Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 50, September 2006

50 YEARS ON THE ROAD. Jack Harpur of Paeroa has completed 50 years "on the road" which started at Te Kuiti in 1956 as a surveyor's chainman for the Ministry of Works. He qualified for his New Zealand Certificate of Engineering through a correspondence course in the early 1960s. He was part of the surveying team for the Kopu-Hikuai Road in the early 1960s, this being the major project of his career. For the past 13 years he has been in Paeroa with Works Infastructure and is currently an area estimator and part-time project manager. Over 150 former and present workmates and friends and family honoured Jack's milestone with a special function in Paeroa in April.

NAVY RECOGNITION. Chief Petty Officer Marine Technician Peter Hill formerly of Waihi has been awarded the Royal New Zealand Navy's Long service and Good Conduct Medal. Peter came from Auckland to Waihi as an 11-year-old. It was while at Waihi College that he received his first introduction to the Armed Services when he join the Waihi ATC Squadron. After a visit from the Navy's Recruiting Team, Peter, now a 7th former at the College, applied and was accepted for service. During his four-apprenticeship as a marine fitter he toured the world in the HMNZS Canterbury and has now completed three other operational tours to the Middle East. Chief Petty Officer Hill is current a Fleet Vibration Analyst Technician.

SISTER CITY VISIT. Hauraki District Councillors hosted a delegation from sister city Jiading District Council, Shanghai, for one day during May. The group visited the Waihi College, where they took a keen interest in the kiwifruit research project. It was then to the Te Pai-o-Hauraki Marae at Paeroa for a cultural experience, which was extremely well received. Finally, at the Council Chambers the signing of the fifth sister city agreement was undertaken with an exchange of gifts. Over the past five years there has been an annual exchange of students between the Hauraki District three secondary schools and their counter-parts in Jiading.

MAY FLOODS. Some 180mm of rain fell over a 12-hour period on May 11-12 which caused flash flooding in the Paeroa and Waihi. The Komata Reefs area was hard hit with the road being washed out and Craig and Maria Bowering having a landslide smash into their house. SH2 was closed for 12 hours through the Karangahake Gorge, while SH26 north and south of Paeroa was also closed for a short time. Furtunately the rain stopped on Friday morning and there was very little damage done.

A VISION FOR WAIHI. With the appointment of Eddie Morrow as its Chief Executive in March, the Vision Waihi Trust has taken over from the Waihi Community Consultation Committee to promote the Waihi district. The Trust has been established as a legal entity charged with the investigation of the economic, social and environmental feasibility and implementation of various projects that the Trust has identified. Mr Morrow brings some 14 years of business, tourism and economic development experience. He is a member of Tourism Coromandel's board as joint Mayoral representative (Hauraki District and Thames-Coromandel District). Mr Morrow and his wife developed the popular Pipiroa Country Kitchen and then opened the Waikino Station café. They live at Waihi Beach.

LIFE MEMBERSHIP. The Paeroa Women's Bowling Club in its final act before winding-up and joining the Paeroa Bowling Club recognised the outstanding services of two stalwarts Val Morrison and April Leonard with Life Membership. Val joined the club in 1963, when it was still playing on the Paeroa Domain, while April became a member in 1966, two years after the club had moved from the Domain to the Paeroa Men's Bowling Club's Te Aroha Road complex. Both members have served in just about every office in the club, not once but two or three times. They were keen competitors on the greens, winning many club and centre competition. They both were proficient umpires at club, centre and New Zealand level.

QSM RECIPIENT. Mrs Marion Smith of Hikutaia was among the New Year Honour recipients when she received the Queen's Service Medal in recognition of her 46 years devoted volunteer service to the Plunket Society and particularly in the Paeroa-Kerepehi area. Marion became involved with Paeroa Plunket Branch when her first child was born and she moved to Hikutaia. From this early beginning Marion has given countless hours to the Society's activities in the Paeroa-Kerepehi area in particular and is still involved.

WAIHI SCHOOLS BENEFIT. Six Waihi Primary Schools each received a $10,000 cheque as a "Christmas present" from Newmont Waihi Gold Company. The company's Education Officer Guy Spurr said that his company saw this as "a special investment for the future of our young people." The funding will allow these schools to obtain specialised equipment which is not always affordable under the normal fund raising during the year.

PROUD GRANDMOTHERS. Paeroa had two proud grandmothers who were present at the Melbourne Commonwealth games in March cheering on their granddaughter in the swimming pool. Doris Fitch and Ruth Hawthorne made the trip across the Tasman to give support to Alison Fitch, daughter of Ian and Raewyn Fitch, who are themselves born and bred Paeroa-ites. Their efforts were not in vain as Alison recorded some of her best times in her specialist events 100m and 200m freestyle, but unfortunately these were not good enough to get her a place among the medals. Alison is no stranger to the tough competition in the world swimming pools. She represented New Zealand at the Olympic games in 1996 at Yokohama, Japan, and the 2004 in Sydney. She has been to the world championships in 1998 and 2003.

