Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 50, September 2006

Ian Martin

Sir Leonard Usher

Kathleen Mary McCullagh Adams - 1936--2006

KATHLEEN was the only daughter of Spencer and Kathleen Dean and like her brother Spencer, lived and worked almost her entire life in Waihi.

Born on July 16, 1936, Kathleen was educated at the Waihi South and Waihi District High Schools and then trained as a primary school teacher at the Auckland Teachers' Training College. Her Probationary Assistant year (1956) was at the Thames Central School, followed by the Peachgrove Intermediate School, Hamilton, in 1957. In January, 1958 she married Don Adams in St. John's Church, Waihi. She continued teaching at Peachgrove Intermediate while Don taught at Matangi, near Hamilton.

In 1958 they both commenced teaching in the Intermediate Department of the Waihi College and when the College moved into new buildings in Kensington Road, they continued to teach at the newly created Waihi Intermediate School.

It was during this time at the Intermediate School that Kathleen was able to put her musical talents to work on a succession of outstanding school choirs and music groups. She was deeply involved in very popular Primary Schools' Music Festivals for many years. Her interest in vocal music also encompassed being a member of St. John's Church choir for several years.

Family commitments took priority with the arrival of their three children, Gregory, Suzanne and Daryl. Teaching was temporarily "sidelined" for family and a foray into a small retail business. However, her real passion was teaching, and she eventually rejoined the Intermediate Department which had once more become part of Waihi College.

Although music and the teaching of English were her preferences, circumstances found her teaching mainly mathematics to junior and middle-school levels, plus the administrative responsibilities of being Dean of Form Two.

A serious health scare in the form of breast cancer interrupted the final part of her teaching career, and despite the very best care and attention, her health suddenly deteriorated and she passed away on July 27, 2005, shortly after her 69th birthday.

Kathleen is sadly missed by her husband Don, their three children and seven grand-children—all her pride and joy.

A very strong, compassionate and loving lady, now at rest.

Ian Martin Shaped the Hauraki Plains

(by Graham Watton)

IAN MARTIN made the Hauraki Plains a much safer and productive area through his construction firm Ian A. Martin and Company, first become involved in flood protection work on the Piako River and then for some 30-odd years shaped the Waihou River, and between these was one of the early contractors on the SH25A Kopu-Hikuai Road.

Mr Martin, who had retired with his wife Avril to Pauanui in the early 1990s, passed away peaceful in Moanoa House, Whangamata, in February, 2006, after a short illness.

After being born and educated in Gisborne and serving his time as an apprentice mechanic Mr Martin joined his brother in a garage at Mt Maunganui in 1950.

With the development of the Mount Maunganui and its port Mr Martin sought new challenges. He sold his share in the garage and purchased a small Allis Chalmers bulldozer to work on the construction of the new wharf. This was followed by a contract for the earthworks on the new fertiliser and fuel storage tank farm near the wharf.

This latest contract saw Ian develop his initiative to improvise as he had to move wet sand through very wet swampy area. Ian knew the area well, as he had been duck shooting in the swamp for some years. He soon had all the "old heads" of earth construction industry shaking their heads when he bought a rubber-tyred motor scraper to do the job. They maintained the sand could only be moved by track machines.

Ian A. Martin.

Ian A. Martin.

Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 50, September 2006
Ian A. Martin.

Ian proved them wrong. He knew that under the surface of the swamp the sand was hard and knew his scraper would work, and it did.

Mr Martin's success on this contract gave him the confidence to expand his business and he moved further afield engaging in road building and sub-division development in many places around the North Island.

As river works started to gather pace on the Hauraki Plains in 1960 Mr Martin won a contract with the Hauraki Plains County Council to work on the Piako River scheme at Kaihere. He then turned his attention to the first four miles from Kirikiri on the new Kopu-Hikuai Road across the Coromandel Range to provide a modern highway link to the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula.

Then came the start of a long association with river works on the Hauraki Plains. With further expansion of his business he took up a Hauraki Catchment Board contract erecting stopbanks under the Piako River Flood Control Scheme. Again his ingenuity showed through with the use of dredges and barges to overcome the soft peat lands along the riverbanks. He spent some 13 years on the Piako River scheme, seeing it through to its completion.

