Bohemia was part of the Austrian – Hungarian Empire in Europe up until 1918, after 1945 it became included within Czechoslovakia.
WHO WHERE THE PEOPLE OF PUHOI ‘A Story of Puhoi’ 1863 – 1963
Travelling from the northern most point of the Danube at Regensburg in the direct of PRAGUE, one will have to cross the BOHEMIAN Mountains before reaching the undulating hilly lands of the BOHEMIA Basin.
Not far from the German-Czech frontier one strikes the river Rudbuza and on its banks about 25 miles from the nearest German town, lies the little township of STAAB (Stod), which had 3,500 inhabitants in 1946. Standing on the 1,500 ft high ‘Kreuzberg’ (church steeple) near STAAB one could see almost all the little towns and villages from where in 1863, a group of people set out to settle in far distance NEW ZEALAND.
The STAAB district region has always been predominantly Roman Catholic, particularly as the Premonstratensian Convent of Cgotieschau was the Keudal, overlord f the district. The Patron Saint of the STAAB Church is “Maria Magdalena”.
Originally the STAAB district was purely agricultural with farmers themselves owning the land. The size of the farms ranged from 35 to 75 acres, though some were larger. The owners of the smaller holdings had to supplement their earnings by labour in the forests, brick and tile works or coal mines. The soil was suitable for wheat or sugar-beet and in general farms were of the mixed type with some cattle, cash crops, orchards etc.
STAAB itself was a typical farmer’s district. The gradual establishment of commerce and administrative institutions gives an concept of its growing importance. STAAB received market privileges in 1315, law courts in 1365, the right to brew beer in1544, a Post Office in 1592, and a pharmacy was built in 1802. It became a town in 1850 and 1872 an Intermediate High School was established. By the time the TURNWALD family left in 1863 there were two Breweries and three Saw Mills.
Although the people led a peaceful and satisfactory life, opportunity for betterment and providing for the offspring were few. A head farmhand earned only about 10 pounds a year, a farm labourer only 3 pounds, a housekeeper earned 4 pounds and a maid only 32 shillings per year.
It is hardly unexpected that Immigration Agents should find ready ears when they told tales of new lands over the seas, of empty acres waiting to be broken, of fortunes to be made, above all the possibility of becoming the owner of freehold land.
In particular when Michael KRIPPNER of MANTUA, went among them with news that his brother, Captain Martin KRIPPNER, had a promise of 40 acres free to anyone who could make his way to far-off NEW ZEALAND, it appeared an opportunity to good to miss!
They considered the prospect and weighted it up against 40 acres on the closely cultivated BOHEMIAN plain and were confident that a man with such a holding would be a man of substance, a man who was his own master.
Eighty three young men and women hastened to enrol in the immigration group. They were not assisted immigrants being brought to NZ to labour for their betters in house or paddock. They were going out at their own expense to become landowners.
They must have left plenty behind – for family reasons or because they couldn’t afford the fare – who envied them their opportunity and wished that they too could travel to this country in the south where, it was said, there was no winter, no poverty and no hunger.
CAPTAIN KRIPPNER, THE FOUNDER OF PUHOI.
Captain Martin KRIPPNER was one of the colourful characters with which the colony in its early days seemed to abound. He was a man of brilliant ideas but perhaps rather impractical, unable to visualise the systematic difficulties of his schemes.
Born 1819 at MANTUA, in the country of BOHEMIA, he was the son of a blacksmith and a man of some education. At the age of nine he entered an ecclesiastical school with the idea of studying for the priesthood but left at the age of thirteen. With the basic education thus acquired he went on to College and University in PRAGUE and VIENNA, passing legal examinations with honours.
VIENNA must have appealed to him more than his native BOHEMIAN because he took a commission with the Imperial Austria Army, joining as an Ensign and quickly rising to the rank of Captain. He was said to be a friend of Archduke Maxmillian and a acquaintance of Emperor Franz Josef. He was decorated by Wilhelm 1V, King of Prussia, and then went on to become a Knight of the Red Eagle.
It was while he was Commander of the garrison at Frankfort-on-Main the he met and married Emily LONGDILL, an English woman, the grand-daughter of a famous engraver.
Emily was a highly accomplished woman, an artist and musician. She had studied at Frankfort University and was a fluent speaker in French, Spanish and German. It was very unusual for a woman of her day to achieve such an education and the PUHOI people who knew her in later years were unanimous that she was a woman of great strength and character, high abilities, with surpassing kindness and understanding.
Emily had a brother who in 1859 had settled in NEW ZEALAND with his family and who urged the KRIPPNERS to come and join them.
Martin KRIPPNER had no private income, only his Officer’s pay and he had two sons to establish in the world. His friends in VIENNA lived on a scale very different to that which his circumstances dictated and the call from the LONGDILL family in NEW ZEALAND must have been very tempting.
With the promise of free land, unlimited possibilities and a smaller social circle in which an Officer from Imperial Vienna could cut a dash, Martin KRIPPNER resigned his commission, took ship on the “Lord Burleigh” with his family and his household staff – the PANKRATZ and SCHEIDLER families – and sailed for NEW ZEALAND.
Once arrived in AUCKLAND it didn’t take him long to become known in military and government circles and to become a close friend of Sir George Grey. However his lack of private income still hindered his social aspirations. There was land available but it had to be worked and, with plenty of good places to choose from, Captain KRIPPNER took 40 acres at OREWA, 25 miles north of AUCKLAND, a baron strip scarcely capable of supporting ti-tree.
With his wife Emily, the PANKRATZ and SCHEIDLERS, he tried to bring the land into production. He struggled for two years and he failed. At the end of that time he had come to the conclusion that he was no farmer. The other two families had had enough also. They broke up their connection and went to live at MATAKANA, a little further north.
In spite of his experience Capt. KRIPPNER must have found much to his liking in this young colony. It had bought him opportunity, freedom and equality and he must have thought back to the hard-working, strong, preserving peasants of the BOHEMIA of his birth and realises that if any people could wrest a living from reluctant soil, they could.
Perhaps his talks with Sir George Gray on the subject of Immigration fired hid imagination, for he asked permission of the government to organise a settlement of BOHEMIAN people in the AUCKLAND Province. This Provincial Council agreed that all who came to NEW ZEALAND in the group could benefit under the forty-acre system of land grants.
It was enough for Capt. KRIPPNER. With characteristic enthusiasm he wrote to his brothers in BOHEMIA with lyric descriptions of the Colony. And his brothers spread the word.
It was another version of the symphonic song the people had been hearing from immigration agents from America and Australia. Native caution made them hesitate enough to write to the PANKRATZ and SCHEIDLER families to ask their opinion.
In spite of the fruitless two years work at OREWA, these families, too, must have found something to praise in the colony, for the would-be immigrants took their decision, sold their belongings, said good-bye to the old world and departed for the new.
