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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973

By A.C. HANLON.

I was born in Auckland, on the day Queen Victoria died, January 22, 1901, and my parents moved to Waihi when I was about six months old. My father was a commercial traveller for an Auckland firm and his district included the King Country and the Bay of Plenty. Sometimes he took my elder brother and me on his shorter trips, and in this way I saw Tauranga and Ohinemuri townships in the early years of the century when one travelled by horse drawn vehicles.

Not until I was four years old was the railway completed to Waihi and I remembered the station for a thrilling event that occurred there about a year after the opening. Wirth's Circus came to Waihi and my brothers, of whom I now had three, and I were taken to watch the procession of horse-drawn vehicles and elephants as they made their way to a paddock near the Ohinemuri River. This day was an exciting one for not only the children of Waihi but their parents also.

We lived in a small house at Cuba Street, East End, where my father had a stable for his trap and four-wheeler in a vacant section next to our home. There was a deep well near the house, the water from which trickled out into a stream lower down the next section. One day we had a visit from an uncle and we showed him this well. He told us then that we were to go where the stream was and he would go down the well and come out in the stream as a little fish. We went as instructed and waited anxiously for this fish. It never came and we did not see our uncle for another ten years.

In our street a drain had been built from a football field at the top to a swamp some distance past our place. It was a square wood-lined tunnel about two feet in height and width with an occasional opening in the top. One day my younger brother and I decided to play in this tunnel. He went down one opening and I went down another. We tried to pass one another and became so jammed together we could not move. Fortunately our elder brother heard our cries and ran to our mother who got a nearby resident to locate us, dig down to the roof of the tunnel, remove it, and lift us out. We never entered the drain again.

My youngest brother when only about 2 years old, nearly died in the Waihi Hospital not long after it was opened. He survived and later became a New Zealand representative player of Rugby League. The only other connection I can remember having with the Waihi Hospital was when the superintendent, Dr. (later Sir) Carrick Robertson came out to Cuba Street put me on a table and removed my adenoids. Later on, in Auckland, I was to remember this operation for when I was in Std. 3 at Edendale School, a doctor examined the children and I was given a note for my parents. On the way home I read it and discovered my adenoids needed removing again. I tore up the note and when I got home kept my mouth shut about the examination. That must have cured my adenoids for I had no further trouble with them!

Karangahake and Mackaytown I remember as very busy townships, with many shops, hotels, and churches, as well as the battery buildings over the Ohinemuri, and the school on a hill nearby. Three trips to Tauranga I recall. The first one was when I went with my father for a few days. He was a member of an amateur music group that was putting on a show there. The next two trips to Tauranga were at Christmas 1905 and 1906 when our whole family went for a fortnight's holiday to Miss Spooner's boarding house just up from the waterfront and overlooking the harbour. On both occasions we travelled in a coach driven by Mr. Maurice Crimmins, our route being through the Athenree Gorge. The trip took about 8 hours. Other outings were picnics up the Walmsley Valley where, in summer, we would gather a kerosene tin full of blackberries, and to the Waihi Beach where I cannot recall seeing any houses. Our route from Waihi took us past a rifle range and a hill round which was a large man-made viaduct nearly over-flowing with water. It may have been supplying the Union Hill mine.

About 1906 a cinema theatre, The Academy, was opened in Rosemont Road and we saw the movies for the first time. About this time while shopping in Seddon Street on a Friday night with my father and brothers I had an interesting experience. Somewhere near the Rob Roy Hotel a man had erected a telescope and, for a small sum, passers-by were invited to look at the moon and the stars. My father gave me a coin and I had my first conscious view of the heavens. About this time my brothers and I were christened at the Anglican Church of St. John which at that time was a building set further back from the road than the present one. I remember on one occasion after Sunday School we crossed to the Martha Mine pump station and climbed along the rail track leading over Seddon Street in the direction of the main rail-way line. By the time we got down our clothes were in a mess. One memory I have of the Martha Mine is of going down in a cage, probably with my godfather, Mr. Hutchens, who worked in the office of the mining company.

When I was about five years old we had a visit from my mother's father who was Government light-house keeper at Tiri Tiri island in the Hauraki Gulf. He took us in to Seddon Street for a family photograph, the enlarged copy of which I still have. My grandfather, on this visit, gave me a copy of "Uncle Tom's Cabin!". Unfortunately I could not read then as our schooling did not start until 1907 when the East End School was opened. We enrolled on the first day and attended for about a year before moving to Auckland. I remember:- the pupils assembling in the school around [ground ? – E] for their photographs, a later assembly was for the presentation of medals on the occasion of the first Dominion Day in New Zealand. Not far from the school was a shop owned by Mrs. Speak whose two sons, Ted and Fred, also started at the school on opening day. The only other shop I can remember is Mr. Woodham's along Seddon Street.

I would like to tell a story about the man the street was named after. From Waihi a mountain about twelve miles away can be seen. At its foot is the township of Te Aroha. In 1903 there was born to a well-known family there a daughter. At that time the Premier of New Zealand, Mr. Dick Seddon, and his wife were visiting this family. He insisted that the baby should be named Louisa after his wife. The mother however preferred to name her baby Daphne, but whenever the Seddons visited them all members of the household were asked to call the baby "Louisa". The Seddons never discovered the deception. About twenty years later Daphne was to become my wife.


OUR CONTRIBUTOR - MR. HANLON now lives in Christchurch but periodically has returned to Waihi where his services as a musician are greatly appreciated. His instrument is the Flute and old folk will remember how he has added to their pleasure when the Waihi Historical Society has entertained them.