Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 5, May 1966

By E.G. LOCKINGTON (nee Stone)

Many years ago, the road from Waihi to Paeroa, from the region of the Waitete bridge, followed the Waitekauri [Ohinemuri – E] river bank for some distance. (When the railway was built, there was a subway on the town end and a level crossing on the other, until a new stretch of road by-passed the railway.)

A little way along the riverside road, a swing bridge led across the river to an old house [This is the old house site on the "peninsula" of land on the McKinney Rd farm, near the old ford - E], which was on the farm belonging to Mr. Nichols, one of the two men who discovered the Waihi mine. Opposite the bridge was a road, part of which can still be seen. This was the main road to Paeroa [Campbell Road? – E], joining the present one at Waikino.

This old road climbed a hill and then went down to a flat, where there is a noisy creek [Waitekauri Stream? – E] running from the Waitekauri hills to the Ohinemuri river. In flood time it was a raging fiend, sweeping away more than one bridge, until at last a high swing-bridge was built, the vehicles crossing over a ford.

Just beside the creek, on an elevated flat, an elderly couple named Chappell had a farmlet. Mr. Chappell milked several cows, by hand of course, and his wife had a beautiful garden, kept fowls and made butter. The house had five rooms, always beautifully kept, with a wisteria-covered front verandah, and a back one where Mrs. Chappell washed up in a little zinc bath. Outside was a wash-house and dairy, with an orchard nearby.

When we were children we often walked the four miles from Waihi. On top of the hill, before we descended to the farm, was a lovely piece of bush called, from its shape, The Round Bush. There are still some of the trees left, around a homestead. Sometimes Mrs. Chappell invited my sister and I to stay a few days. She was extremely hospitable, and her pies and scones were delicious.

Mr. Chappell was an English countryman, and he always talked to us as if we were grown-up. He could talk too and told us many a "yarn".

"Once", he told us, "when our cows were dry, we used to buy butter from a Mrs. Jones up at "The Kauri". She made good butter too. Then one day I went to get some butter and there she was, sitting on the bank of the creek, washing the butter with her feet. So I says to she, "Mrs. Jones, you shouldn't be washing the butter with your feet".

"Sure", says she, "me feet's clean."

"But we didn't get any more butter from she."

Recently I went to look at the old place. The last half-mile of the road was so rough that we had to abandon the car and walk. The old home was gone, and nothing was left but a flat grass paddock and a trail of ivy climbing a dead tree. The house, sheds, orchard, and the beautiful garden were all gone. Mr. and Mrs. Chappell have been in their graves for many years, yet I often think of that kind old couple.