Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959

A beautiful sunny morning about 1900, a raggedy pants kid is running up town to do a message for his mother. Near the entrance of the town, a handrail along the river bank is lined with miners, off shift or waiting to go on afternoon shift. The cheeky kid knows them all by their first names. "Hullo Bill, Tom, Bruiser, Barney!" Then his eyes light up; he dives towards one fine specimen of a man and says, "Give us a fag, Kai." Kai takes out a packet of Old Judge cigarettes from his pocket and replies, "I'll give you a fag if you can do the 'What O'." The kid smirks to himself. He'd been caught before. Kai did not know but this brat had been practising the 'What O' with all the fat cigarette butts he could pick up. He takes the lighted fag from Kai, draws a huge whiff of smoke into his lungs, holds it there, gasps "What O she bumps," expels the smoke, puts his scrawny little chest out and struts. The miners think this a great joke. Kai gives him the whole packet of cigarettes. Oh what a moment, even Heaven could not be better than this.

Kai McGlyn, that master of the noble art, was rough and tough, but not a mean petty blemish was in his whole make up. But there were hundreds of Kai McGlyn's in Karangahake in those days — noble chaps who would never harbour a grudge for long, but settle it in the rec., "Cornes Paddock." On one occasion, to hoodwink the Police, a couple of chaps went to the Paeroa racecourse to settle a problem. And oh, what a fight! I am an old man how, but would gladly scuttle through the scrub to the racecourse to see that fight again. Then there were those other Kai McGlyns — fine quiet chaps who would never lift a hand against anybody. They went quietly about their calling, raised fine families and always found time and money to help their less fortunate fellow-citizens.

In those early days we hardly knew the meaning of compensation and, owing to the almost non existence of safety measures underground, accidents were a daily occurrence, and fatalities very common. On those occasions the men and women of Karangahake put into practice 100 per cent the true meaning of those fine words, "The Brotherhood of Man." An injury to one was an injury to all in every sense of the term.

But enough — I could ramble on like this for a week. There are very few alive today of the seven or eight hundred miners, who were active in those days, but they have left behind them families of which any town or nation could justly be proud. So on the occasion of this splendid Jubilee function of our dear old School, let us pause for a moment and humbly give Praise and thanks, to those Early Karangahake Pioneers.

— Just a Raggedy Pants Hake Kid.