Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959

It was a custom in the old days for the Miners to escort thieves and swindlers to beyond Turner's Hill, warning them never to show their faces in 'Hake again.

Mrs Rogers (nee Vera Delaney), one time Secretary to Mr Matt Paul, in the Mines Department Office, supplies these interesting quotes from "The Geology of New Zealand," by Prof. James Park.

Page 348: "The gigantic Martha lode at Waihi with its great branching veins, and the Crown and Talisman lodes at Karangahake are typical examples of the celebrated bullion veins of the Hauraki Peninsula."

Page 349: "The Martha, Royal, Empire, Welcome, and other associated veins are situated on the rim of the ancient Waihi Volcano — and so long as they remain in the same class of country there is good reason to believe that the ore values will be maintained with increasing depth. This should also be true of the Talisman lodes which run across the throat of the ancient Waitawheta Volcano."


About 1899, Mr J. H. Adams, manager of the Woodstock Battery, was the proud possessor of a small English motor car. Despite its buggy-like construction, it was regarded as the acme of comfort by those who had the opportunity to ride in it. The owner, who did his own repairs, estimated running costs at twopence per mile, its maximum speed was about 15 miles per hour.


At last the day we all looked for and dreaded, "Examination Day." This was held at Waihi High School, so it meant we had to travel those miles to get there.

Well, on this occasion, it fell on the same day as our school picnic, which was being held at Te Aroha. This of course was a big disappointment to us. Now I cannot remember if the train would not get us there on time, or if the four-wheeler and horses were hired to make up for our disappointment, but that is how we travelled. We were ready to leave when a member of the School Committee gave us a sum of money which worked out to 9d. each. If I remember right he was a chemist. To a child today, 9d. would be nothing, but to us it was riches. We sat our exams, nine of us, I think, and had a nice day in spite of missing the Picnic.

— Kathleen Marshall (Kennedy).

The following little episode concerned my Standard 4 desk mate:

Our teacher, Mr Corbett, was giving us a history lesson about Drake and my pal sitting beside a window loved to gaze through it. She was not paying any attention to the lesson, all that registered was the word "Drake." Our teacher had been watching her and quite suddenly he asked her, "Can you tell me what I've been talking about?"

Back came the answer, "Ducks, sir."

— Olive (Ross) Patton.


There was never any lack of musical talent among the miners and their families. Strains of the accordion, the piano and the fiddle echoed round the hills from many a home and members of the Brass Band practised with enthusiasm. It may have been that the hills and valleys were conducive to good vocal organs, but one remembers that Concerts were popular and that even young performers acquitted themselves with credit at both day and Sunday School functions. (Did you ever hear Alma McGruer's golden voice, or Jimmy McNamara singing "Sister" sometime during the first decade of the century?)

Then there were all the patriotic and nostalgic songs of the First World War period - the Farewell and Welcomes. The decline in the population and the removal of the bigger Halls limited the scope of local entertainment but as late as 1941 School Children put on a really first class spectacle in the form of a Fancy Dress Party, to which the accompanying picture bears witness. No doubt Mr Briggs and Miss Muriel Taylor had a good deal to do with it, but it remains a memorable event in the lives of the younger section of "old pupils."

Extract from a letter from Margaret Poland.

"It was like a page of the dear days of long ago to hear from you. Effie Connolly visits me regularly. She has just returned from Arthur's son's ordination to the Priesthood. Amy's only girl is a Sister of Mercy at the Mater Hospital. Frank Jackson has done very well and Colin Gribble has a big position with the City Council. Phil Ryan retired as a Captain from the Harbour Board.

"My daughter Thelma and her husband now live in New Plymouth. How well I remember dear little Minnie Fallon calling for her, when they used to catch the train to Paeroa High School. I am a great-grandmother four times. I was 85 last February and enjoy good health but miss my daughters. My son, now 42, is still with me, which is a great comfort. All kind wishes for a successful re-union."