THE START OF THE GREAT ADVENTURE
They departed from STAAB, a country railway station 65 miles to the south-east of PRAGUE (then the capital of BOHEMIA) at twelve a.m. on 26th February 1863.
It was a icy winter night and the land was covered with snow but all the friends, neighbours and relatives from the surrounding districts came to see them off, arriving at the railway station on foot, on horseback and in wagons.
The old people tried not to display their hurt that the young were so enthusiastic to leave them and the young tried to conceal their impatience that the elderly could not participate their enthusiasm and intense hopes.
them were confident that those who were leaving would become rich and prosperous in no time at all, that they would share their wealth with those left behind and always be ready to clasp out a hand to those who wished to follow. Some were very youthful like Benedict Remiger, who was only twelve and on fire to conquer new worlds.
His father was most unwillingly allowing him to go and made his final appeal at the doorway of the train.
He told his son that he would gladly forfeit the passage money he had paid if the boy had any doubts at this late hour. Benedict laughed, kissed his father and boarded the train.
In his imagination he was already the landlord of wide and fertile acres, travelling back home to set up his parents in comfort before returning to his sunny land of plenty.
At midnight the final goodbyes were said, the ultimate promises made, and the last handclasp broken. The train moved, cautiously at first, then rapidity sped into the darkness.
At the STAAB station the company broke up and the people made their route back across the snow to lonely homes from which one or more of their loved one’s had gone forever.
Even the group on the train must have been saddened and silent at the moment of separation, but they probably wiped away their tears, made a few jokes and reminded one another again of their fine progression.
Perhaps one of the men played the accordion while the others sang. It is certain that some took out packs of cards and started to deal while mother’s tried to settle their sleepy children down as the train carried them swiftly through the snow covered fields on the start of their journey.
Morning saw them in the city of PRAGUE. It was perhaps, the first time many of them has seen the capital but hey had a full and busy day of last minute preparations, attention to visas, shopping for the long voyage, possibly visits to relatives and more goodbyes, and finally, a visit by the leaders of the group to His Eminence, Cardinal Schwarzenburg, Archbishop of Prague.
Nothing underlines more the importance of this mass emigration and the high hopes or its success in the eyes of the people, than the fact they were received by the Prelate.
The Cardinal gave them his Blessing and spoke to them like a true father of God. He reminded them that they had, of their own free will, decided to become citizens of a foreign country and that they would soon be called upon to pledge their allegiance to that country. He impressed it upon them they must give that allegiance whole-heartily and without reservations. He reminded them that, although they were going to the other side of the earth, it was not foreign to there religion which was well established there and it was his earnest prayer that they would remain faithful to their Church to the last.
Sixty years later, Benedict Remiger, then an elderly man, recalled the Cardinal’s words and testified that the people had never forgotten them and had never betrayed the trust he had laid upon them.
Today, over a hundred years later, the people of PUHOI are prepared to say that the Cardinal’s injunction is still memorise and obeyed.From Prague, a weary railroad journey of three days took the party across Europe to Hamburg and then over to Altona, the port. Here they stayed for a week, feeling like seasoned travellers and citizens of the new world. It was a festive occasion in the city for the future King Edward VII was there with his bride Alexandra, and they were able to see the ceremonious departure of the couple for England and the illuminations and decorations which sealed the royal visit.
A sail of three days across to GRAVESEND gave them a foretaste of what the sea had in store for them, and several, at that stage, would have been glad to turn back to their landlocked country and never consider crossing the sea again.
When the ship wharfed at GRAVESEND four-wheeled wagons picked up the luggage and transported it to the other wharf at which the ship which was to take them to NEW ZEALAND waited.
It was the ‘WAR SPIRIT”of 1,234 tons, Captain J.R.Luckes. It was to be her first and last voyage to New Zealand.
As the BOHEMIANS went aboard the vessel that was to be their home for 106 days, they must have thought apprehensively of the other ships that had sailed from this and other ports and never heard of again and of the horror of sea-sickness of which they had just sampled.
Twelve year old Benedict Remiger had no apprehension at all. He was one of the first on board and, like every youth on every ship, racing around, down below, then up again, to see what it was like. He found that the ‘WAR SPIRIT’ had been divided into two compartments for her maiden voyage as an immigration ship. The starboard side was apportioned to the Bohemians and the portside to the English, Scots and Irish immigrants.
When everybody was registered, the most important traveller, the ship’s cow (the passenger’s milk) as led on board. On the 12th March the ship was towed out into the channel. To the sound of the sailors’ sea-shanties, the sails were unfurled, the tug cast off, the ‘WAR SPIRIT’ took the wind in her canvas, surged forward and the great adventure was indeed under-way.
OUTWARD BOUND TO NEW ZEALAND
The voyage was long, the food quotas on the ship meager and the life tedious, but the Bohemians took it all in their stride.
Every day took them nearer to their land of promise in the southern seas and they felt that their discomfort was a insignificant price to pay for the prosperity that lay ahead of them.
For the first few weeks, the sailing was calm. An occasional rough patch brought many of the passengers to their bunks and the lowest ebb of existence but they soon recovered and set themselves to make the best of life at sea.
The accordions and the fiddles were bought out and the Scotties in the other part of the ship must have been strickened with suprise and disbelief when the dudelsack came out and they discovered that the bagpipes were not their exclusive national instrument. There was dancing on the deck, children to entertain and keep out of mischief, yarns to tell about the old country and speculations to make about the new.
It was to much to anticipate this could last though-out the voyage. Benedict Remiger’s account tells graphically what happened next.
“It was a beautifully mild and peaceful evening. No wind ruffled the wide expanse of glassy sea. The lonely watcher on the deck of our little boat was silent and still. Then there came a rattling of spars, ropes and sails. A breeze. The watcher stirred himself, adjusted the sheets to suit the change and returned to the tiller. Soon it was darkening quickly and the wind was rising so briskly that he had to vacate his place and adjust the sails.
“The sleepers below, awakened by the sudden change came up onto the deck. A consultation with the fellow at the helm followed, then all looked at the sky. A cloud to the south attracted their attention. With the trustworthy instinct of the sailor they knew what was expected and prepared for it. Hastily they reefed the sails and examined the ropes all being in readiness they sat down to wait the arrival of the gale.
“Up to this time the passengers were calm. Few, if any thought they could, in a matter of minutes, be sent to a watery grave.
“The tackle creaked with the rising gale, the vessel reeled under its weight but righted itself again. The sea was angry, sullen and malicious. It’s waves were crested with snow-white foam but the little vessel still bravely help its course and sturdily defied the tempest.
“The group at the stern were appalled at the sudden change but even then there was little excitement amongst the passengers and no panic.
“Again a wave, a monstrous curler rushed at us. It raised its foam-crest head in fury at the fast rushing vessel. It struck and the boat reeled and creaked from the stern to stern. All stood still, but the gallant little vessel held its course.
“The storm passed but the impact had had left its victim. It had smashed to matchwood some unrestrained timber on the deck and crushed beneath it the body of Lorenz TURNWALD – a Bohemian pioneer. This cast a mantle of despondency, not only over the Bohemian but over the whole ship.
