Karangahake School and District 70th Jubilee 1889-1959

[These poems were distributed throughout the publication, and are collected here - E]
















O Land wherein my memories abide,

I have come back that you may make me tranquil,

Resting a little at your heart of peace,

Remembering much amid your serious leisure,

Forgetting more amid your large release.

For your's the wisdom of the night and morning,

....word of the inevitable years,

....open heaven's unobscured communion,

....the dim whisper of the wheeling spheres.

....great things and the terrible I bring you,

....illumined in your spacious breath, —

....and the ashes of desire, and anguish,

....ge laughter, and the unhealing wound of death.

....the world, all these, have come upon me,

....me mute and shaken with surprise,

....turn them in your measureless contemplation,

....in their mastery teach me to be wise.

A portion of "At Tidewater."

From "The Collected Poems of Sir Charles G. D. Roberts."

With kind permission of the Publishers, "The Ryerson Press, Toronto."

[some words are are missing from the original, denoted: ..... - E]


Here's a toast to Karangahake!

Let the rafters ring with cheer,

Clasp again the hand of Friendship,

Greet old faces loved and dear.

Tell again in song and story,

Of old times so long ago,

When the gold mines in their glory,

Made the town expand and grow.

Now the famous mines are silent,

Gorse and fern have taken o'er,

Still that spirit strong and valiant,

Lives on as in the days of yore.

We, who've lately come among you,

Homage pay to your renown,

Marching with you on to progress,

Karangahake! Mackaytown!

- E.R.


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,

He'd faith in distant future,

And fertile valley's worth.

Steep hills of Coromandel,

You cloaked you secret old;

Could Cook forsee 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 rive's lane.

Pohutukawas of the coast,

The kauris of the spur and range,

Kahikateas 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 watched him,

As with the ebbing tide,

He turned his ship at Kopu,

And steered for oceans wide,

His thoughts roved up the river,

And 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,

Till "Waimarie" and "Taniwha"

Bore upstream with the tide.

Ohinemuri lured men on,

With gold and timbered land,

When Chief Te Moananui smiled

And offered friendly hand.

While tracks were formed, the miners

Foregathered by the score

With builders, bullock drivers

And men for general store.

Young Mothers came with families,

All wondering how they'd fare,

Amidst the wildness of the gorge,

With none to help them there.

Then like an eerie built by eagles,

Who seek to rear their young,

A school was built for children

At Karangahake's dawn.

So pioneering teachers toiled,

From eighteen eighty nine,

And Children climbed o'er hills to learn,

While Fathers tunnelled hills to mine.

Our children still the future hold,

Maori and Pakeha at one

In recreation, school and work,

Beneath a generous sun.

Though we look back, they look ahead,

New life is in the stream:

New life must steer the Ship of Truth,

To realise — Cook's Dream.

— N.S.D.


Up Turner's Hill the teams would labour,

And wagon wheels a-creaking turn;

Each horse pulled nobly with his neighbour,

His ears a'twitch for orders stern.

'Twas long before the way was graded,

Rough metal sparked on iron shoe,

Or mud in mane and tail was braided,

As sweat poured down and nostrils blew.

Gigantic plant the mines were needing,

No railway then to bear the load;

So pumps and crushers, weight impeding,

Were all conveyed by arduous road.

In highland country wild and broken,

By towering cliffs and gorges deep,

Prospectors found the golden token,

Where gleamed the quartz in mountain keep.

Then rider, tramp and teamster travelled

The winding trail to Mackaytown,

Or pitched their tents at Karangahake,

Near "Woodstock," "Talisman" and "Crown."

Soon houses clustered on the mountain,

Though miners' lives were often brief.

Yet mutual aid rose like a fountain,

Bringing blessings, easing grief.

So warm of heart their friendships rounded,

And generously they lived their day,

Till sudden final note was sounded —

The great machinery idle lay.

The mining population dwindled,

The busy township now is gone,

And chimneys where the fires were kindled,

Have crumbled down like cairns of stone.

But some still love Ohinemuri,

Are faithful to the wild haunt's code,

Waitawheta in flooding fury,

Or peaceful gracious Rahu Road.

The labouring horses toil no longer,

To haul the loads up Turner's Hill;

But pride in pioneers grows stronger,

As phantom teams turn wheels at will.

— N.S.D.


We meet today and call to mind

The days of long ago.

We scan each face and shake the hand

Of pals; and as we go

We marvel that Old Father Time,

Though silvering hair and lining face,

Has not yet all your mates or mine,

Called hence to their last resting place.

Some there are who've not long gone

To rest upon the hill;

We who are left must pass along

That self-same road, until,

Some distant day we'll rank so few —

This day a memory will be,

And "Roll Call" finds that only you

Will answer "Here!" with me.

Till that day come, let us be gay;

Make this a memorable year;

Let old pals meet, and spend the day

In greeting and good cheer!

