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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 33, September 1989

By Sylvia Reid

Luck must have been with John Lynch when he missed the sailing of the "Eligamite" ["Elingamite", sank on the morning of November 9, 1902, when she struck on West Island, one of the Three Kings Group, and sank within 20 minutes, with the loss of 45 lives. See: http://divenewzealand.com/articles.asp?sid=419] from Sydney on that fateful journey to New Zealand in November 1902. His luggage had been put on the "Eligamite" and he had gone off to farewell friends. When he arrived in Auckland on the next boat to sail from Sydney, the "Waikare", all he owned were the clothes that he stood in and five pounds ($10,00) in his pockets.

He headed for Rotorua where he worked in the bush for two years. During this time he learned the Maori language and was lucky to see the great Waimungu Geyser.

In 1905 he came north to live at Owharoa. He became a driver for Clarkin's horse teams, taking coal through the Karangahake Gorge to the gold towns. About this time the railway was being put through the gorge, taking a lot of business from the horse teams. In 1906 he joined the railway as a casual employee and in 1909 he became a permanent employee. He moved to live in Paeroa, at the local boarding house.

On 8 February 1910 he married Margaret Styles and he bought a house in Junction Road. The Styles family were a well known family who lived first at Netherton and then at Komata. They had 3 sons in the next five years. Jack, Emmett and Martin.

In 1916 John and family moved on a railway transfer to Hikurangi, near Whangarei. It was while up at Hikurangi that Margaret passed away and she was brought back by boat to be buried in the old Shortland Cemetery in Thames. She was only 27 years old.

John moved back to Paeroa and sent his boys to the Convent School in Te Aroha. He made regular visits with his boys to his late wife's family at Komata.

In September 1920 John married my Grandmother, Myrtle Paterson. She had grown up in Puriri but had gone to do her nurse training in 1914 at Auckland Hospital. Nearly at the completion of her training she becameilland was unable to register.

In December 1920, Martin, John's youngest son, died of meningitis. He is also buried in the Shortland Cemetery in Thames.

John was again transferred, this time to Te Kuiti. It was in Te Kuiti that two children were born to John and Myrtle, Mervyn and Maureen. Kumeu was their next home, for the next sixteen years. Kumeu is a small settlement, just north of Auckland.

John and his family were not to come back to live in Paeroa until 1945. When he retired from the railway they moved back into the house in Junction Road. In March 1948, after being ill for most of her adult life, Myrtle passed away and is buried in the Paeroa Cemetery. John sold the house and moved to live with his son, Emmett.