Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 49, September 2005

GAMBLES FURNISHINGS, WAIHI: A fourth generation of the Gamble family, Jeff, with his wife, Sarah, took over the management of Gambles Furnishings with the retirement of Allen and Gael Gamble in August 2004. The store, which still operates from the original site, was originally purchased by Joseph and Margaret Gamble, who opened the business, J P Gamble - general family draper on 4 July 1919.

WAITAWHETA REUNION: The first ever reunion of Waitawheta residents was held on the weekend of 25 -26 March 2005. The first school opened at Waitawheta in the 1890s and finally closed in 1972. The building was then moved to Waihi Beach to become the Waihi Beach Playcentre. As part of the celebration, bus trips were made available from the Waitawheta Camp to visit the old school building.

PEOPLE OF THE PLAINS: Hauraki Plains historian, Ken Clover, has completed three volumes of his People of the Plains book after thirteen years of work. In 1992 Ken started interviewing people who had spent many years living on the Plains. By 1995 he had completed ninety audio interviews and transcribed them into booklets and it is these that have now been compiled into book form. Mr Clover has generously given a copy of the complete set to the Paeroa Museum.

WAIKINO POST OFFICE: The original Waikino Post office was situated on State Highway 2 and this was washed away in the floods of April 1981. The replacement building, which was also used as a store, was situated on higher ground, behind the site of the present Waikino Railway Station. This closed in 2003, as demand for its services decreased. The Victoria Hall Association Committee, which had been subsidising the building, donated it to the Waitawheta Camp for use as a private bunk room and, with the help of a grant from the Valder Ohinemuri Charitable Trust, the building was moved to its new site on Friday, 17 September 2004. The new building has been named the Owen Morgan Building.

NEIL CLARKE: Former Paeroa resident, Neil Clarke, was awarded the Queen's Service Order for services to the community through local government in the 2005 New Years Honours list. Mr Clarke was elected to Environment Waikato fifteen years previously when regional councils were established and he was elected Chairman by his colleagues for nine years. Mr Clarke was a managing director and part owner of Provincial Transport, a member of the Paeroa Industries Committee, chairman of the Thames Valley Business Development Board and a Paeroa Lions Club member. He was also Chairman of Trust Waikato for six years. Mr Clarke has now retired to Mount Maunganui.

WAIHI LIBRARY: The Waihi Municipal Library celebrated its centenary on Sunday 3 October 2004 and a ceremony was held on 4 October to mark the event. A Birthday Cake was cut by Mayor Basil Morrison, his wife, Kaye and Waihi Librarian, Norma Aken. Souvenir book marks were printed and were given away, along with a piece of birthday cake, to all library users during the week following. Historic photographs and period costumes were on display.

The original library was situated in the Borough Chambers, now Chambers Restaurant and in 1977 it was moved into what was the Bank of New Zealand building. An article in the Waihi Leader of 28 September 2004, reports that when a permanent librarian was needed, opinion was divided over the suitability of inviting women to apply for the position. "Besides the loss of the comforts of home life, the position was unreasonable and unsafe", said one Councillor. However it was decided to open the position up for both men and women and the first appointed librarian, on 14 October 1904, was Mrs Robert Simms. Women went on to become the majority of the town's librarians. After Mr Bishop, Mrs Adams became librarian in 1911, followed by Mrs Woodland, who served as librarian for twenty-eight years.

Sixteen rules kept library users in line. A fine of threepence per book per week was imposed for books being kept for longer than twenty-one days. Subscriptions were 7/6 a year for two books and 5/- per year for one book.

BASIL MORRISON: In the local body elections of October 2004, former Mayor of the Hauraki District Council, Basil Morrison, was elected to the Environment Waikato Council.

HAURAKI DISTRICT COUNCIL MAYOR: Following the local body elections of October 2004, John Tregidga of Paeroa was elected new Mayor of the Hauraki District Council. Waihi Councillor, Mary Carmine was elected by the Council as Deputy Mayor.

John Tregidga had, for the previous fifteen years, served as Deputy Mayor of the Hauraki District Council.

ALAN BOTT REMEMBERED: The work of the late Alan Bott, Optometrist of Paeroa, who died on 28 June 1999, has been recognised by the New Zealand Optometric Vision Research Foundation. A memorial lecture was given in his honour as part of the New Zealand Association of Optometrists annual conference, held in Wellington over the weekend of 15 - 17 October 2004. The inaugural lecture was given by American professor, Ted Grosvenor, the first head of optometry at the University of Auckland at the time that Mr Bott was a part-time clinical associate, a position he held from 1965 until 1992.

Foundation secretary, Roger Apperley said that Mr Bott was the first Chairman of the Foundation, formed in 1985, "Trustees wish to acknowledge Alan's contribution and are pleased this recognition is to be a biennial memorial lecture."

