Timaru Herald, 26 July 1917, Page 3 GERALDINE.
PUBLIC RECOGNTION of Mr. W.S. MASLIN'S SERVICES.
On Monday night there was a large social gathering in the Oddfellows' Hall, Geraldine with a view to publicly recognising the services Mr W. S. Maslin has rendered to the district during a residence of over fifty years. The hall was tastefully decorated and the Mayor, Dr Paterson, presided. A musical programme was presented, including pianoforte duets by Misses B. and E. Sherratt, songs by Mr Knibbs, Miss Beattie, Mr Trott and Miss Campbell, and Miss Gimson acted as accompanist. Several apologies were received, including one from Mr T. Hughes, expressing good wishes for Mr and Mrs Maslin; another from Mr Maling, Mayor of Timaru, as one who sat under Mr Maslin when the latter was Mayor of Geraldine and stating that he hoped Mr Maslin would not stay in the south very long—he would be glad to welcome him at Timaru. Other apologies were from Mr M. Campbell and Mr F. R. Flatman. Mr and Mrs Maslin were loudly applauded on taking their seats on the platform.
Mr Maslin proceeded to give the company a leaf or two out of his early experiences, as there were many who knew little of the early days and nothing of the strenuous life then. led. There was no time then for pleasure taking, every energy having to be exercised to gain a living. He had lived in the district for 56 years, having landed at Lyttelton as a boy in July, 1858, with his parents [Caleb, wife and 5 children] [on the Maori]. They tramped over the Port Hills to where Christchurch now stands, and it took them three days to reach Kaiapoi through the mud, there being no road. On the third day they met a bullock dray, and the owner charged £l0 to take them all to Kaiapoi. After that his father came to Timaru, to build the first gaol, which was of wood, the frame being on the outside. It stood on the beach, near where the Royal Mill is, and the first man put into it was a respectable man who had displeased Mr Woollcombe, and who was imprisoned for contempt of court. His father also built a store for Mr John Beswick. His family reached Timaru in the brig "Spray," Captain Scott, and their first residence was occupied by two families, each of five members. The structure was 16 ft long and about 12ft wide, with calico roof and windows and earth floor. They slept in bunks, but that it was a pretentious building at the time was indicated by its name, "Alma Cottage." It stood where George Street now is. Next they built a house where the stone store, now Gabities', stands. It was a mud-built house with thatched roof, and they were as happy as could be. They heard of the high cost of living at the present time, but at that day when they got meat at 10d pound they thought it was getting cheap, but frequently their only hope was to get wild pig or a wild duck. The first butcher was named Clark, and he used to get 10 or 15 sheep from a run and kill two or three a week till they were all gone, and they could imagine the condition of the last of them. Flour (imported) was 70s a sack. There was no baker and they had to bake their bread themselves He remembered the first potatoes they got; they cost £1 a gunny bag. Everything else was in proportion. The cheapest sugar was 7d to 8d a pound, and currants 1s 6d. For vegetables they used to gather Maori cabbage on the beach. Yet they managed to make progress. Compared with the early days we are living in paradise, and don't know it. From £25 to £30 was paid for a bullock, and 30s for a merino wether, and they had to return the skin. He had a record of what they paid for things from the year 1859, and what they received for wages. He came to Geraldine in 1861. His first work was to pick fleeces for ten shearers, and he was paid 8s a week, but the next, year he was paid 12s. He then started driving a team of bullocks. After leaving Timaru their first stopping place was George Town, at Archie McKinley's. There was work in the Arowhenua Bush at that time. Temuka was not yet founded. A man had to adopt himself to many callings, and his father not onlyworked as a carpenter, but as a bricklayer. He built two chimneys for Joe Deans, late of Woodbury, but who at the time referred to had the public house at Arowhenua and the price paid for the two chimneys was £l3. The next stopping place was Neil's old place, now Donald Grant's. They came all the way along the river banks to miss the, swamps. There was not a house till they reached Geraldine, and the only house there was a small house of totara bark, in which Mr Hewlings, the Surveyor, and his Maori, wife lived. Their first house was built of flax and manuka scrub and stood near where Mr Ray's saddler's shop now is. Later his father bought a section of 20 acres where Mr Davis recently lived, and put up a leanto. There was no store, and they used to get provisions from Mr Cox at Raukapuka station. Later on Mr Julius Mendelsohn opened a. store in Pleasant Valley, which was a prosperous place in 1864. The bush there was owned in small sections, and owners started pitsawing and supplying timber. At Geraldine