Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962

Mrs M. Coutts

Mrs M. Coutts

Waihi Borough Council Diamond Jubilee Booklet 1902-1962
Mrs M. Coutts
Mrs May Coutts (nee Landy), Savage Road, Waihi, was born in Auckland in 1885 and brought to Waihi in 1889, to live with her aunt, Mrs Walter Brown, sister of Mr D. Landy. One of her earliest recollections is of the journey by coach from Paeroa to Waihi, via the hilly Rahu Road, from Mackaytown to Owharoa. A more alarming one is the night when fire gutted the main street, including Mr Brown's hairdressing establishment, where the family then lived. The little girl awoke to a flare of flames and shattering glass but rescued her precious bank book, containing a few shillings, and escaped unhurt. She had her schooling under Miss Truscott and Mr Benge.

In 1908 May Landy married Daniel Coutts, a contractor in the Waihi mine, who also won a ballot for one of the first farms on Ford Road. In 1920 the couple were joined by Miss Margaret Stewart, who has proved a truly golden friend throughout their lives. Miss Stewart and Mrs Coutts used to go daily in their gig to milk the cows on the farm.

About 1932, Mr Coutts was engaged as a "gold diviner" by a mining company in New Guinea and spent some years there as a mine manager, coming home only on vacations. Meanwhile Mrs Coutts and Miss Stewart continued to carry on both the home in Savage Road and the dairy farm to which they travelled now by car.

In 1939 they joined Mr Coutts for a memorable year, but when war threatened, the women flew to Australia and then returned to Waihi, bringing with them additions to a growing museum of tropical treasures and mineral exhibits. The trio had a deep interest in nature, particularly entymology [entomology – E] and their collection of gorgeous butterflies and other insects and creatures, all beautifully mounted, is nothing short of amazing.

It became necessary for Mr Coutts to evacuate also, but he returned later hoping to retrieve much that he had left, only to find that all had been destroyed. His death there in 1947 followed the sadness of this discovery, and as a memorial to him, Mrs Coutts and Miss Stewart continued to cherish and supplement their wonderful collection, which is housed in a special room at their home.

There are relics of New Guinea's less civilised days, bows and arrows, and spears with the point made of the toe-nail of the cassoway bird, and an ancient club studded with the teeth of victims. But beauty is predominant, the general effect being of an array of priceless jewels. In a measure this is so, for there is a range of types of precious stones in their uncut state, while mother of pearl and shells and crystals vie with the magnificent colouring of jewelled butterflies. The notable collection of minerals no doubt arose from the professional interest of Mr Coutts in mining, and there are specimens from our local mines as well as those, along with curios, from other parts of the world.

Mrs Coutts has been an invalid for some years and Miss Stewart's care for the museum is surpassed only by her devoted care for her friend. Despite many times of trial and deep anxiety these two brave souls carry on their self-appointed task, and are ever ready to welcome the visitors who flock to see their treasure house. We were privileged also to view their wonderful books of pictures, showing the progress of the district from its earliest settlement till today, as well as Miss Stewards illustrated diary of their travels and New Guinea days. Throughout its pages there shines the love of beauty, the joy of service and a deep reverence.