'Interesting' stuff please

By Stuart Whitaker

Delving deep into the early part of last century hasn't been a problem for Welcome Bay's Peg Cummins. But she has hit one or two dead ends when it comes to more recent events.

Peg is writing a history of Welcome Bay, and has been frustrated several times by the lack of records of some of the organisations with links to the suburb.

"It seems archival material from organisations just gets lost. Maybe the people holding onto it die and their family look at it and think it's just rubbish so throw it out - I think it's a pity as a lot of history gets lost this way.

"I don't know what they can do about it, but maybe they could build into their policy that important archival material should be housed somewhere safe."

Welcome Bay Scouts is among the organisations Peg is struggling to find information about.

She says she was able to look through several boxes of material.

"But it was all the financials - not what I, as a historian, would consider to be the interesting stuff."

In contrast, all the information she could have wanted about the Welcome Bay Garden Circle she found in Tauranga Library.

Peg has been working on the project for the best part of five years and, while she had hoped to have the history completed by the end of this year, that isn't now going to happen.

"But I have promised myself I will finish it next year."

There are still some local organisations she is trying to find more details about.

"They might be still going or have ceased to exist - but they are still all part of the story and I'd like to be able to tell it as fully as I can."

Peg is thankful she was able to speak to Jim Keam, a long time and well known Welcome Bay farmer, before he died. She has also found information about one of the earliest residents and farmers, Jonathan Brown.

"From the time when more settlers began to move in there are some very interesting stories - they were a very enterprising lot. It was a lively little community in the early days."

They might not realise it, but current residents may well owe a huge debt of gratitude to those who went before them.

Peg says there was a time when there was a plan to discharge effluent into the bay.

"There's an interesting story about how it played, but they managed to stop it - those are the sorts of stories that need to go into a history so people realised that what the people did before them did them a great service."

Peg has previously written a book based on her grandfather's diaries, histories of the Kawhia, Tirau and Whakamarama districts, of Ardmore Teacher's College and 100 years of the Catholic Church in Cambridge.

Anyone who has information about Welcome Bay they believe may be useful to Peg can contact her by email at cummins@eol.co.nz or call 544 9700.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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