New South Wales Government.

A block from the museum, standing in beautiful grounds, is a wooden building of peculiar interest. It is Government House, in which New Zealand's Governor resides for a time each year. In Government House it is easy to imagine one's self under the roof of Napoleon's St. Helena residence, for it is a counterpart of the exile's home.

In every New Zealand city there are reminders of America. They range from perambulators to harvesting-machines, from go-carts to railway locomotives, from whiskey to kerosene oil, from leather goods to sausage skins. All these and many other articles of commerce New Zealand imports from the United States. It has remained for Auckland, however, to introduce that cherished institution of America, the peanut roaster. On busy comers of Queen Street and Karangahape Road its cheery whistle is often to be heard. In New Zealand the peanut has been very much neglected. Perhaps its virtues are not appreciated, for it is still, in a measure, an alien struggling for deserved recognition. There were peanuts in Maoriland long before the arrival of the peanut roaster, but they usually were seen in disregarded heaps in small grocers' shops, and though they bore the legend, "Fresh roasted," they had the appearance of having been in one spot for months, like a homesteader.

The introduction of the peanut roaster into New Zealand was a praiseworthy bit of pioneering, but another popular accessory of American life is still lacking in that land. It is the buttered popcorn wagon. It will be an eventful day in the Dominion's history when the first popcorn wagon, with peanut roaster attached, sends forth appetizing odors in Aotearoa.

But think not that New Zealand has no savory street odors of its own. It has, and very pronounced they are, too. They were often wafted to me from fish shops, where "fish and chips " and soft drinks always were to be had. At night, when these shops cooked for the following day, the downtown streets of coastal cities were strong with the scent of fish and fried potatoes. This reference to shops is a reminder that when one goes shopping in New Zealand one does not go to "stores." There are stores in New Zealand, as wool stores, kauri-gum stores, and grain stores, but there are no drygoods stores, grocery or hardware stores. Instead there are drapers, general providers, greengrocers, and ironmongers. There are some attractive shops in New Zealand, but in looking at the average shop-windows I concluded that proprietors were crowded for space. Their windows were congested with goods, indicating a desire on their part to display to the passerby a sample of everything they had in stock.

It is a pleasure to go shopping in New Zealand, the attendants are so polite. They thank you for everything. With each purchased article I seldom got less than two "Thank yous," and sometimes three. The number depended upon the multiplicity of moves between buyer and seller. Usually there was one for each move. By an Auckland salesman I was thanked thrice when purchasing postcards, first when I handed him the cards I had selected, again when I paid, and lastly when he gave me my change.

Shopkeepers and their assistants are not the only polite people in New Zealand. Everybody who waits on the public has a supply of "Thank yous" at tongue's end, ready for instant service. Some of these came at me on the jump; others were delivered with prim, pleasant formality; while others, and they were legion, "dragged their weary length along" as if the speakers were loath to part with them.