Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973
By MONA BEATTIE
A very happy and successful weekend was spent recently when the Wainui- Silverdale Historical Society were the guests of the Paeroa and District Historical Society. The visitors spent a full two days in the area, being shown around by local members in the typical Paeroa summer sunshine. In all, the weekend also proved of interest to some of the local members, many of whom had not previously visited some of the places on the arranged tours.
On the Saturday morning Mr. R. Tye joined the bus at Ngatea and while speaking to the visitors, pointed out many changes that had taken place over the years on the Hauraki Plains. A warm welcome was given the group on their arrival in Paeroa, where members gathered for morning tea. Hostesses were then introduced to their weekend guests and this was followed by a tour to Primrose Hill where Mr. Bob Hughes spoke of places of interest, pointing out the growth of Paeroa from this vantage point on the hill. It was then on to the Innes-Tartan soda spring where unfortunately the folk were unable to taste the water as the pump was out of action. However all later received a gift of a bottle of Lemon and Paeroa kindly donated by the makers.
After a tour round Paeroa (including the Stopbank and Wharf St.) the party proceeded to "Sevenoaks", the home of Mr. & Mrs. F. Thorp where a picnic lunch was enjoyed in the garden near the site of the early Vicarage. Mr. Thorp spoke on the history of Rotokohu Road, and the Ohinemuri River; The stately old home and trees were greatly admired as were Mrs. Thorp's treasures. The afternoon was spent at Mr. & Mrs. Basil Thorp's farm to visit the woolshed which had in the early days been the Karangahake Anglican Church. Mr. Thorp spoke of the land now being farmed and the methods used. The tour around the farm hills also took in the air strip from which there was a wonderful view of the Te Aroha plains and the whole of the Thames Valley.
The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the dinner on Saturday night where the Paeroa Society's president Mr. F. Thorp officially welcomed the guests. The Mayor, Mr. G.E. Lee said that Paeroa was proud to entertain the visitors. Mr. S. Bayers the Wainui-Silverdale Historical Society president thanked all on behalf of his society for the welcome they had received and Mrs. Ruth Aitken, the secretary said how pleased she was to be back. It was in 1915 she recalled that her father had driven over the Plains and her mother and five sisters had arrived by train to live at the 1st Paeroa Vicarage. The evening concluded with the showing of slides on past and present day scenes of Karangahake and district exhibited by Mr. Alan Beck while Mr. Phil Jones gave the commentary. Further slides of coloured minerals collected by Mr. A. Beck of Ngatea were magnificent.
Sunday morning again dawned beautifully fine and an early start was made for Karangahake, the bus being joined by Mrs. N. Climie, who pointed out that the Official Opening of the Ohinemuri Goldfields in 1875 took place at "Mackaytown" named after James Mackay who was Warden at the time. Later it became a residential suburb of Karangahake where the mines operated. Other points of interest were noted and a brief pause was made at the Picnic Area to read the Historical Notice on the old town site.
The bus proceeded through the Gorge to Waikino with Mr. A. Campbell, County Chairman as commentator. He pointed out mine and battery sites at Owharoa, and referred to the once thriving town of Waikino. Negotiating the hill "loop", the visitors had a good view of the site of the great Victoria Battery which for many years crushed the gold-bearing quartz from the rich Martha Mine at Waihi.
Returning to Karangahake the party had morning tea before being conveyed to the School in cars supplied by local members. Mr. Wills, the Head Master kindly arranged for our entry into the 84 year old building and many remarked on its wonderful state of preservation - a great credit to local people. As they sat comfortably in a cool room Mrs. Climie outlined the history of Karangahake - its rise and fall. She had been both a pupil and a teacher at the School so was able to vouch for the population of 2000 with 400 pupils and large classes.(Three of the five rooms remain but the roll now is just over 30.)
Mr. Phil Jones ably linked Saturday night's pictures with the present scene. Taking his audience outside to view it, he pointed out many interesting aspects of the place that has seen men "come and go" for nearly a century, leaving little trace of the great Woodstock, Talisman and Crown Mines.
Lunch was served at the home of Mrs. A. Murdock and her son Robert presided at their Museum where the visitors viewed the outstanding collection of Maori Artifacts. It was from here that a bus load of tired but happy people left on their homeward journey via the historic Kopu Bridge. With new friends made, old acquaintances renewed and so much seen and done over the two days, it was considered by hosts and visitors alike that the weekend had been extremely worthwhile.
The success of this week-end was due largely to the thorough planning by Paeroa's Indefatigable Treasurer - (Mrs. Mona Beattie) and Secretary - (Miss Ena Buchanan). Then team work, hostesses and weather ensured the happiness of our pleasant and interested guests.