NATIONAL SPORTING CLAY CHAMPIONSHIPS. An international field of some 125 competitors, after almost a fortnight on the Thames Valley Deerstalkers' Association range in Morrison Road, Paeroa, departed for their homes with nothing but the highest of praise for the organisation and facilities. The association members had 18 months to prepare for the fixture which decided the North Island, the New Zealand and the Oceania clay shooting championships.

EXPERIENCE WILL BE MOST HELPFUL. The stalwart for something like 44 years of the Paeroa Order of St. John Ambulance, Les Cullerne, will bring the current practical hands-on skills to the top echelon of the Order, The Chapter. Les was recently made a Commander of the Order in recognition of his service to the Order in Paeroa, as an administrator, instructor, fundraiser, volunteer driver to record some of his involvement. The Chapter is the organisation responsible for the total operation of the Order of St John in New Zealand and will no doubt welcome Les' input from a still-serving officer of the Order and from a rural perspective.

BOARDWALK MARKS CENTENNARY. The Waihi Rotarians marked the 100-year milestone of their international organisation with the construction of a boardwalk through the wetlands and bush which surround Lake Gilmour. Spearheaded by the local Rotary Club, Rotarian and chairman of the Waihi Ward chairman, Sel Baker, sees the project the result of a successful community effort. Financial assistance came from the Valder Ohinemuri Trust, contractor Dave Todd cleared the track at no cost, Waihi College pupils provided labour, the Hauraki District Council waived building and resource consents fees. The Forest and Bird members planted trees etc., Rotary members gave freely of their time, and there was also 459 hours of community labour provided by the Correction Department. The walkway was opened by the Mayor of Hauraki John Tregidga in January.

RAIL TRAIL. The Hauraki Rail Trail Inc. is proposing a walkway from Te Aroha to Thames using the old railway alignment, but are faced with many difficulties including Waitangi Treaty issues, leasing the rail corridor, new bridges and even the possibility of the railway re-opening. At this stage the group views the development of the old rail link between Paeroa and Karangahake as much simpler and the first stage of the proposed rail trail project. This will link the proposed Te Aroha-Thames route into the Karangahake walkway system, through the gorge to Waikino. The land involved is owned Land Information New Zealand and can be transferred to the Department of Conservation. The Hauraki District Council has given its support for this first stage with funding issues to be negotiated.

PAEROA'S HISTORY. A three-year project to research and then publish the history of the Paeroa district has been started by local historian Graham Watton. He will be using the Gazette newspapers for the base of the research, with copies from 1896 to 1993 being held by the Paeroa and District Museum. The project will produce a reference book recording the district economic, social, cultural development.

TWO MEDALS. Tiana Ikinofo of Kerepehi came home with a silver and bronze medal from the Pacifica Games, held earlier in the year in Melbourne. She took the silver in the 15-16 year female shotput and the bronze in the same age group for the discus. Competitors came from most of the countries which border the Pacific Ocean. She thoroughly enjoyed the competition and off the field meeting the athletes from other countries.

DIAMOND WEDDING. Jack and Marcia Anstis of Paeroa celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in January last with family and friends. They met at the weekly Tuesday dance nights in Devonport in 1946 when Jack was in the Navy. On leaving the Navy Jack worked for some 38 years for Fisher and Paykell, home appliance manufacturers, in Auckland and on his retirement they moved to Paeroa almost two decades ago to be nearer their family. Their daughter, Louise, wife of the late Trevor Davies, lives in Paeroa while son Robert, a former Paeroa police constable and owner of the Criterion Diary, is at Waihi Beach. A second son, Kelvin, lives in Auckland.

COMPLETING THE FAMILY. The Waihi main street family of statues were completed just before last Christmas. At the top of Seddon Street is the Maori warrior complete with taiaha, overlooking the town and the Waihi Plains. Further down the street towards the centre of town are the two children playing in a mock gutter. Then there is the Miner's Square with its statue of an old time miner with his pick and large quartz boulder. The latest addition is outside the Memorial Hall and depicts a miner's wife bathing a toddler in a tin bath, the work of local artist Irene Wilcox. The statues are a tribute to the early settlers of the town and, cast in bronze, are permanent reminders of Waihi's heritage.

PIONEER FAMILY REUNION. The Leonard family of Ngatea held a reunion in May to which some 150 members attended and relived those early days of the Hauraki Plains. Earlier members of the family had emigrated in 1874 from Ireland to Waimate and Temuka, South Island. When the Hauraki Plains was being developed Tom and Emily Leonard moved north to Ngatea in 1910 when they were successful in gaining two blocks of land, one on River Road and the other on Puhanga Road. Both farms are still owned by family members. The reunion was organised by grand-daughter Vivienne Leonard-Gerrand of Paeroa, a daughter of Bernie and April Leonard also of Paeroa. With the passing of her father's brothers over the past year Vivienne decided that it was essential to get the family together and recount its history.

