Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 18, June 1974


Around the 1920's some pupils from Paeroa and the surrounding districts travelled daily to attend Thames High School, (at that time the only full Secondary school in the area north of Hamilton.) Their means of transport was a train which left the old Paeroa station at the end of Belmont Road about 7.45 each morning. In order to catch it, many of them had to rise early. For me it meant getting up at 5.30 a.m. as there were usually cows to milk and other jobs to be done before having breakfast and walking a mile to the station. A few others came greater distances notably Jean, Grace and Jack Milroy from Mackaytown and Bain from Te Aroha. Amongst those who joined at Paeroa during (1919-22) were Jack and Joy Buchanan, Ken. and Ron. Couper, Geoffry Thorp, Bob and Arthur Flatt, Poland, Keeney, the Shand sisters Hilda and Viv. and Eric and Gus Tetley.

The train carried goods as well as passengers so it stopped at every station on the way, taking a full hour for the 20 mile journey. The carriage reserved for school pupils was always the first one, with front half for boys and rear for girls. It was sparsely occupied when it left Paeroa, but at Komata we would pick up Wi Royal, Eric Dean at Hikutaia Gordon Ingham, Chatfield, at Omahu Bill Pennell, at Puriri Tom Brown, Ben Clark, several at Matatoki and at Kopu a large crowd made up of the Kopu locals plus others who had come across from Turua by launch and later by ferry. (Watene, Bob Madgwick, A. Morrisy, Harry Mules, Clive Dally, Brownlee and Holden).

Our activities during the morning trip were many and varied. Some were busy trying to complete homework with the assistance of someone more expert. There was often shunting at the smaller stations and on frosty mornings boys would climb out and indulge in athletics. Normally we arrived at Shortland about 8.45 and rushed to school. On rare occasions the train broke down and the next one did not leave Paeroa until 11 a.m. I remember one such breakdown about six miles from Paeroa. We decided to walk to Hikutaia where we visited the local cheese factory, after which someone produced some large slabs of cheese - demolished with great gusto.

The homeward journey commenced about 4 p.m. During the few miles to Kopu the carriage was packed but after that with more elbow room we were usually doing homework until someone began long jumps along the corridor or started community singing. During the first week of the school year, an initiation ceremony was held for the new boys. It had to be completed before we reached Kopu. All new boys were divested of their shoes and socks which were mixed up in a heap. Then began the job of sorting and for those who had to disembark at Kopu it was a mad scramble -- . I cannot remember anything serious happening apart from an occasional window with resulting reprimand. Two adventurous souls who elected to walk the 20 miles home and made it, were Geoff. Thorp and Ken. Couper.

Trains pupils who contributed much to the sporting life of the school were: Jack Buchanan, Ken Couper, Wi Royal and at least one other, members of the first fifteen. Hilda and Viv. Shand were both winners of the girls' singles tennis championship. Ken Couper was school athletic champ.(2) and well up in the School swimming Champs. I have much to thank him for, because of the encouragement and help given in those early days.