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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973

by IDA (ADLAM) HART

My father, Captain Adlam was a master mariner very well known in Paeroa and Te Aroha through his connection with the Waihou river trade. His first experience of shipping was with the old Hauraki Steamship Co. which operated a passenger and cargo service from Paeroa to Auckland in opposition to the Northern Company, and he could relate many tales of that competition when passengers were even carried free and served with meals.

Then in 1892 Mr. Adlam joined the Northern Coy. as a bargeman and gradually worked his way up until he gained his Master's certificate, and was appointed to the Matuku in 1894. This boat carried cargo and passengers between Thames and Te Aroha and included were the men who built the railway to which the passenger traffic gradually moved. His second command was the Eliza which took cargo up the river to Te Aroha after it had been transhipped at Paeroa, and next the Patiki, running between Thames and Paeroa. This boat traded principally with the settlers along the river until the construction of better roads drew the traffic away.

For five or six years Capt. Adlam skippered the Rotokohu, and then the Kopu which towed barges laden with logs and timber from Paeroa and Te Aroha to Auckland, many loads being taken direct from Mangaiti. He was Captain of the vessel that followed Bernard (later Lord) Freyberg when he made his 25 mile swim between Te Aroha and Paeroa in 1912. During 1st World War trade was particularly brisk but about 1918 business dropped off to such an extent that the Kopu was taken off the run and until his retirement the Captain resumed his old command - the Rotokohu. But conditions had changed as had the PAEROA wharves which had moved from the vicinity of the Commercial Hotel, to Wharf St., to the Junction, to Puke and finally to Ngahinga [Ngahina – E].

In 1936, after 44 years of service a particularly fine tribute was paid to the popular Skipper during his last trip on the river when settlers threw streamers and waved farewell to him from the banks at the Ngahina Wharf, Puke. Mr. Jim Silcock, manager in Paeroa for the Northern Coy. expressed regret at Capt. Adlam's retirement and congratulated him on his efficiency. On behalf of the local Staff and Settlers on the river he presented him with an engraved wallet containing a cheque. At Te Aroha he was given a case of pipes and a tobacco pouch. In replying Capt. Adlam referred to the wonderful progress that the district had made since he had first commenced navigating over 40 years before. Land which had been deep swamp and at that time practically useless had come under cultivation and was highly productive. Well kept farm buildings had taken the place of flax and timber mills.

That year (1936) we moved from Paeroa to Auckland where my father spent 21 years in retirement. In 1956 he died there at the great age of 92 years. He was survived by mother and three of his four daughters. We had all attended the Paeroa School, and my late sister Belle was a very well known and popular Teacher. She spent 10 years at the Netherton School (1920 - 1930) before moving to Newstead and then Manawaru. She died suddenly in 1944 while on the Staff of Dominion Road School in Auckland where she was a Craft Specialist.

My sister Gladys (Mrs. Smith) was the eldest member of our family and I was the youngest, but our sister Mavis (Mrs. Fred Woodham) was much more widely known because of her long association with the Happiness Club and her 1ZB Radio Work. She married at 21 and was living in Auckland when the Club was formed in 1938 (with "Joan" Sutherland as Director). It was to give people something other than the depression to think about, and presented Auckland with the first Mobile Ambulance in the country. Mavis became Sec. of the Mt. Albert Branch and successively filled the positions of President of the Transit Office (which helped to place children in foster homes), Gen. Treasurer; Gen. Secretary and finally was Director of the Club for 8 years before retiring after holding executive positions for 25 years. During her Directorship the Club bought new premises in Eden Terrace for the regular entertainment of old folk, one of its aims being to help those in need.