Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 31, September 1987
By Lance Deverell
THIS Story is a part of the early-day adventures and romance of my parents in Te Aroha and Waihi 1895-1925.
They would have first met at Te Aroha where they were both employed. The Te Aroha Gold-mining came to an early end and Waihi showed much promise, so they shifted over the range and were married at Waihi 5th March 1900 - my father was 28 and my mother 24. My Dad was born in Oxford, England, in 1872 and came to New Zealand at the age of 9 with his parents, three sisters and two brothers, in the sailing ship "May Queen", landing in Tauranga in the year 1881. My father's parents settled for a few years on a farm at Aongatete south of Katikati, then my grandfather moved to a farm property out of New Plymouth, from all I was told a rough, wild place to live. My grandmother died there just tired out with the continual hardships of life; the long voyage by sailing ship with a family of six to care for in those pioneering days called for great stamina.
About 1895 the family came to Te Aroha where my grand-dad took a lease of a small Bookstall at the end of the Railway Station platform. Train travel was very popular and it was a lively scene when trains arrived with crowds of people of all ages on the move. My Grand-dad had board and lodgings at the Hinemoa Hotel. He had a lovely cream Shetland pony and an attractive gig much admired by everyone. These were happy years. Uncle George married and settled down well in his shop as a Saddler in the Main Street and stayed in Te Aroha all of his life. Uncle Arthur married and started business in Cambridge as a Men's Outfitter, later moving to Thames and a final move to Whangarei, north of Auckland. Aunt Anne boarded with her brother George for some years and assisted in the bookshop. She remained single.
My mother was born at Winton, well down in the lower South Island of New Zealand, and at an early age shifted to Launceston, Tasmania, Australia. After some very interesting days of her youth there a shift was made to Honolulu with her mother and step-father where they lived on a ranch for a yearor two. Then they found it necessary to move to Napier on the East Coast, North Island of New Zealand, where my grandmother kept a boarding house and men were employed on Port construction at this progressive period. Later, on completion of this work, another move brought the family to the early Goldmining activities at Te Aroha. Where tar-sealed roads and concrete footpaths are the scene in Waihi today, it was dust and titree lined tracks, and my parents carried a lantern when setting out for an evening to visit friends not far from the centre of town.
My mother's maiden name was Keen - Maryann St. Sidwell Keen - with a sister Lavinia and a brother Walter. Their father was Dr. Keen and he carried out these duties in Launceston, Tasmania. I know my grandmother was with her girls in Waihi and passed away about 1910. She was greatly respected by everyone.
My Aunts, Edith and Florence, later settled in Waihi and married late in life to Waihi men. I used to see them quite a lot and enjoyed doing odd jobs and messages. Once settled in handy accommodation just off the main street, my father gave them a lot of help and they had a confectionary shop centre of Seddon Street for a few years with living quarters opposite; they were happy times. My Aunt Florrie married Mr. Quintal and Aunt Edith married Mr. Sutherland.
Early in 1910 the opportunity came for my father to acquire an interest in a coaching stables with Maurice Crimmins as a partner. This called for quite some responsibility to serve the public with hire vehicles and early motor cars.
The Winter months in Waihi were always extremely cold with heavy frosts and ice. A great deal of work was necessary at the stables from 1910 to 1925 with a lot of duties attending to horses and harness up vehicles. Coaches went three days a week to Tauranga, Monday, Wednesday and Friday and returned Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, and took seven or more hours to complete the journey at a rate of 6 to 7 miles per hour, good going during the Summer months, hard, cold slogging through sections of mud and stormy weather to stand up to in the Winter months. The mail contract helped greatly to keep this service profitable. The summer schedule was arranged to suit the travelling public, when by far the most passengers were carried. With two horses at the pole and three leaders, the light coach carried approximately twelve including the driver. Coaches gave over to cars about 1918 as the roads improved, though it was tough going for some five years especially when Winter started, the big Hudsons kept ploughing over the rough parts. They were exciting journeys - it was a case of 'the mail must go through'.
Well-known service-car drivers were Sam Pinker, Les Hume of Katikati, Alan Carter, Arthur Carter, Maurice Crimmins, all of Waihi.