By now the Hauraki Catchment Board had approval for the much larger and more complicated $12 million Waihou Valley Flood Protection and Erosion Control Scheme. The first sod on the scheme was turned by Minister of Works, Hon. Percy Allen, on a bulldozer at a site close to the Captain Cook Road in November, 1972.

A month or so later Mr Martin took on the biggest challenge of his contracting life when he successfully tendered for the Hikutaia Cut.

This channel was designed as a by-pass for the Waihou River of the Hikutaia Bend, taking the river from Captain Cook Road in an almost straight line north to rejoin the main channel. The length of the cut was 1100m long, 150m wide and 3.6m deep, with 300m between stopbanks.

A total of 477,800 cu m of blue estuarine clay had to be dug out. This material was like sticky plasticine, extremely hard to handle wet or dry whether by excavator, bulldozer, and even manually by shovel.

This was a demanding contract and really tested the tenacity and ingenuity of Mr Martin. He used a large excavator to dig the channel and place the clay on two conveyor belts to take the spoil out over the stopbank. Here it was dropped into in a "slinger" which flung the clay over 20m out over a wide area to dry before being spread by a bulldozer.

The contract was for 12 months, but it was 1978 before it was finished. By then there were second thoughts of opening of the cut, mainly because it would allow the saline water of the lower river to encroach on water supplies in the Netherton area, including the Hauraki Plains County's Kerepehi water supply scheme and treatment plant.

Finally the cut was never fully opened, and is now used as a flood overflow. However, it has become the home of the Cook Cut Carvers Water Ski Club, which boasts several New Zealand and World champion water skiers.

Mr Martin continued his association with the Waihou Valley Scheme for over 20 years, erecting stopbanks along the length of Waihou River to the higher ground just south of Te Aroha and along the many side rivers, including the Ohinemuri River from its confluence to up-stream of Paeroa.

When the $180 million Waihou Valley Scheme was completed and officially opened in March, 1994, Mr Martin's excellent work record received high praise from many of the speakers at the ceremony.

As the river works wound down two of the major contracts Mr Martin completed were the earthworks for Fletchers Timber sawmill at Kopua and the re-construction of the Makohine Tunnel as part of the electrification of the main trunk railway line.

Towards the end of the 1990s Mr Martin gradually took over a new challenge—a well-earned retirement. He enjoyed this with his second wife Avril and son Deane and daughter Karen at Pauanui.

Sir Leonard Usher 1907—2003

(by Gordon Mathieson)

One of Paeroa's more prominent sons, Leonard Grey Usher was born on May 29, 1907, in Paeroa, his father being Robert Usher.

Leonard Usher was a pupil of the Paeroa District High School starting in 1912 under the legendary Miss Minnie Shaw and progressing through each class with distinction to Standard 6 in 1919, being taught in his final year by Mr S. J. (Sam) Bishop.

He attended Auckland Grammar School for his secondary education until 1924, after which he became a pupil-teacher at the Birkenhead Primary school, then going to the Northcote Primary School.

After this he made a move to Fiji, which would impact on the rest of his life and where he was to play a dominant role in that country's future.

In 1932 Leonard Usher was appointed Headmaster of the Levuka Public school, then was at the Queen Victoria Public school in a similar capacity from 1937 to 1943. He change vocation at this point to become the Public Relations Officer for the Fiji Government. During the 1953 Royal Tour by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, which included Fiji and Tonga he was appointed the official press officer

He was appointed Executive Director of the Fiji Times newspaper in 1956 and then Editor in 1958.

From 1967 to 1979 he was Mayor of Suva during which time he played an important role with his previous 40 years experience, in the transition of Fiji from a British colony to independence in 1970. His work in the area was rewarded with the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1971.

During his retirement he kept very active and provided essential liaison between the many parties in the changing times, including the coup of 1987.

Leonard's Usher's services to Fiji were recognised with a Knighthood in 1986 when he received the KBE (Knight of the British Empire) a title well deserved.

Sir Leonard Usher died in Suva on August 26, 2003, aged 96 years. At his funeral service, the eulogy was delivered by the Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau.