Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 52, September 2008

The Hauraki Plains Story

Ken Clover, noted Hauraki Plains historian, has published another chapter in recording the history of the Hauraki Plains. Last December at a special function in Ngatea, he launched his latest book "Taming the Hauraki Plains". Published by the Historical Society of the Hauraki Plains, 84-year-old Ken has produced a most interesting and accurate record of the pioneers who laid the foundation on which the Hauraki Plains has become of the top dairy produce regions in New Zealand. Ken resourced his information from the huge amount of historic notes, including three volumes of oral history of some 100 Plains pioneers; he has compiled over some 40 years.

Waitawheta Historic Walkway

The Department of Conservation has completed the Waitawheta Track which follows a 100-year-old kauri timber tramway deep into the headwaters of the Waitawheta River. The tramway has been refurbished using the original rails and takes trampers through regenerating native bush. DOC staff have widened the reasonably flat track, constructed a general purpose bridge to eliminate a testing river crossing, which is reached after an hour's tramp from Franklin Road. Besides the bridge are the remains of an old logging bogie, partly buried, which crashed off the rails in an accident involving several kauri bushmen returning to their camp in 1928. The "head" of a giant kauri tree has been moved from an inaccessible area of the valley and is now displayed close to the track. Several new interpretation panels along the way explains the history of the kauri timber industry in the Valley.

Waihi Memorial Wall

The Lions Club of Waihi, to mark their 50th jubilee has erected a Memorial Wall in the Waihi Cemetery. The wall will enable local residents who have loved ones buried elsewhere or ashes scattered and who wish to have something locally to remember them by to have a special plaque engraved and affixed to the wall. Applications are to be made to the Hauraki District Council and there is a fee for the plaque and its preparation.

Ngatea's New Ambulance Centre

The Hauraki Plains Order of St. John, unveiled their new station, which has come as the result of a dedicated community fund-raising effort. Opened in July and costing $375,000, the new station is twice the size of the old building. It has a spacious office, large lecture / meeting room, on-call staff facilities, plenty of storage space, and housing for two ambulances.With the new up-to-date facility comes the Hauraki Plains first paid station officer in Charmaine Knight.

Hall of Fame

Susan Crowe, a Country and Western singer from Paeroa, has been inducted into the American Traditional Country and Western Music Hall of Fame in Missouri Valley Iowa. Mrs Crowe and her late husband Charlie have always been keen Country and Western music lovers. When her husband died some 11 years ago she overcame her shyness to sing in public and met with immediate success at local and national competitions and also in the 2006 Walkman Country Music Festival in Australia. She teamed up with the well-known Hamilton Blue Grass Band and went to the 32nd National Old Time Country Music Festival in America, where she was a "hit". At the age of 69 Susan's initial CD of 10 songs has been a success.

RSA Service

The Hauraki RSA and Memorial Club recognised the outstanding service by Jessie Main in awarding her the prestigious M. Badge and Certificate of Merit from the New Zealand Returned Services Association. Mrs Main joined the Women's Auxiliary Air Force in 1942 at the age of 18 years and has been a member of the Hauraki RSA for 31 years. She was one of the first women to join the association following a rule change. She took over as secretary in 1986 and over the last 22 years has filled every office in the organisation. She was also involved in the changing the Hauraki RSA into a memorial club and was the secretary of both for a period. She was president for the Hauraki RSA and held the same office in the memorial club for three years. She arranges poppy day, the Anzac Day celebrations and is in charge of the welfare services of the club.

Pipe Band Success

The Pipes and Drums of Thames Valley had a most successful outing at the Auckland Highland Games at the Three Kings Reserve, Mt Eden, in January. The Band, with members from throughout the Thames Valley, and based in Paeroa, won the set, which comprises three different tempo tunes and the medley, which is bracket of seven tunes, and was placed second in the march past. The band, at the time, had a membership of 15 and they provide a warm welcome to new members, pipers, drummers, both present and former, and learners.

Well Earned Retirement

After a nursing career that has extended over more 50 years Myrtle Johnson, has retired for a second time, but will still maintain her interest. She commenced her career in 1950 as a 16-year-old nurse aid at the Te Kopuru Hospital on the Hokianga Harbour. After qualifying at the this level Myrtle moved, in 1953, to the Thames Hospital and three years later finished her training to become a registered nurse. The next year she moved to the Paeroa Maternity Annex and was there for five years. It was then a short period off to attend to family matters. Once she was free again she took a position as the nurse for local doctors at Ngatea and then in 1971 took over as district nurse, which brought her in contact with a large portion of the Hauraki Plains residents. She retired from this position in 1998, but her devotion to nursing saw her join the staff at Ohinemuri House, in Paeroa, for the past 10 years. While she may have officially retired for a second time, she still plans to return to Ohinemuri House on a voluntary basis to assist patients.

