Spectrum 348. Full trucks and forty-fives

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Tono kōrero mai

Each day the train chugs up the incline to the coal mine at Rewanui, north of Greymouth, carrying the men who work at the face. Jack Perkins looks at Rewanui, the old and the new.

Laurie Hudson joins Jack Perkins in Greymouth and describes the harbour being full of coal ships in 1917 when he worked there. They then take the train, which has a dangerous goods wagon for Rewanui, and coal wagons bound for Runanga. There is no road to Rewanui, everything has to travel by rail, including people.

At Rewanui, Laurie describes how it looked in 1917. There is no one living at Rewanui now, just the railway station and the mine survive.

At the station they talk to Jack White, a maintenance worker from the mine. He comments on how working men always got cleaned up before going to the Workingmen's Club at Runanga - unlike clubs in Christchurch.
Laurie says his strongest memory of living at Rewanui was the rain - all the time.

Tommy Menzies arrived in Rewanui as a child in 1927 from Scotland with his parents. He and Jack White recall life at Rewanui during the mine's hey-day. there was a dance and whist drive every Saturday night and musicians would come up from Runanga. Tommy says the only hardship for him was having to carry supplies up from the station, including coal.

He talks about the pride he took in the miner's life and the instinct about danger underground that some men develop. He says the behaviour of rats was studied by miners and they would never harm them as they could warn of dangers.

He talks about the worst accident he experienced underground. He says the nearest doctor was in Runanga and as there were often near-continuous trains, they could get the doctor up quite quickly from Dunollie.
A card game of '45s' is played by men on the train.

[NB. Recording ends abruptly]

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Year 1980

Reference number 23932

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Credits RNZ Collection
Perkins, Jack (b.1940), Producer

Duration 00:24:41

Date 14 Nov 1980

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