Te Awamutu Railway Tea Rooms

Te Awamutu Railway Tea Rooms

By Pamela Langmuir

Often I used to stay with Grandma and Grandpa Langmuir in their grand home at the end of Laurie St overlooking the railway tracks. As it was school holidays my job at the Railway Tearooms was to ring a bell that was outside the shop to let the passengers off the train from Auckland for refreshments, to know where to come.

There was a coal range which had a large black kettle that had tea bags brewing. Those tea bags were my job too, making them with a square piece of linen – put in loose tea, tie with string and put in the kettle. Served with the best fresh ham sandwiches off the bone, ask any of the carriers or postmen who often stopped by. Grandma also made sultana cakes and long biscuits.

After, when the train was pulling out Grandpa would go through the train with his basket to collect any cups and saucers not returned – we didn’t want them to end up in Te Kuiti or Taumarunui. After the train pulled out my job was to empty the tea bags and wash the linen squares and string and hang them on the line to dry and get ready another lot for the next train. We never used the Railway toilets (no pull chain in the early years) but had our own commode in the back room surrounded by extra stock such as Sante Bars, Whitakers, Nestles Almond and Honey chocolates, cigarettes, etc. Handy place for light fingers!

On our way home after closing the Tearooms Grandpa would have his basket lined with newspaper and pick up the larger pieces of coal that had dropped from the rail wagons to keep the home fires burning.

With regard to Te Awamutu Railway cups and saucers not being returned, many years ago a farmer south of Te Kuiti was clearing gorse by the railway tracks and came across many cups and saucers, probably thrown out of the carriages when the passengers had finished.

If you want to see more images, research our collections online: https://collection.tamuseum.org.nz/objects?query=te+awamutu+railway+tearooms

The Queen Victoria Lithograph

The Queen Victoria Lithograph

Portrait of The Royal Family Queen Victoria,  Prince Albert and their Five Children.  Lithograph 1846

This  lithograph is an exquisite  exemplar of the reproduction of a portrait of the British imperial family. Franz Xavier Winterhalter, painter to the Royal Courts of Europe, completed this image in 1846. The Parisian lithographer, Alphonse Leon Noel,  copied it on commission a year later.

Queen Victoria sits with the Royal Consort Prince Albert, surrounded by five of their nine children – on her right, Prince Alfred in white, and Edward the Prince of Wales in red, while daughters Princess Alice, and her first born, Victoria the Princess Royal, admire the infant Princess Helena. How did this remarkable picture find its way to Te Awamutu?

By 1849, the Waipā valley supported many flourishing flour mills, and vast acreages of grain. Early missionaries had introduced new horticultural practice and technology, in which the local iwi excelled.  Their communities flourished, exporting produce to Auckland, and later Sydney and California. Three successful mills operated in Rangiaowhia, and entrepreneurial leaders included the chiefs Kingi (George) Te Waru of Ngāti Apakura and Hoani Papaiti (John Baptist) Kahawai of Ngāti Hinetu.  When Governor Sir George Grey visited the Waipā district in 1849, these  two chiefs urged him to present a gift of their finest flour, accompanied by a letter,  to Queen Victoria. This missive declared –

“We, King George Te Waru, and John Baptist Kahawai, salute you; we return our thanks to you for your letter, in which you tell us that the land shall not be taken away; but that the Treaty of Waitangi shall be abided by. We are averse to fighting with white people, or amongst ourselves, but let the Queen always foster us; we approve of the custom of the white people, and the Governor loves us.”

As receipt of such gifts was not the Queen’s policy, the Secretary of State for the Colonies wrote from Downing Street, London on the 7th March 1850 acknowledging the above letter and the gift of flour to  Her Majesty.  Making an exception from her usual practice, the Secretary advised them that in this case she accepted both the flour and the letter –

“as an expression of their loyalty and attachment. As a mark of Her Majesty’s appreciation of the good conduct of these chiefs which you have reported to Her, the Queen has been pleased to order two pictures of Herself with His Royal Highness Prince Albert and the Royal children, to be transmitted to you for presentation to them”.

The two art works reached New Zealand in 1850. One was of the Royal Family; the other was described the Queen in ceremonial robes. They were exhibited initially in Auckland , as a “source of gratification to the native population generally”, and then conveyed by waka along the Mangapiko River, where they rested on the Sabbath, just below Ōtāwhao, now Te Awamutu.  From there, they proceeded to Kahawai’s house, and then to the homestead of Te Waru.

At each place they were greeted with cheers and great excitement by both Europeans and Māori. In a letter dated December 12th 1850, the Reverend John Morgan noted that –

“the Queen arrived safely by waka at Rangiaohia on Monday the 9th, a little below the Rangiaohia mill”.

By referring to the paintings as a living person, the Queen Herself, Reverend Morgan reflects the Māori sensibility of the time. He eventually became the custodian of Te Waru’s gift, and his house was “frequently crowded with visitors looking at the picture for hours at a time…” Kahawai’s royal portrait was cared for by  Father Garaval in the Roman Catholic Presbytery;  Te Waru was a Protestant and Kahawai followed the  Catholic faith.

In 1863, colonial forces invaded the Waikato. In February 1864, Randle Cotton Mainwaring, government agent, took possession of Morgan’s property which the Reverend had entrusted to Hohaia Ngahiwi, who was well aware of the importance of the painting. Mainwaring and his cohort occupied Ngahiwi’s house, and the mission, and then relocated Ngahiwi to Hopuhopu. He also took the painting to his own house at Whatawhata. From this point, conflict occurs. William Searancke, Resident Magistrate of Kirikiriroa (renamed Hamilton), acquired the artwork, insisting in private correspondence that “the picture was looted by the troops during the campaign and purchased by Mr Mainwaring from the soldiers. Hori Te Waru’s people then being in open rebellion.” Searancke thus acknowleged the image as a trophy of war, and effectively countered any further claims. The lithograph remained in his family for many decades.