Pioneering Family Name

The Haurakian Charitable Trust in June, 2006, purchased the 66ha Hayward family property in Kaihere Road, on the southern boundary of the Ngatea. The Trust, which promotes the further development of the Hauraki Plains College, is using the farm to provide assistance for the college's agricultural programme. The Trust's first task is consolidating its debt servicing and then establishing a good capital base for the future benefit of the college. The Trust plans to establish scholarships and help with other costs not covered by government funding. Last December the Trust unveiled the name of the property "Hayward Farm" in recognition of the tremendous service generations of the Hayward family have given to the Hauraki Plains for more than 80 years.

Visitors' Centre

Waihi's new Visitor Centre was opened just prior to last Christmas and has been an immediate success. The centre incorporates the Waihi Gold Story interpretation centre which received numerous complimentary remarks from the many, many visitors since the opening. The visitor centre is well-laid out and customer friendly. The Waihi Gold Story is told in a down-stairs area, in which details of the early mining right through until today's modern techniques are told in photographs, static displays and most interesting and well produced audio visual touch screens. There is also a graphic display of how the huge Cornish pump-house was moved.

New Training Scheme

The Hauraki Plains College is this year trialing a new scheme to get students into industry-based training while still at school. Five years ago the College was one of several pilot secondary schools throughout New Zealand to undertake the Gateway programme. This latest Youth Apprentice Scheme is an extension of the first programme and the Hauraki Plains College is one of 10 secondary schools selected to trial the proposal. Under the scheme students are placed in a work-place for one day a week during the school year. They will work for pay during the school holidays and earn unit standards which count towards their apprenticeships. Ten students have been placed in hairdressing, carpentry and agriculture and this has been made possible by the support the College has received from local employers.

Gold and Silver

Ngatea farmer Andrew O'Hara had a successful first visit to the annual Norfolk Island International Clay Target Championship in February last. There were over 100 competitors from New Zealand, Australia and Norfolk Island for the four-day event. O'Hara, who has been shooting for six years won his gold medal in the teams event and the silver in the skeet shoot. He also holds a level one coaching certificate, the highest available in New Zealand and spends many hours coaching young shooters from the Hauraki Plains College and Thames High School.

Annual Sports Awards

The inaugural Hauraki District and Thames-Coromandel District sports awards were held in Thames in November, 2007. In previous years each district held their sports awards in association with Sport Waikato. The recipients of the various awards were: Sportsperson of the Year: Lloyd Stephenson, Ngatea, NZ hockey representative. Junior Sportsman of the Year: Aaron Pulford (Hauraki Plains College) athletic and mountain biking. Junior Sportswomen of the Year: Alyce Pulford (Hauraki Plains College) rowing. Team of the Year: Thames Men's Squash A. Coach of the Year: David Adams (hockey). Club of the Year: Waihi Netball Centre. Administrator of the Year: Tracey Te Ware (Waihi) netball. Referee/Umpire of the Year: Miah Williams (Paeroa) touch. Manager of the Year: Jack van Lankveld (Thames) shooting. Service to Sports: Brick Jordon (Paeroa golf), Rae Jordan (Paeroa golf), Don McCarthy, Doug Morrison (Thames Valley Deerstalkers Association), Gordon Shaw (Paeroa golf); Joy Watton (Paeroa golf) and Larry Simmonds.

Two More Statues

Waihi is to get two more statues, making this now six in number, and is fast becoming a town of statues. There was already three bronze statues: A miner, a pioneer woman, and two children playing in a gutter in Miners' Square. There is a large bronze of a Maori Chief overlooking the town. The Ward Committee has ordered two more fibre-glass statues of children in modern dress playing and the exact location will be decided by the Committee to fit in with the overall town scheme. The cost is $8500 plus some $3000 installation cost and will be met by the Ward Committee.

The Past

Remember the days of long ago
When life was simpler and somewhat slow?
We didn't miss tv,
it wasn't invented you see.
We had no dishwasher,
No refrigerator,
No motor mower.
We walked everywhere
Took longer to get there,
but time didn't matter,
we were able to chatter
about things important.
Our lawns we mowed
with an old hand mower.
Our clothes we sewed
on a treadle machine.
Dishes were washed and dried by hand.
Tea Towels dried softly in the wind.
Biscuits and cookies were freshly made
to fill the time for a rainy day,
Self service stores were yet to come
Shopping used to be such fun.
We used to make toast on the open fire
while washing in front got drier and drier.
We went to bed early and slept like a log
to get up early and walk the dog.
But do we wish for long ago
when life was simpler and somewhat slow?
We have tv's and refrigerators,
dishwashers and motor mowers,
cars to take us everywhere,
but have we any time to spare?

Joan Phillips, July 2005.

