Friday, December 30, 2011

Musings on photos past 4 - Puhoi & Tahekeroa

In my last post in this series, Musings on photos past 3 - James Pilkington Belshaw, I mentioned that my father played provincial Rugby in New Zealand.

The little village of Puhoi lies 50km north of Auckland. The area was settled in 1863 by Bohemian settlers and retains its Bohemian character today.

The early settlers had to clear the thick Kauri bush, with timber being cut and floated down the Puhoi River.

The farming district of Tahekeroa lies not far to the west of Puhoi along a winding dirt road. It is a pretty area.

Tahekeroa lies on the North Auckland Railway line and used to have its own siding and school. Dad was posted there as a teacher in the 1930s. 

The school itself was locatIMGed in a railway carriage, while the school teacher lived in a fettler's hut.

The photo shows the hut with Dad sitting outside to the left. The conditions could hardly be called luxurious!

Dad was completing external masters at the time time.

He got one first class MA, first in New Zealand, but it was not sufficient to give him the scholarship he needed to study in England. There was just one full scholarship for all of New Zealand providing travel, all fees and a reasonably generous living allowance at any English University.

He therefore did a second MA, again gaining first class honours and first in New Zealand. From memory, the first MA was in history, the second in economics. This got him his scholarship. Because brother Horace had studied at Cambridge, my father chose to do a PhD in economics at Manchester instead.

The advantage of living on a railway line lay in the way that books could be sent up from the university, essays and thesis material sent back.

In the 1970s I visited Tahekeroa with Aunt May (Dad's sister) and Uncle Vic Fisher. Dad and Vic had met through the Worker's Educational Association. There Dad introduced Vic to his older sister.

May could remember visiting her brother at Takekeroa, although no obvious sign remained of the fettler's cottage when we were there. However, we called in to see the Straka family, one of Puhoi's Bohemian families, to see if anyone remembered Dad. As it happened, Mr Straka did indeed, remembering his football and also the fact that they tried to marry him off to a local girl. He was seen as far too serious for his own good.

In September while Helen (eldest) and I were in New Zealand for the weekend to see Australia play Ireland in the Rugby World Cup, we found our way first to Puhoi and then to Tahekeroa.

With the passage of time since my previous visit, I found it difficult to locate things. However, I was at least able to show Helen the area where her grandfather had taught!

Maybe on another trip we will have more time.              


Anonymous said...

Lovely post Jim. Thank you for sharing some of your history.


Jim Belshaw said...

A pleasure, kvd. More to follow while I am in this nostalgia mood.