“The following day, his body, sewn in a canvas bag with a weight attached to its feet, was consigned to the ocean in the presence of his wife and five children.
“Death and burial at any time and in any place is a lonely sight, but God defend us from death and burial at sea.
A sailor might differ with this but there is an authentic landsman shudder in the words. However, life goes on and the balance rights itself. The TURNWALD children had lost their father, but seven babies were born on the voyage.
The last thrill before the the WAR SPIRIT made land in Auckland, NZ, was provided by the ship’s ocean-going cow. She was tethered on the deck just above the young men’s quarters. A powerful wind was blowing and the ship was reeling. As it mounted a wave, the tether broke and the cow was hurled, in a deluge of sea water,down into the young men’s quarters. In the ensuring pandemonium, they thought at first that a whale had come down on them, then they thought is was a mermaid, ultimately they found that it was just the cow.
She was hauled up on to the deck by ropes, quite uninjured and, after her adventurous voyage, was sold for a worthy price in Auckland complete with her new name “Mermaid”.
THE ARRIVAL IN NEW ZEALAND
The new settlers had arrive at their destination. Full of gratitude at a safe landing, they looked eagerly to having their land allocated to them and being able to start their farms. Their radiant hopes were soon to be crushed. Grandiose dreams and schemes were to dwindle away before hard reality.
They were taken by cutter from Auckland to the entrance of the PUHOI River. Captain KRIPPNER may have joined the party by this time for they had to have an interpreter and all accounts cite him as the interpreter. He probably explained to them that the Maori’s were amicable but it does not take much imagination to picture the apprehension of Europeans who had never seen a Maori before but had heard terrifying tales of human meat and long pig cooking in earth ovens.
Although it was evening and they were all exhausted and the children tearful and irritable, it must have been a relief to them to know that they were to go on at once to their new home. They climbed into the canoes among the Maori paddlers and started off up the river with sinking hearts.
In the nightfall they could scarcely see where they were being taken. They seemed to be, and were being paddled into the heart of a dense forest with trees hanging low and manacling over the river on either side and sometimes meeting in the centre.
The laughter and the talks would be hushed then – as it is even now in the heavy, brooding atmosphere on the bush.
Silent in the canoes were mothers with babies in their arms and frightened children leaning against them, fathers suddenly and shockingly conscious of their responsibilities and of the slenderness of their resources. Maori canoe men at a loss to understand why anyone should need to come into the middle of the bush like this and they were desirous to get back to their friendly pa at the mouth of the river.All the time, the steady beat of the paddles and the splash of water round every bend in the river, another bend waited: and on every side, the trees, the trees which where to be their curse and their hold on life, the enemy which they were to defend and by which they were to be saved.
Ultimately, the end of their lengthy months of journeying, the landing….. a clearing in the bush on the river bank, two nikau whares (Maori houses) each 10 feet by 30 feet….. and naught else.The Bohemians had come into their own, their awesome opportunity in the promised land, the dream they had across the earth….. and it was more dreadful than anything they could have imagined.
It was a gloomy night and in the heart of winter. Shivering, underfed and exhausted, the women lay on the ground in one of the whares and instead of sleeping they wept. The men sat outside the other whare around a camp fire and communicating in low voices.
The PUHOI settlement had been born…. in tears, misery and anxious discussion.
FACING THE CRUEL REALITY
The PUHOI today seems a friendly river. To watch the tide flowing slowly into it is to understand the Maori meaning of the name….. slow water.
At the top of the tide it looks like a baby “Waikato River” (NZ) but at low water is reduced to a thin trickle between mud flats and mangrove swamps.
Hills once heavily bushed to the water’s edge are now cleared, grassed and deeply ridged by the racks of sheep and cattle, and fat dairy cows now graze on the river bank. Dotted across the steep hills are scattered patches of bush and stands of imported trees and they can all tell a tale of tree conscious people who spared what they could and, when they couldn’t spare replanted them.
A love of trees is natural in a people whose forefathers lived by the trees and the advice of the old ones was “spare the bush to attract the rain”. That attitude, however, was for the future.
When the new settlers came out of the whares in the wintry dawn to take their first daylight look at their new home, the trees were the enemy, firmly in possession of the land that was to be theirs. Apart from the clearing of the river bank on which they stood, every where else was forest.
There were more tears and lamentations. One present-day resident says of her grandmother. “If she could have walked the sea, she would have walked back home”.
But they could not walk the sea or the forest. They had o funds to cut their losses and go in search of a better prospect. They had few possessions, few tools, no firearms, no knowledge of any language but their own. To settle in this frightening place seemed impossible but, where there is no alternative, even the seemingly impossible must be attempted. It was fortunate that they could not realise that the prospect was even worse than it looked. It was not until the bush was cleared that it was seen that there was not a level acre of ground in the whole block. With no possible escape route open to them, the settlers had to make up their minds and try to move forward. More Nikau (NZ palm) whares were erected in the clearing on the site now occupied by the Church and the Public Hall and the forty-acre grants were allocated “to the satisfaction of all concerned”.
Whether the allocation was made by choice, ballot or by government decision seems to be in doubt. And why a settler who received his grant in the deepest part of the bush should be as fully satisfied as the one who received his on the bank of the river that was their life-line is hard to understand.
A party surveying the area in 1862 in search of a suitable site for another settlement inspected the PUHOI block and decided that it was quite unworkable. The description left by one of the surveyors of the bush at the time helps to bring home the immensity of the task the Bohemians had before them.
“The more the timber trees, the more the undergrowth. The timber trees run up to a height of 40 to 80 feet almost with no branches. They do not spread to much of a head but keep their branches close and compact together.
The whole space is filled with the tree ferns 6 to 20 feet high, nikau palms about the same size and an immense variety of trees and shrubs. The whole of this is again festooned and intertwined with creepers of all sizes which grow horizontally across the other shrubs lashing the whole together into an impervious thicket.
If, in addition to this, you imagine the whole forest strewn with innumerable trees which have fallen from the effect of many winter storms, you will begin to have some idea of the difficulty”.
Hard necessity helped the Bohemian settlers to find out that it was just about impossible to live off the bush. The nikau palm which provided them with shelter also provided them with their staple food. It ought, in fact, to be the emblem of PUHOI. The central part of the palm was found to be like cabbage when cooked and, when very young, like the heart of lettuce.
Punga fern (another NZ native) was also eatable and so were numerous berries such as taraire, which looked like prunes but tasted like turpentine. There were fish in the river, birds in the trees and wild pig in the bush, but at the beginning these were not easily available as the settlement hod no firearms, no shoot and no fishing tackle.
However the river teamed with eels and crabs which were easier to catch and wild bees provided a supply of honey. There were many fresh water springs in the bush when they could be located and when the land was cultivated it was found that bidibid made a type of tea and burnt corn something resembling coffee.
