THE LEACH - WHITE FAMILY

Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 48, September 2004

By Joan Bogue (nee Leach)

Where we came from:

In 1860, a young man left his parentís home in Delaraine, Tasmania, for New Zealand. David Leach made his way to Temuka in the South Island. He was the son of John and Annie Leach (nee McKinnon). He later met and married Margaret, daughter of Archibald and Margaret McCallum, a family who had emigrated from Greenock, Scotland. The McCallum family stayed in the south and many of the branches still live there.

David and Margaret married in Temuka, raising a family of six boys and one girl before leaving the south for Great Barrier Island, and later for Haumanga, near Waihi. Their eldest son, David Leach, stayed behind with his grandparents to attend secondary school and to work for the local baker, delivering bread with horse and cart, coming north to Coromandel later.

Another young man, Edgar Douglas White, left his home in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to arrive in Little Akaroa, he being the son of Job and Elizabeth White (nee Douglas). He too made his way to Coromandel, to the goldfields. Contact with both families has been maintained through the years, by descendants.

In 1852 the Inchinann arrived in New Zealand with immigrants, among whom were Richard and Frances Organ (nee Davis) and their young family. Twins had been born en route, but only the girl, Mary, survived, she being renamed, Eliza. Other children were born, the youngest being Frances, born in Howick, where her father was a Fencible.

Frances and Edgar Douglas White met and married at the parsonage at St. Georgeís Church, Thames, in 1872. His photo hangs in the Coromandel Museum. Thirteen children were born, the fourth, Annie Jane and David Leach met and married. These are my parents. Davidís name is on the roll of the School of Mines at Coromandel. The White family were then on the move to Karangahake. While the men went ahead to build the family home, my mother and her mother used to ride horseback along the coast with baking, to stay and prepare meals for the men. My mother had worked in the Post Office in the hotel on the top of the Tokatea, between Coromandel and the eastern settlements. The White family home in Albert Street, Mackaytown, was, in later years, known as Mrs Whiteís Boarding House. Part of the house still stands.

My parentís first home was a cottage on the hill over Karangahake, and their first business venture was the stationery and ironmongery shop on the banks of the river, in what, in those days, was a thriving town. The Department of Conservation have erected a series of plaques on the Walkway, giving the history of the mining, and on one of these, the shop is depicted, with my parents standing at the shop doorway, with two of their children, Bill and Frances. David would have been at the school on the hilltop, above the Gorge. It was at this school that we held several reunions of the Leach and White families, and it was here that in 1982 my brother, David, who returned to New Zealand on his wifeís death, recalled his childhood memories, as we sat on the school steps.

During the Great War, my parents were persuaded by a brother-in-law of Henderson, to try their hand at the bakery business. They set up in New Lynn and the brick bake house and homestead were still standing on the corner of Titirangi Road up to the 1960s. The two families spent a few years living close until my parents bought into the bakery in Paeroa. Except for a couple of years, this business operated right through until the 1960s, before being sold out to Morrinsville bakers. The premises had been enlarged early to accommodate stables, bakery, tearooms and living accommodation. For some years it was said that everyone in Paeroa had worked in or for Victoria Bakeries. Names like Fred Pivott, Ted Wood, Mena Power, Dave Murdoch, Molly Goonan, Jessie Jenkinson, Belle Bunting, Betty Purdie, Dorrie Robbyns, Jim Russell and Noel Vinnicombe will be recalled by many residents.

The four Leach children were brought up in the area. David Leslie, the eldest, attended Thames High School by train, as did his friend, Lyall Noakes. David was persuaded by Courtenay Kenny to go surveying and it was in 1930 that these two friends left for Sarawak to work for the White Rajah, Major Brookes. David became Director of Surveys there and it was while on leave in New Zealand that the outbreak of war took him directly to London in the British Army, where he later took part in the survey side of war in Tunisia, and later still re-entered Sarawak with the forces that flew in to get rid of the occupying forces. He ultimately retired to New Zealand, setting up a survey practice and had a team doing the cadastral survey of Tonga and later, of the Bahamas. He retired to Devon, on a farmlet until his wife died. He then spent the last three years (with his horse) on two acres at Big Bay, Waiuku. He passed away in England, while on holiday there.

Bill, the other son, did his pupil teaching in Paeroa, before spending long service teaching throughout New Zealand, sometimes under very difficult conditions and now, at 95 years old, has only just vacated his villa at Coombrae Court in Fielding, to let someone else do his cooking and housekeeping. At age 94, he stopped his two favourite things, driving on the road and on the golf course.

Frances was training as a nurse when a serious fall caused her to spend several years on her back both at Rotorua Hospital and at home, where she led a really productive time with the young ones with Sunday School and Busy Bees. Full recovery took many long years with great courage and at age 70 she went overseas to Africa, Britain and Europe, without her walking stick.

Joan, at age 84, is still with us, keeping in touch with the various branches of both families.

Click to enlarge, image will open in new window.

The White family home, in Albert Street, Mackaytown, later known as Mrs Whiteís Boarding House

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