Go! Walk around — forget your age;

Don't say "I am too old!"

Just show these young folk one back page

From out your hearts of gold.

"Hearts of Gold!" Aye, every one!

And whether rich or poor,

A knock would bring a welcome,

No matter at whose door.

Time must ever bring some change

The lads of old are men.

But Hearts of Gold, as long years range,

We'll hope to meet again.

— Cyril C. J. Gwilliam.


Yes, he's old and he's tottery and cranky,

You can see he is mean by his eyes —

But to me there is no gury like him

On earth nor yet up in the skies.

About six months ago it so happened,

I went prospecting up on the divide,

And left the old shack in the morning,

With Gyp, as I thought, safe inside.

When a couple of miles from the shanty,

I heard a slight noise and turned round,

And there was old Gyp looking guilty,

He knew he'd done wrong, I'll be bound.

The whole place was teeming with cattle

Unbranded, and mad as March hares,

But Gyp was too old, they would kill him,

Not much the old mongrel would care.

He'd bust his way out of the shanty,

I hadn't much patience with dogs —

I picked up a rock and I plunked him,

And flattened him out like a log.

I waited until he recovered,

Then sent him off back to the camp.

I didn't feel badly about it,

Next time he would know, the old scamp.

My thoughts led me up to the diggings,

A bight in a ridge, a good spot,

I might get some floaters or colours,

But of course, then again, I might not.

I rolled up my coat on a boulder,

Pulled out pick and dish from a sack,

Heard a roar and a bellow behind me,

Then spread out on the broad of my back.

My head hit an old rotten tree-stump,

I was out like a light for a while.

What the hell's all the row? and Lor' lumme,

What the devil's gone wrong with my thigh?

I did a half-roll to my elbow,

And there on a little clear patch,

Was the craziest sight of my lifetime,

Was I dreaming or was it dingbats?

A young cow was ripping and rearing

And roaring the world of it's woes,

And using old Gyp as a flayler,

He swung like a weight from her nose.

Gyp's jagged old teeth wouldn't hold her,

He sailed right along the cow's back,

Hit the ground and rolled over and over,

And ended up down the bush track.

The cow never faltered a second,

But charged right back up the incline,

I thought — "This is it for a moral,"

Then a crashing and tearing behind.

A red streak shot right past my shoulder,

A little bull-calf, bless your heart,

It would take a lead bullet to stop him,

That's all that would keep them apart.

They tore away into the timber,

Then all seemed as quiet as the dead,

Old Gyp came up tottering towards me,

With a thumping big lump on his head.

He stood off and glared for a moment,

The mean gleam was still in his eye.

The next thing I knew, the old blighter,

Was cleaning the wound in my thigh

Yes, Stranger, you've guessed it for certain,

The cow's horn ripped down to the bone.

It was bleeding like merry blue blazes

And I was up there all alone.

I plugged it with part of my shirt tail,

My eyes wouldn't focus somehow,

I lay back to spell, for a moment,

Next thing I was skinning that cow!

She was dead as a lump of cold mutton,

Believe me, but can you? for hark!

Every movement I made with that knife blade,

She answered me with a dog's bark.

I must hurry and hack off that cow's skin,

And get right away from the place!

I opened my eyes, and Lor' lumme,

Old Gyp was a-licking my face

He'd brought up old Paddy O'Gorman,

Who worked a claim three miles from there,

And Pat swagged me out on his pack horse,

While Gyp limped along in the rear.

Yes, he's old and he's tottery and cranky,

We still work up on the divide,

Yes, I take the old mongrel with me,

Save's trouble — dad blast his old hide.

H. A. (King) Meagher.


Tapu-ariki's in trouble;

The lone puriri bows and heaves;

The gale, it bends the fern fronds double;

The road is strewn with poplar leaves.

'Twould blow like this through giant forest

When pallisade and fortress stood.

'Tis the old wind in the old anger,

But then it threshed another wood.

Then, 'twas before my time, the Maori

At yonder heaving hill would stare:

The blood that rises like the kauri,

The thoughts that hurt us, they were there.

There like the wind through woods in riot,

Through him the gale of life blew high;

The tree of man was never quiet;

Then 'twas the Warrior, now 'tis I.

The gale it plies the saplings double,

It blows so hard, 'twill soon be gone:

To-day the Warrior and his trouble

Are ashes under tapu stone.

— After A. E. Housman.

Note: The Hill we know as Te Moananui's is steeped in Maori legend, and we have it on good authority that although the Flats are rightly called Te Moananui's, the Hill is "Tapu Ariki," the sacred Burial Ground of the Maoris.


The roads that wound about the hills,

Are no more seen today,

But thoughts recount the many thrills,

Of rides upon a dray.

The stamps in memory thunder,

The fires leap and roar,

As quartz is torn asunder,

To part the gold from ore.

