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Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962

One of the most colourful old identities of the District is 83-year-old Bert Pipe, who came here in 1902, after spending a few years in Sydney. At the age of nineteen he had been entrusted to take a consignment of Suffolk Punch Horses and some Southdown Sheep from England to New South Wales. He married in Waihi in 1903 and has had nine children.

Most of Mr Pipe's working days were spent either in the bush or in the mines, but he has always had a great attachment for the sea. Fifty years ago he was among the first to build a cottage at the "Beach" after mining had begun there. He is probably the last one left who took part in the early transactions to acquire building sites. At first sections were leased to "Beachcombers" at £2/12/- a year by Mr Vesey Stewart, who owned the northern end which bordered on Mrs Shaw's land. By this time there was a rough road to the Beach and Bert recalls that he had a bicycle which he sometimes rode and sometimes carried to and from his work at the Waihi mine.

Mr Pipe became a Borough Councillor during the latter part of the First World War and served for seven years. He was Deputy Mayor during Dr Short's absence overseas and was also President of the Miners' Union and a member of the First Rehabilitation Board. Bert recalls that he was a "stormy petrel," but one would add that he must have been a jovial one, for his fund of humorous stories is unending. He enjoys a marvellous memory and is also an authority on all the "Characters" who used to haunt the Goldfields, e.g. "Bookau Davies," who was responsible for plugging the dam with moss, a Welshman known as "Tommy Cutts," "Shanghai Lynch" and "Rabbity Bob."

Mr Pipe has been a widower for many years but he has a wonderful companion in his daughter Bonnie, who is as generous and hospitable as her remarkable father. (Of the other members of his family two are still in Waihi — Essie (Mrs Skinner) and Alan). We found him sitting on a seat which he has constructed by his woodshed on the sand, smoking his pipe and meditating, probably on by-gone days of camp-ovens, pink candles, dirt floors and good comradeship. But he will never be mournful, for he is hale and hearty despite his years, he enjoys good health and takes a keen interest in current events. He is a bowler and showed us several prizes, including a pipe, which he won at golf not so long ago. An "old timer" content with his lot, his simple philosophy being "Never lose your sense of humour."