These formed the bulk of the diet for the settler’s for their first year. Auckland was a hard day’s walk away and they had very little money to spend on groceries.
It is unlikely that any of the organised immigrant groups coming to New Zealand had such a struggle for survival.
To ask the older residents of the present-day PUHOI how they achieved it is to be given, over and over again the same two reasons….. “They had the Faith and they helped one another”.
“They had the Faith”…… it is offered as the simple explanation for everything… the reason why there was no possibility of despair; the way in which suffering and even death were only part of the pattern, the darkness which combined with the light to make the whole of man’s full life.
“They helped one another”….. it was of course a part of their Faith. They were brothers in the sight of God and one man’s suffering was another man’s pain. Community effort was the only way to move forward. The BOHEMIAN settlement had to stand or fall as a unit.
If the stronger and more efficient had forged ahead for themselves at that point and secured their own position first, the weaker would not have survived.
Instead, joint endeavour made tracks through the bush from one holding to another, built a whare of nikau on each and established the families on their own hame on their own land. It might have been easier to stay in a heartbroken group on the river bank, but hunger is the hardest task master.
To live at all it was necessary to work and the PUHOI settlers dispersed to their individual holdings and worked as they had never worked before.
CUTTING A LIVING FROM THE BUSH
The battle with the forest for possession of the land had started. Trees which had grown undisturbed for hundreds of years began to be felled with only the axe. The BOHEMIAN settlers laboured from dawn to dusk, clearing, felling and cutting the timber up into shingles for roofing, fence posts, railway sleepers and wharf piles. These would be sent to Auckland, (NZ) to be sold. Presumable Captain Krippner had opened negotiations with the Auckland markets for during the next few years hundreds of thousands of roof shingles were split in PUHOI and sent to Auckland.
While the men swung the axes, the task of the women was to tie the shingle timber in bundles with supplejack and carry the bundles on their backs down the gullies, over the ridges and across the creeks to the river down which they could float the bundles of roof shingles.The river had rough and irregular banks, and with the ti-tree and reeds growing across it, created the job of floating the timber shingles intensely difficult. The women had to wade in the water, sometimes breast-deep in their attempt to float their pitiful bundles down to the round landing stage, which had been built at the clearing at which they had originally arrived.
Paul Straka had built a punt. It was propelled by Kauri (native NZ timber) poles and they were put to use to transport the shingles, palings and firewood to the river mouth where they were stacked to await the arrival of the coastal boat. The punt was described as a “grumpsie sort of thing”, but it could transport ten tones and was the lifeline of the settlers.
Shipping schedules were non-existent and it was essential for one of the settlers to walk to the river mouth every morning to see if the ship had arrived. Often it had been, picked up the cargo and departed again. Then it was necessary to hurry over the hills and through the bush to Auckland which was thirty miles away, to try catch up with the precious cargo before it was dumped on the wharf – to be either looted or sold to strangers.
The cost of the freight was half the price realised and many families, for a month of arduous work, only received a few shillings.
It was fortunate indeed for the settlers that, at a time when Maori and Pakeha were always at war in other parts of the North Island of NZ, the Maoris in the proximity of PUHOI were always friendly. They were also well disciplined and prosperous.
The surveyors for the proposed near-by Albertland settlement described their pa at the PUHOI river mouth in these terms.
“The richness of the soil exhibited itself in the profusion of peaches which literally covered all the trees. Interspersed with these were fig trees in full fruit, patches of maize and pumpkin, water melons, potatoes, kumara and other vegetables all grew in vast profusion”.
The chief of the tribe was a one Te Hemera Tauhia. He was a man of honour, intelligence and of great capacity for friendship. He learnt English very quickly and adopted English ways to the extent of wearing a dark suit and bowler hat on all important occasions. He was six feet tall, of fine features and was a noted public speaker. He kept a firm hand on his people and never tired of lecturing them on the evils of drink.
Te Hemera knew of the wretched situation of the PUHOI pioneers and that they were on the verge of starvation. Time after time he loaded their punts with peaches, vegetables and kumara. Without his gifts and the knowledge that while he was their friend they need not fear repercussions of the Maori War, or subsequently, by hau-hau, the predicament of the struggling settlement would have been even worse.
One resident of PUHOI remembered to old chief and said of him: “When he said a thing, he meant it….. and he did it”. It was a quality the BOHEMIANS understood for they shared it with him!
In spite of this mutual respect, there was little contact between the Maoris at the pa and the BOHEMIAN settlers up the river, and no inter-marrying took place. It is possible that a wise man like Te Hemera preferred this type of Pakeha to the others who hailed the Maori enthusiastically as a romantic savage, them blamed him for not measuring up to their idea of civilisation.
Although living amongst kauris, there seems to have been little effort to sell the kauri gum. The men used to climb the tall trees on spikes to look for it in the forks of branches, but mainly it was used as a good cheap lighting system when they had no money for candles.
One or two tried their hands at digging the gum fields of Northland of NZ and a few followed the gold rush to Thames, but most of the BOHEMIANS were oblivious to the lure of the will-o-the-wisp temptations. Basic things like crops, stock and timber were to be their wealth and they knew it! They had little confidence in the chance of striking it rich overnight.
The hardest felt abandonment came, not from the men seeking fortune but from the settlement’s contribution of manpower to the Maori War.
Captain Krippner, having settled the BOHEMIANS in and seen them start work, had himself no inclination to swing an axe with them. Instead, he embanked on another campaign. He was off to fight the Maori War. The government offered him a commission and asked him to form a company of militia out of his newly arrived countrymen. He recruited all the single men and five or the married men and led his company off to the Waikato Wars.
Only one, Joseph Paul ever returned to live in PUHOI.
At the end of the war, theses families, the Karl’s, Bukowskys, Krippner’s, Heerdegens, Kohiesses, Papeschs and Kusabs were each given a grant of fifty acres of land in the Ohaupo, Waikato district. This land was confiscated from the Maoris and it was on condition that they gave a few days of every week to military duty at the redoubt that they received their grant.
They found the land was poor and unproductive. They lived in constant fear of attack from the Maoris who were the true owners of the land. They also probably thought when they left PUHOI that nowhere could be worse, but they found in Ohaupo their new home, that there was no timber and not even a nikau palm to lop off and consume.
Their lost was a severe setback to the PUHOI settlement. To be deprived of so many of the youngest and strongest men was a great discouragement, but once again when there is no alternative, they had to carry on as best they could.
The struggle went on but finally it was beginning to show results. Potatoes and wheat were grown in the cleared patches. It took as much as a week’s exhausting work to dig out the stump of one of the forest trees, but gradually small patches were regained and prepared for sowing. There was still very little money but the settlement was starting to provide its own food and the BOHEMIANS thought that perhaps the worse had passed.
