Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 28, September 1984
Reproduced by Con Broadmore (Grand-daughter)
On May 31st 1909 there passed away Mr. Edwin Edwards who had resided in Paeroa since the late eighties and who was now 47 years old.
He was the son of Edwin Edwards of Bristol and was born in 1862 in London.
He was educated at Rutland College and after a short period in the commercial world in London he went to America but soon returned to London and with his brother Jack came out to New Zealand soon afterwards. He spent some time in the South Island writing and lecturing and eventually arrived in Paeroa acting as agent for the Northern Steamship Company for a short time.
In 1891 he founded the Ohinemuri Gazette which he edited for some years. Later on he established the Te Aroha Times newspaper at Te Aroha. During the time of the mining boom Mr. Edwards was a sharebroker in Auckland and later he carried on another business in Paeroa as an estate agent and mining agent.
He was a practical geologist and was well acquainted with the formation of the Ohinemuri Goldfields. He had unbounded faith in the future of the Ohinemuri district and always contended that many valuable goldfields would be discovered in the area in the future.
During his residence in the district Mr. Edwards took his full share in local politics. He was the first clerk of the Ohinemuri County Council, and was afterwards elected a member of that body, subsequently being appointed chairman, a position he held for many years. He was also at various times a member of the Paeroa School Committee and at the time of his death was chairman of that committee. For some years he was a member of the Licensing Committee for portion of which he was chairman. He had also been a member of the Thames Hospital Board, Harbour Board, and chairman of the Ohinemuri River Board. Mr. Edwards was instrumental with others in starting the Ohinemuri Agricultural and Horticultural Society and at the time of his death, was a member of the committee of that society. In 1896 Mr. Edwards unsuccessfully contested the Ohinemuri seat with the late Hon. A.J. Cadman, who was at that time Minister of Mines.
Mr. Edwards left a wife, three sons, and two daughters - Edwin,(later a Mayor of Paeroa), Parry, Cedric, Rachel and Constance.
We, the descendents of Edwin, believe him to have been a colourful character, and not less colourful were his poems and racy ballads, written between 1890 and the time of his death. Most were published in his Gazette, and about 30 survive. They relate to the mining days, the politics of the time, the personalities of the township, and are filled with allusions which only contempories [contemporaries – E] could interpret. One, "Waitekauri Every Time" [at least two versions of this song exist, see Journal 4: Waitekauri Every Time, and Journal 10: Waitekauri ballad - E], was sung to the tune of "Clementine", and was collected by Neil Colquhoun into "New Zealand Folk Songs" (A.H. & A.W. Reed 1965). That ballad was first published in the Auckland "Observer" in 1897.
Here is another one:
THE LUCK THAT CAME TOO LATE
It's a very peculiar title, as you say, mate for a claim,
And the way that mine got christened is as strange as is the name.
You must be a bit of a new chum, or else a bit of a liar
If you say you don't know how the claim got called "The Luck of Mad Maria".
Maria, he wasn't a woman and not so mad after all,
When you come to look at this 'ere reef with gold from wall to wall.
She's fifteen feet, ten ounces all through, and she all belonged to him,
If there's anything wrong with the pegging of that
My name's not Whispering Jim.
Maria, he was an Italian, and he followed up every rush,
If ever a new field opened he'd be in the front of the push,
He was always a hatter but cheery, and would pitch with you over the fire,
And talk by the hour in a confident way of "ze wonderful luck of Maria"
I met him in 'Frisco in '51, and at Beachworth and Bendigo
At Gabriel's Gully, and on the Thames,
It was always the same old blow;
"Ah! We shall see, Mistaire Vispering Jim" the poor old beggar would say,
My luck szhall make me ze---- vat you call ---ze millionaire some day"
He got on gold a time or two, fair dirt that 'ud some times pay
From ten to twenty pounds a week - not bad, as you fairly say,
But wouldn't suit Maria, who found he was getting old,
And he reckoned to get his luck in a lump, and strike on solid gold.
He took the fever and ague, but he still kept up his pluck
When we pulled him through he was at it again, and "Mad Maria's Luck"
Was the joke of all the diggers, for no matter where he holed,
Not a colour he'd get, though the boys all around were up to their knees in gold.
Then he struck this place, 'twas a desert then, a dreary and barren spot,
A hundred miles from a township, not a pigeon or pig to be got,
Lord only knows how he struck it, it looks a bit different now,
With four hundred stamps agoing, and ten hotels in a row
He was the first to get here, and I was the second one,
I don't know why, but I wanted to see what game the old chap was on,
And as I came over the ranges with my bluey and billy and tent
There was something seemed to tell me I was on the proper scent.
Well, I got here footsore and weary after a three day's tramp
And here just where the battery stands, I spied Maria's camp,
And there, my God, lay the old man, dead, by the side of the mullock mound.
Aye, stiff and cold and lifeless, there the poor old digger lay,
He was half on his knees, in the attitude, A fellow 'ud get to prey;
He'd a smile on his peaky olive face, The smile of triumphant desire,
For there in the trench was the glittering crop of "The Luck of Mad Maria".
And there he lies, on the top of the reef,
Under the marble cross –
Little he recks how the ore pans out,
Be it gold or worthless dross,
He found his grave and his luck at once,
His fortune was one with his fate,
And he rests in a dreamless sleep,
Beside "The Luck That Came Too Late".