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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 21, June 1977

[see also in this Journal: Reunion Memoirs - E]

The Waihi Miners Reunion was held during Labour Weekend 1976 and was successful from all points of view. It was attended by 195 miners many of whom were accompanied by wives, so that it was a reunion not only of miners but of Waihi families.

Everyone knows that a wedding, or a celebration of any kind that involves large numbers of people creates an iceberg of work and the tip of the iceberg is only that which is seen on the day, by those attending. This reunion proved to be no different in that respect, but the small committee concerned with the organising are to be congratulated and could certainly take up the running of reunions as a profession so smoothly did things run. Nothing was left to chance, except the weather, and with one exception of about an hour on Saturday afternoon, even that element seemed to have been coerced into behaving, especially for a Labour Weekend.

The get together on Friday night marked the beginning of the Reunion but in fact for those who had arrived during the day it was only an extension of that which had begun in the streets, shops and hotels. "Do you remember" was the theme and many a good story was stopped abruptly half way through, by the appearance of yet another face, unsighted for goodness knows how many years. It wasn't easy to clear the Memorial Hall that night and the centre piece on stage of a poppet head was as appropriate as the specially printed labels on the beer bottles.

On Saturday afternoon it rained just at the wrong time and so the march from the "Hill" to the Memorial Hall was cancelled. However the photographs were not and the various groups of Battery workers, Surface workers, Underground workers were all taken, and the groups spontaneously extended to sports teams and other similar groups, all with the same theme in common - mining in or around Waihi. The photographer was able that very night to produce the proofs ready for inspection and ordering, and this provided a service which not only made things easy for the Committee but was well appreciated by the buyers.

If it can be said that there is an official part of a Reunion, it is to be expected that it would be the Dinner where the toasts are offered. We ran to form. An excellent meal was served and the speeches and toasts, being appropriate and of just the right length were very well received by the 300 miners and wives who filled the hall to capacity, the hall being just large enough to accommodate everyone who wished to attend. After the Dinner the music began and space was made for dancing, but in fact not a great deal of dancing was done.

Throats were growing raspy with constant use but the spirit of conversation was still strong. The half told stories of the night before were completed and the talking, although perhaps less urgent, was in greater depth and the perfunctory greetings of the Friday night gave way to inquiries of mates and their families who were absent. On Saturday night it was perhaps a little easier to clear the Hall than it had been the night before.

Sunday arrived, the last day of the Reunion, the last chance to catch up with news that was maybe thirty years old. The Museum was popular, the Mine Film was popular, the bus trip around town was popular and just talking in the Hall with Miners' widows, families and friends who were ineligible to attend other parts of the reunion, well, that was pretty popular too. All this was punctuated by frequent blasts on the "mine whistle" as if the town needed to be reminded what this weekend was all about.

Comments were beginning to filter back:-

"I didn't know our Museum was so good"

"The town has gone ahead"

"That Mine Film showed just how it was"

"Our old house has been painted up and they've put ranch sliders in the living room"

"I thought old Bill had died but I see he's here".

Benediction at 4 p.m. and the Reunion was finished except for Auld Lang Syne sung by an unbroken circle that extended around the perimeter of the Hall.

Everyone was pleased with the weekend, everyone enjoyed themselves, everyone was talked out and tired, everyone was ready to go home, saddened to realise that this was maybe the very last time they would see some particular mate but pleased that they had had the opportunity to do so. This weekend was, in many cases the highlight of some of the miners' declining years as some have died since the Reunion was held.

Success is often just an idea away and the idea belonged to the Historical Society's President, Mr Maurice Roycroft, himself the son of a miner. Not only was the idea his but the organising skill and ability was his too, so if you attended the Reunion and enjoyed it your thanks are owed to him.

* * *

The youngest underground worker at the Reunion must have been at least 45 years old.

Three would-be attenders died after paying their fees but before the Reunion was held.

One family has returned to Waihi to live as a result of their visit over Reunion Weekend.

The Museum and Historical Society was entrusted with photographs and articles by "Reunionists" who now realise that there are organisations to look after such things.

* * *

The Memorial Hall was free of charge for the Reunion. When the Miners Union ceased to exist in 1952 the residue of their funds was donated to the Memorial Hall Fund with the proviso that the Hall was to be rent-free for any official Miners gathering. This was the first time since 1952 that this proviso has needed to be honoured.

List of Mineworkers Who Registered for the Reunion

C.J.

Alexander

 

Jol

Laurence

B.

Allison

 

Bill

Lawrence

G.A.