THE SECOND GROUP OF PIONEERS
Probably the BOHEMIANS were too hardworking and too exhausted to speculate much on the difference in the life they were leading and the optimistic dream with which they had left their birthplace. They had accepted the inevitable and buckled down to do it. With their native resilience, they must have realised that they had achieved their main objective.They were no longer working another man’s land. Each of them was a landowner and his own master – even though his family was at the point of starvation.None of them seemed to have been broken either in health or in spirit and many of them lived to a great age. To quote the grandaughter of one. “A lot wouldn’t have lived to the age they did if they hadn’t come to New Zealand”.
In their letters home to BOHEMIAN they sang the praises of their new country, its beauty and opportunities it had to offer everyone who wasn’t fearful of work. They infrequently wrote about the first dreadful months after their arrival.
Back in the villages of their homeland, when the people met on Sunday for Mass, the letters were passed around, read and re-read. It was then that the seed of the second migration was sown.
Laurence SCHISCHKA undertook to head another group of immigrants to PUHOI and it’s numbers were made up as eagerly as those of the first batch two years previously. There were 28 of them, mainly from the SCHISCHKA, WECH and WENZLICK families.
It was not a midnight departure this time. The train left LITTITZ at 9 o’clock in the morning on October 16th 1865 for PILSEN. After a intermittent journey by train across Europe, they sailed from LONDON on the 8th November in the “LIVERPOOL”, a ship of 1,454 tons with 192 passengers. Like the first group, they had several weeks of peaceful sailing, then a storm.
Vincent SCHISCHKA wrote in his diary, memoirs of the journey.
“A lot of water reached even the steerage deck and the ship rolled so that the water stood higher than the ship. We believed that the ship would flounder and we had fear for our lives but all went well”.
It is obvious that Sunday did not pass unmarked among the devout BOHEMIAN people, for the diary is mainly worked out, not from the calender dates, but by the Sundays of the liturgical year.
“On the Third Sunday of Lent we passed the Equator.”
” On the Tuesday after the Second Sunday in Advent the first individual died on the ship.”
The first casualty was a shoemaker and, a few days later the passengers thought they had an additional tragedy to record in their dairies when one of the ship’s officers fell from the mast into the sea. However, he was picked up and was unhurt.
Other entries in Vincent SCHISCHKA diary of memoirs:
“On the 15th January we caught and albatross whose body is bigger than that of a goose. The beak is broad and its feet webbed. Its fine feathers are white. Only the wings are white.”
“On the 20th January in the darkness of night we had the biggest storm we have had. So much so that a newly made boom broke off and nearly all the sails were reefed so that they would not tear.”
“Night of the 26th – a twelve year old girl died and the following day we caught another albatross.”
“On the 26th February, we saw the NZ Coast for the first time. The coast we could see was mountainous.”
“On the 5th March 1866, about noon we arrived near AUCKLAND and anchored not far from the town. The sight of the town appears white and its small houses are surrounded by gardens and fields.”
After travelling through he cities of EUROPE, The BOHEMIANS thought AUCKLAND town a poor collection of Shanties – they had not seen PUHOI yet!
When the “LIVERPOOL” rounded North Head (entry to the Auckland Harbour) she was flying the yellow fever flag which was a source of great distress and disappointment to the relatives. There had been seventeen cases of typhoid on board, but only two had proven fatal.
The latest arrivals were meet by an immigration officer and taken to the inevitable nikau whares which had been erected as Immigration Offices among the ti-tree on what is now ALBERT PARK – in the centre of AUCKLAND.
The Provincial Government was very anxious to settle as many people as possible in the WAIKATO area (about 100 miles south of AUCKLAND) – perhaps to consolidate against possible Maori reprisals for land confiscation.
Lawrence SCHISCHKA, at the request of the government when to the WAIKATO and met again the BOHEMIANS who had settled there after the War. He bought a 50 acres section – where the OHAUPO railway station is now stands – for 1 pound sterling and then returned to tell his companions in AUCKLAND what he had done.
Nothing, however would persuade them to change their plans. They were determine to proceed to PUHOI and would go nowhere else. Rather than split up the group at the start of their new life, Lawrence SCHISCHKA gave in to the wishes of the majority, abandoning his expectation of the new land he had bought, and agreed to go with them to PUHOI.
His contract at OHAUPO has been easier to make than break!
Although he had forfeited his deposit, the owner of the land, a Mr Rochchiss had demanded payment of the full amount, and when it was not forthcoming imprisoned Mr SCHISCHKA for the debt.
A letter composed presumably to his sons from his debtor’s prison, emphasise the steady quality of his own character and, perhaps points out the strength and tenacity of all BOHEMIAN settlers. His attitude is the mirror of that of the first PUHOI settlers all over again. He is resigned and prepared to make the best of a bad situation: not invective against his misfortunes, but quietly calculating the prospects; looking forward to the time when the present difficulties would be over and schemed accordingly.
“We don’t do badly. I have a warm bed and food as much as I need. I have it better than at home or as you. But however, no pleasure. Look after yourselves and pray until our hour strikes again when I can look after you. Be sensible in all things and go home every day. At least by this you help the house and mother better.”
Finally, the imprisoner got tired of supporting him in prison and he was released. He returned to AUCKLAND, his wife, children and the rest of the party. They then resumed their interrupted journey to their promised land – PUHOI.
It was not Maori canoes waiting for this group at the mouth of the river – it was Paul STRAKS’s punt. Their final journey was an improvement on that of the first arrivals for they were taken up the river in daylight. Their arrival at the landing place however, was almost as daunting as that of the first group.
As the punt was poled in toward the wharf, their first greeting was a shout from a Waterloo veteran of the Prussian Army Corps, a Mr Pittner. “What tempted you to come out here into this wilderness? You have come from the frying pan into the fire!”
Lawrence SCHISCHKA’s reply was brief and to the point….. “Your letters.”
The disappointment covered by that short reply can easily be imagined.
Perhaps the arrival of the new batch of hopefuls – so soon to be disappointed – reminded the original pioneers of their own high hopes which had been submerged in continual toil, for they gave them a sombre reception.
Vincent WENZLICK, one of the new arrivals has left a record of the cheerless atmosphere of the reunion.
“A reception in tears, not of joy but of despair. They were pleased to meet us but, under the circumstances knowing the difficulties and burdens they were still struggling under, and aware that we were about to participate in a similar destiny, they reckoned that our safe arrival at PUHOI only meant a prolonged agony – worse than death itself. As we gazed upon the members of the first batch assembled to meet us, we could have easily notice the three years’ suffering they had lived through. It was written in their faces. What could we do? There was only one course open to us. To face the future as our predecessors had done – and face it bravely!”
It could not be tears all the time. Some joy must have risen to the surface in the talk of the old country and the people left behind. Perhaps the original pioneers, having explained about their difficulties took some pleasure in pointing out that the worse was now past and showing with pride how such difficulties had been overcome.
Joint effort bridged the gap between them. The new arrivals were a compensation to the settlement for those who had left PUHOI for the bleak undulating land of the WAIKATO. Instead of a number of individual groups to struggle for themselves, it was added strength for the community: More hands and brains to work for the common cause, an even better chance of survival for the community.
