The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 4 (July 1, 1936)
The Waikato War-Canoes
The Waikato War-Canoes.
The old-time glory of the Waikato River was the great flotilla of Maori carved-out canoes which enlivened the waterway. Indeed there was not one flotilla, but many; for the chief means of transport for the people along the banks was the convenient waka, and all the way down from Ngaruawahia to Waikato Heads canoes were very numerous. There are still many dug-outs on the river, but nearly all the large ones have disappeared or are hauled up to decay. At the great tangi over King Tawhiao at Taupiri in 1804 I saw about fifty canoes, large and small, moored at the banks of the Waikato and its tributary the Mangawhara Creek, and the beautiful broad stream was lively with waka parties of Maoris arriving, most of them bringing contributions of food for the funeral feast. About that period, we used to see very large canoes engaged in the exciting races that took place in holiday-time at Mercer and Ngaruawahia.
The Paparata, for example—this was old Major Te Wheoro's war-canoe—carried nearly fifty paddlers in those wildly-contested river matches between tribe and tribe.