Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973
by ELSIE MAN
I write this article hesitantly as I feel others may have known early Waikino better than I. My information has been mostly "hearsay" though I have been able to verify some of it, but please forgive inaccuracies.
A township sprang up at Waitekauri soon after the opening of the Goldfields (1875) but because of its early mines and batteries Owharoa became the business centre on the main highway near Waikino where there were settlers on the hills. Then with the opening of the great Victoria Battery in 1897 there was a sudden upsurge at Waikino. The first store was established here by Mr. F.A. Jones in 1896 and the first Post Office was opened in it on 15/10/96. (This property must been taken over in the early 20's by the Govt. which still owns it.) When the old building was condemned and dismantled the present P.O. was built alongside it. I feel sure that some of the old fittings were incorporated in this office.
On the same side, starting from the swing bridge and moving towards Waihi was Mr. Fred Kinsella's Butchers shop, then two or three houses. In one of them lived Mr. Jim Dinsdale a one-time barber, who still practised in a small way. He had poor sight and did most things accompanied by a large magnifying glass. Next was a stable or store shed. This could be the shed Allan Snodgrass remembers carting coal from for the hotel. Then the Miners' Union building where Mr. Caudelle [Claudelle ? – E] Clarke remembers attending Scout meetings with Jack Brown, son of the Hotel Proprietor, in the early part of the century. Next to it was Gordon's Coaching Stables, I suppose a half-way stop on the Waitekauri to Paeroa run. This was later owned by Mr. Phillips and later still leased to Mr. Snodgrass who ran it as a Garage.
Then came Pivac's Billiard Saloon, and the Bakehouse, established in 1897 by John Lever. All my informants remember it as owned by Mr. Les "Doughy" Steel. These last two buildings form the present R.S.A. club rooms.
Adjacent was Mr. Flatt's Bookshop, and one or two other shops. These were burnt down, or burnt enough to need extensive rebuilding, probably about 1908. "Flatts" was rebuilt as a block of three shops, the largest being occupied by Mr. Flatt. About 1912 it was bought by Mr. & Mrs. Currie. Owing to Mr. Currie's ill health, the business was run mainly by his wife, who later, remarried, and as Mrs. Balneave ran the business till about 1946 or 47, when it was taken over by Mrs. Nell Buchanan, (nee Nellie Olney) who has lived in Waikino nearly all her life. The business was closed in March 1961, and the building has stood to the present, but is now in the process of being pulled down.
The next shop was also altered and another story added. Probably it was originally owned by a Mr. & Mrs. Price who both lost their lives by drowning, when the ship in which they were travelling to Australia went down. Later it was Heard's Confectionary. Dolly Heard used to travel round in the wagon with Tom Bond who had a Carrying Business. Finally the premises became Mr. & Mrs. Jack McAra's dwelling and store, and was dismantled in the early 1950's.
Next was J.S. Wooley's chemist shop, later Mrs. Harper's dressmaking business, and later still Mrs. Pike's Boarding house (where Allan Snodgrass boarded for a while). After the Store and Post Office, there was a clothing store, probably owned by a Mr. Green. It was since pulled down.
The next shop still stands to-day, though unoccupied except for the living quarters. It was originally a drapery owned by Mr. Phillips, and possibly shifted from Waitekauri, as at the time of the 1966 flood, when the wall paper had to be stripped from the walls, some scrim (wrapping from bales delivered to the shop) had "Phillips Waitekauri" written on it. Later it was taken over by H. Franklyn then Tom Hutchinson and later still by Mr. Arbuckle. In the 1930's it was standing empty when Mr. Nickle bought Mr. A. Shaw's Grocer's shop across the street and moved to the empty building where he built up a very prosperous business. Later owners were:- Smith, Winter, Curtis, Ken Wolstenholme, Bob Wolstenholme, Tom Nadin, and G. Dewson. It was closed down a few years ago. Mr. Tricklebank made an attempt to restart it as a small dairy-cum-grocery, but that too closed down about a year ago.
