Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 55, September 2011

In this issue, No. 55. I have been able to source "living memory" articles published in the Hauraki Plains Gazette over 50 years ago, recalling memories going back a further 50 years to the early days of the Hauraki District. I hope you find them interesting.

My thanks go to Adeline McWatters, the Gerrand girls, Janet and Aroha, Karen and Sue Bellamy, daughters of Wally Bellamy, and Anne Anandarajah, daughter of Mrs Elaine Barron, for providing information on their families' early associations with the district. Ron Brown of Hamilton recalls his experiences as a fireman on the steam engines hauling trains between Paeroa and Waihi while Anne Stewart-Ball of Whiritoa has linked the International Year of Chemistry, 2011, to the local goldfields.

These are type of the articles I am seeking from our older residents and I appeal to them to put pen to paper as it were so that a record can be compiled of family life in our district 60 or so years ago. I am quite prepared to write the articles and do the back-up research, but I must have the information first.

The continued development and increasing activity at the Historic Maritime Park is most welcome. Already there is increasing use being made of its park-like surroundings by organisers of outdoor functions. Work on improving the wharf area to provide permanent mooring for historic boats and encourage other such vessels to sail up the Waihou River and spend time at the park and visiting our district.

This is a wonderful asset for our district. Sincere thanks must go to Colin and Gloria James, and their band of volunteers who are taking giant strides to bring the park up to a very high standard and thus attract local residents and tourists to the facilities.

Another visitor asset will be the Hauraki Rail Trial, which was unveiled late last May by the turning of the first sod. Work commenced almost immediately clearing and upgrading and the walkway between Karangahake and Waikino along the old rail route. It is proposed to do the Paeroa-Karangahake section as funds become available. The Paeroa-Thames and Paeroa-Te Aroha sections will follow. And there is branch trail from Kopu to Miranda around the foreshore.

This will be a tremendous tourist attraction in the years to come. The scenery and walkways in the Karangahake Gorge will make the trail "a must see"—already those involved with the popular Otago rail trail are envious owing to the scenery and historic features along this route.

An appeal is also made for historic photographs of the Hauraki Plains, Paeroa and Waihi areas. With modern digital technology old photographs are easily reproduced, and most cases made as good as when they were first developed and printed.

Both the Paeroa and District and Waihi Museums have large numbers of photographs on hand, but there must be many more being stored in cupboards, under beds and in boxes in sheds. It is also been said "a photograph is worth a 1000 words".

It concerns me greatly that much of the district's history is thrown out when the family moves in to clean out the property after mum and dad have departed from this world, or even when they down-size the family home.

I am sure both the Paeroa and Waihi museums would welcome being given the chance to decide what should be preserved for our future generations and what should go to the rubbish dump.

Last November the Hauraki Plains celebrated its 100 years milestone of the land ballot with an excellent display of many objects from yesteryear. The weekend brought back many memories of those far of days. Full marks to the organisers.

Earlier this year another building of local historical importance, the Tirohia Hall, was on the verge of collapsing and had to be dismantled. Built and opened in 1952, the hall served as the district community centre until it started show its age and began to fall into disrepair. A decision was made to dismantle the hall before it fell down with tragic consequences.

Buildings are like us human beings: They all grow old and become costly to maintain. Hopefully the district halls of the Hauraki District at Hikutaia, Komata, Netherton, Karangahake, Mangaiti, Waikino, Waimata, Turua, Kopuarahi, Waitakaruru, Kaihere, Patetonga and Kerepehi will not follow along the same path as their supporting district residents diminish in numbers.

Graham Watton,