NEW WAIHI STATUE: The Waihi Leader reported on 29 December 2004, that Waihi was to gain a new bronze cast statue of a woman bathing a child, symbolising the pioneering women of Waihi. Funding for the statue has come from the Hauraki District Council and from the James Say Trust. Local artist, Irene Wilcox was commissioned to complete the project.

WOMEN'S INSTITUTE: At the national conference held in Wellington in July 2004, it was decided by majority vote to delete the word Country from its title. Prior to 1952 the organisation was known as Dominion Women's Institute, but when New Zealand gained independence from England in 1947, the name was changed to Country Women's Institute.

KEREPEHI WOMEN'S INSTITUTE: The fiftieth birthday of the Kerepehi Women's Institute was celebrated on Tuesday 14 September 2004 when past and present members came together to mark five decades of memories. More than twenty members travelled from outside the district to attend the celebration. Mrs Shirley Goble, the longest serving member, cut the Birthday cake and received a 50-year button to recognise her achievement.

WAIHI PIPES AND DRUMS: The Waihi Pipes and Drums, which formed in 1989, went into recess in 2002 with the hope of gathering more interest but with four Waihi, two Katikati and sole Athenree members, the insufficient numbers have meant that it was not worth continuing. The band was created by the late John Burnett, who had been Manukau City Band drum major for two years, and through family connections he decided that Waihi needed a band. In the early years the Manukau band assisted in the formation of the Waihi band and helped to make up the numbers. Practices were held in the St. John Anglican Church Hall and in the Scout Hall.

Fundraising for instruments and uniforms was an ongoing chore. Their uniform started off with white shirt tops and Scottish sashes and then the band was lent Cameron kilts, ties and balmorals from a defunct Te Puke band. These had to be returned in 1997 and the band was then able to purchase heavy woollen Black Watch kilts from Taumarunui, originally made for a West Coast army band in the mid-1940s. The Waihi Band had locally made sporrans, glengarries, waistbelts, black tunics, buckles and badges. Support from Trusts and local support was always appreciated. With the decision to wind up the band, assets have been offered for sale.

As a non-competitive band, it attended numerous social gatherings, played at the Waihi Hospital, Hetherington House, the Waihi A & P Show and went on street parades.

KARANGAHAKE WALKWAY: The Department of Conservation have been working on a project to link two walkways in the Karangahake Gorge. The 6.1 metre tunnel extension will link the Crown Tramway Walkway with the Talisman Battery Windows Walkway. Tourists will then be able to go through a circuit of the area. The Karangahake Walkway is a hugely popular and internationally significant tourist attraction.

TALISMAN MINE, KARANGAHAKE: Heritage Gold reported in December 2004 that high grade gold could be seen in a drill core sample from the Talisman Mine at Karangahake.

During the 2004/2005 summer, Heritage Gold, commenced tours of the Talisman Mine. The tours proved immensely popular and as only four people at a time could be taken through the mine for safety reasons, there was soon a long waiting list of people keen to venture underground.

WAIHI COMMUNITY RADIO: The Waihi Leader of 19 October 2004 reported that "Waihi Steam Radio" went to air in June 1995 as a means of promoting the town. It was established as an access community station, broadcasting in the medium wave AM band. The studio was situated at the Goldfields Railway Station with the transmitter nearby in a separate location. Initially, announcers and operators brought their own music and equipment to play it on for two-hour programmes each Sunday. Waihi Community Radio (WCR) was subsequently formed as an incorporated society, following a series of public meetings and, with public support, the station started to purchase its own equipment and broadcasting hours were increased. A shift was made to the Academy Arcade and then back to the Railway Station. The 1999 Annual Meeting resolved to change from AM to FM and transmission began on 96.4 MHz under a temporary licence costing about $250 a month. There were hopes that this licence would be replaced with a community radio licence, as promised by the government, but this did not eventuate.

In November 2000 the station moved to new studios in the Dorsel Building and equipment was upgraded. WCR eventually was on air 24 hours a day, operated by an eight-strong volunteer team. The National Programme was re-broadcast from 9 00pm to 9 00am. The monthly licence fee, power, rent and telephone accounts have been paid from money received from grants, sponsorship and fund raising activities.

On October 8, 2004, the Government auctioned off the 96.4 FM frequency, along with other community radio licences around the country. As a result, the ten-year-old non-commercial station was expected to disappear when its temporary licence expired on 31 January 2005.

WAIHI RAILWAY CENTENNIAL: November 2005 will mark one hundred years since the then Prime Minister, Richard Seddon, cut the ribbon and officially opened the railway line through the Karangahake Gorge to Waihi. The Centennial will be celebrated over Easter 2006, 14 to 17 April. A steering committee has been formed to organise the celebrations.