Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 28, September 1984


By Dorothy C. Bagnall

A Child's Memories

I was so interested in Mrs. Broadmore's description of the' "Taniwha" in the September, 1983, Ohinemuri Regional History Journal, and it took me back to our overnight trips to Auckland.

From the time I was about six years old, until we left Turua when I was ten, my sister, Helen, and I used to go up for a week's holiday with our grandparents at Epsom in each of the school holidays. Unless we went with our parents in the car, there were two alternatives, by "Taniwha" or in the service car. Our Mother preferred to send us by boat as, leaving at midnight, we went straight to bed and slept until we reached Auckland in the morning. There at the wharf we would find our Aunt, Mrs. Ella Beckett, ready to take us to Epsom. This seemed to our Mother a much safer way of travel than the service car with all its stops.

Mrs. Broadmore has described the "Taniwha" so well that I do not need to add to it. It certainly brings back nostalgic memories. I remember it all so well. The only thing missing is a very strong smell of something I didn't like - something like a tobacco smell. I always associated it with the stewardess's lamp. I enjoyed the trip, though it was hard being waken up to go to the boat about 11.30 p.m. However, we were soon asleep in a comfortable bunk. We would wake early in the morning, when it was exciting to dress and pack up, and go up on to the deck and see the busy harbour and wharves. We were usually the only children on board. I just remember one time when there was a boy of about eleven also. As we drew near, we'd see our Auntie waiting for us, and about 7 a.m. the gangway would be put across and we would soon be on terra firma and on our way to Epsom.

The service car trip is not so vivid in my memory. We didn't do it so often - maybe only a couple of times - and it wasn't such a novelty. It was done in daylight and I think took about 3 hours for the seventy miles. Unlike the "Taniwha", the service car always seemed to be full. As people boarded on the way, the empty seats would be taken, until finally the dickey seats would be brought out and, on at least one occasion, I was given the pleasure of sitting on one of these. Everyone was glad of the stop at the tearooms at Maramarua where we'd have ten minutes or so -stretching our legs and having the very nice afternoon tea.

My most vivid memories of going from Turua to Auckland are of our many journeys with our parents in the car - a Buick of 1920's vintage. It was always a big job to get off as we were on a farm and there seemed so much to do, apart from taking food for the journey and clothes, etc. for our stay with the grandparents. I don't remember ever doing the journey back on the same day, though our parents probably returned without us at times. In 1930, the road between Turua and Auckland was not sealed, the metal seemed to be very rough, ensuring a very bumpy journey and, worst of all, we had to cross the Razorbacks - the Deviation wasn't put in until some time later.

Today I do this journey in less than 1½ hours, but in those days it took Dad more like four hours. He did all the driving for, although our Mother had passed her licence, she wasn't confident, and confined her driving to going the three miles from our home to the Turua shops, going "round the block" at Turua to save backing! Mum's job was to try to keep us happy on such a long journey, in fairly cramped quarters. I don't think the Buick had a boot; certainly, the car always seemed to be packed full. Mum would have us playing games such as "I Spy", or crossing our fingers when we saw a white horse, then looking out frantically for a dog, and pointing out beautiful and interesting things. I still love looking at "The Church on the Windy Hill" - the one we see just after leaving the motorway on the road to Mangatawhiri.

Crossing the river on the Pipiroa ferry was always an interesting part of the journey to us, (though this added to the time it took) but as we left the plains and wound up and round hills, the interest and enjoyment seemed to disappear. We did the trip in all weathers, in pouring rain and in blistering sun. I expect we went on beautiful, comfortable travelling days, but they don't stand out in my mind as do the wet and the terribly hot journeys. The part we hated worst of all was when the water in the engine began to boil and suddenly Dad would stop on a hill in the heat and say, "Get out, all of you, and go and get some water". Out we would go, obediently but protestingly, make our way over rough metal and climb down with our billies through the trees and look for a stream. We eventually found one - Dad seemed to know just where to stop to find water. I always wondered why he didn't go for the water with us; maybe he thought that driving the car was enough. Certainly it seemed to be, for he would be so annoyed by the enforced stop that we didn't dare to complain. When we had found the water the three of us would trudge back up the rough track with our containers of water, the radiator would be filled and we'd continue on our way. On the worst days this performance happened about three times, in the searing heat, and we spent the rest of the time longing for the arrival at our grandparents' home when we could get out of the car [word/s missing here – E] living once more.