Ten years following the first arrivals, the third and final organised group of BOHEMIANS disembark. In spite of their great hardships, PUHOI must have made it’s claim upon the affections of all of them, for in 1873 it as John SCHOLLUM – of the original group – and Lawrence SCHISCHKA – of the second group – who were leaders in orchestrated with the government that the third group should receive land under the Homestead Act. Te Hemera’s people had transferred their pa from the river mouth and had sold the property to the government. It was on this land that the new settlers were established.
This group was comprised of Mr & Mrs Anton SCHISCHKA, John STILLER, Heilder, Joseph & Wenzl SCHOLLUM and a cousin Miss D SCHOLLUM.
The situation facing them was considerably rosier than that which had confronted the other groups but they threw themselves at once into the community effort – not now for mere existence but for prosperity and for PUHOI.
THE WOMAN OF PUHOI
As were the case with all pioneer groups, the women of PUHOI had a incomparable share of the burden to carry.For men, it was constant and harsh labour but, for women, the toil of a man and many other things in addition….. the responsibility of running the household, constant bearing and rearing of the children, the chore of being doctor, nurse and teacher to her children.
Mrs LORENZ TURNWALD B. 11.12.1791 in Poppowa, Bohemia who lost her husband on the voyage out in the “WAR SPIRIT” took her grant of land, settled on it with her five fatherless children and toiled like a male.
The five children of ANNA TURNWALD and the late LORENZ were:
Bartolomaus B 25.1.1851 at Poppowa, Bohemia –
D. 2.12.1899 at Puhoi, Auckland NZ
Lorenz(2), B 3.7.1853 at Poppowa, Bohemia –
D. 2.3.1940 at Puhoi, Auckland, NZ
Joseph John, B.12.11.1855 at Poppowa, Bohemia –
KatharinaB. 25.11.1858 at Poppowa, Bohemia –
Elizabeth, B. 6.5.1861 at Poppowa, Bohemia –
ANNA TURNWALD used the axe, split her shingles and floated her cargo to the punt with the finest of them. She succeeded in clearing a few of her forest acres and then set about growing remarkably unblemished crops in her garden.
Far from being a defenceless widow dependant upon the rest of the community, ANNA TURNWALD always kept open house for everybody and was a source of strength to the rest of the community.
It is sad to relate that she died 4.11.1877 tragically after accidentally being shot in her knee by her son, as he cleaned his gun.
Mrs BECHER was another of the great women of PUHOI. She had 8 or 10 children and a sick husband, and worked more arduously than any woman in the settlement at that period.
The Wenzl KAES family succeeded in acquiring a few fowls but longed for a cow. They bought one on credit for twelve pounds Sterling from a farmer in Silverdale (a near-by township) and for three years and four months, the family had to strive to pay for that cow. Mr KAES took his eggs and fowls on his back and hiked over the 30 miles to AUCKLAND where he cried his wares in the city streets. Part of whatever trivial sum he made in this way had to go towards the payment of the cow.
Mrs RUSSEK was an educated woman and for many years taught the children of the settlement their catechism. Early in her life at PUHOI, she met with family tragedy. While her husband was building a whare, their small daughter climbed up a ladder and fell off breaking her leg. Mrs RUSSEK then carried the child on her back over the thirty long miles to AUCKLAND to have the leg attended.
This family lived close to starvation for many years. On one occasion, Mrs RUSSEK was weeping because she had no food to give her children. Then one of her boys borrowed a gun, went out and shot a pigeon – then everything was alright again – until the next meal. In his excitement the boy threw the gun down and ran to retrieve his bird and carry it home – it took a entire day’s search to find the sector again and recover the missing firearm.
Mr & Mrs Joseph WECH lived further into the bush than most settlers. With the lengthy distance to bring their timber to the punt, the most they could produce in a month was 10 tons which bought them a profit of only two pounds Sterling. With no money for food, this family quite literally lived on the bush and Mrs WECH existed for weeks on nikau palm alone – at the same time nursing a baby.
Mr Vincent WENZLICK has left on record an account of the home life in the early day. It places the mothers as the pivot around which the families move. They must have suffered too, the constant fear of any bushman’s wife, hatred of the crashing trees that could widow them an a moment.
The child’s impression of a homely atmosphere in a one-room shanty with a blazing fire and lights of flaring kauri gum indicates that the children felt secure inside their four flimsy walls but their mother must always been aware of the dangers that lay outside, particularly when the wind howled and roared through the tall kauris and the small house in the clearing was the centre of a sea of waving, thrashing and sometimes falling trees; when the burning off of a clearing set the bush on fire; winter rains marooned them in a sea of mud.
Even today PUHOI mud has a quality all its own. It is said that it can be used for glue in winter and cement in summer. It is also recounted that, in the middle period of the settlement, when Mr Joseph WECH was thrown from his buggy into the mud, he didn’t know whether to burrow up or burrow down to get out!
The mud may be a joke today, but it was a disaster to the women who had to struggle through it dragging a sledge load of timber or carrying the shingles to the river on their backs or trying to walk through it on her way back from AUCKLAND.
One traveller describes the long walk home as follows:
“First we had to ascend a most weary and difficult ascent of stiff and yellow clay – over two miles of one continues rise. Then again, through mus and swamp, over rise after rise without even the light of day through the dense foliage. Oh, how weary was the plodding on this muddy way for never ending miles. Surely this mountain track eclipses all other roads in New Zealand.”
Even the third generation of PUHOI people have recollections of the hardships of earlier times, and how the women cutting the timber with a cross-cut saw, swinging an axe in the bush and the tying and shearing of the sheep they had managed to rear.
One GG grandmother remembers riding into town to church with one child on the saddle in front of her while her husband rode with another. She also recalls having her house dragged to anew position by a team of bullocks.
Another – also a GG grandmother, who at the age of twelve had started farm work with her pioneer grandmother and had just carried on. She lived alone, milked her own cows, did her own fencing, cut the wood for her fire and hauled it home, looked after a beautiful garden and besides all this, her concept of a worthy and comfortable number to cook for was twenty four especially for Christmas dinner.
The women of PUHOI have always been noted for their excellent cooking and baking. In the early days of course they had little opportunity – for want of suitable ingredients – to use this skill. As conditions improved, they preformed culinary miracles with the aid of open fireplaces, camp ovens and the kerosene tin. As the years passed they gave way to the wood stove and today the electric stove is supreme, with cooking now much easier than it was, but many of the older residents would doubt that it is as good.
The recipes bought with them from BOHEMIA were used for a great number of years, and with PUHOI being noted for its hospitality, many people have had the opportunity of tasting these exotic, and some quite famous dishes including:
“Kochen” – a delicious cheese curd tart and “Arbrentz” – a gravy seasoning…. the smell of it cooking made you anticipate a mouth watering feast. “Doughnuts were another favourite and every mother in the district was an expert at making these.
