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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 2 (June, 1926)


For over a decade “Backblock” was one of the unfortunate members of the Railway staff, whose duty compelled him to be located in the Main Trunk District of the North Island. There was little in the way of regular commercialised forms of amusements, no Fullers or J.C.W. theatres, no ferry boats, no Lyall Bays or New Brightons. Whatever outdoor enjoyment the Railway employees, or other residents of these isolated parts obtained, was due to co-operation amongst themselves.

It was necessary, therefore, to combine together and form Railway Football Clubs, Railway Euchre parties, Railway dances, and Railway picnics in the summer time.

In the Main Trunk there was no harbour or rivers means of conveyance, and the country was too rough for vehicular traffic; the vehicles not numerous enough to transport the Railway men's families and friends to a suitable picnic resort. For several years both by deputation and by memorandum application was made to the successive General Managers, the late Mr. T. Ronayne, Mr. E. H. Hiley and lastly to Mr. R. W. McVilly, for the Department to supply a train for the purpose of conveying members attending a Railway picnic to a suitable resort. In every case the services of enginedriver, fireman, guards, and all other staff necessary, were offered free and the General Manager was informed accordingly.

For years the same stereotyped reply was given that it was regretted a train could not be granted on Sunday, and, that, if one section of the Railway, however isolated, were granted the privilege, other sections would expect the same. After refusal for several years in succession the project was given up in disgust; the staff nursed a grievance and later other means of conveyance were resorted to.

The point I am driving at is the debt of gratitude the members of all sections of the staff in various parts of the Dominion owe to the present Board of Control in the generous manner in which they have this year treated the staff in the matter of train facilities for Annual Picnics. The Board readily looked on both sides of the picture. They saw the staff point of view as well as the Management point. They realised the Railway runnings are differently situated to the general workers.

The Railwayman engaged in Traffic running is working when the public enjoy themselves in sport, and when the public is sleeping. Sunday is the only day of the week when practically all members of the Railway service in any one locality can meet together for sport and enjoyment. Sunday trains enable members within fifty miles to meet together.

To those in the fight for several years to get the Department to run Sunday Picnic trains, the action of the present Railway Board indicates a spirit of thoughtfulness for all members of the staff, and their intention in the future to do all in their power consistent with their duty to the public who own the Railways, to obtain the goodwill of the staff.

The greatest asset a big corporation or firm can obtain, the best workshop appliances, the best rolling stock, and the best track, cannot do as much to bring the best results as the goodwill of the staff to the management. The management that secures this has also loyalty to its interests which induces efficiency, industry and the consideration of all ways and means to improve the financial standing of the business—which, in the case referred to, is the New Zealand Railways.

The enhanced financial success of the business reacts to the benefit of the staff, and the staff under considerate management is enabled to share in the prosperity of the business.