Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 32, September 1988

By C W Malcolm

CHARLES MALCOLM was born in Batesford, Victoria, Australia, on 27 June 1868. His parents, William Malcolm and Ann Black, had married in Scotland and emigrated to Australia. His father died when Charles was twelve years of age and he had to become the principal breadwinner for his Mother and seven sisters. Two brothers and a sister had predeceased him.

He was first employed at Donaghy's Rope Factory and completed his education at night school where he at times fell asleep from tiredness and when the other boys drew their master's attention to the fact, they were advised to "let the poor lad have his much needed rest."

Later, with his companion and their swags, he tramped the Australian outback in search of work. One night, at their last gasp, they made camp beside a lake not knowing what the next day would bring. Charles was awakened in the dawn by the crowing of a rooster, and, making his way through the scrub in its direction, he beheld across the water the welcome sight of an isolated homestead which met their immediate needs.

Settled employment was later found as coachman to a wealthy family in which capacity he wore the family livery. But tales of gold at Karangahake, pronounced with difficulty, drew him to New Zealand. Transhipping to river steamer at Auckland, he landed in Paeroa on Sunday 21 November 1897. Attracted by a Salvation Army meeting in the main street of the town, he became a member of that organisation. It had no brass band at that time, but when he died in 1941, bandsmen from three Salvation Army bands headed his long cortege through the same main street while businessmen stood at their closed shop doors as a mark of respect.

Working in the mine at Komata Reefs, he gained the nickname of "Carbine", the famous racehorse, no doubt for the pace at which he propelled his ore-laden truck. Breaking metal for the roads of the County followed. When I left Paeroa I neglected to bring with me his spalding hammer with its well-worn handle as a memento of those days before I was born. On the approach of a coach he would drop his hammer and hide in the adjacent teatree because, in Australia, only convicts were to be seen breaking metal on the roadsides.

Being of an independent nature, my father decided to ''go into business" on his own account. He purchased a launch, the "Fiona" in which he intended to engage in fishing in the Firth of Thames. However, the only use the launch was ever put to was to convey picnic parties upon the willow-fringed Waihou. But fish meals could be obtained in his shop somewhere, I think, in Belmont Road while he travelled with his horse and cart as far as Karangahake to sell his fish. I feel that this "business" venture did not last long.

My Father married my Mother, Margaret McPherson, whose parents had emigrated from Scotland in 1864. The Wedding took place on 17 June 1903 "at a private residence in Norwood Road" Paeroa, the officiating minister being the Rev. John McArthur. They took up residence in Rye Lane (now Towers Street) where I was born on 23 October 1905 and where we lived until flooded out in the 1910 flood. We were rescued by Mr Tom Dean of Puke Road with his horse and cart and took up temporary residence in a small house in what is now the northern end of Marshall Street immediately opposite the old railway station where the diminutive Waihi trains were backed into their siding between the station platform and the roadway. Here I saw Hailey's comet and here we lived within easy reach of the main street and its shops while our permanent home was being erected on its near-acre section high up on Hill Street with its commanding views far and wide over the countryside and far above the levels of the recurrent floods which were a spectacle from our vantage point.

By this time my Father was working at the Northern Steam Ship Company's wharf where he suffered an injury to his back necessitating a considerable stay in Thames Hospital. Efforts to secure any compensation were fruitless and Mother sold the launch to avoid dependence on that "social welfare" payment known as "charitable aid."

Recovered from his injury, my Father found employment on the filters at the Waihi-Paeroa Gold Extraction works which were retrieving gold from the river silt. We lived happily on his eight shillings a day for a 44-hour week until 1922 when as a Pupil-Teacher at the Wood Street School on eighty pounds ($160) a year I was able to supplement the family income.

On the closing down of the Works, employment was found again at the Puke Wharf under the friendly management of the late Mr James Silcock, a busy place loading and unloading "Taniwha" and "Waimarie" and transhipping cargo to and from Te Aroha on barges towed by "Kopu" and "Rotokohu". In retirement, my Father, an expert in pruning and spraying fruit trees, found ready employment with neighbours. His own extensive orchard, vegetable garden and foul-run supplied not only our own needs, but also those of others. Every variety of fruit was sold to shops and hotels at the unvarying rate of four pence a pound, conveyed in a "pikau" - a kerosene tin in a sugar sack strapped to his back as he cycled to the town and was eagerly sought by the purchasers.

His garden and orchard were fittingly supplemented by Mother's flower garden, especially her extensive sweet pea section. She survived her husband by 16 years managing that large section and trimming its lengthy privet hedges to reach the tops of which she mounted on a 44-gallon drum until, at the age of ninety she joined us in Auckland, passing away peacefully in 1957, in her ninety-third year.

From the Salvation Army "War Cry" Wellington October. 25 1941


It will come as a shock to many of the Officers and Comrades who have been associated with Paeroa Corps to hear of the rather sudden promotion to Glory on October 7 of our worthy and esteemed comrade, Bro. Charles Malcolm, after a short time in Thames Hospital. A gap has been made in our ranks which will be hard to fill, as he was one of the real old stalwarts. As doorkeeper, he has blessed many with his hearty handshake and kindly smile. His many acts of kindness, performed in a humble Christian way, have endeared him to all who knew him.

The funeral service was conducted by Major Moore on Thursday last. The esteem in which our late comrade was held was shown by a packed Hall in spite of heavy rain. At this service Major Moore paid a tribute to the life and work of Bro. Malcolm.

The Band headed the funeral cortege through the Main Street. A very large crowd gathered at the graveside. We are appreciative of the services rendered by Captain Boon of Thames, and of Bandsmen from Waihi Corps.

On Sunday the Memorial Service was well attended by people of all walks of life. Tributes were paid by Mr D Prime, Mrs Underwood, and a number of friends who took the opportunity to say a few words. A tribute to his father from the only son, William, was read, after which Major Moore paid a final tribute.