Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 55, September 2011

(By Mrs Nellie Scott Donaldson, later Mrs Nellie Climie, MBE, for the Paeroa District High School's 70th Jubilee held in March, 1955,)

When Cook sailed up the estuary,
And wrote it down as Thames,
Did he remember London,
´Midst nature's diadems?
Enthralled by Gulf Hauraki,
And river with its Firth,
Had he faith in distant future,
And the peaceful Valley's worth?
Steep hills of Coromandel.
You cloaked your secret old;
Could Cook foresee the days when we
Would wrest from you your gold?
Majestic in their grandeur,
The mountains met the plain,
With miles of bird-filled forest,
Beyond the river's lane.
Pohutakawa of the coast,
Kauri of the spur and range,
Kahikatea of the swamp,
Gigantic all. And strange,
Yet brought to mind a city.
The noblest that he knew.
As Cook sailed up the Estuary,
His faith and purpose grew.
While brown-skinned warriors watch him,
As with the ebbing tide,
He turned his ship at Kopu,
And steered for oceans wide,
His thoughts roved up by the river,
And he planned for masts and spars,
For ships to bring brave people,
To live ´neath southern stars.
He could not know that gold-dust,
Lay hidden in the hills,
Yet dreamed of ideal towns to be,
Of homesteads, farms, and mills,
He saw them set in beauty,
Without the blot of slum,
Providing work and happy life,
For all who cared to come.
Years later dawned an era,
When paddle-steamers plied:
"Waimarie" and "Taniwha",
Bore upstream with the tide.
Ohinemuri lured men on,
With gold and timbered land,
While Chief Te Moamanui smiled,
And offered friendly hand.
Rough tracks were formed,
And builders needed by the score,
With miners, bullock-drivers,
And men for general store.
Then coach and wagon horses,
Hauled many a weary load,
And roving sheep and cattle.
Sought pasture by the road.
A school was built in Paeroa,
In eighteen seventy-five,
Ritchie, Sullivan, Murphy,
Led teams who made it thrive.
Then little ones foregathered,
´neath wings of Minnie Shaw,
Who ministered to infant minds,
For thirty years or more.
Families grew and multiplied,
And hard each teacher's lot,
With nigh one hundred youngsters,
Of lively mirth and plot.
They rode for miles on horseback,
Or trudged, or took the train,
Until their paths were plain.
Human nature changes little,
There were sorrows then, and joys,
Both for pioneering parents,
And their rural girls and boys.
But a century of plan and work,
Has changed the local scene,
Weighed the gain and progress,
´Gainst loss, and "might have been".
The years have turned full cycle,
New life is in the stream,
New life must bear the torch aloft
To realise Cook's dream.
For children still the future hold,
Maori and Pakeha at one,
In recreation, school and work,
Beneath a generous sun.
May they be proud of Paeroa,
Of hills for which ´twas named,
Be worthy of the fertile soil
Their sires from peat reclaimed.
May they value truth and beauty,
Lure back the lovely fern,
And treasure every native tree
Till tui songs return.
The busy roads run north and south,
And east and westward too,
They take away, but bring us back,
To memories we once knew,
And comradeship with those who strove
To master lesson, life, and rule,
In pioneering years of yore,
At Paeroa District School.

[see the same poem in Journal 4 - E]