Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 46, September 2002

EDDIE and PAULINE QUINN: The Paeroa & District Historical Society congratulates members, Eddie and Pauline Quinn, on receipt of a Meritorious Service Award from the Rotary Club of Waihi. The Award acknowledged their fifty years of outstanding contributions to the communities of Kerepehi and Waihi Beach.

ANNIE SARA (SADIE) STRANGE: Sadie Strange (nee Morrison) passed away at Moana House, Whangamata on 15 August 2001, at the age of 94. Mrs Strange was the wife of the late Frank Strange of Hikutaia.

PAUL and JUDY CLARK: Ngatea Sharemilkers, Paul and Judy Clark were named New Zealand Sharemilkers of the Year at a ceremony in Hamilton on 11 May 2002.

KEREPEHI SCHOOL CENTENNIAL: Kerepehi School officially opened as a "native" school on 20 March 1902 with seventeen students. On that same date, but 100 years later, staff and students dressed in circa 1900 clothing to commemorate the occasion. The Centennial was then celebrated over Easter 2002. On Good Friday there was time to meet old friends and reminisce. During Saturday's celebrations, a school sign was unveiled and a traditional wero was performed to challenge visitors to the school. The school's oldest registered teacher, Joyce Short, rang the school bell and decade photographs were taken. A Church Service was held on Easter Sunday.

WAIHI GOLD MINING COMPANY: At the end of June this year, 2002, it was fifty years since the last underground shift of the (then) Waihi Gold Mining Company came to the surface.

ASIAN SCHOOL FOR GOLDEN VALLEY: A resource consent application has been lodged with the Hauraki District Council for the establishment of a residential school, catering for up to 360 Asian students, in Landlyst Road, Waihi.

TE RAU AROHA, WAIHI BEACH: The 50th Anniversary of the establishment of Te Rau Aroha by the Waikato Diocese of the Anglican Church was celebrated over the weekend of 18 and 19 May 2002. In the early 1950s, camping at Te Rau Aroha ("the love of many") meant sleeping under canvas. The oldest building today is the recreation hall, dating from the 1960s. The dining room and common room were erected in the early 1970s and the accommodation block, comprising eight bunk rooms and four leaders' rooms, was built as a silver jubilee project. The chapel, consecrated in 1993, was named and rededicated at the 50th celebration, as "The Chapel of the Holy Spirit - Te Whare Karakia o Te Wairua Tapu".

HARRY SHEPHERD: Mr Harry Shepherd, Principal of Waihi College for eighteen years, has retired. He was farewelled at a celebratory dinner on Friday, 22 March 2002 held at the Waihi Beach RSA, attended by about 130 colleagues, family, friends, former teachers, parents and board of trustees members.

WAIHI BEACH AIRPORT: The Bristol freighter, one of only 270 made, which has sat beside the airfield at the Waihi Beach Airport, has been moved to Waitomo to become a motel unit.

ATHENREE HOMESTEAD: The Athenree Homestead Trust has won a $500 TrustPower Community Award for its achievements so far, This, plus a recent $20,000 donation from a private family trust, will be used towards the next stage of restoration, reinstating the verandah and restoring the upstairs area.

HAURAKI PEAT: Waitakaruru's largest employer, Hauraki Peat, closed on Friday, 30 November 2001, with the loss of twelve jobs. The peat plant, owned by Australian company, Arthur Yates Co. Ltd, has converted raw peat from a mine between Ngatea and Paeroa, into garden products like fertiliser and potting mix, for twenty-two years. The work has been taken over by an Auckland plant but the raw peat will continue to be taken from the mine site.

WAITAKARURU SCHOOL CENTENNIAL AND DISTRICT REUNION: Waitakaruru School celebrated its centennial over the weekend 15 to 17 March 2002. An informal function was arranged for the Friday evening, with the official opening for the weekend held on Saturday. Photographs were displayed, decade photographs taken and a reunion cake was cut. Present day pupils entertained the large gathering. A dinner and dance were held on Saturday evening and on Sunday, a thanksgiving service.

A book produced by local historian, Ken Clover, Waitakaruru, The School and District Jubilee 1902-1977 for the 75th reunion was reprinted for the centennial and Mr Clover produced a supplement to cover the last twenty-five years.

