You are currently viewing Golden vision for Waitekauri
Waitekauri. Photo: SUPPLIED

Golden vision for Waitekauri

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.


The Thames Valley would look quite different in a hundred years declared a visitor to his companion as they led their horses toilsomely up the steep Waitekauri track.
As he looked down from the heights, across the Thames Valley, over the ranges of Waitekauri, Maratoto, Hikutaia, Puriri and across to Karangahake and Te Aroha, over the vast Piako Swamp, and down the streaks of molten silver river that drained the great valley into the Hauraki Gulf, he thought of the tons of gold that lay hidden in the hoary old hills.

Envisioning the future he could see on the vast plain in place of flax and scrub, kahikatea and cabbage tree, the curling smoke of a thousand homesteads. There would be cultivated farms, busy mills and decent churches topping neighbouring hills.
Long lines of road, with loaded wagons, a snaky train gliding between stations and long tails of smoke from river steamers, all plying between a dozen little human hives instead of the dreary waste of swamp and bush there now.
At Shortland, Mr Tetley, butcher, had an unpleasant encounter with a cow. He went early in the morning to a paddock in Willoughby St to look at some cattle. During the night a cow had calved, and the calf had fallen into a hole over which the cow was standing. On Mr Tetley’s approach, the cow made a furious rush at him, one of the horns ripping his trousers. He fortunately had a stick with him and kept the infuriated animal at bay until he made his escape from the paddock.
The teacher’s residence at Paeroa narrowly escaped burning down after a candle caught some clothing hanging on a door. In a few minutes the room was on fire but owing to the presence of mind of Miss Baskett and Mr Sullivan the flames were speedily extinguished.
The Waihī Gold Mining Company intended to build boarding house accommodation for its workmen to provide good cheap living and put an end to the discomfort of men living in tents. The company planned to house industrious and sober men, who would be as fit for work at the beginning of a week as at the end. Employers paying attention to the sobriety of their men and only engaging those who were not prey for publicans would raise the morale of the working man.
The Tapu Jolly Boys, a football team, charted the SS Lily to take them to Coromandel to play a match. The weather was delightful, and after a pleasant trip of four and a half hours, the steamer arrived and the visitors scattered themselves over the district to refresh the inner man. At 3.30pm the match commenced in Lynch’s paddock, the game keeping up with spirit for nearly two hours and resulting in a win for Tapu. The team was entertained at a sumptuous spread at King’s Temperance Hotel where toasts were drunk in bumpers. They were then invited to a dance at the schoolroom, where the youth and beauty of Coromandel were assembled. Dancing was kept up until midnight when the visitors retired, unanimously voting the Coromandelites jolly good fellows.