Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 38, September 1994
By C W Malcolm BA (NZ) Dip Tch
In 1928 when I was teaching at Paeroa District High School in Wood Street, the New Zealand Education Department issued a new and concise Syllabus of Instruction for Public Schools. History was given an important place before the educationist pundits emerged to debase it into a useless subject which they named Social Studies.
That 1928 Syllabus reflected the great wisdom of the learned men who had produced it. Ignoring the numerous later theories foisted upon teachers, I based much of my teaching upon it throughout the rest of my career.
The introduction to the HISTORY SECTION stated: "Every New Zealand child should know something of the history of his own town and district, thus enriching his store of stirring detail and adding reality to the whole study of history. These details both the teacher and pupil should take a pride in seeking out and recording." How appropriate and how very far seeing was the launching, thirty years ago, of our two local historical societies with the Ohinemuri Regional History Journal, the objective being a "pride in seeking out and recording this store of stirring detail."
Heeding the Official Syllabus, I soon discovered that the local river provided a "time line" for my Paeroa and Netherton pupils to begin the study of their town and district, adding reality and comprehension to the national and even wider scope of history: The River, the Coming and Life of the Maori, the visit of Samuel Marsden, Captain Cook, the timber and gold seekers, the settlers, the founding of the towns, the establishment of industries, communications, trade, and progress. How very much further, and with what rich and fascinating personal detail, has the issue of these thirty-eight JOURNALS taken us!
And what a debt of gratitude we owe to those who pioneered our Societies and the Journals! I shall mention one. With my family, I was passing through Paeroa, in 1966, on my way home to Auckland from a school holiday in Rotorua. The main street of Paeroa was crowded with people converging upon the area in front of the Post Office for the unveiling of the new town clock on its tall pedestal. We joined the assemblage. A hand touched my shoulder and a voice informed me that refreshments were available at the War Memorial Hall where MRS NELL CLIMIE particularly wished to see me. Some very alert person must have moved quite rapidly.
Mrs Climie informed me of the establishment of the local Society and its Journal and declared that she had marked me down as a knowledgeable prospective contributor from whom she expected forth coming articles. Frankly. I was quite diffident about the possibility of my being able to do anything really worthwhile to advance the interests of so important a project. But she later followed the interview with a letter and somehow I found it difficult to ignore so persistent and yet so encouraging an Editor as Mrs Climie proved to be, fortunately for the Society.
I now view with incredulity the number of articles I have contributed and the gracious acceptance of them by the Editor. I know of others who can relate incidents and events but who are diffident about translating them into a written article. I would urge them to make the effort, however inadequate they might regard it, for I am sure we have not yet exhausted by any means, "the store of stirring detail" that can be an inspiration to others, especially perhaps to younger generations.
The value of our Historical Societies and of the JOURNAL is inestimable and of particular merit is the untiring work of its present editors.