Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 52, September 2008

(by Jane Brocket, nee Mann).

On our walk home from the Waikino School, my younger brother, Gordon, and I would stop at Billie Nicholl's cottage, if he was at home.

He used to potter in his garden but the only thing I remember him growing was tobacco. He had the big flat leaves hanging in his little one room cottage. At one stage the walls were completely hidden by the bundles handing up to dry. Whenever he got on to the project he would pursue it with gusto. But I do not think his friends were very keen on sampling the finished product of this one.

He was convinced that there could be gold in a little creek that ran through our farm, about two paddocks over from our house. My dad could not see much hope in the spot but Billy Nicholls spent many happy hours prospecting there. My brother was most intrigued and also spent as much time with him there, as he could manage.

One memory that stands out was the day our Aunt, Mrs Campbell, from Waikino, was bring driven up in her lovely old car (with dickey seats) by her son Alex. They stopped on the way to greet Mr Nicholls and found him in trouble. He had been cutting firewood at his house and the axe missed the wood and cut his shin. It was a deep wound and bleeding badly.

They brought him in the car to our place. Our mother was so concerned she tore up a perfectly good sheet to make bandages, without turning a hair. My hair stood on end, but I learnt a lesson that people are more important than possessions. He was taken to the doctor in Waihi and stitched up. He was back at work as good as new in a week or so.

He had a lively mind, was very hospitable and loved to talk. On one of our visits he told us about his poetry that he wrote. He showed me his book and I copied out the one that captured my fancy. It did not have a name, but I called it old Martha Hill. As far as I can remember Martha was his sister and the Martha Mine in Waihi bore her name.

Old Martha Hill

(by William (Billie) Nicholl)

When but a boy some years gone by.
Fortune hunting I thought to try.
I pitched my tent in a lonely spot
Just at the foot of Gampson's lot.
For days and days I wandered round
But saw no man nor (heard) saw no sound.
I looked across the dreary plain
And thought no reef was there to gain.
When travelling onwards with a will
I spied ahead a lonely hill,
Standing apart above the plain,
Which took me quite a while to gain.
When nearing the rugged top,
I found a reef from it did drop.
I now approached it with a will
And with stone, my dish did fill.
Then to my side the dish I took
And travelled to a trickling brook.
I panned it off with greatest care
And saw the treasure gleaming there.
And when I found, that gold it bore,
I fossicked on in search of more
I trenched and tunnelled with a will,
Upon thy flanks—old Martha Hill.