Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 28, September 1984

by Kathleen Dike

Waihi was a county council in the late 1890's. In 1894 land was purchased and the Waihi Cemetary was started. The oldest headstone today is dated 1898.

The Borough Council was formed in 1902 but unfortunately, all the records were confiscated during the strike in 1912. The Council purchased over 100 acres of land and formed the borough farm, running adjacent to the cemetary. Five houses were built on this land and were occupied by the Supervisor, A. Lindsey and family, the Charlie Lawrence family, the Ted Beilby family, the Bagshaw family and also Ginger Logan who later married Ted Beilby's daughter.

These men worked the farm growing crops and putting them through a big chaff cutter for fodder for their horses; also the horses which were used in Waihi during the week and taken to the farm at the weekends. The horses on the farm were used for two doubledeck wagons and three extended drays which were used for the nightsoil removal in Waihi.

In the front of the farm was a very large well and the water was pumped up by hand. In the evenings the younger men and the neighbouring farmers' sons formed a fire brigade and spent many pleasant hours practising. There never was a fire so the bucket brigade was never put to the test.

Most of the families were Salvationists and a band was formed. Arthur Lindsey and his sons, Bert, Alf and Fred, Ted Beilby and his sons, Harold and Eddie, Charlie Lawrence with his sons George and Ted, Ginger Logan, Bagshaws, Syd Thompson from Ford Road with his sons Bill and Arthur, went two nights a week to band practise. Mr. A. Lindsey was the Bandmaster. (His grandson who married Syd Thompson' s granddaughter, is the Bandmaster of the Salvation Army Band today.) This little band did so well, that Edison Records made an old cylinder recording with Syd Thompson introducing the band and telling the folk who were lucky enough to own an old phonograph that the Borough Farm Band would play the march 'Sons of New Zealand'. Mrs. Charlie Lawrence held Sunday School at her house on Sundays for the farm children and also other children who lived in the area. The young ones were all scrubbed well and had on their best Sunday clothes. They sang the hymns with great gusto.

A little further up the road was the Maungapuke Store and Post Office owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Robson. Mr. Robson was a very colourful character. His shop was the centre of all the farms in the area. All the mail was posted in the mail box and the children were sent with pats of homemade butter, eggs and any other produce which Mr. Robson exchanged for groceries. The shop sold everything you could wish for and your penny bought a lot of lollies. Mr. Robson also had a car - a German make called a Krael Kart - which he used as a taxi. The shop did a very good trade on Race Day.

The race course was on the opposite side of the road and covered about 120 acres. A big two-story grandstand seated many patrons from Waihi and the surrounding districts. Mr. George Brown remembers going to a race meeting as a lad, but cannot remember any horses names or how long the races were held there. It was said that the 'Bookies' ran so many slinters that the New Zealand Racing Conference would not renew the license and that finished the racecourse. The land was later leased by the late Syd Thompson and his brother. Crops were sown on the property which was later bought by Mr. W. Busch.

Mr. Robson sold his farm and store to Mr. Nisbett and he moved into Rosemont Road where he ran a Billiard Saloon and had a taxi service. He now had a new car, a Marmion, which was put to good use at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. His premises were destroyed by fire and the Robson family moved to Morrinsville where his descendents live today.

The Waihi Plains are now thriving farms. Gone is the quarry George Brown and his brother worked and made Ford Road. Also, railway lines which were used for bringing the timber out of the bush. The modern cars go by to the Beach or Tauranga. And when the evening shadows lengthen and the busy world is hushed, the flowers stir gently over the graves of all the Mums and Dads who toiled so hard and could tell us the real story of Maungapuke.