Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 56, September 2012

NZ's Best Community

Paeroa is the best community in New Zealand following its successful entry into the Mitre 10 Community of the Year section of the 2012 Kiwi Bank New Zealander of the Year Awards finalised last February. The entry was prepared by Hauraki District Paeroa Ward chair Julie Bubb and the Positively Paeroa co-ordinator Annie Harris. The Community Award is based on teamwork, enthusiasm, hard work and co-operation while acknowledging community organisations working together and building their community. The Paeroa entry concentrated on the community spirit in which the town's organisations worked together to stage events and the successful Safer Community projects under way in the town. Mrs Bubb accepted the trophy on behalf of the Paeroa community and she paid tribute to the many groups, clubs and organisations which host a number of events throughout the year and which attract many thousands of people to the town.

100th Anniversary

The 100th anniversary of the renowned six-month long Waihi Miners' Strike in 1912 was marked in Waihi with the launching of a book written by local Hauraki District Councillor Mary Carmine. As the lead-up to the centenary of the strike, which tore the heart out of Waihi at the height of its mining days, Mrs Carmine had researched the event and wrote a regular newspaper column. After several issues she realised that her story should be in book form. While the general impression was that the miners were on strike for better pay and conditions, this was not the true position. Mrs Carmine found the base line for the strike was that the engineers at the mine wanted to break away from the miners' union and form their own union. The miners refused to allow the engineers lower them down the shafts into the mines. The book is well-researched, is not some academic publication, but a book written for the average person to understand.

Rusty Nuts Car Show

Over 40 vintage vehicles responded to the first ever car show held on a beach, when the Rusty Nuts Car Show was held at Waihi Beach last Waitangi Day week-end. The broad expanse of sand at low tide gave plenty of area for the vehicles owners to display their immaculate vehicles. Not only were there vehicles of interest for the enthusiasts but also to a large crowd of holiday makers who admired the vehicles. The Recliner Rockers entertained with music from the 1960s. Such was the success of the day that the organisers are planning a second show next year.

Paeroa Goes Scottish

Paeroa was the focus for all those who have Scottish ancestry when the 19th annual highland games and tattoo was held last February in the Paeroa Domain. The day-long programme attracted crowd of over 5000 and commenced with a street march in the morning involving 17 bands from around the North Island. Once in the Domain, the entertainment included highland dancing, wood chopping, poetry, tossing the caber and similar athletic sports, a display of Braveheart-style sword fighting, and a tartan fashion show. Two visitors from Scotland Luara Mckay and Lynn O'Donnell, from Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, were most impressed with the day's programme. The mass band display with New Zealand tenor Will Martin were the highlights of the evening, which came to close with a lone piper from the top of Paeroa's "castle".

Restored Shunting Engine

A railway shunting engine, made by A. and G. Price Limited, Thames, in 1944, has been fully restored by the Goldfields Railway Society in Waihi, and is back in operation. The 5 ½-ton petrol tractor train was used for shunting at the Royal New Zealand Airforce base at Te Rapa. The Society took delivery of the engine in 1980, and then it sat under a pine tree for some 15 years and deteriorated to a rusting shell. Local enthusiast Phil Bell took charge of the restoration project, with the first major step being able to obtain the original plans and specifications for the engine's makers. The project received excellent support both from local and outside firms. For instance the original petrol engine, which would cost several thousands of dollars to recondition, was replaced by a donated diesel motor. Finally, repainted in its Air Force colours, the shunting engine was back in use last Christmas.

Three Centurions

Three residents of Hetherington House, Waihi, reached their 100th birthdays between December 25, 2011, and January 8, 2012. Mrs Mildred Hyde had her special day on Christmas Day, Mrs Kathleen Brocklehurst had hers on January 5 and three days later Mrs Aileen Wood reached her "century". Mrs Hyde grew up at Waiau Pa in South Auckland and has been in Hetherington House for over 13 years. Mrs Brocklehurst was born in Paeroa and lived at Waitakaruru for all her life before moving to Waihi four years ago. Mrs Wood has been at Hetherington House for 13 years, moving there from Taranaki to be closer to her children some 17 years ago. All three received cards from the Queen, Governor-General, Prime Minister, Minister of Internal Affairs and former Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie, and flowers from the Hauraki District Mayor John Tregidga.

