Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 28, September 1984


This is Waikino as Fred Marr, now of Mangakino, remembers it.

The name Waikino, means 'Bad Water'. It was once a town with a population of approximately 2,000 souls. With the Martha Gold Mining Company's battery and the mines at Owharoa, it was quite a thriving community but, like most towns, it had its moments of drama...tragedy ...glory.

The big flood of 1910 caused considerable damage and later a disastrous fire destroyed the hotel and most of the business premises. There was also the tragedy at the school which was soon afterwards burnt down.

The large Victoria Battery across the Ohinemuri River which crushed and treated 800 tons of ore daily from the Martha Mine, employed 200 men. The noise caused by the crushing could he heard for miles and the tailings from the battery poured into the Ohinemuri River discolouring it badly. There was no life in the river below the battery on account of the cyanide in the tailings. The battery is now silent and has been dismantled but the foundations are now being demolished and treated for gold.

In 1981 the big flash flood which occurred completely demolished the old remaining business buildings along the bank of the river and they were all washed away in the flood waters. The site of the buildings was later cleaned up and there is now no sign of there having been a once thriving business area. The Ohinemuri County Council have decreed that there is to be no more buildings to be built in that area.

Now aged 84 years of age and still hale and hearty, Fred Marr arrived at Waikino from England in 1908 with his parents and sisters. His father purchased a farm behind the town and had a daily milk round. Fred assisted with the milking and then the milk round with a horse-drawn cart. The milk was in large cans and delivered to the doors of the houses at a cost of Twopence per pint to the consumer. After that, it was off to school. The highlight for Fred was going to the pictures on Saturday afternoon with sometimes a trip to Waihi or Paeroa on the train.

Some of the old residents still reside at Waikino with some descendents having lived there all their lives.

Mr. Marr can recall the following shops and businesses from the battery bridge to the swing bridge (both now demolished) and back:-

Mrs. Bright's hoarding house; Says Butcher's shop; Bond's stables; Hutchinson's, Drapers; Chemist's shop; Post Office; Miss Harper's Dressmaker' s shop; a two-storied building with shop below and residence above; Flatt's paper and book shop; Les Steel's bakery shop; Jack Pivac's barber shop and tobacconists; Miners' Union hall; the big stables where the change of horses was made for the coach from Thames to Katikati; McClure's house; two two-bedroomed baches near the swing bridge; Buckeridge's boarding house other side of the road; John Bunting's boot shop; Plumber and Tinsmith; Shaw's grocery; Remoldie's blacksmith shop; the Hotel; the Police Station and lock-up; Maggie Smith's boarding house; Mckenzie's house; Robinson's store; McRea's bike shop and boot shop; Dick Harry's fish shop; Armstrong's baker's shop, with the old Victoria Hall.

by Mrs. Dorothy Harlick

Mrs. Dorothy Harlick (nee Fitch) now of Sandringham, Auckland, was brought up in Waikino and has some recollections of her days there.

She says: "Waikino was at that time 'dry' and her father, among other folk, made home brew. There was a Remittance couple Mr. and Mrs. Thornton used to pass by our place and on the day they got their money, they would go to the Thames for a small barrel, which I think they called 'a Pig', arrive home and have a real binge. Mrs. Thornton was a real lady when sober. One time she must have been dry as she asked Dad if he made good beer. He replied 'Yes, but I can drink milk in preference when offered it.' My Mother came out just then and Mrs. Thornton asked Mum about the beer; when she replied, 'I don't know I don't touch it', Mrs. Thornton said, 'I don't believe you and I bet you are not behind the bush when a large gin is poured out for you.' Mum, who was not very tall, drew herself up and said, 'Indeed I am not. I hate the stuff.' Mrs. Thornton turned and laughed when Mum stalked inside."

"I think some people will remember the lovely concerts we used to have in the old hall. One lady, a Mrs. Collins, always sang. Mr. Tracy Knight was the pianist and for some reason did not like to accompany Mrs. Collins and so he used the loud pedal. On one occasion, Mrs. Collins stepped to the front of the stage and said in a loud voice, 'soft pedal, please Mr. Knight', stepped back and waited, then very graciously began to sing. There was loud applause.

"The old Waikino hall was the scene of many Grand Balls. The ladies in beautiful long frocks and the men in dark suits and white gloves. On the stroke of 8 o'clock the Grand March began. It was really wonderful to see it all; and then the supper served in the big room downstairs was sumptuous.

"Also, there was a very good library adjoining the hall containing a very wide selection of books to suit all ages. I remember Mrs. Watters with much affection; she kept me in really good books to read. Mr. and Mrs. Watters had a bulldog called Bruce and a donkey called Peter who would carry one around the path to a rise, then up his head and down you would tumble. It would be hard to say how many local children had rides on Peter. Mrs. Watters was a very generous and gracious lady. I know she was stout, but she had a beautiful skin and eyes. I thought she was grand.

"The hall was also used by the Oddfellows Lodge, and the Druids always had annual Balls."