It cannot be doubted that much of the strength of the settlement of PUHOI lay – and still lies – in the strength of character and will of its women.
A letter from Maria RAUNER, wife if Martin RAUNER, written from PUHOI on 1st June 1885, and which has miraculously escaped destruction, tells her sister that “we have set up everything very well for ourselves and have everything we need. We lack nothing and also have the church and school near the house and our children are being much better educated here than at home in Germany”.
This short citation gives a very certain indication of how well they had settled down in New Zealand and had begun to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
OPENING UP OF THE SETTLEMENT AT PUHOI
The early days of the PUHOI settlement were a single-minded all-out effort to stay alive. After a few years, when the BOHEMIANS had dug themselves in and found that they could hang on and work their land they were able to look outwards a little and it was painfully obvious that lack of communication was a great hindrance to their efforts.
The news that the Government policy of building roads and bridges was to be put into effect in their area was the turning point in the settlement’s history. Vogel has started what was to become a good old NEW ZEALAND custom. He borrowed 10 million pounds from England and PUHOI was to it’s share for roading.
Capt. KRIPPNER had been busy pleading the PUHOI case in government circles. He is described, in an article in ‘The Weekly News’, as a torment to the Provincial Government for his insistence that the government recognise both the industry and perseverance of the PUHOI people and help them accordingly. He was the man appointed to be in charge of road works in the area and had reason to be proud of the results.
Most of the men in the district abandoned the bush work to their wives and took employment on the roads. Communal effort took over one more time. They formed Co-operative parties, tendered for government contracts and divided the payment on a share basis.
Wages averaged between four and five shillings per day for several years and the village had a period of what seemed prosperity.
The money was promptly ploughed back into the holdings. it bought cows so that butter, milk and cheese were available for home use and for the Auckland market; it also paid for poultry, and a new business in eggs and fowl; it bought horses and, after horses, ploughs; it paid for sheep….. Lorenz TURNWALD was the first to purchase sheep and, even with wool at 4d a pound in weight, it was a additional doorway to future affluence.
Over this period, one by one the old nikau whares were substituted by more solid houses made from slab and palings.
PUHOI owed all this to the road making, and there was also, the road itself….. the effortlessly way out with produce, the easier way in with stores.
The first part of the road contract was not the opening up of the line of communication with AUCKLAND, but the construction of bridges and culverts in the AHUROA district where the pioneers of 1863 had their holdings.
By the end of1869, the Puhoi Road numbered 32 bridges and culverts, and in 1873, the landowners of the district formed the PUHOI Road Board and levied1penny in the pound on all land. The Roads Board was responsible for repairing bridges and culverts, building additional side roads and keeping clear the main road to PUHOI – and prosperity!
The opening of the Great North Rd in 1876 placed the once isolated settlement in, the main stream of north-south bound traffic.
Although regular income for road work had made it possible to stock and equip the holdings, and achieve a position superior to than they had ever known. The completion of the road contracts brought new financial troubles as the properties were still far from being self-supporting farms.
It was due to Capt.KRIPPNERS’s proposal that an additional source of income was found in the selling of fungus to the Chinese market. At that time various districts in NEW ZEALAND supplied this commodity to the Chinese. After many erroneous starts, and mistakes in finding out which type of fungus was in demand, a regular and paying trade was started, and it continued until the 1950/60’s.
This was commodity at which even the children could work. The fungus crows on trees in a certain stage of decomposition and on stumps left after a burn-off. After struggling under the weight of sack-loads of wet fungus, the cleaver ones soon leant to pick it as dry as possible when it was at its lightest. For many years the verandahs of the houses were spread with layers of it drying off in the sun.
The next development was the trade in Tanekaha bark for use in the tanning of hides and nets; the charcoal-burning which was a useful source of revenue until after the turn of the century.
Capt. KRIPPNER’s brainwave had tied the settlement over this adverse period just as his determination had found them employment on road work. With increasing prosperity though out the colony, PUHOI managed to move forward into its share of the good days.
The transport problems of the newly arrived settlers were most certainly heart-breaking – but they never despaired and the descendants are now rewarded with the most modern facilities.
PUHOI is situated four miles from the East Coast and on a tidal river. This PUHOI river was the communities lifeline. Until the cutters commenced running the only communication with the outside world was on foot.
Came the cutters and next the larger boats, the “Kotiti”and the “Orewa”. These two boats, running in opposite directions, carried the settlements requirements from AUCKLAND and took back on the return trips, the produce for sale in the markets. They also carried passengers on these trips. The mail however was never carried by sea to PUHOI.
These ships ceased running after the PUHOI Bridge was demolished by the disastrous flood which struck the settlement in 1924. The bridge was a turntable bridge which could be opened to allow the ships to pass up and down the river. After the flood a new permanent concrete structure was built to replace the swing bridge, which however, prevented large boats from reaching the township wharves. Instead, a launch service was stared as the roads from AUCKLAND were still mostly un-metalled at this time. The motor boat “Huawai” ran weekly and this serviced the transport needs for several years. The river services ceased with the metalling of the roads, heavy motor carriers then started operation and today the transport facilities are most efficient.
The earlier mail from AUCKLAND to PUHOI was carried from SILVERDALE to PUHOI on foot or horseback, but with the arrival of the northern railway the mail was dispatched to AUHURA and bought in to PUHOI by mail coach. At the beginning turn of the 1900th century the coach services commenced carrying mail, parcels and passengers from DEVONPORT over the un-metalled roads making this an arduous trip and more so in the winter season, because of rain and mud.
One of the more mature folk recalls the names of BUTLER, BARTON and BOGUE as pioneers of the coaching days. These drivers had stables at OKURA and WAIWERA where the horse teams had to be swapped in order to spell the horses on their trip up from DEVONPORT.
As these two towns are just a few miles apart, it leaves nothing to the imagination as to the condition of the road. In 1927 the faithful horse transport became a thing of the past. Motor transportation commenced with Lister’s Pioneer Service carrying mail and passengers daily for many years to come.
Today PUHOI is connected to AUCKLAND by Highway No.1 – the main double lane Motorway into AUCKLAND from the North, and its side roads are mainly tar-sealed – a far cry from the good old days!
The BOHEMIAN Settlers were cut off from their fellow immigrants not only by steep hills and dense forest, but by the language barrier. A closed-in community, they spoke only their own BOHEMIAN dialect and made little progress in English. When compelled to go into AUCKLAND to trade their produce, they managed as best they could.
A man selling turkeys on the streets could only cry his wares by making turkey noises as he went; two women who needed to buy vinegar wasted half and hour in a shop making sour faces and doing all they could to mime vinegar; another who desired eggs simply cackled like a hen and has no trouble at all in being served.
Even in later years, when the people knew English but were not at home with it, shopping in Auckland was a constant difficulty for people who rarely left their backblock homes. A young man from PUHOI, unaccustomed to the city, went into a shop to purchase a reel of cotton. He addressed his request to a life-like dummy modelling stylish cloths. Not unnaturally, she didn’t answer him. After repeating his request, he left the shop in a fury and told his friends outside in most expressive BOHEMIAN just what he thought of the manners of Auckland shop assistants.