all the front bush on the downs was owned by the Studholmes, Rhodes Bros., Macdonalds and Cox, so only a few small sections at the back were available. In the course of time the road to Temuka was made. Those were Provincial Government days, and there were no Road Boards. They had no ploughs or scoops, and the road was made with spade and barrow, a very slow process. The road followed the river bank, for all the rest ,was bog, and many, a time, he had got bogged in the what is now the Small Park. They had all deplored the way Geraldine was laid out, but the road was made in the only place firm enough to carry traffic. The whole district from Timaru to Mount Peel was under one authority, and Temuka was dominant. They got up an agitation and secured separation, and later the Mount Peel Road Board was also formed. After that they got to work, and as the Road Boards received 25 per cent, of the Laud Fund they were not out of money. But the Road Boards could not make foot paths, so they got Geraldine formed into a Town District, though not without considerable opposition, terrible results being predicted. With the aid of Mr Twomey they succeeded, and they got a Town Board elected. They had not a penny so they got into debt, but they set about getting funds. The Road Board had a nice nest egg, and they made the town boundary to include as much agricultural land as they could, and on j the strength of the land included they made a claim on the Road Board for a share of its nest egg, and having secured the officials on their side they got £I700. That was how they started. They also got a reserve for their office. With that money they purchased the head works and brought water into the town. Next they laid down asphalt footpaths and kerbing. At that time they had money on deposit instead of an overdraft, and they got on very nicely with little rates. They also established the Fire Brigade, and paid for the uniforms. But the Town District was part of the County, and the County Council could also levy rates on it. He said it was time then that they became independent, and formed a Borough Council. At last they got established, and the present Mayor could thank him for being in the position he was. (Laughter.) But for his fighting there would have been no Mayor. Since they had been a Borough things had gone swimmingly, and he did not think there was a town with greater advantages than Geraldine. It was badly laid out. Originally the Park came up to the main street, and with great difficulty they secured a strip up to Wilson Street. Prior to that people had to buy bits of land here and there. He urged that they should improve the flat, remembering that every house erected was a source of revenue. In the early days they set to work to get reserves. This might have been a mistake but if they had not done that the Government would have parted with the land at £5 a section. There was no better residential site than on the Downs, and he was pleased to see one nice residence there. They had an ideal little town, with splendid scenery, and they had a great future in their bush reserve, but it wanted developing. He said "boom the place," and he spoke of the success that had attended the booming of Cardline Bay and the Te Moana. health resort. He said "Let people know that for climate and for a place of residence there was no better district than Geraldine.'' When the war was over, would be their opportunity, and he hoped Geraldine would boom and prosper. In concluding he thanked them very heartily for their kindness. He knew himself how many mistakes he had made, and he thanked them for looking lightly on these, and for their recognition of any little good or virtue he might possess. He could assure them he had done his best and his associations with Geraldine would always be very dear to him. He trusted that he might come back to settle in the district. He was not going out of it from choice, but simply because his son had been called up in the ballot and he was going to carry on his son's affairs. He joined them in the hope that his son with the others might return safely. They had a little country well worth fighting for, and great as the sacrifice was that many were called on to bear, it was as nothing compared to the benefits under which they lived, and nothing compared to the misery they would endure under German rule. God forbid that such a thing should ever be.
Dr Hislop, as a member of the former Town
Board and the first Borough Council, over which Mr Maslin presided, said he was
very glad the people were recognising the services of Mr Maslin, but he was very
sorry he was leaving the district, for he, had not saved himself in his efforts
to serve it. In the early days Mr Maslin did very much in helping the locality
through the Town Board, and it was due to him that Geraldine became a borough.
Mr Maslin had been called an archcritic, but he was a friendly critic, and he
always respected the other man's opinions. They had not perhaps appreciated his
abilities as a speaker and financier, his memory for figures being remarkable.
