Honouring the first settlers

By: Blogger

Every year, Puhoi celebrates the anniversary of the arrival of the first European settlers on June 29, 1863. In former times, in addition to church services, banquets and dances, a public meeting was usually held.

In 1872, it was decided that John Schollum and John Wenzlick should petition the Government to erect a school in Puhoi. They received the reply that the Board of Education would advance £80, provided the settlers would put up another £80. Within a few days John Schollum had made a tour of the district and found that only five families could donate £1 each. Others contributed shillings. Two more tours over the next 18 months found the project still £15 short. John then wrote to his father in Bohemia who sent the remaining funds with his other two sons, who came with the next batch of immigrants.

In 1873, a group proposed that a rate of one penny in the pound be levied on all lands in the district and that the valuation be £2 per acre. The work undertaken by the Puhoi District Road Board in the first 12 months was considerable. Bridges were repaired; culverts were built; Paul’s Road was opened at a cost of £80 and Straka’s Road for almost £89. Many of the settlers tendered for these jobs. The contractors in for Paul and Straka roads were Martin Tolhopf and Thomas Becher.

A Town Hall was proposed in 1899. Five hundred shares at 10/- each provided the funds, along with donations from the Coastal Shipping Company and others. The 70ft x 40ft hall was opened in 1900 on Easter Monday.

It was the Church of St Peter and Paul’s turn in 1900. The Church, erected in 1881, was found to be too small for the numbers who wanted to meet there. Joseph Schollum, who also led the building of the hall, was the chosen contractor. The original oblong building was extended to its present dimensions and opened with a triple wedding in April the next year. After a reception attended by everyone in the village, the couples and guests walked to Fiddler’s Hill, where dancing and festivities continued until a late hour.

No projects such as these are proposed for the 155th anniversary this year. A “golden age” luncheon will be held on Friday, June 29 to honour the senior descendants and musicians. Saturday brings a dance for all the community. An afternoon of music, dancing, talk and reminiscing follows the Thanksgiving Mass on Sunday.

Info: 09 422 0472, puhoibohemianmuseum@gmail.com

Jenny Schollum, Puhoi Historical Society


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