Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959
In 1895 the Coromandel Goldfield was past it zenith and miners were migrating to Ohinemuri. Will and Dick White were two who came here and batched — but not entirely — for once a month their indomitable mother rode through from Coromandel to cook "and do" for them. Then the family decided to come and join the boys.
Mr E. D. White, who was a miner's carpenter, and his 15-year-old daughter Annie (Mrs D. Leach), rode the two horses through, spending a night at Tapu. Mrs Leach recalls that she always rode "side-saddle." This advance party prepared for the family at the little cottage that had been made available for them at "Siberia," a location above the Crown mine up the Waitawheta Gorge. There were only two cottages there and the other was occupied by the Sandy McNeil family, whose descendants are well known.
Meanwhile Mrs White with the remainder of her brood of ten and their belongings, set out by boat from Coromandel to Auckland and thence by boat again to Paeroa. They arrived there at dawn and were conveyed by "double-buggy" to Karangahake.
The extreme difficulties of the access to "Siberia" - the children walked to school on the water race — decided Mr White to build a home in Mackaytown about 1898 and it is still there, being later occupied by Clarkes and now by Pedersens (senior). This proved too small for the large family and being a carpenter he set to work on a larger house which later, as the children left, became Mrs White's well known Boarding House — now the home of Miss Rickman.
Will, the eldest of the family, had mining in his blood and it took him far afield. He and others from 'Hake went to the Klondike and then because he had a leaning towards Africa he joined the Boer War Forces and served there. He went to London after that but returned to Africa. Dick will he remembered by the Old-timers as an outstanding footballer.
Then there was Frances (Mrs Tregoweth), Annie (Mrs Leach) and Rose (Mrs Williams), who remained a resident of Mackaytown for many years. She and her husband and son, Harry, were on a farm up the Rahu Road, but when Mrs White was left alone, they came down and lived with her and cared for her until the end of her long life. When her husband died, Mrs Williams (and her son, by now a trained electrician) moved to Auckland. Flora (Mrs Egan) is in Hamilton. Doug (who went to the First World War) married and lived abroad. He was connected with an aluminium company but returned to Mackaytown with his family and was assaying for a time. Alice became Mrs Bussey, and Joe, our well known "Postie" died only this year. There was dear Rachael (Mrs McDonell) and Gladys (Mrs Maunders) who was born in Mackaytown. Annie, Rose and Flora are the only surviving members.
Mrs Leach, now 80 years of age, is still extremely agile. She mentions working in the 'Hake Post Office with Mrs Airey and in 1903 married Mr David Leach, then engine driving at the Talisman. In 1908 they took over Mr Nat White's stationery shop and conducted a very busy trade selling a multiplicity of goods till they left Karangahake in 1912. During this time, Mr Leach served on the School Committee, introduced good books, and awarded wonderful prizes. It was he who was responsible for the many excellent photographs we now have of 'Hake. He arranged for Mr Causley of Thames to take them and had them printed and coloured in bulk. (Note the "Published by D. Leach").
Mrs Leach recalls the busy Saturday nights, when both shops and hotels observed "late night." She laughed as she told of a rather desperate happening which nevertheless had a humorous "aside". One night burglars broke into the shop and carried the safe to the river bank by Dad Lee's shanty. There they "blew" it open to the very great consternation of poor old Dad Lee who knew that the Miners' Magazine was near. Recounting the event, the next day, he said "I thought I was getting blown into maternity!"
When the Leach's moved to Henderson, Mr McDonell, who was baking for Keating, bought Keating's branch business in Paeroa and later the Leach's returned to take over the Victoria Bakeries from Stewarts. This still remains our only source of bread. Mr Leach died in 1955, after semi-retirement in Auckland, but he had remained at the helm of the business and Mrs Leach is still the biggest shareholder in it, though she pays tribute to those who attend to the practical side.
Mr and Mrs Leach had four children.
Leslie (whose home is at Murray's Bay is a retired surveyor), lived in Borneo for over 20 years where he did the first Triangulation Plains for the Government. He has now been asked to survey Tonga and is supervising the work. Frances (Mrs Mackie) once a nurse and then for many years an invalid in a wheelchair, is happily well. Will, is a school teacher at Greymouth. Joan (Mrs Bogue) is in business at Beach Haven.