Almost a century later, in 1958, Miss Phyllis von Sturmer donated the picture to the Te Awamutu Museum, “to be held in memory of my grandfather, Wm. Searancke.”

If you have any further information about the lithograph, contact our staff on 07 872 0085 or museum@waipadc.govt.nz

If you want to research our collections online: https://collection.tamuseum.org.nz/objects?query=lithograph

Waipa Streets

Waipa Streets

View the history of Waipa through the names of our streets.

Click on the blue tag to see the street name and who or what it’s named after.

View Waipa Street Names in a larger map

Beautiful Maungatautari

Beautiful Maungatautari

By Carly Daniels

You’re about to start the climb. Looking up to the top of the mountain, and it seems to grow. Grow higher and higher into the clouds. When you reach the top you look down. But you bend too far. You start to fall. You’re falling closer and closer to the ground. You can’t scream, then the second before you hit the ground you open your eyes. You’re at the bottom of the mountain. It was just a dream. Then you start the climb. this time you know not to look too far over the top.

Mt. Maungatautari is an amazing mountain full of beautiful birds and ginormous trees. It has a huge wall keeping out all unwelcome animals, aka pests. Some say that the mountain has two different halves, and if you look at it sideways left and right you can see the face of a man and the face of a woman. A lot of people like to climb up one side and climb down the other. This walk would take the average person 5-6 hours. On the bottom of one of the sides of the mountain there is a marae. This marae holds many stories of the mountain and the Maori culture that surrounds the mountain. The stories are from many years ago when the Maori families could not just go down to the shops to buy their food and drink. They had to retrieve it for themselves. Each story has a painting, each painting has the mountain in the background. Wether it is just sitting there or people are hunting in it, it is always there. Just hanging around.

Every day people all over the world are climbing mountains but very few get to experience the wonderful, beautiful scenery of Mt. Maungatautari. Some people say that you can see the two faces of the mountain because of the King and Queen of nature died and put their souls into the mountain that caused the mountain to form in the shape of their faces. Throughout the mountain there is a special plant that helps people when they are in pain. It’s like medicine. They used it before medicine came around. If you stuck part of one of the leaves on your tongue, tour tongue would go numb, causing the pain to stop. The Maori families would also mush up the leaves and use it as a liquid, so it could help with pain all around the body, not just in the mouth. So Mt. Maungatautari does not only have beauty, but it has great uses too.

Each person who climbs the beautiful mountain gets a great experience. The experience of a lifetime. I myself have been extremely lucky and I have been able to climb up the amazing mountain twice, and each time I learnt more and more about the mountain, and I enjoyed every second of it.

Want to research more about Maungatautari, check out our collections online: https://collection.tamuseum.org.nz/objects?query=maungatautari

Constable Williamson

Constable Williamson

By Ken Williamson

The Morning Shift – 5am to 1pm: One or two men would be put on fatigue at the city stations. Others would begin patrolling at what was a quiet time. Then the noise of tramcars and vehicles would begin with the rush of workers.

Breakfast was half an hour (in reality often no more than ten minutes to gulp down some food and tea) between 8 and 9am. By this time some of the men would be immersed in traffic control work.

During this period of time (1920-30) Point Duty was a routine part of the work of beat men on the main city thoroughfares between 8am and 6pm. Men on adjoining beats would spend alternate hours directing traffic. Genial greetings from regular travelers gave satisfaction, but point duty was tiresome.

It was while doing traffic control one morning that my father heard his school days nickname being called out. On turning around, he came face to face with one of his old classmates from England who was an officer on a ship that was berthed in Auckland. They were able to meet up later on in the day to catch up on each other’s news of the years since they had last met. He was able to meet my mother and her family.

Boredom controlling traffic soon set in if you did not take an interest in people, obtaining an occasional ‘Good Morning’ and getting to know the regulars on your beat, like the taxi drivers, city council workers, newspaper sellers and shopkeepers. Doing so meant they might drop hints on suspicious characters and provide assistance when needed. A cup of tea and a chance to rest could be offered at the back of a shop – but you still had to watch the clock and be at the fixed spot on time.

Want to research more about our constabulary? Try collections online: https://collection.tamuseum.org.nz/objects?query=constabulary&hasImages=true

Lake Karapiro

Lake Karapiro

It was so quiet! There were no birds singing although the morning was sunny and warm.

Many people in the village had left with their families and furniture. Our belongings had already gone to our new home on Victoria Street in Hamilton. But today was the day the water would rise, and we were headed up the hill to watch it happen.

Mum had a large thermos with hot tea and a few sandwiches. My sister Dorothy and I looked at each other – we usually walked up this hill to our classroom in the Karapiro Hall but we’d be going to a school in Hamilton now, and Dad would be a mechanic at the Te Rapa Freezing works. People were gathered at the top, watching quietly as the water rose. “George, do you want a cup of tea?” asked Mum. “Yes please” he replied.

The ground and the roads were first to disappear, then the grass around the house, then the wood and the windows. Strangely we could see the reflections of the glass even through the water. The roof disappeared quite quickly, then the chimney; and then it was just a little history gone forever.

Dorothy and I each drew close to Mum and held her hand. Then we climbed into the truck and drove off to our new home in Hamilton.


Before flooding


The new lake