The house still standing next door was originally the dwelling belonging to the old butcher's shop, now gone. Early butchers were: Mr. Hawthorn and Mr. Puwelka, but I'm not sure in which order. Ones I remember were: Margan, J. Thomas and D. Robertson who had it pulled down, when he built a new building across the creek. The last butcher to own the business was Mr. Horn, who closed it about a year ago. The building is now owned by Mr. & Mrs. Bob McLaren who run it as a Hand craft and Tea Shop.
The house is on the site of Mrs. Grubb's Boarding House where Miss Aggie Quinton used to work. My father Mr. C. Mann, boarded here for a short time, about 1908, till he had the chance of buying a two-roomed house just below that now owned by Mrs. V. Robinson. He paid about £14 for it including some simple furniture and a bicycle.
Across the street was "Jo Burns Baker and Confectioner". This shop was burned down after World War I and not rebuilt. Behind this and up the hill a little was the Victoria Hall and adjacent library. It was destroyed by fire about 1936 and another hall was built on the flat facing the main road. This too was burnt down about 1958, and the present hall was erected on practically the same site.
Next to Jo Burn's was a Fish shop then the Grocer's shop originally owned by Mr. Matthew Gilpin, whose son and daughter, Mr. J. Gilpin and Mrs. H. "Girlie" Dobson lived in Waikino for many years. A grand-daughter, Mrs. Nira Lithgow still lives there. Mrs. Pivac, was Mr. M. Gilpin's sister. This shop was later owned by Mr. Robertson, whose name could still be seen showing underneath the paint up to the time it was pulled down. R. and S. Shaw, who had a Grocer's shop on the Paeroa side of the Hotel, from the very early days moved to this building sometime after World War I., and R. Shaw and family lived in the house that was just above it. This is now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. A. Snodgrass. (nee Hilda Shaw, who is a daughter of S. Shaw).
Up the hill was Smith's "Winchester" Boarding House. One part of this house is still standing now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Dave Fisher. Between this and the hotel, is a small dwelling, which stands on the site of the Police Station and dwelling. (An early policeman was Mr. Flavel).
The original hotel was moved from Owharoa in 1900, and burned down a few years later. Montgomerie's Hotel from Waitekauri was then moved to the same site. Mr. Clarke and Mr. Snodgrass remember when it was owned by a Mr.& Mrs. Brown, whose children were Jack and Connie. Bob Kinsella boarded here, as did a School Teacher who owned a motor bike. Vera Cox, sister of Trevor Cox of Waitawheta worked, in the kitchen. Mr. Brown bought a Jackson car, one of the first to be imported into New Zealand and it could also have been the first car in Waikino. Mr. Snodgrass worked at the hotel for about a year when he was a school boy, cleaning the concrete yard and carrying coal, etc. He remembers that it was built hard against the bank and that you had to go up steps to the laundry which was on a level patch in the hillside. This hotel remained for some time after the area went "dry" in 1909, but was later pulled down, and the timber sold in lots to various people. When the area again voted "wet", an unoccupied hotel was moved from Mackaytown, and opened for business about May 1926. The Licencees were: Mr. & Mrs. Selwood. This building is the one now owned by Mr. & Mrs. Ralph Dell, and run as the popular Waikino Tavern.
On the other side of the Hotel was, "C. Taylor Tinsmith" and "R. & S. Shaw, Grocery". The house still standing by the main road, and now occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Jo Rowlands, was in early times Bunny's Bootmaker shop, and later "Millie Cummings, Dressmaker". Convenient transport has lessened the need for shops in Waikino but the very pleasant residential area is still in great demand.
OUR CONTRIBUTOR: MISS MANN has been Post Mistress at Waikino for 21 years after filling a similar position at Waitekauri. (See Journal 16 - Page 22)[see Journal 16: Waitekauri Re-Visited, 1955 - E]. It will be obvious that her article involved considerable research for which we are grateful.