Vincent SCHISCKA’s notebook shows that no frivolous spending sprees took place, however, list after list in his little notebook mentions only “bonnets”, “hats”, “sugar”, “tea”, “flour”, “soap”, etc.
Another man had to procure a collar on which to hang a cow bell. He took advice from his friends better versed in English and was told to ask for a necktie for a cow. His experience with this provides another story of the difficulties of city shopping.
These situations faced by our ancestors, now only amusing fork-lore, were a very serious matter to the first settlers and also provided a great handicap to them. They soon came to realise that a knowledge of the language of the country was an absolute necessity.
They had been dependant upon Capt. and Mrs KRIPPNER at the start for interpreting and now Mrs KRIPPNER came to their aid again. In 1869 she arrived in PUHOI and started a school for the children.
The historic nikau whares were still in use but two of the inhabitants of one of them had just departed PUHOI, one in search of gold and the other in pursuit of trade. The latter a shoemaker, had given up all hope of making a living among the barefoot BOHEMIANS.
Mrs KRIPPNER set up school in the abandoned room in the whare on the riverbank and the children had their first lessons in English.
Later Mrs KRIPPNER transferred into the slab hut the settlers had erected for the visiting priest and took her classes in the home of Mrs RUSSEK. Soon after she made this change, an Irishman, Mr WALSH came to PUHOI and took over the teaching while Mrs KRIPPNER returned to her own home. Mr WALSH moved the school again, back into the slab shanty which was the Priest’s house.
Perhaps the people were tired of make-do methods with their school for they held a meeting about 1870 and decided to petition the government for a school. Mr John SCHOLLUM (affectively called the ‘Father of PUHOI’ and John WENZLICK took the lead in negotiations and secured a promise of Eighty Pounds from the government if the people could raise One Hundred and Sixty Pounds.
On the face of it, it was impossible, even with improving times. Mr SCHOLLUM call upon every home in the settlement, but very few families were able to offer as much as One Pound. After eighteen months of visiting and collecting he was still Fifteen Pounds short of the desired amount and it appeared as if PUHOI just could not raise it. He finally appealed for help to his family in BOHEMIA and the people of the old country were able to subscribe their share of the building intended to help educate the children of PUHOI to be useful citizens of the new country.
The 34 foot by 18 foot kauri building was opened in 1872 and, a few years later, a teacher’s house was constructed alongside it.
The occupant of the house was Capt.KRIPPNER who now reappeared in the PUHOI story as head teacher. His assistant was Mrs KRIPPNER. The teachers residence cannot have been very comfortable, for it is recalled that Mrs KRIPPNER had to use her elegant frocks to stuff up the cracks and crevices to keep out the draughts.
Capt. KRIPPNER remained in this position until his retirement in 1884. The settlement by then, was flourishing, and he was able to take pleasure from his position as founder and first resident of PUHOI. Following his retirement the appreciative settlers of PUHOI assisted in constructing, for him and his wife, a comfortable residence on his son-in-laws acreage at Warkworth. ‘Until his death in 1894 the Captain still keep up a very lively interest in this settlement and also in the one he had formed on similar lines at OHAUPO’. (from Father D.V.Silk’s book ‘The History of PUHOI’.)
One teacher followed another and new education methods replaced the old. The elderly people who had worked so hard to accumulate the money to educate their off spring could not believe their ears when they heard that their offspring were cultivating vegetables and growing flowers at the school as part of their curriculum.
It is quite obvious that the children weren’t any better than children elsewhere for there are stories of centipedes taken into school and released down the girls’ necks, and about the teacher who took a boy over his knee to spank and had a pin driven into his leg. He dropped the spanking habit from that day…..
The next big change in school affairs came in 1923 with the establishment of a Convent School.
This time the expense of building the school was One Thousand and Sixty Four Pounds and the cost of the Convent for the nuns, who were to teach in the school, to live in was One Thousand Three Hundred and Forty Pounds
The PUHOI people were comparatively prosperous farmers by this time. They were no longer strangers struggling for a foothold. They were well-established citizens of NEW ZEALAND.
However their numbers were small and there was no government assistance this time around. Once again a member of the SCHOLLUM family, this time Mr W.J.SCHOLLUM, rode around the countryside with the parish priest, Father D.V.Silk, carrying out the thankless assignment of trying to raise the necessary figure.
Sisters Kevin, Cletus and Palagia of the Sisters of St Joseph of the Most Sacred Heart arrived from AUCKLAND on the 30th January 1923, and the school was blessed and opened on the 6th February of the same year.
PUHOI had entered into the final and most satisfactory stage of its schooling story.
THEIR SOCIAL LIFE
So much of the PUHOI story is of hardship and hunger that you could easily be conviction that life was a unrelieved struggle in gloom and despondency.This was not so.People who work hard usually play hard. When the BOHEMIAN people took time off to enjoy time out, they threw themselves into it with an energy and enthusiasm of which present-day folk would not be capable.
After the first few years when they had bedded themselves in adequately to be, not the BOHEMIAN immigrants, but the PUHOI community, their love for music and dancing was their fundamental respite from their hard labour.
Their recreation in its self was not hard work! It was always easier to start a dance than to stop one. After walking long distances and perhaps wading through the river to get to it, the people were in no hurry to terminate the fun and it was common for the dance to carry on till the wee small hours.
The YESENSKY family were the fiddlers at the dances held in the community and, they have left their mark on the settlement in the name of Fiddlers Hill.
The dudelsack, a bagpipes with every possible addition and modification, was the speciality of the PAUL family. Other families played the accordion and the Jews harp.
The musicians, particularly YESENSKY, the fiddler, had stamina to equal that of the dancers and, while there was a dancer left able to keep his feet moving the music went on.
The national dances of BOHEMIA – the Unmadum, the D’bairsch Durl, the Hauawickla and the Dora Hat Gsagt were all of an energetic toe-tapping variety.The picture of a one room shanty lit by touches of burning kauri gum or the home-made candles burning brightly and perhaps later a lamplight room at the hotel overflowing with a community deprived of almost ever pleasure and determine to enjoy this dance to the saturation point, whisking themselves from a state of congenial amusement into hectic merriment and finally into cheery weariness, is perhaps the truest indication of what the BOHEMIAN people were like and wherein lay their energy and strength. So while they were producing their national music to make the hills and gully’s ring with, they were calling on reserves of energy from their strong, peasant background.
Their pleasure in dancing was the brightness essential to make a bearable whole to their lives, and if it took on a hectic, wild quality, it was because their everyday living was so very sombre indeed. There was no half tones in the lives of the PUHOI settlers. Physical vigour and perseverance has kept them alive and formed their lives in NEW ZEALAND. It just naturally took control of their social life.
THE END OF THE PUHOI STORY