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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 26, November 1982

by William Alley

The Milk Factory had not long been completed and the local farmers with horses and drays formed a working bee to build the road from the railway line to the factory. Tea tree foundation, then dirt with metal on top all hands working for the benefit of all. Komata North farmers took their milk to the factory at Netherton by launch until the road and bridge over the Hikutaia Creek was built. All the carts and horses covered in mud, children going to school barefooted. At school the boys mostly played down the Creek Bank at the back of the school in the sand.

The express from Auckland at 4 p.m. was our contact with the rest of the country. The newspapers and mail arrived and was collected by Nellie Collard on horse back. The post office was situated down near Corbett Road on the road to Thames. Fred Hanlen who had a blacksmith shop on the corner opposite the present grocers store, built a grocery shop which still stands, and opposite was built a Post Office. The store run by my Uncle Charlie was burnt down. This was situated up the Maratoto Road on the Creek Bank as the stores were brought up by boat. Harry Littlejohn had a blacksmith and farrier shop opposite the Hotel where he not only shod the horses but built carts and sulkies. Ernie Ricket had stables alongside the Hotel where he hired riding horses and sulkies.

Unregistered race meetings were held in the paddock opposite the school, a large attraction for the district. Betting was with the Bookmakers dressed in white coats shouting the odds. Sports meetings with competitions, running and horsemanship events and a band from Thames in attendance. A travelling silent picture show once a month and a searchlight on top of the hall lighting up the surrounding district. A circus called once a year with its buckjumpers and clowns. Saturday was the day life was put into the township. A special train from Waihi brought the miners from Waihi for two hours' drinking and two-up games in the middle of the road. The kids got a penny, maybe a threepenny piece, to carry a parcel of beer to the train. Miners from Maratoto and Komata Reefs came on horseback or walked. Many slept under the hedges. Very seldom was there any trouble as the proprietor had good control of all her customers.

A big novelty day when my Uncle Bert Alley built his new house in 1912, hot and cold water, gas lights, large rooms. This attracted many visitors on Sundays from Thames. Bruce Alley is the present occupier. Our sight of the first working bullock team was when Walter Wyatt (Syd Wyatt's father) arrived with his family and household goods on the bullock waggon and 16 bullocks. Howes & Williams had a timber mill at Maratoto and a timber yard at the Railway station. Sale day was an exciting day, buyers from the plains and swamps in attendance. At 10 years of age, I enjoyed taking the five or six packhorses to Neavesville via Puriri Gully; Whangamata, via Omahu and the Wires Track at Maratoto. Maratoto and Komata Reefs, mining villages are just happy memories of the past. A great class of hard working pioneers who lived and worked under primitive conditions.