Jolly good show

By: Jenny Schollum

In my memory, the second Saturday of February was always Waitemata Show Day, held on the Puhoi Pioneers Memorial Park and generally known as the Puhoi Show. The woodchopping carnival, horse events, cattle, sheep, goat and calf club competitions, indoor exhibits, merry-go-rounds, entertainments and stalls enticed up to 3000 people to enjoy the variety and hospitality of the Puhoi Show. Sadly, because of some poor decisions on several counts surrounding the last show in 2011, it is no longer held.

The first Waitemata Show was held at Waiwera on Wednesday, February 1, 1905. It was held on land leased from the Waiwera Hotel Company in the shade of a huge pohutukawa tree and a dance was always held in the evening. Major Whitney, of Wenderholm, presented a special prize for ponies under 12 hands and Mr Harvey offered special prizes for the progeny of his stallion, Captain Wright. This stallion won the first prize in its class and again at the Warkworth Show the following week.

The stock yards were erected at the water’s edge, convenient for swimming stock across the river. The committee was made up of a mixture of Bohemian settlers and Upper Waiwera settlers, with many sheep and cattle prizewinners being Bohemians. Excursion steamers were arranged from Warkworth, Matakana and the Wade (Silverdale) and the steamship Kapanui brought patrons from Auckland.

Woodchopping was a feature from the early days. Indoor exhibits were shown in a large tent and baking entries from Puhoi were collected on Friday afternoon by Christian Paul in his four-wheeled wagon. The first class in the baking section was for “Homemade Bread, made with Champion Flour by a Settler’s Wife or Daughter” with a special prize of a 50lb bag of flour. A class in the needlework section was for “Collection of Six Most Useful Articles made from Flour Bags”. There was a competition for grass seed in the produce section. There was also  a class for red and white wine, hop beer and vinegar. Fruit was shown in a half bushel case packed for the Auckland Market. The secretary was required to sleep in the tent with the exhibits to provide security.

Working dogs were also judged. There is a yarn about the drover who tied up his dog to the cattle yards while he diverted his attention to other interesting aspects of the show. On returning, he found the dog sporting a first prize ribbon. When limited space became a problem at Waiwera, lengthy discussions resulted in a move to Puhoi in 1960. Here, flood damage to the wooden bridge was often a problem. The present concrete bridge was opened just in time for the 1971 show.

Jenny Schollum, Puhoi Historical Society


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