We hear that: -

Frank Wall is a Priest at Lower Hutt.

We hear that: -

Jack and Jim Wall are Marist Brothers in Auckland.

We hear that: -

Mervyn Dickey is a Presbyterian Minister in Rangiora.

We hear that: -

Cecil and Clark Wells are leading Chiropractors in Melbourne.

We hear that: -

Edward Wigmore and Hugh Patton are retired Postmasters.

Dear Mrs Nash,

Thank you so much for including me in the Karangahake Jubilee.

As far as I can remember my family went to live in 'Hake in the year 1896, and the old home which was built at about that time is still standing I have been told. My father was in the Talisman Battery for about 30 years and my two brothers both worked in the Crown Battery. I am bringing with me a photograph of my father, taken with the largest output of bullion from the Talisman, also some views of Karangahake, showing what it was like in the flourishing days, which may be of interest to the young generation.

At that time I was teaching in Gisborne under the Hawke's Bay Education Board and when my family came north I joined them and applied for a position in the Karangahake School in the year 1897. Fortunately on looking through my old papers, I found a reference from my late Head Master, which was a guide, as I had almost forgotten. It has all seemed so long ago.

In Karangahake I was appointed Assistant Mistress under Mr Scott - Head Master. Later I came up to Auckland and went through my training as a nurse and when my sister married, I returned to the old home to keep house for my father - my mother died in 1905.

My younger sister lived in Africa and in 1914 she returned - on a visit to father - with her young son. I went back with my sister to South Africa and took a position in the Great Witts:water Rand Hospital in Johannesburg and nursed soldiers from New Zealand who had been wounded, fighting in German West Africa (1914-1918).

My eldest sister - Mrs Ansley - came back to Karangahake to live with father and ran the Post Office in the old home for some years. Father died in 1926 at the age of 84. At about that time 'Hake was failing. Some of the mines were closing clown as the out-put of gold was no longer payable. The Crown Battery had closed down some time before that.

I hope I have stated events clearly as I am now in my 86th year. My memory is not so good and I have not spoken of our life in 'Hake for many years - it all seems ancient history now.

I am quite looking forward to the Jubilee.

Very sincerely yours,

Isobelle Dette

A certain master had his canes dropped through a hole in the senior room floor. They were then retrieved by one of the "gang" waiting in the toolshed below, and cut into small pieces.


In the year 1907 county ratepayers living within two miles of the Karangahake Post Office petitioned the New Zealand Governor, Lord Plunket, asking that a borough be constituted. The petition said the township had been in existence for over twenty years and that Council expenditure in the riding had not been commensurate with the very considerable increment from gold revenue, rates and timber royalties. It was stated that the population within the proposed boundaries exceeded 2000 and that insufficient aid had been given to prospectors. The petition was strongly supported, and it is interesting to read the names and occupations of the signatories - but it failed to gain recognition. Perhaps even then it was apparent that the days of the township were already numbered.


There was a real old character who lived round near the entrance to the gorge and he had a very big, long coated dog. I think the old fellow was a remittance man and when he was in funds, spent most of it in the hotels. They were clipping horses in the Coaching Company's stable one day and they clipped the Old Timer's dog - left him with just a tuft on the end of his tail and did not clip past his neck, only his body. I had never seen anything more like a young lion. The old fellow came out of the hotel well under the influence, had one look at the dog and bolted. Naturally the faithful hound followed him. He kept running and looking over his shoulder till he got to his shanty and shut himself inside. Somewhat recovered next day he was trying to borrow a gun to deal with the vandal who had ill-treated his dog.

Fair haired George attended the Karangahake School. His father had come from a mining town in Australia to work in the mines in Karangahake.

George was very interested one day when the teacher gave a talk about Australia and its natives. At the close of the talk he raised his hand and proudly announced, "Please, Sir, my father was an Aboriginee."