Car Club Turns 50

The Thames Valley Car Club celebrated its golden jubilee in March with a special dinner and grass-track race meeting at the Kerepehi Domain. The club was formed in 1958 by enthusiastic motor car owners wanting to try their driving skills. In 1963 members developed a grass race track on the Kerepehi Domain, and this is still in use today, being considered the oldest club grass track in New Zealand. These events offer a unique opportunity to young drivers to hone their skills and entry into motor racing at a really affordable financial level. No doubt when the many old members came together for the celebrations they recalled many interesting hill climbs, gymkhanas and grass track events and also some of the members who went on to higher honours.

6th District Council

The sixth Hauraki District Council elections were held in October, 2007, and there were two new faces at the council's table. Mayor for the past term, John Tregidga, was re-elected by a substantial majority from the only other contender Raymond Bassett. The Waihi Ward re-nominated their four councillors and those to continue were Selwyn Baker (4th term), Mary Carmine (6th term), Colin Frances (1st term), Michael Hayden (5th term) and Henry Shepherd (1st term). Paeroa Riding: Eight candidates for four vacancies: Those elected were Julie Bubb (2nd term), Tom Meyers (2nd term), Paul Milner (2nd term), James Thorp (1st term). Plains Riding: Six stood for four vacancies. Those successful were: Donald Challis (5th term), Bruce Gordon (4th term), Gregory Harris (1st term), Gillian Leonard (1st term).

Diamond Wedding

Laurie and Val King celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on Thursday, November 15, 2007, with a special gathering of their family of six children, 18 grandchildren and 18 grand-children together with friends. They met in Waihi where they both attended different schools and on leaving school Val went into Farmers Trading Company and Laurie in to the mines. Incidentally when Val took Laurie home to meet her parents, Laurie found that he worked along side her father in the mine. They were married in the St. John's Anglican Church in Waihi. After working as a painter and paper-hanger for three years, he with his family moved onto a farm at Waitoa, and then to Kerepehi where he took a position in the newly-completed Kerepehi milk powder factory, where he remained until it closed in the late 1990s. They retired to live in Paeroa.

"Petrol-Heads" Weekend

The third week end in February has become a huge week end for the "petrol-heads" from through the North island, some from the South Island, a few from Australia and even further afield. This year's big weekend was blessed with fine weather and large crowds. On Saturday the annual V8 Show and Swap Meet attracted some 120 vehicles of all shapes and sizes, but with a common denominator, they were powered by V8 motors. Paeroa main street was lined with spectators as the cars drove in convoy to the Paeroa racecourse where enthusiasts got up close to the machines. On Sunday was the 15th annual running of the Battle of the Street motorcycle event. Fine, warm conditions for the 15th time greeted a record field of over 230 riders and a crowd of some 14,000-plus packed in the circuit area, which includes the main street. A big weekend of motorsport went off without a hitch or major mishap, which speaks volumes for the local organisers.

Famous Caddie Visits

Turua School children, last November, gave a warm and excited welcome to the world's top golf caddie Steve Williams—he carries the world's top golfer Tiger Woods' golf bag at all the big tournaments around the world. Steve is also an accomplished stock car driver on the New Zealand circuit when he gets a break from golf. He spoke to the children on his experiences and then answered a wide variety of questions. The visit of this world renowned sports star will remain in the memories of the children for many years to come.

After 90 Years

The Ohinemuri Gentleman's Club was formed in September 1918 in Paeroa with a membership of 50. A decade or so ago, the Club membership voted to have women members, a move that had some very firm opposition as it was seen as the breakdown of the "old boys' club" stigma. Now in its 90th year it has its first woman president, Carol Linton. She joined secretary Pauline Bulloch to give the club an all-women leadership. The club has a membership of almost 500 men and women.

Service Recognised

Waihi Order of St. John volunteer, Jamie Orchard, has given 30 years to the Order and was named in the Honours List announced by the New Zealand Order to mark the International Volunteers Day in December, 2007. He was made a Member of the Order of St. John. Jamie started his service as a 11-year-old in 1978 and in the 1980s gained the Grand Prior Ward, the highest award attainable by a junior member and the only junior award that can be worn on a senior uniform. At the time of the award Jamie was Youth District Manager, being responsible for youth operations in the Hauraki-Coromandel, overseeing over 200 cadets. He also had the responsibility for almost 2000 cadets in the Northern regional, which stretches from Waihi, the Waikato to Kaitaia.

Royal Marine

Shaun Neutroski, who was born and did his schooling in Paeroa, has graduated into the ranks of the elite Royal Marine Commandos in England. Watching him at his passing out graduation ceremony was his mother Mrs Bernadette Neutroski and other family members. He joined 942 Troop, The King's Squad, and the ceremony was held at Commando Training Centre, Royal Marines in Lymestone, England. Shaun was on his OE and working outdoors in the Scotland Highlands on shooting estates when he applied to join the Marines. After passing a rigorous selection process, Shaun was one of 54 accepted and then one of 23 to graduate from the 32-week training course. He finished the course being one of five to receive the Diamond Award and promoted to section commander. This opens the way for officer training in 12 months instead of the six years service.