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Peat fires - an anxious time for Hauraki Plains settlers. Photo: SUPPLIED

Neighbours save home from fire

As part of a Valley Profile series, MEGHAN HAWKES searches through old newspapers to bring you the stories Thames Valley locals once read about themselves.

A large peat fire in the Patetonga district covered the Hauraki Plains and Thames Valley in a gigantic smoke screen.
Sparks from a bush fire had ignited grass and peat and hundreds of acres burned.
Bands of settlers dammed drains in order to flood the land and trenches were dug to stop the spread of flames.
At Tapu, bush fires driven by light winds swept down on the homestead of Mr J Roscoe.
Mr Roscoe was absent but three neighbours attempted to save his house. Small patches of fern were fired to form breaks but this failed to stop the fierce onrush of the flames.
The trio carried furniture to a swamp and then spent the night quenching outbreaks of fire on the weatherboarding with buckets of water. At dawn, the fires died away, enabling the tired fighters to retrieve the furniture from the swamp.
Settlers of the district gave the highest praise to the trio for their heroic work in saving the property of a neighbour.
A bush fire on the Komata Hills reached serious proportions and the property of Mr Schmitt, of Hauraki Flax Growers and Hemp Producers, was threatened. Two gangs of fire fighters were rushed to the scene, the flames diverted and the flax crop saved.
Smoke from fires on the Hauraki Plains covered the whole district and in many places was so thick that motorists had to slow to a crawl.
Thames businesses had begun trading for the whole of Saturdays, irking fellow businesses at Paeroa.
Paeroa, it was argued, was the logical shopping centre for the district, but through sticking tohalf day Saturdays, it had lost a golden opportunity.
Thames businessmen were offering special attractions in the way of sales and entertainments.
They provided buses to bring in people from the country and take them home late at night. An area where children could be left to play in perfect safety while their parents were left free to do their shopping was provided.
Te Aroha also had successfully instigated the long shopping day.
A penny-in-the-slot cabinet street telephone was needed in Waihī. Having no such telephone service caused daily inconvenience to residents who had no option but to use shopkeeper’s telephones.
This led to private conversations being overheard.
The corner of Seddon St and Rosemont Rd would be an ideal site for a telephone cabinet. It was a busy intersection and under an electric street light.
Application was made to the Post and Telegraph Department.
While bathing in a tidal creek near the Miranda Wharf, Mrs Foote, from Pipiroa, and a female companion were attacked by a shark.
Mrs Foote’s friend was bitten first, receiving a nasty bite on the thigh. She screamed for help and Mrs. Foote went to her assistance. As she got closer she was bitten on the right forearm. Both women lost no time in getting to the shore.
Later, the fin of a shark was observed cutting through the water before disappearing.