Tributes Flowed

Tributes flowed thick and fast at a special function held in Paeroa to mark the retirement of Police Prosecutor Sergeant Gavin Ballantine after 47 years' service, first as a Transport Department officer and then as a member of the New Zealand Police Force. The function, held in January last, was attended by Sergeant Ballantine and his family, members of the Police Force, the legal profession, judiciary and representatives of the Paeroa and Ngatea communities. Gavin started his long career as a motorcycle officer in the former Ministry of Transport stationed in Papatoetoe. In 1968 he took the position traffic officer in Ngatea, Hauraki Plains' first resident officer. On being promoted to sergeant in 1983 he moved to Paeroa with his wife Pauline and two children. He was in charge of an area from the Coromandel Peninsula to Matamata and from Waihi Beach across to Maramarua. This position disappeared when the Transport Department and the Police Force were amalgamated in 1992. When the Police Prosecutions Service commenced in the mid-1990s Gavin joined the service and conducted prosecutions for the Police mostly in the Waihi District Court. Gavin was presented with the Police Medal. In a letter, Commissioner of Police, Peter Marshall, said Sergeant Ballantine had a wonderful reputation that had been consistent throughout the decades and that he never lost his enthusiasm for the job.

Silver Jubilee

The Paeroa Christian School, in Coronation Street, marked its 25th jubilee with a celebration attended by almost 200 former pupils, teachers, committee personal and parents in April last. The school was founded by a group of parents, who in 1987, decided that there was a need for a school to provide education that was more in keeping with their beliefs. There were 20 children on the roll when it opened in the Paeroa Bible Chapel in Wharf Street. Over the next five years the roll rose to 50 and new premises were needed. The former Post and Telegraph Department depot in Coronation Street came on the market in 1992 and the school committee negotiated the purchase of the property. Since then the depot has been converted into a school of three classrooms, library, special needs room and administration rooms which today caters 50 pupils from Year 1 to Year 8. These children come from Athenree, Waihi and Paeroa.

Hikutaia Bowlers Celebrate

Members of the Hikutaia Bowling Club marked their 90th birthday with a special tournament late last April. The club was formed when its present home, the Alley Memorial Park, was opened in 1922. The club has been active since that date with both men and women members making their mark in centre and national events. Foremost is club patron Mal Morrison, while being inaugural Thames Valley Centre Dominion Councillor, was also manager of the New Zealand bowling team, making several overseas trips. He, with another outstanding bowler George Alley, now of Auckland, cut the jubilee cake during the special afternoon tea attended by over 100 past members, members, and visiting bowlers.

Cenotaph Makeover

The Cenotaph on Primrose Hill, Paeroa, received a makeover in time for the Anzac Day dawn service. Undertaken by the Hauraki District Council, the structure, built in 1931 to commemorate those who paid the supreme sacrifice in the First World War, was repainted, the tile steps around the base replaced with exposed concrete aggregate and the path widened. The existing lighting was replaced with colour changing LED lights on the four sides. The completed refurbishment was warmly praised by those who attended the dawn service.

Ambulance Station Upgrade

The refurbished Paeroa St. John Ambulance Station was opened by the Patroness of the St. John Northern Region, Lady June Blundell, at a ceremony attended by over 100 members and citizens. The building was the former Thames Valley Electric Power Board depot and office, which became empty when the board went out of existence in the early 1990s. Paeroa St. John took over the building in 1998. The main office, fronting Belmont Road provides a hall and administration and staff quarters while the old vehicle garages have been converted in three ambulance bays with access to Marshall Street. Paeroa Past President Les Cullerne was congratulated and sincerely thanked by the several speakers for his efforts as the driving force behind the refurbishment. During the function, held in late May, Lady Blundell also presented Mr Cullerne with his 50-year service certificate.

St. John Volunteer Rewarded

Mrs Pauline Davison's voluntary service has been recognised by the Waihi Order of St. John Ambulance by making her Member of the Order of St. John, as part of the International Volunteer Day 2011. The honour is a reward to staff for exceptional contributions made to the improvement or advancement of Order of St. John activities. The award is made to those who demonstrate a commitment beyond what is reasonably expected of staff members. Mrs Davison joined the Waihi Order of St. John in 1999 and then spent five years in the Auckland, before returning to Waihi to take on the challenge of team manager for Waihi Order of St. John. She is qualified to Intermediate Life Support Level and tutors and mentors volunteers.