Mobile Unit. History of Huntly, 1947

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Tono kōrero mai

George Shaw discusses the history of the Huntly area.

Part 1 –
George Shaw arrived in New Zealand (from Scotland) in August 1891, arriving in Huntly in 1892. He speaks of his father’s work, first at farming then as a miner at the Waikato Mine (operated by the Waikato Coal Company). He speaks about transport of coal from the area. Then his own work - first on the farm, then at a general store. He recalls the tangi of King Tawhiao at Taupiri (in 1894) which lasted for months, with thousands of Māori in attendance. He mentions the exhumation and ceremonial burial of Māori remains from the battlefield at Rangiriri.

Part 2 –
Further discussion of the tangi of King Tawhiao. A store and a bakery were set up to supply the people attending. There were a lot of animals brought in, and they went eeling also. He speaks about kapa haka performed in great numbers during the tangi. Further discussion on the ‘bone scraping ceremony’ of exhumed Māori remains from the battlefield at Rangiriri, which occurred while King Tawhiao was still alive. The remains were transported to Taupiri and cleaned prior to being re-interred. Shaw then tells of two other Māori kings he’s seen tangi for - King Mahuta, then Te Rata. He compares the tangi held for each.

Part 3 -
Mr Shaw speaks about his work in a general store, which traded over a very wide area with pakeha and Māori. He recalls the Ngaruawahia Regatta races, and the practices on the Waikato River. Many of the groups of Māori in town for the regatta would frequent the store for special clothing for the event and food supplies. He speaks about the waka used for the regatta, including how they were made, and transport of the newly made waka from the forest down to the river – rolled over cut saplings.
He then returns to talking about the tangi of King Tawhiao. The casket was placed in a special tent, where his relatives and his wives mourned. One day pakeha were permitted in to view the king also. Shaw comments on the rumour that the body was hidden away in the bush by some of the higher chiefs, and a burnt pine log and some stones were placed in the coffin instead.

Part 4 –
Ralph’s Mine explosion on 12 September 1914, a Saturday morning when only 60 shift workers were working rather than the usual higher numbers of a weekday shift. Mr Shaw recalls hearing the explosion at around 7.20am. He discusses the cause of the disaster (a combination of exposed flame and coal dust), the aftermath and rescue response. He describes a mass funeral for 43 of the victims at the Huntly Hall.

Part 5 –
Mr Shaw talks about early European settlers in the Huntly area, starting with Mr and Mrs Henry from Scotland in the late 1860s, after the Land Wars were concluded in the Waikato. They were followed by the Chalmers, who named Huntly after their hometown in Scotland. Then a Mr Collins came out from England in 1870 to open coal mines for the Waikato Steam Navigation Company, who owned three paddle steamers (the Waikato, the Mirimiri, and the Bluenose). Māori women were employed to manufacture flax kits to hold the coal. Mr Shaw speaks about transport of coal, and the initial discovery of it in the area. Then discussion on the brickworks run by Mr Collins, who leased it for some time to the Onehunga Iron Company. Later Mr Collins sold the brickworks to the Huntly Brick Company.

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Year 1947

Reference number 5067

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Genre Oral histories
Interviews (Sound recordings)
Sound recordings

Credits Shaw, George, Interviewee
New Zealand Broadcasting Service. Mobile Recording Unit, Broadcaster

Duration 00:44:33

Date 1947