Mr Maslin had worked well for South Canterbury too, and Dr Hislop
specially-referred to his services on the Hospital Board. Mr Maslin was going to
take up the work of his son, who was going to fight for them, and the district
he was going to would benefit by their loss. He wished Mr and Mrs Maslin long
life and prosperity, and trusted that their son would come back safely from the
Colonel Mackenzie said he was very pleased, as representing the county, to say a few words in appreciation of the services of Mr Maslin, who had always done his best for both town and county. They had not all seen eye to eye with Mr Maslin, but that made no difference in their personal intercourse. Mr Maslin was to be congratulated on his work, and he wished Mr and Mrs Maslin happiness and prosperity.
Major Kennedy, speaking as a past Mayor, hoped Mr Maslin was not going to leave them indefinitely. He regretted that the younger, generation did not take the interest in public matters that their parents did. He had been opposed to Mr Maslin from time to time, but a fine characteristic of Mr Maslin was that he was not vindictive. The younger people had an example in him. He wished Mr and Mrs Maslin every prosperity.
Mr J. Connolly said he liked to speak of at man as he found him. He had never had any doubt that anything undertaken by Mr Maslin would be performed uprightly and honestly. In common with them all he wished Mr and Mrs Maslin long life, health and prosperity; also that their son, with the other brave boys, would soon be reunited with those dear to them. Mr P. Mulvihill, who said he had come 14 miles over muddy roads, said Mr Maslin, had been his neighbour for 15 years., and he had been the best of neighbours.
Mr E. Prouting, who said he had known Mr Maslin for- over- 43 years and Mr G. Patrick, who said he had known Mr Maslin practically all his life, spoke in the same strain. The Mayor said he felt it an honour to assist in doing honour to their first Mayor They were greatly indebted to Mr Maslin for the work he did then. He did not know that he had ever agreed with Mr Maslin, but it was always the same whether they agreed or differed Mr Maslin was always smiling. He had had the testimony of many of the early settlers concerning Mr Maslin, and they found him genuine and true. Mental activity characterised him throughout, and his activities had been mainly directed to municipal affairs. As a member of the Hospital Board, Mr Maslin had represented the Road Board, and was an outstanding member on the Board where his judgment was trusted. He deeply regretted that Mr and Mrs Muslin were leaving. On behalf of the residents of the whole district, he asked Mr Maslin to accept as a small token of their regard, a gold watch and chain. Being war time they had limited the subscriptions. The inscription was "W.S. Maslin. From the residents of the Geraldine District, in recognition of his public services. July 1917. His wish was that Mr Maslin might be spared many years to wear it. Mr Maslin, who was received with applause, said he must address them as friends for he was sure that only friendly feelings could have brought them out on so unpropitious a night. On that occasion political questions were naturally barred, and he thought it was a good thing that party politics had been laid aside with a view to joining forces to presecute the war to a speedy, and satisfactory termination, and be hoped there would not be a discordant note, that all would show determination to see the war through. He was glad a National Government was formed, and though he would not pay that it had not made mistakes, it would have been a miracle if it had riot. Nothing would have pleased him more than the present they had made him. A man might expect to be beaten now and again, but it made him more determined to win, and he was glad they had given him a watch and chain, for he was going to take it to Wellington one of these days. (Applause.) Another reason was that it was something he could hand down to those who came after him.
On behalf of Mrs Maslin as well as for himself, he thanked them for their valuable present, doubly valuable because, of the good will that characterised it. (Cheers.) He added that he had omitted to mention that he possessed the first minute book in connection with establishing .the first school in Geraldine. Children had advantages now that were unknown in the early days. Then they had to pay 5s a year for each child up to four, and 20s a year house tax for education. The meeting he referred to was held in the Geraldine Hotel, and of those present at that meeting he mentioned Mill. Pratt. After brief remarks from the chairman and another song cheers were given for Mr and Mrs Maslin, and the gathering broke up, after singing "Auld Lang Syne."
Mr and Mrs Maslin (Hannah Clough) are buried in Geraldine. Married in 1873.
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