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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 6 (September 1, 1936)

Variety In Briefe

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Variety In Briefe

Mr. Arthur Kilminster, of Lower Hutt, a pioneer settler in the Hutt Valley, relates that in his boyhood days Wairarapa residents conveyed their produce per bullock dray over the ranges to the metropolis, and en route parked at a stable at Taita, which is still a very familiar landmark to residents of the valley. Produce conveyed to the “city” included wool, skins, timber, butter, etc. The Kilminster homestead was close by. Sometimes 30 or 40 bullocks were stabled nightly, so the quarter was quite a social centre. The return trip occupied four days.

Mr. Kilminster also remembers the intermittent excitement provided by Maori raids. Fortunately there were friendly as well as hostile Maoris, and the former had a pa on the corner of what is now Park Avenue. These friendly Maoris gave warning when a raid was contemplated by the others and had it not been for their loyalty the Pakeha residents would surely have been annihilated. Most of the poor Pakeha residents at such times sought the friendly shelter of the Blockade, at Lower Hutt, situated where Riddiford Park now is. My mother, who is an old resident of the Hutt, visited the settlement in the very early days and stayed at a house opposite the Blockade and remembers the rows of rifle holes with which its walls were dotted.

In recalling the days of his youth, Mr. Kilminster stated that his father purchased land at Haywards, where Manor Park now is. The land belonged to Mr. Fry, an Englishman who built his home in Fry's Lane, where the old house still stands. For five years Mr. Kilminster was apprenticed to Mr. Reuben King as a builder. That very old identity was presented, at a very advanced age to His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, now King Edward Viii, when the latter visited Petone, and I well remember the occasion. Mr. Kilminster was a bush carpenter, and helped to build all the bridges in the valley. Mr. King and Mr. Kilminster assisted Mr. Meager to build the Taita Anglican Church, which is still used for worship.

Till recently, two of the oldest houses in the Hutt Valley stood side-by-side, opposite Park Avenue corner. Between 80 and 90 years ago Mr. Avery, the late Mrs. Kilminster's father, bought 70 acres at Taita, felled the bush and built a home for himself and Mrs. Tanday, Mrs. Avery's mother. The Tanday home still stands, and is Mr. Kilminster's home. Mr. Avery was an active participant all through the Maori wars, and was called on one occasion to Pahautanui as there was a skirmish there. During the tramp his boots wore out, so, taking his shirt off he tore it in strips and wound it round his feet. Even so, when he got home his feet were sore and bleeding.

Mr. Clements was an outstanding personality in those early days, and kept the main road in order, his little stretch being from the Petone Woollen Mills to Silverstream which he covered in a month. Archdeacon Fancourt was another very hard-working man, as his parish included the whole of the Hutt Valley. When he was unable to officiate on a Sunday, Mr. Clements took his place. And my mother tells me Dr. Wilford, father of Sir Thomas Wilford, was the sole medical man, and he was responsible not only for the welfare of the Hutt Valley, but Wainui-o-mata as well. And didn't he work! He was often to be seen on his hard-worked nag, and sometimes he was asleep, as probably he had been up all the night before.


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In the midst of various controversies regarding Maori pronunciation, I was interested to hear a railway guard call out the names of various stations in correct Maori—even to the “umu,” on the end of “Paraparaumu,” but was surprised to hear him contradict himself immediately and give the names the usual mispronunciation. On my enquiring the reason, he stated that he pronounced the names correctly in the first instance because obviously they should be so announced and in the hope of educating people up to the right thing. He then mispronounced them in case passengers intending to alight there should not recognise the names when pronounced correctly. I was inclined to agree with his actions and his reasoning, particularly should he find the occasion to give the correct rendering of such names as “Tauherenikau.” The same guard was able to tell me the meaning of most of the Maori place names and often the history associated with the name.—C. McB.