Allison

 

G.D.

Lawrence

A.W.

Angell

 

W.

Lindsay

N.H.

Annas

 

F.

Lithgow

Ray

Baggs

 

L.

Lithgow

George

Bashford

 

A.F.

Lowrie

M.

Bates

 

Les

Lunn

Chas

Bath

 

A.F.

Lusby

J.

Beeston

 

George

Lyall

O.

Bell

 

Chas

Lye

C.

Bennett

 

A.B.

Mackie

L.J.

Benney

 

F.A.

Marr

E.

Berryman

 

J.B.

McAra

C.

Berryman

 

P.

McCluskie

G.P.

Birks

 

J.A.

McConnell

J.M.

Birse

 

W.D.

McKenzie

H.L.

Boughton

 

M.

McKenzie

E.

Bright

 

W.

McKinney

N.

Broadfoot

 

Peter

McKinney

W.E.

Broadfoot

 

L.W.

Meagher

F.

Burt

 

F.E.

Miller

F.C.

Burt

 

R.

Mita

F.

Burt

 

G.

Moffat

H.W.

Butler

 

T.

Moralee

A.

Butler

 

Tom

Morgan

R.

Butler

 

G.

Morton

Bill

Capper

 

C.R.

Mulhern

J.

Chiles

 

C.D.

Murphy

M.P.

Coffey

 

J.A.

Nicol

Wally

Cornes

 

M.L.

Norman

W.J.

Crean

 

W.

Norris

A.

Crean

 

J.R.

North

T.

Crean

 

Jim

O’Dwyer

W.

Crean

 

M.

O’Dwyer

Gordon

Cumming

 

C.S.

O’Neill

E.J.

Cunliffe

 

Jack

O’Shea

J.

Currie

 

J.

Osborne

J.

Currie

 

W.

Parsons

H.E.

Denyer

 

R.B.

Paterson

Les

Dike

 

J.T.

Pennell

Tom

Duffy

 

R.

Pennell

G.

Dunstan

 

L.A.

Pickett

E.C.

Dunstan

 

O.

Pipe

G.

Earl

 

A.R.

Pocock

W.R.

Edwards

 

J.

Porter

N.C.

Edwards

 

P.R.

Proude

J.

Epps

 

A.

Putan

A.J.

Findlay

 

J.H.

Quintal

J.T.

Follas

 

S.

Radford

J.

Furey

 

V.G.

Riley

A.

Furze

 

D.C.

Robertson

Dick

Gardiner

 

J.F.

Robertson

D.

Glasgow

 

A.E.

Robinson

T.

Gordon

 

Mark

Robinson

L.

Grashinski

 

Dick

Rogers

R.N.

Groat

 

B.

Ross

D.

Grubb

 

H.E.

Rowe

R.

Hales

 

Victor

Russell

R.

Hassett

 

M.

Ryan

N.

Healy

 

J.

Salmon

P.

Healy

 

Ralph

Saunders

Ted

Hearn

 

Roy

Saunders

H.W.

Hearn

 

Bob

Seath

L.J.

Hearn

 

P.G.

Seath

R.C.

Hendry

 

Gordon

Shaw

Pat

Hickey

 

W.D.

Simple

J.A.

Hicks

 

H.

Skinner

J.C.

Higgins

 

L.

Skinner

E.D.

Hogan

 

T.C.

Spearing

N.

Honey

 

R.

Spiers

J.W.

Hope

 

R.H.

Spurr

C.R.

Hossack

 

C.G.

Sutton

R.

Hossack

 

H.

Taylor

C.S.

Hovell

 

T.

Thackeray

F.B.

Hoyle

 

H.

Thomas

J.

Hudson

 

A.J.

Thompson

J.

Hughes

 

G.D.

Thompson

G.

Hughes

 

C.F.

Thornton

C.

Ivey

 

Alan

Thorpe

C.E.

Jennings

 

J.J.

Thorpe

J.B.

Jennings

 

L.

Tippett

Jim

Jesney

 

R.

Waeters

N.

Johns

 

Lou

Warn

Kewpie

Johnston

 

J.

Warn

C.F.

Kavanagh

 

W.J.

Wells

R.

Kavanagh

 

Tom

Williams

W.R.

Kemp

 

Les

Wilson

Les

Keogh

 

T.

Woolf

C.R.

Kingsford

 

N.R.

Wynn

H.J.H.

Kurney

 

Alan

Wynn

George

Laing

 

Melvyn

Young

Gordon

Langdon

 

Boxer

Zenovich