Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 14, October 1970
Early this year, Mrs. Muriel Burke (nee Roberts, formerly of Waihi) arranged through the Historical Society with the Ohinemuri County Council, to have a seat installed at the Karangahake Reserve. It is inscribed:
IN MEMORY OF THE PENNELL FAMILY
EARLY PIONEERS OF KARANGAHAKE
Just before the 1st Karangahake Jubilee, ten years ago, Muriel's mother, (nee Zillah Pennell) gave us a copy of the School Photograph here reproduced, together with her reminiscence as follows:-
"My people were among the earliest settlers in the district. They arrived during the gold-rush and took up 80 acres of land at the far end of the old Rahu Road which was then the main road to Tauranga. There were already eight children in the Ralph Pennell family and I was the ninth, being born there in 1884, and my brother Bill two years later.
We lost our Mother before I was five years old and life was not easy for any of us. The five elder children, Annie (Mrs. Brown-Hayes), Cis (Mrs. Gibbons); John, Ralph and Lottie (Mrs. Petersen) started school at Mackaytown via the very rough Rahu Road but by the time May (Mrs. Meads), Lena (Mrs. Kulmar), Esther (Mrs. Allan), Bill and I were ready, the Karangahake School had been opened and we attended there via Butler's Track.
At that time Dad was a Shift Boss at the Woodstock and the boys were soon mining too, because farming alone didn't pay. But cows provided part of our livelihood and we all helped to deliver milk to Karangahake. Dad would carry a heavy can on his way to work and we children would follow with our smaller ones.
Dan Campbell of Waihi drove the Mail Coach in the very early days and would keep his passengers waiting while he called at our place for refreshments. The early settlers were known for their warm hospitality and I recollect how kind some of them were when we lost our Mother. Our Aunt, Nurse Pennell of Paeroa did wonderful work throughout the district. Later we moved to Waihi and married, so there must be many descendants of the Pennell family.