In retrospect I travel,

Across the old swing bridge,

Ignoring stones and gravel,

To carry Father's "crib."

The railway track still disappears,

Right underneath White Rock,

But lumbering coal carts no one hears,

Nor yet the whip of Jock.

Both high and low road had their shops,

And churches four, were packed to doors;

The street lamp-lighter's horse clip clops,

To lighten my Memoirs!

Times were hard and small the pay,

That any man could earn,

They lived here on eight bob a day,

And worked the shifts in turn.

Yet true it was, when some poor chap,

Was maimed or lost his life.

That every man tossed in a hat

A day's pay for that wife.

— Cyril Gwilliam.


Our fathers, sons and brothers

Won fame at work and sport;

But daughters, sisters, mothers,

An unsung service wrought.

So now I sing to workworn hands,

Of those who kept each crowded home,

When menial tasks made great demands —

For aids had not yet come.

Dear women of those by-gone days,

Who yearned and toiled our lives to bless,

We here record our deepest praise —

Remembering your dear selflessness.

— N.S.D.


The poplar trees at Mackaytown,

Stand stately, grand and high,

A guard of honour proudly set,

With pennants in the sky.

I love their winter lacey grey,

Their summer towers of green,

But O, the prodigality

Of autumn's golden scene.

What visionary planned this view

In pioneering day?

Who laboured then that we might see

Magnificent array?

Since saplings first stood sentinel

Along the ribbon road,

How changed the life of Mackaytown,

How fortune ebbed and flowed!

But grandeur there will always be,

So long as poplars last,

With branches reaching for the sky,

And roots deep in the past.

— N.S.D.


To these Ohinemuri hills,

Adventurous men once came

With firm determination,

To stake a golden claim.

Prospecting Trig and Taukani,

The rocky gorges they explored

For reefs, that bore from North to South

The lordly mountain's hoard.

From near and far the miners rallied,

Dank shafts and drives their dim terrain,

Where countless tons of quartz were quarried

With precious gold in gleaming vein.

Inspired by leadership of Mackay,

A camp of tents became a town,

And lights lit up Karangahake,

While batteries thundered its renown.

Its sparkling waters lost their lustre,

As work went on by day and night;

And lives were risked, or maimed or muted,

For men braved death for prospects bright.

Yet danger drew them near together;

Communal life was at its best,

They shared both joys and sorrows deeply,

Played, worked and worshipped with a zest.

In 1905 the Rail was opened,

The Tunnel seemed a marvel then;

Five bridges spanned the roistering river,

The School's five hundred crowned the glen.

But where are now the ashphalt footpaths?

The busy streets and lusty Band?

Where are all the miners' candles,

The sirens and the tailings sand?

Grand names arise in retrospect

Of men and women too,

Who pioneered this settlement

And loved the local view.

All honour to their memory -

The stalwarts of those rousing days,

When everyone faced wilderness,

And sought a trail to blaze.

The scene maintains its grandeur,

And nature clothes the scars,

Beside this rugged mountain,

Wagons still can hitch to stars.

We need not seek a golden store,

With other bounties we are blessed,

All life is but a challenge

And our response the test.

While John and Charlie tame their hills

That sheep and cows may graze;

While from Jack's farm the cockerels call;

While children grace our ways;

While men and women ply their skills

As 'Hake people do,

We'll have no fear for future year,

And for the past, no rue.

Though gone the gilded township,

And ended be the mining tale,

Translucent as the river,

New life is in the vale.

And still from homes of 'Hake,

Come those who bear with zeal

The torch that tokens service,

To help the common weal.

And now we meet to dedicate,

This gracious building they have wrought,

A place for happy comradeship,

For joyous fun and earnest thought.

May blessings rest upon it,

May it prove of untold worth,

As Karangahake's bullion

Proved the richness of our earth.


This Poem was written to commemorate the opening of the New Karangahake Hall, 7/12/57.


This remains here

This was here, I well remember, over fifty years ago,

Subject to untiring Nature as to many dying creatures,

Altered always, crop and colour, but preserving living features,

That we love and seem to know.

I am gazing

Into what is man's foundation, the enduring scene that stands,

Comforted by sun and water, glad of either in their season,

Something that outlasts our minute and has majesty for reason

While its granites wear to sands.

Here I leave it

Here it leaves me in the twilight, the imperfect wax it prest;

Knowing this, that it has shaped me, or mis-shaped me, for the telling,

Of the purpose of the spirit that possesses this, indwelling,

Knowing change, but never rest.

From "The Hill" by John Masefield.

With the kind permission of the Author.

(Publisher, William Heinemann)

We are proud to include Mr Masefield's poem which well expresses our own sentiments at this time and place.


God be in my head

And in my thinking.

God be in my hands

And in my doing.

God be in my heart

And in my understanding.


The Lord bless thee and keep thee

And give thee peace.