Topic: Holidays at Raglan in the Kopua Motor Camp by Irene Polkinghorne

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Holidays at Raglan in the Kopua Motor Camp during the 1950s inspired Irene Polkinghorne's entry in the 2012 Memoir and Local History Competition

Archived version here.

Dad hired a tent from Valentine’s and borrowed the utility truck from Mullan and Noy in Hood Street, Hamilton.  We piled every thing in and away we would go for 5-6 weeks.  Dad used to travel back and forth to work after his holiday break ended.   He had a workshop above Mullan and Noy’s foundry.  He had his own business as an engineer’s patternmaker.

The same folk went to Raglan every year for a while.  Our neighbours were from Waikokowai, out the back of Huntly. They were Scottish migrant coal miners. Groups of them would hire a big truck and come down the Waingaro road to Raglan for the holidays with double beds, drawers, kitchen tables, all for inside their tents.  We had a great little community, all Scots!

The bakery on the Main Street of Raglan baked bread fresh every day and it was my job to go and buy the bread.   Milk was delivered to the camp by a milkman, who came every morning at 8am. You took your billy up to his truck and he dippered it out of a cream can, straight from the farm.  There was also a man who came with fresh vegetables in his truck and went round camp selling them.

We had fresh fish as Dad had filed down a tent pole’s top nail into a hook and we went floundering at night with a Coleman lamp.  Some nights Dad would bring meat from Hamilton.

Dad and our camp neighbours hired rowboats from the wharf and rowed their families across the bay to other side. We had shared picnics on the other side of Raglan Harbour below the sand hills that used to get bigger each year. (So pleased they have contained the sand dunes nowadays.)  We all went walking in the bush over there.  There were no houses there in those days; it was all rough bush.

I remember Dad and I went with a group from the camp, and climbed up Mount Karioi.  It was pretty hard going, straight up in some parts; you had to pull yourself up by tree roots.  Don’t think I could do it today.

Every year the camp committee, made up of campers, held a large concert with Highland dancing, singing, etc. The committee folk organised everything.  Funnily enough I don’t remember much about Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve.) It must have been low-key as noise in the camp was not allowed after 10pm.  On New Year’s Day the campers held great sports competitions on camp grounds up where the shop is today.

We had lots of picnics. Dad drove the ute to Bridal Veil Falls, with heaps of us in the back singing away. Other folk in cars followed.  Being in a group was great; plenty of kids to try things out with.

We also went to Whale Bay. In those days you could get down to the beach there, though it is closed now. Maori say it is private land.

We would often walk up the beach to sandbar at the head of inlet and right round the beach to Bryant Home.  Days went on for ever and so did summer then.

I learned to knit some fancy stitches from a lady in the next campsite. They were sales people and lived in their caravan so they brought more gear with them, e.g. knitting needles and wool.

There was no TV in those days.  Sometimes there was a movie and I remember Mum and Dad playing cards at night with neighbours.

Because we were in a brown army bell tent it got dark early, so we were early to bed and up early, well in time to get the milk for breakfast.

As kids we swam for hours in the Bay. We had plenty of mates and the days just went on and on. We had no worries - a few chores, but that was all. Free as a bird.   Those were the days.

We were still going to Raglan Camp the year I got School Certificate. My sister was working by this time and didn’t get holidays, so she didn’t come down to Raglan that year.  She got the results in the mail for me and rang the camp and the message came over the loudspeaker.  This was how messages got to campers. It was the only way to get phone calls. No mobile phones and I don’t think we even had a phone in our house, but by 1953 we had moved to our new house and had a phone.

This was the year I got a brand new blue Raleigh bike. First time ever! Usually we got second-hand bikes. I was pleased as Punch.  In those days that was our transport; no buses for me.   My girlfriend lived in Plunket Terrace and at weekends we would often ride from her place to mine on the other side of Hamilton a couple of times a day. Sometimes we rode to Cambridge, no trouble! Couldn’t do that today.

Yes, when I was a child summer went on for ever!!  Then we grew up and had responsibilities; went to work and life changed.   But I still remember those summer holidays fondly. 


About the author:


Irene Polkinghorne was born in Paisley, Scotland1937 and travelled to Melbourne in 1938  then to Wellington 1946 on a troop ship Dominion Monarch then on to Hamilton 1949. She married 1959, went to Sydney for six years and had two of her children there then came back to New Zealand to bring them up. All are married now, and two have returned to Australia. She now lives in a retirement village Hamilton.


This page archived at Perma CC in October of 2016:

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Holidays at Raglan in the Kopua Motor Camp by Irene Polkinghorne

Year:2012 and c.1950
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License
Holidays at Raglan in the Kopua Motor Camp by Irene Polkinghorne by Tauranga City Libraries Staff - HC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 New Zealand License