HISTORIC PLACES REGISTRATION. The Historic Places Trust is proposing to register the site of the Waihi Gold Dredging plant and tramway on the Ohinemuri River, just south of Waihi, to protect it from further deterioration from property development. Consultation is proceeding with the Hauraki District Council and with the land owner on whose property most of the site is situated. The area includes the head water race and its masonry weir, part of the tramway (known as the rake line), the embankments of the Black Bridge crossing the Ohinemuri River and the remaining foundations of one of the only two river-based gold dredging plant sites in the North Island. The other dredging site is at Mill Road, Paeroa, when the Ohinemuri River syndicate moved and established a dredging and gold processing plant in 1903. The company closed 1918 and 1991 the Historic Places Trust placed the remains of the plant on its register.

ICON ON THE MOVE. Waihi's icon the Cornish pump house is on the move when this issue of the Ohinemuri Journal was being compiled. The 2000-tonne structure is connected to foundations which are 12m by 10m and go down over 33m into the ground. The huge structure is to be cut from these foundations and then moved 26m, southwards and then 275m westward onto more stable ground. The cost of the estimated $3.5 million project is being met by Newmont Waihi Gold Limited. The imposing structure housed a huge pump which extracted water from No. 5 shaft from 550m below the surface and at the rate of 1500 gallons (78,00 litres) per minute. The pump-house was erected in 1901 and was gradually closed down in the mid-1920s when electricity reached Waihi and the huge steam engine was replaced with electric motors install down in the mine. A full report of the move will be published in the next issue of the Journal.

RESTORED. The 108-year-old Waihi Wesleyan Church has been restored to its former glory by the Assembly of God under the direction of Pastor Will Cheesman, a retired Scottish Police Chief, who arrived in Waihi in June, 2005. During the restoration the foundation stone, which was laid on February 13, 1898, by Revs J. W. Burton, Griffiths, Barrett and E. O. Perry, was recovered. A tin capsule was opened and found to contain copies of the New Zealand Herald, Auckland Star and the Waihi Miner, dated close to the ceremony and also information of the structure of the church and the cost (237 pounds). On Saturday, May 28, 1898, the Rev W. Beckett was appointed in charge of the church. The next day, Sunday, May 29, the chairman of the Wesleyan Auckland District Committee, Rev H. R. Dewsbury and Rev A. Mitchell took part in the opening dedication service. Later the same day they dedicated the Wesleyan Church at Karangahake.

WHERE IS THAT TAPE RECORDING? It is now 51 years since the 80th jubilee celebrations of the Paeroa District High school (1875-1955) was held. According the magazine printed to mark the occasion a Mr Ralph Dixon made a tape recording of the speeches given at the celebrations and it was recorded that an "amateur movie maker was on the job". Who was Mr Dixon and who was the "movie maker"? It would be excellent if both the tape and film could be traced and recovered. Any one with information please contact Gordon Mathieson, 40 Claremont Avenue, Paeroa.

PAEROA DISTRICT HIGH SCHOOL UPDATES. Journals No. 34, page 20 and No. 42 page 23: "The wife of Mr David Walter Dunlop headmaster 1912-1916, Jessie Mary, died on December 3, 1970, 28 years after her husband." Journal No. 42, page 23: "Mr Frank Murphy's wife, Kathleen, died on September 1, 1969 , not 1960, aged 86. Journal 34, page 23 and Journal 44, page 26: In addition to Mr G. H. Taylor's son Mervyn comes a note from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission: "In memory of Flying Officer Mervyn James Taylor, Royal New Zealand Air Force who died aged 30 on Saturday, 26th February, 1944. Flying Officer Taylor was the son of George Harry and Clara Adelina Taylor, of Point Chevalier, Auckland New Zealand. Remembered with honour, Cambridge City Cemetery, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom. In the perpetual care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission."

PAEROA'S OLDEST. PossiblyPaeroa's oldest organisation, the Paeroa Racing Club, will mark its 130th annual general meeting in May next year with a special function and racing meeting. The Ohinemuri Jockey Club was formed early in 1876 and held its first official meeting in March of the same year. It is thought the club has raced on the same property since its inception, and definitely since the 1890s when the club leased and then purchased the property in 1897. There was a name change in 1971 to Paeroa Racing Club to give it a better geographical identity. Almost all the club's records, photographs and memorabilia were lost in the disastrous grandstand fire of December 31, 1979. The club is seeking any formation which will help it trace its history. Contact: Ralph Bax, phone 07 868 9313.