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Our Cambridge Collection has changing exhibitions about Cambridge.  Much of our collection is in storage to ensure its preservation for future generations.


Waikato River

by C W Clark – 28 September 1926

From Ruapehu’s snowy slopes
A turgid torrent flows;
But soon in spacious Taupo Lake
It seeks a short repose.

There fed by fellow streams and rills,
Its rush and roar appals;
Yet fascinates beholders
At far famed Huka Falls;

Where mingling with the misty spray,
Its wondrous blue and white,
In everlasting eddies make
A charming scenic sight.

The foam-flaked streamers smoothly glide,
And frailer, fainter grow;
Till Aratiatia Rapids
Rush down like rolling snow.

While flakes of foam rise in the air,
To fall on bare rock brown;
A rolling, roaring rushing mass
Of waters tumbling down.

Then calmer over shingly bed,
With pumice laden freight,
It flows to Arapuni Gorge
Where harnessed it must wait

The will of all-inventive man,
To make its mighty force
Convert to light and heat and power,
Ere it resume its course.

Then with alternate calm and rush,
It winds toward ocean home;
Till Horahora Rapids break
It once more into foam.

But here again its course is stayed;
‘Tis here it first began
To give ungrudgingly of power,
To serve the needs of man.

Then on through high and fernclad banks,
Where weeping willows sweep
With osier brush the silent stream,
Now running dark and deep.

Past Cambridge ‘neath a stately bridge;
Past many a smiling farm;
With river boats now adding to
Its interest and charm.

In silent, smooth, majestic style,
It wends its winding course;
And whirlpools warn the swimmer that
He may not slight its force.

Here sanctuary wild duck seek
From sportsman and his dog;
And shaded by the willows, nest
Beneath some stranded log.

The ruined pas upon its banks
To history belong;
One hears in fancy from canoes,
The Maori’s weirdlike song.

And sees the watchful sentinel,
To every sound alert;
And warriors waiting chief’s command
Their prowess to exert.

But ever onwards runs the stream,
Smooth, treacherous, dark and deep;
And untold tales of tragedy
In secret silence sleep.

Then suddenly the banks converge,
As if its course to stay;
But with a mighty swirling rush,
It dashes on its way.

Released, expanded, once again
Its anger settles down;
Then cutting Hamilton in two,
Glides smoothly through the town.

Then winding between steep high banks,
With ferns and moss o’ergrown;
At Ngaruawahia it claims
The Waipa for its own.

Now two long rivers merged in one,
A broad expanse display;
While willow branches drooping low,
Bend with the current’s sway.

Then over Huntly’s fields of coal,
Through low alluvial land,
Where floods for centuries have left
Their loads of pumice sand.

Now lovely isles the current’s force
Successfully endure;
On these the Maori made his home,
To dwell in peace secure.

With Mercer reached, it westward turns,
To seek the salt sea’s foam;
And feels the ocean tide come up
To bid it welcome home.

This river with a million moods,
Waikato aptly named;
May harnessed be by man, but not
By man be ever tamed.

Its roaring rapids mock his power,
Its whirlpools mock his might;
Against its floods on lowland plains,
‘Twere vain for him to fight.

His master in a many ways,
His servant too in part;
It serves him as a waterway,
Towards the country’s heart.

It lends its strength, its weight, its force,
In power and light and heat;
It drains his cultivated lands;
It keeps his pastures sweet.

Broad Taupo will in future days,
Of water clean and pure,
Give to mankind a full supply,
Perpetual and sure.

Thus largest of our island’s streams,
We here thy praises sing.
Accept our thanks and gratitude
For blessings thou dost bring.