KARANGAHAKE WALKWAY: A newly-upgraded track from Dickey's Flat to Karangahake was open for trampers from Queen's Birthday Weekend 2002. Developed by the Department of Conservation, Tauranga, the track has been named the Crown Track. It follows the old "pipeline track" from the river intake at Dickey's Flat to Karangahake and includes a new bridge near the start of the walk. Te Kooti hid in this area before gold prospectors arrived and the first battery to be constructed, Railey's, was in this area.

GOLDFIELDS RAILWAY SOCIETY: A grant of $66,000 was received from the Lottery Grants Board to fund repairs to the Waitete Stream bridge and to the Waihi Railway Station. Further funding from the Rail Heritage Trust will pay for other improvements to the station area. The station will be renovated to resemble how it originally looked when it was opened on 3 October 1905. The station was built for the sum of £1764.3.6 ($3528.35). The Goldfields Steam Train Society purchased it from NZ Railways for $100.

LILIAN VALDER: Miss Lilian Valder MBE, of Waihi Beach, died on 5 August 2001, aged ninety years. Miss Valder was born in Hamilton and educated at Sonning School and at St. Cuthbert's College in Auckland. She trained and worked as a secretary and in the early 1930s, she and her sister developed a farm from bush on the slopes of Mt Pirongia. The farm was sold in the early 1960s and Miss Valder then retired to Waihi Beach. She joined the Order of St. John and after passing the necessary courses, manned the beach first aid caravan, next to the Waihi Surf Club. She delivered Meals on Wheels for thirty-five years and served as a volunteer driver, transporting people to Thames, Waikato and Tauranga Hospitals.

Miss Valder made many generous donations to many local organisations, on condition that she remain anonymous. In 1981 she founded a charitable trust with four specified beneficiaries, and eight years later established the Valder Ohinemuri Charitable Trust which focussed on youth, people at risk and the elderly. In 1992 she was awarded an MBE for service to the community. (Editor's note: Information obtained from an Obituary published in the Hauraki Herald of 24 August 2001.)

ST JOSEPH'S CATHOLIC SCHOOL, WAIHI: One hundred years of Catholic education in Waihi was celebrated on Saturday, 16 March 2002. The function was attended by about 230 guests comprising past pupils, Sisters of Mercy, lay teachers, Parish Priests and honoured guests. The official welcome was made by Peter Spiers and Pat Samson, the first lay teacher, called the roll of those registered pupils who had attended the school between 1920 and 1934. The Centenary cake was cut by Sisters Gwenda and Bernadette. A formal dinner was held in the Waihi Memorial Hall and the dinner address was given by His Lordship, Bishop Denis Browne, who also celebrated the Centennial Mass on Sunday. Mass was followed by the dedication and unveiling of a plaque by the oldest person registered, Trevor Barber and Sister Patricia Erin O'Dwyer, commemorating eighty-eight years of service, from 1902 until 1990, to the Waihi community by the Sisters of Mercy.

WAIHI CELEBRATION: Waihi was gazetted as a Borough in 1902 and, had it remained a Borough, would have celebrated its centennial on 18 February 2002. The Waihi Summer Festival committee marked this milestone by organising a fun run on Saturday, 12 January 2002, during the Summer Festival Week. The route followed the boundary of the Waihi borough as it was in 1989, the last year of its existence, when it became part of the Hauraki District.

WAIHI - COLLAPSE OF OLD MINE WORKINGS: On 12 December 2001, a section of Barry Road, Waihi, collapsed, swallowing one house and threatening others. The area was cordoned off and residents from thirteen homes were evacuated.

The hole measured 50 metres wide and 15 metres deep. Mine workers and members of the Waihi Volunteer Fire Brigade rescued the family of five who lived in the house at the centre of the crater. Nobody was seriously hurt. Experts say that the subsidence was caused by old workings in the Royal Lode.

