Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973


There was a good representation of descendants of the first settlers of Katikati at a party held at St. Paul's Hall recently. The guests of honour, Mrs. Ivy Ball (nee Shepherd) and Mr. Tom Buckworth, both of Australia but formerly of Katikati, were welcomed by Mr. James Gray. Also present was Mrs. H. Stewart (nee Blanche Shaw of Woodlands) who had married the younger son of Mr. George Vesey Stewart. She was the guest of Mrs. S. Holmes of "Castle Grace", Kauri Point.

In referring to the early days of Katikati Mr. Gray spoke of the flour-mill and the saw-mill. "And now", he said, "there is a nice new building on the site, with a shop, and flats above, aptly named "The Old Mill". I was invited to inspect the flats by the owner-builder, Mr. P. Manson, but instead of climbing the stairs was taken up in a lift!

Mr. G. B. Henry spoke of Mrs. Ball's father who once owned and named the "Talisman Hotel" when he moved from Karangahake. He also recalled the times he and his mates used to ride up to the Hot Springs after collecting the key from the Buckworth private hotel at Te Rereatukahia, just north of the Sapphire Springs turn-off. He felt he had a link with Mrs. Stewart as his mother had made the very first jockey outfit for her brother, Barr Shaw, who was later to ride for the King.

Mr. Buckworth spoke on behalf of Mrs. Ball and himself, thanking all for their hospitality. He told of how he was with his father when they found the springs and later developed them, little dreaming that they would become so popular. Reference was also made to the late Mr. Sam Middlebrook, (the father of Bert). He had led the first Survey party to Katikati and was reputed to be the first white man to set foot in the district. During his last years he lived on his boat on the Uretara River and was remembered for his accordion playing and dancing, even in his 80's.