Diamond Jubilee of the Ohinemuri County 1885 - 1945
The Motor Car Comes
ONE OF THE FIRST
The proud possessor of a small English motor car about 1899 was Mr. J. H. Adams, manager of a mining battery at Karangahake. This was regarded by those who had the opportunity of travelling in it as the acme of comfort, despite its buggy-like construction. The owner, who did his own repairs, estimated running costs at twopence per mile. Maximum speed was about 15 miles per hour.
County Roll of Honour
Two World Wars were included in the first sixty years of the Ohinemuri County. Among those who served in the First World War, 1914-18, were three who left the direct associations of the County and made the supreme sacrifice: —
Capt. Arthur C. Hubbard, M.C., of the 6th Hauraki Regiment, killed in action at Gravenstafel on October 4, 1917. Member of Ohinemuri County Council, representing Paeroa Riding, from November, 1914, to February, 1916, when he enlisted.
Sergt. Henry J. Field, of the 6th Hauraki Regiment. Died of wounds received at the Somme on September 23, 1916. Member of Ohinemuri County Council, representing Waikino Riding, from November, 1914, to 1915, when he enlisted.
Sergt. Errol Lyndon Brenan, of the 6th Hauraki Regiment. Killed in action at Gravenstafel on October 4, 1917. Assistant clerk to Ohinemuri County Council from June, 1912, to March, 1915, when he enlisted.
Although many from the Council and the Council's staff saw home service in more ways than one in the Second World War, 1939-45, only one went overseas, A. G. Simmons, of Paeroa, surfaceman. He, fortunately, returned safe and sound.
A Road Dispute
The main road at Owharoa across what is known as "Cummings' Flat" had been in use for many years, but the owner of the land would not accept the Council's offer for the land, nor would he consent to the taking of it, nor make a formal claim for compensation.
The matter had dragged on for some years. Eventually a provision of the law seldom availed of was used to meet the occasion. The road having been in use for over 21 years as a public road, a declaration to that effect was made by the County Chairman, the late Mr. Hugh Poland, and the owner's claim was thereafter extinguished.
That the law was no respecter of persons in the late 'nineties is illustrated by the following incident:
Messrs. E. W. Porritt and E. J. Clendon, solicitors, were returning to Paeroa from a sitting of the Court at Te Aroha; Mr. Clendon — always fond of a good horse — having driven his pair of "spanking greys" over the hill road.
These gentlemen of the law, regardless of the law on the subject, and ignoring the notice on the bridge to travel only at a walking pace, proceeded to cross the Ohinemuri River Bridge at Paeroa at a brisk trot. It so happened that Constable Fred Beattie, one of the most efficient, but least officious of officers, was standing near the old Bank of New Zealand. At the next sitting of the Paeroa Court, Edwin J. Clendon appeared in a new role, having to answer the charge of driving over the bridge at other than a walking pace. Defendant was represented by counsel, Mr. Porritt appearing for him and pleading "guilty," and he was duly fined. Magistrate, counsel, police, defendant and members of the public present all enjoy the humour of the situation.
The following extract from the Post and Telegraph Guide of January, 1883, is interesting in view of present-day methods. Under the heading "Miscellaneous Regulations and Suggestions" is printed: "Whenever bank notes are sent by post, even in registered letters, they should be cut in halves, and the second halves should not be posted till it has been ascertained that the first halves have been received; and, further, in order to afford the means of identification, a memorandum should always be made of the number of each bank note."
A Chance Discovery
PAEROA AND LEMON
Paeroa and Lemon was enjoyed by some of the earlier residents of Paeroa to quench the thirst and, on occasions, to relieve a bilious attack. The chance discovery of a spring of mineral water in a cow paddock near the Junction at Paeroa was followed by frequent visits to the hole in the ground from which a palatable drink could be obtained for the taking. That was long before anyone thought of commercialising the product.
The writer, and his lady friend, struck upon the happy idea of taking a lemon or two in their pockets and, adding lemon juice to the mineral water, anticipated the future use of that delectable, refreshing drink known everywhere as ''Paeroa and Lemon.''
Gorse Sought After
Cultivated at Owharoa
Early settlers in the Bay of Islands have the doubtful distinction of bringing gorse plants to New Zealand, and growing them in rows for the purpose of providing live fences.
It is not generally known that similarly gorse was cultivated at Owharoa many years ago, the result of which is now seen in a profusion of golden bloom. The story is told of an Owharoa farmer who sent his son (this son is still residing not far from the home of his boyhood) to bring young gorse from Katikati for planting at Owharoa. The lad returned on horseback at night with one plant, and received a "tanning" for his remissness.
Subsequently he was sent again, and this time returned with a more plentiful supply of gorse plants, which must have multiplied many times throughout the years. For obvious reasons the name of the lad will not here be disclosed.
A Heavy Burden
Until the completion of the Paeroa-Waihi railway, the cost of maintaining the road between the wharves — Junction and Puke at Paeroa — and Waihi, was a heavy burden on the Ohinemuri County Council, which, however, was able to utilise some of the district gold duty for that purpose. During one period of two years the cost to the County of maintenance work only for the distance of 16 miles was no less a sum than £13,000.
A One- Day Sensation
TOWNSHIP PEGGED OUT
During the height of the gold mining boom a one-day sensation was caused in Paeroa when, early one morning, the business portion of the township was pegged out, and later in the day printed forms were posted up - one of them in the vicinity of the Commercial Hotel - notifying the public that a "special Claim" had been applied for.
Expectations of some were dashed, and hostility of others was appeased, when it became known that John William Shaw and George Carrick had been enjoying a practical joke.
Public Debt of County
One of Smallest in New Zealand
The Ohinemuri County is indeed fortunate with respect to its public debt, and ratepayers no doubt have a feeling of appreciation and a sense of gratitude to the past and present Councils for the economical way the County has been administered right up to the present time. This does not indicate by any means that progress has not been made; the above statement verifies that. The highest public debt was at March 31, 1920, when the total was £25,249, but, due to part of this County going to the newly formed Hauraki Plains County as from that date, the balance sheet at the end of the following year showed the figure to be reduced to £16,818, as portion of the public debt was taken over by that County. Since then the highest total was £21,147 in 1924, the increase caused mostly by the Antecedent Liability Loan of £4200, a loan which the Council was compelled to raise by the Finance Act to pay off part of the bank overdraft.
Since that date the public debt has been steadily reduced, except for two small loans, and the rural housing loan of £2800. At March 31, 1945, the total public debt as shown in the balance sheet was £9245, but after deducting accumulated sinking funds and credits in inscribed roads the figure is reduced to £6418.
The rural housing loan is actually owing by four settlers, and if the balance still to be repaid were deducted the net public debt would show as only £3908. In comparison with the valuation of other counties, the Ohinemuri County has one of the smallest public debts of any county in the Dominion.
The present By-laws of the County are very antiquated, dating back to 1918. There has been only one amendment since then, and that was in 1936, when the charges for water to Karangahake, Mackaytown and Waikino were increased. For some time past new and up-to-date By-laws have been in the course of preparation. The draft copy is now ready for consideration by the Council, and it is hoped to have the work completed and the new By-laws brought into force within two or three months. Many new laws will be enacted, one of the most important of which is the Building By-law, which will make it necessary for any person intending to erect any new buildings or make any structural alterations to existing buildings to first obtain a permit from the Council. Ratepayers and other residents of the county will be advised through the Press when the new By-laws are in force.