Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 45, September 2001
A Millennium Project came to its conclusion on 11 June 2000 with the launch of the book HIKUTAIA 2000 'An Interlude in Time', co-authored by Maureen McCollum and Jock Spinks, both members of the Paeroa& District Historical Society.
The inspiration for the book came through Mrs McCollum's association with the late Tui Murdock who wanted to write stories of the people of the Hikutaia District, but unfortunately died before doing so. Mrs McCollum and Mr Spinks decided to record the history as a millennium project and they were assisted by Robert Murdock, (Patron of the Paeroa Society), a long-time resident of the area with a knowledge of local and Maori history and local genealogist, Angela Morrison (also a member of the Paeroa Society). The people of the settlements of Komata, Hikutaia, Wharepoa, Omahu and Maratoto Valley supported the authors by contributing their photographs, stories and family histories.
The book took twenty months to compile. It includes details of the hardships of pioneering life and a huge range of colourful characters. It is also a glimpse into the many changes the country district has undergone over the years.
The launch of the book, attended by 300 guests, was an occasion to honour some of the older residents of the District. At the launch, David Alley, the 19 year-old great-grandson of Henry Alley, Hikutaia's first European settler, and Hikutaia's oldest resident, Malyon Robinson, lifted the New Zealand flag, which was draped over the book. Speakers at the launch included Julia Lowe, head librarian in Paeroa, who previewed the book, and Malcolm Morrison, a great-grandson of early settlers, John and Sarah Morrison, spoke on his life and talked about the long-gone railway and butcher shop.
The initial print of 500 copies of the book were sold out within the first month of issue. A further run of 600 copies will shortly be sold, resulting in the sale of 1,100 copies within the first 12 months.
The McCollum family arrived in Wharepoa in 1900 and Maureen McCollum, a relative newcomer, has been a resident for 42 years. Jock Spinks' family has a farm in Old Maratoto Road and his son is the fourth generation of Spinkses to have lived in the valley.
THE SEQUEL TO THE BOOK - HIKUTAIA 2000
By Maureen McCollum and Jock Spinks
June 2000 will always remain for me, and I am sure my Co-author, Jock, the most incredible thirty days of our lives. The launch of the book we had just completed - Hikutaia - 2000. And why did we write this book - I guess it was just a series of events.
Jock had lived across from my husband's farm all his life, and apart from the odd cordial greeting at the Store, this was the limit of our friendship. I did however, know of his ability as a writer, and his input in this book certainly proved this point.
We had been elected to a committee in 1988 which was formed to arrange a celebration for the new Millennium. However this did not eventuate but a historical book did.
After eighteen months of work together we were able to present to Goldfields Print in Paeroa, a text with illustrations. When I think back to that day, and what I handed to Customer Service Manager, Karen Towes, this text looked more like a rat's nest.
There was a lot of work after handing the text over, endless checking, the correct photograph with the correct text, and proofreading. But as it progressed so did our anticipation. We discussed a date for the book launch, what format it should take, where and when. We weren't sure how many guests to invite and most importantly how many books we should print. I remember taking the jacket to Thames for another opinion about this point. The owner of the shop casually remarked to me, "I hope you have 1000 copies". Not us, cautiously just 500 copies. And would we sell this 500?
To see our book eventually finished and hold a copy was quite something. I was presented with the first copy, Jock and his wife Dawn with the second, Angela Morrison and Robert Murdock with the third and fourth copies.
The guests for the launch commenced arriving over an hour before due time, and as Jock and I stood at the Hall entrance watching the sea of faces enter, all we could do was congratulate each other on the foresight to have pre-signed those 500 books. It would have been an impossible task on that day.
To have written a book that succeeded beyond our expectations was exciting, a pleasure and fun, but above all - a joy.