Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 7, May 1967

By HORACE HARSENT [Harsant? – E]

My Stepfather who was a Saddler in Tauranga heard there was a lot of saddlery work at Whangamata so the family moved there going by the Northern Steamship Coy's Steamer "Waitangi". The Commander, Captain Stein was later drowned on the Whakatane bar. At that time Whangamata was a sandy flat covered with stunted teatree. The whole place could have been bought for a few hundred pounds. Now it is perhaps worth a million.

John Shields was in charge of a big cargo shed and the steamer would run aground there unload, and go off next tide. The only other buildings were Tommy Thompson's stables, the house we had, and Rod McCorquandale's. He and his stepson did some fishing there, but one fateful 5th November he emptied a tin of petrol on the water and threw a match on it but he was not far enough away so was burnt to death. Mrs McCorquandale had been married before. One of her sons, Ted Keatley, later Captain of one of the N.S.S. Coy's boats was a friend of mine all through life. He was a fine man and I believe he had the best garden in Auckland at St. Luke's Road. He was the originator of the Keatleyi ornamental teatree.

The 'Luck at Last' gold mine was going then - a wild cat scheme - English money, and must have cost fifty thousand or more, but they got very little gold out of it. Each week I would go up to the 'Luck at Last' in Tommy Thompson's waggon taking around the camps a 100 lb box of smoked fish and a sack of fresh meat brought from Auckland by the Steamer. My brother-in-law, Sam Feilding, was a miner there so I would stay with him and go home next day. Tommy Thompson who had the waggons was a fine man whose family are still my very great friends after 65 years.

Leaving the Port first you passed R.H. Watt's store and Kauri gum business, then John Sainsbury's Hotel at the head of the harbour. Sainsbury was a big rough man with a Maori wife but must have been a good sort. Many times he showed me his collection of Kauri gum at 'Luck at Last'. There were two small stores, first Mrs Thompsons; (she was helped by her niece Sophy Bellars who later married Dave McCain) and the other was the Hullihan's.

Across the harbour from the Port there was a peninsula which a man whohad been in the Post Office in Tauranga thought would make a pig farm. He enclosed it with a short fence and bought good pigs which died. Then he tried maori pigs which did no good so he carved on a rock "Root hogs or die", and he never went back.

The other mine working was the 'Wentworth'. I think they got gold there. Says had a store there and Bill Keane was the blacksmith. Ted married Ted Keatley's sister Florence who is still alive. I did not know much of the 'Wentworth'.

There is one man I would like to mention - my brother Charley, and if any of the old hands knew him they will remember him with respect. I was never a miner but when our father died Charley first worked in a sawmill in Auckland and went to night school. He never passed the 6th Standard at school but eventually took the highest marks in the School of Mines at Karangahake and he was the assistant teacher to McDuff. Later he was mine manager at Golden Hill, Puketui, Tairua. I am proud to remember my brother's honesty. The mine was not paying and the directors wanted Charley to put in a false report. He said, "I will put in a true report or none at all", and he left. He went to British Columbia and was in some of the very big mines there. He died there about 12 years ago, one week before he and his wife planned to return to New Zealand. These are some of his old mates, who might be remembered by the old hands, Wally Hogg, Norman McGruer, Jury, Skelly and Stewart.