From Porirua to Paikakariki

From Porirua to Paikakariki—a distance of about fourteen miles—the traveller by the coach road passes Plimmerton and the well-watered flats bounded on either side by the higher hills which feel the flocks of the settlers; and thence through a beautiful country, varied by grassed and wooded uplands, from the recesses of which hundreds of Australian magpies scream out their impudence, and coveys of quail and pheasant whir and take startled flights. Then the rocky gorge winds its tortuous ways up Mount Paikakariki till a height of over 1000 feet above sea level is reached, and there rare sights are seen—the ocean nearly straight below, the distant Kaikouras of the South Island, Cook Strait and some of the rocks near Island Bay, the celebrated Island of Kapiti right in front, and a long line of sandy sea coast northward as far as the eye can see. The houses of Paikakariki resemble in size gin cases, and when the Manawatu railway train comes out of the rock tunnel by the ocean, the carriages appear no bigger than cigar boxes.

The township of Paikakariki, having all the attractive features of a seaside resort, is much patronised by pleasure-seekers and invalids, the hotel accommodation being good,


and the mail and train services satisfactory. Paikakariki is rich in Maori legendary lore, and rehes of barbarie times are numerous. The soil seems to be rich, but little is being done in the way of tilling it, the native owners being content to grow enough grain and other crops for their own consumption. The climate is genial, and Paikakariki must become in time a favourite watering-place for the Capital.

Paikakariki is distant from Wellington twenty-seven miles by the Manawatu railway line, and is twenty-three feet above sea-level.

Mails for Paikakariki close daily at Wellington at 6 a.m., arriving at Paikakariki at 8.30 a.m. The return mail closes daily at Paikakariki at 7 p.m., arriving at Wellington at 10.5 p.m.

Paikakariki Railway Station, a wooden building containing station master’s office, ticket lobby, general waiting-room, and ladies’ waiting-room, has a substantial asphalted platform for passengers. There are two through trains each way every day; in addition to which a train starts for Wellington each morning, returning in the evening. A large engine-shed which will hold four locomotives has been erected to provide accommodation for the engines which are kept at Paikakariki, where all trains change engines.

Mr. Barnabas Blackburn, Stationmaster at Paikakariki, and post-master and telephonist, is a son of Mr. Alfred Blackburn who served twenty-five years on the New Zealand Government Railway, acting as Stationmaster at Rakaia, Canterbury, for nineteen years. Born in 1866, at Christchurch, the subject of this sketch was educated at public schools and joined the Railway Service in the Telegraph Department at Rakaia in 1878. After four years he resigned and entered a merchant’s office, where he remained nine years. Mr. Blackburn was subsequently in a mercantile office in Sefton for a year, and joined the Wellington-Manawatu Railway, in the Wellington Goods Office, in February, 1893. He was promoted to the position of stationmaster at Paikakariki in September, 1895. Mr. Blackburn was married in 1888 to a daughter of Mr. Francis Lewis, of Tinwald, Canterbury, veterinary surgeon, and has two sons.

Mr. James Ritchie, Leading Engine Driver at Paikakariki, is a Scotchman, having been born in Forfarshire in 1854. After serving eight, years as fireman on the Caledonian Railway, northern section, he came out to Queensland, where he stayed two years. Arriving in Auckland in 1883, Mr. Ritchie was engaged in pile-driving and bridge building in Te Aroha till 1886, when he came to Wellington and joined the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company as fireman. In January, 1892, he was promoted to the position of driver, and two years later he became leading driver. Mr. Ritchie was married in 1886 to a daughter of the late Mr. William Threadgill of Occold, near Eye, Suffolk, England.

Mr. and Mrs. James Ritchie.

Mr. Alfred Alsop, Engine Driver, between Wellington and Paikakariki on the Wellington-Manawatu Railway, is an Englishman. Born in Dartford, Kent, in 1862, he accompanied his parents to Lyttelton in the ship “Mermaid” at the age of three years. He served his time as a blacksmith and engineer at Prebbleton and Rakaia, and joined the Company which he now serves in 1886 as cleaner. Early in 1888 he was promoted to the position of fireman and in October, 1893, having taken the Government certificate as driver he was employed in that capacity. As a Mason, Mr. Alsop is attached to the United Manawatu Lodge, E.C. Palmerston North. He was married in 1888, and has two sons and two daughters.

Photo by Mrs. Herrmann. Mr. A. Alsop.

Mr. Charles Gibson, Engine Driver, between Paikakariki and Wellington, is a native of Maidstone, Kent, where he was born in 1861. He was brought up to railway work in Wellington, where he arrived per ship “Douglas” in 1874, and entered the Government service in the railway traffic branch in 1878. Three years later he was transferred to the locomotive department as cleaner and fireman. In 1882 Mr. Gibson left the Government service and joined the Wellington-Manawatu Railway Company, continuing as fireman till 1889, when he became a driver.

Paikakariki Public School, which was opened on the first of April, 1886, with seven children, is a wooden building of a single room containing accommodation for sixty pupils. The number on the roll is thirty-three, with an average attendance of twenty-nine. The land attached to the school is an acre and a quarter in extent on a portion of which the schoolmaster’s house is situated.

Mr. Douglas Shelley Bedingfield, Headmaster of the Paikakariki Public School, was born in Needham Suffolk, England, in 1868. Educated in England, and in New Zealand, where he arrived in 1879 per ship “Jessie Redman,” Mr. Bedingfield became a pupil teacher at Norsewood, Hawkes Bay, in 1882. Four years later he went to the National Training School at Christchurch. He has acted as headmaster since 1888, having been at Takapau, Hawkes Bay, and at Kaitoke, before accepting the appointment he now holds.

Paikakariki Hotel (Charles Slight, proprietor), close to Railway Station, Paikakariki. Established in the early forties by an old whaler, this hostelry has been continuously conducted with but a short break up to the time of writing. Three times was the house burnt down, the first portion of the present building having been erected in 1883, and the front portion six years later. There is ample accommodation for the travelling public, and in the summer time the house is usually full, and many of the leading families of Wellington spend some time in the locality. Mr. Slight, the landlord, whose father landed with the 65th regiment at Paremata in 1846, was born in 1851 in Wanganui. He has had a varied experience as a farmer, carpenter, police officer, and hotel-keeper. While in charge of the Pahautanui Police Station he arrested James White, a notorious horse stealer, at Te Horo, and was commended for his bravery. White is the man who stole the yacht “Dido” from Wellington, and was arrested at Lyttelton. Mr. Slight has conducted the Paikakariki Hotel since 1889.

Lynch, Ossian Paul, J.P., Sheepfarmer, “Emerald Glen,” Paikakariki. Mr. Lynch, who has been a settler in the district for thirty years, owns 1500 acres, which is all under grass with the exception of the swampy land. The estate carries 4500 sheep, chiefly of the Romney Marsh breed. When Mr. Lynch settled in the district, there was no road to the property, which was in a state of nature. Born in the Hutt, he was educated in Wellington, and taking to a country life, he has been a prominent settler for many years. Mr. Lynch was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1882.

— The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, written: 1897-1907

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