GOLDEN CROSS TRACK: A community initiative has reopened the route between the Maratoto Valley and the Golden Cross mine site at Waitekauri. Hikutaia people, Ngati Puu and the Department of Conservation have all contributed to opening up his area. The track needed to be cleared to Department of Conservation standards, marked and a car park created at the end of the road. The three-kilometre track links the Golden Cross Walkways, put in by Coeur Gold with the end of Maratoto Road. The area is rich in history. Captain Cook took kauri from the Valley in the 18th century and since then the valley has been mined for gold, silver and kauri gum. Telegraph lines were erected to keep the line open between Auckland and Wellington during the New Zealand Land Wars and the valley even boasted its own hydro generator.

GOLDEN CROSS MINE SITE REHABILITATION: It is approximately three years since the last ore was processed at Golden Cross Mine and rehabilitation of the site has now reached the stage when the site can be opened to the public. This is the first rehabilitation of a large scale metal mine in New Zealand.

A planned car park, with toilets, will lead to two loop tracks, one around the old tailings dam and the other around the open pit to meet with the existing track on the other side of the valley. Another track will link with the track from Maratoto. Most of the site is now pasture rather than bush. To prevent pollution, all mine water is treated to remove the metals, then convert the acid into clean water and hydrogen sulphide. About 100,000 native trees have been planted along the riparian areas. The open pit is partially filled and grassed, with a small wetland at the bottom.

Further east lays the tailings dam, one of the reasons for the mine's early closure, when the ground beneath the dam was deemed unstable. It is now stabilised through dewatering and rehabilitation of this area is now complete. The entrance portal to the underground workings has been sealed and the land around it has been landscaped. The underground workings have been flooded to within 50 metres of the entrance and the run-off from within is now processed at the water treatment plant. This plant is the most important part of the Golden Cross rehabilitation. Coeur Gold is responsible for the water quality for the next thirty-five years.

WAIHI AWARD: In September 2001, Waihi won the "Physical Environment" section of the inaugural awards of the Town Centre Association of New Zealand (formerly known as Mainstreet New Zealand, realising Hauraki District Council Mayor, Basil Morrison's dream for Waihi to be the best small town in New Zealand. The Association's objectives are to enhance the environments of town centres, with the view of promoting economic development and social well being in towns hit by changing retail patterns.

PASSENGER BOAT VISITS PAEROA: The Tokerau, a 16-metre passenger boat which carries up to 170 people, has been travelling up the Waihou River as far as the Puke Bridge, Paeroa. The boat is run by Sea-City Tours who also run regular trips up to Riverhead at the end of the Waitemata Harbour.

The Tokerau is a flat-bottomed boat and she draws about 1.6 metres. Before travelling up the Waihou, a small boat with a sounder must first travel up the river to mark out a route and the bridge at Kopu must be opened.

DES JOHANSEN: Hauraki District Councillor, Des Johansen, of Paeroa, died suddenly on 1 June 2002. Mr Johansen was the Chairman of the Paeroa Ward Committee and also of the Water and Waste Consultative Committee. As a result of his work, the new Paeroa Sewage Treatment Plant was opened in March 2002 (see page 38). He was a stalwart in the community in many areas besides Council work, being involved in rugby as both a coach and an administrator and in organisations such as Hauraki Help as a committee chairman and in youth development, as an Army Cadet chairman and leader.

MINER'S STATUE: On 28 September 2001, a bronze statue of a miner from Waihi's early days, was unveiled outside the Waihi Memorial Hall. The sculptor of this statue was Maree Lawrence, daughter of Bill Lawrence of Waihi Beach. Hauraki District Council Mayor, Basil Morrison, said that the Waihi Gold Mining Company had made a considerable contribution towards the $25,000 statue. The miner joins other statues, The Rangatira, sculpted by Michael Were and Children Playing, sculpted by Donald Patterson.

ST. PAUL'S, PAEROA "OPPORTUNITY SHOP": St. Paul's Anglican Church Opportunity Shop in Paeroa marked its 20th Anniversary with a special Church service and a reunion of former helpers and volunteers on Wednesday, 16 October 2001. During the "Op Shop's" twenty years of operation, it has had the help of more than two hundred regular helpers who have raised more than $25,000 for charities around the world. Currently about forty volunteers run the shop.

