Peninsula Past - 1924

14 Sep 2021

Informer contributor, Meghan Hawkes, has been delving into past newspapers to discover what and who were hitting the headlines in Mercury Bay and around the Coromandel Peninsula in earlier years. Here are some snippets of history from 1924.

The isolation of Hot Water Beach meant its attractions were going quite unnoticed.  It was an open ocean beach with no bay to shelter in and inaccessible in rough weather. The other means of approach was just a bridle track from Whenuakite - a place on a narrow tidal river, served by launches from Mercury Bay. The fishing from the beach was good and fine crayfish were often caught round the rocks. Sea eggs, prawns and mussels were also there in great quantities. If the qualities of the springs were tested and found to possess some new or especially strong mineral properties, the natural beauty of the beach would make it a wonderfully attractive spot. 

A considerable number of men were employed in the formation of the new road between Tapu and Coroglen. The road would shorten by a good many miles the distance between Thames and Mercury Bay and when opened would be largely used as a stock route. It would provide easy access from the Thames Valley to the scenic beauties of Mercury Bay. Work was commenced at the Coroglen end and the formation was to be completed during the summer. 

When the scow Onerahi was off Ohui about five miles south of Tairua enroute from Auckland to Whakatane with a cargo of 85 tons of coal, it suddenly burst into flames. The captain was in the engine room filling the benzine tank when a huge sheet off fire burst up. The mizzen sail and cabin were immediately in flames and the crew had no hope of subduing the fire. They barely had time to clamber into the ship’s dinghy and rescue the captain who had been severely injured. They made for shore about a mile and a half away. As it was dark, they had difficultly searching for a habitation which could provide assistance and shelter. Making their way toward Tairua, they reached the home of Mr McGregor where they were very kindly treated. Mr McGregor immediately rode for the schoolmaster and his wife who arrived quickly and rendered first aid to the captain. Mr McGregor also sent news of the disaster to Tairua. The Onerahi was thought to have sunk as an explosion was seen from the shore and then all sign of fire vanished.

A riding trip across the Coromandel ranges by two young Auckland ladies, Miss Adelaide Matheson and Miss Margaret Hunter, both formerly of Christchurch, was successfully accomplished. One horse was shipped from Auckland to Coromandel and the other procured on arrival. A very pleasant ride was taken to Amodeo Bay before leaving Coromandel where the two young adventurers rode across to Whitianga and then on to Tairua. The weather was perfect and they had wonderful extensive views. From Tairua they proceeded to Neavesville which was the wildest and most interesting part of the trip, and from there to Puriri and Paeroa, finally arriving at Te Aroha, having thoroughly enjoyed their holiday.

Pictured: On the way to Mercury Bay. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections AWNS-19260506-48-3.