Early History

Life on the old frontier, on one of the farthest-out farms, seems a kind of dream, a fabric of remembrance tinged with a faerie page 85 haze, viewed through the vista of years from these times of new interests, new manners, changed modes of thought. Memories! One strives to marshal them into some order, but the most that can be done is to recall the things that chiefly fixed themselves on the youthful mind. There was the home on the hill, on the famous battlefield, the garden with its sweet old flowers, the cherry orchard, the huge almond trees (with flat stones at their feet upon which Maori children long before us cracked those almonds)—trees grown in the old days from the Rev. John Morgan’s orchard—the wild mint that grew in the tiny creek that went rippling down a swampy gully near the big acacia grove; the dam and the lake-like pond in the Tautoro swamp; and, above all, the peaches. The peaches of those happy dream-days on the old Orakau farm!—peaches vanished, a kind never to be tasted by the present generation. Orakau, Kihikihi, Te Awamutu, and Rangiaowhia were then the favoured land of the most delicious fruit that ever this countryside has known. Peachgroves everywhere, the good Maori groves, trees laden with the big honey peaches that the natives called korako because of their whiteness. Tons of peaches grew in those groves, and those wanted were gathered by the simple process of driving a cart underneath and sending one of us youngsters up to shake the branches until the cart was filled with fruit. Some of the best peaches were preserved by the housewives of the frontier in a way never seen now; they were sliced and sun-dried on corrugated iron, in the strong heat of the long days, and then strung in lines and hung in the high-ceilinged kitchen, criss-crossed in fragrant festoons, until required for pies.

As for the surplus fruit the pigs got it; many a cart-load of peaches from the groves was given to them, or they were turned out to feed on the heaps of fruit lying under the trees. Porkers fattened on peaches!

Text extract from Chapter XII. – The Old Frontier : Te Awamutu, the story of the Waipa Valley : the missionary, the soldier, the pioneer farmer, early colonization, the war in Waikato, life on the Maori border and later-day settlement by James Cowan | The Waipa Post Printing and Publishing Company Limited, 1922, Te Awamutu

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