CHARMAINE CLOW: Lone Guide Leader, Charmaine Clow, daughter of Paeroa & District Historical Society Patron, Arthur Reid, was awarded the Frances Lees Travel Award, available to Guide leaders in the Hauraki District, to attend a jamboree at Melan, northeast of Marseille, France, the site of France's international centre for Guides and Scouts. The facility was built by Scouts and Guides from around the world forty years ago and Scouts and Guides from forty different countries were invited to attend the celebrations, marking the 40th year. The jamboree-style celebration included multi-cultural workshops, and environmental, cultural and community-based programmes among the mountains and forests of France and it was held from 14 to 28 July 2001.

At the time of her award, Mrs Clow had fourteen girls on her Lone Guides roll, covering an area from Whangamata to Great Barrier Island, Miranda and Pukekohe.

KARANGAHAKE RESERVE: The redevelopment of the Karangahake Reserve was officially commemorated on Thursday, 27 September 2001 with the unveiling of a plaque by Conservation and Local Government Minister, Sandra Lee, assisted by John Cotter of Karangahake and local children. Also present was Coromandel M P, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Hauraki District Council Mayor, Basil Morrison, Hauraki District councillors, local Kaumatua, led by Tewi Nicholls and Department of Conservation Maori Liaison Officer, Joe Harawira. A number of old identities also attended the ceremony, including Mrs Phil McLeod and Mrs Vera Taylor. New information boards, detailing the area's history and attractions were also unveiled in one of the newly erected shelters and Ms Lee planted a rimu tree to mark the occasion.

ROTARY AWARD FOR JOHN TREGIDGA: John Tregidga of Paeroa has been awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship award from the Paeroa Rotary Club. Mr Tregidga has been a member of Rotary for 24 years and both his parents and two brothers have also received Paul Harris Fellowship Awards in the past. The award is given for outstanding service to the community.

PAEROA SKATING AND LEISURE CENTRE: The Paeroa Skating and Leisure Centre in the old Farmers building in Paeroa was officially opened by Children's Commissioner, Roger McClay on Saturday, 2 March 2002. The Centre was created by and is administered by the Paeroa Community Trust.

PETROL AT HIKUTAIA STORE: Petrol, which has been available from the Hikutaia Store for at least fifty years, is no longer available there. The last delivery was made by a Mobil tanker in early August 2001 and the supply ran out on Monday, 27 August.

WAIHI MUSEUM: There are fears that the Hauraki District Council will decide that the Building which houses the Waihi Museum will become too expensive to keep on its books and that it will be sold. The building was originally a technical school and Waihi residents raised half of the money for its construction in 1913. When the technical school closed, the Education Board offered it to the Waihi Borough for half of its government valuation. The Waihi Borough Council accepted the offer and maintained the building until 1989 when, following the amalgamation of local bodies, the Hauraki District Council took over the ownership of the building.

VICTORIA BATTERY TRAMWAY SOCIETY: The battery-electric mine locomotives used on the two-foot gauge tramway at Victoria Battery, Waikino, have been upgraded. The work has been carried out by Rotorua businessman, Ray Millar of Millar Electro Mechanical. A new photograph gallery is proving of great interest in the Society's Museum.

PURIRI CHURCH: The Puriri Church was opened on Thursday, 18 September 1913. Although built as a Methodist Church, it has been interdenominational from the beginning. Due to dwindling congregations, Presbyterian services were discontinued in 1970, followed by Methodist services in 1971. Anglican services continued until 1973. When a suggestion was put forward for the disposal of the building, the Anglican Vestry of St. George's, Thames, took responsibility for continued maintenance.

In 1987 a committee was formed by the Rev Frank Glen of Thames to once again share responsibility for the church on behalf of the Union Parish. After minimum restoration within the building and replacement of the original organ, a re-opening service was held on 15 March 1988.

During 2001, an engineer's report declared that the building, constructed of concrete with no reinforcing, was unstable and dangerous. In October 2001, residents met and decided that it was too expensive for such a small community to repair. It was a sad day on Wednesday, 27 February 2002, when representatives of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist faiths, along with a small group of residents, took part in the deconsecration of the eighty-nine-year-old Church building. The Service was held outside of the church.

Arrangements were made for the church to be demolished on 6 May 2002, but a group of residents negotiated a delay of sixteen days with the Thames Union Parish. As a result, an agreement was reached to establish a trust to secure the building's future. The building, which is owned by the Thames Union Parish, will be sold to the trust.