At the Fyfe Road and Beach Road intersection were the sites of first fish and chip shop in Waihi Beach, Cabaret Dance Hall, the second Waihi Beach School and the Waihi Beach Volunteer Fire Brigade.
The Drift Inn fish and chip shop on Beach Road in the 1960s was in the same building as the original Crisps Fish and Chip Shop c1940s.
It later became the Drift Inn, and then in the 21st century the Hot Pipi. During the time as Hot Pipi and Beach Cafe, it has changed in nature from a fish and chip shop to a café.
Where you are standing now was the site of the Cabaret, a dance hall, built by Jim Spoule in 1993.
After the 1950s it was taken over by Pat McLeay.
By this time it was competing with the RSA as a dance venue, and some patrons did both venues in one night to catch both dance bands.
The Cabaret was more popular among the younger, according to stories, as it had “more modern bands.”
From the outside it was a dull rectangular building, but inside was colourful and there were several large pillars around which people danced.
The Cabaret was demolished in a fire in 1970 and the site is now a reserve.
Classes were held for several months in the dining room of the fish and chip shop while a one-room school was being built in 1929.
A second room was added in 1933, at which time the roll was about 30, many being children who travelled in a covered wagon along the beach from Bowentown.
The first beach school was opened in a small tin shed down near the current site of the Waihi surf club in 1909. It was Mrs Shaw’s old Homestead, which had been vacated for Dillon Street.
Teachers for the school were supplied by the East and South schools in Waihi. The first teacher was Miss Grey who was replaced a few weeks later by Dora Southward, whose five children boosted the roll. In 1926 Bertha Clarke (nee Nisbet) was appointed as the first fully trained and qualified teacher.
She remained until the end of 1929, during which year an assistant was appointed for the first time.
The school operated until 1957 with two teachers at that time.
In 1954 land was purchased nearby and in 1957 a new school was completed on the current Waihi Beach School site.
The old two-roomed building was also moved to this site. Mr Hank Hanlen was the Principal at the time.
The children walked alongside the removal truck to its new site.
The building is still one of the classrooms at Waihi Beach School today. It has been modernised over the years to match the other classrooms.
The first fire engine, an old V8 Ford inherited from the Waihi Fire Brigade painted on the bricks of the Waihi Beach Volunteer Fire Brigade wall built in 1956.
In 1953 the Waihi Beach Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed. At a public meeting at the picture theatre J. Toms, H. Lomas, L. Ward, L. Davidson, O. Pipe and N. Cameron were elected first committee members.
In 1956 the fire station site in School Lane (now Fyfe Road) was bought for £500, a portable Scammell pump was purchased and plans for a 20 by 30 foot station were drawn up.
The first uniforms – second hand – were purchased in late 1956 and a boot allowance of £4. 7s & 6d was made, but no helmets.
An elderly fire engine that had seen service in the Air Force during the war was acquired, and for its sojourn at the beach was parked in the open – either in Ocean View Road or in the Waihi Beach Camping Ground. It was considered fair game for vandals and eventually had to be towed by the council truck to get started.
This continued for 10 years, until the Beach Brigade inherited another cast-off Waihi Brigade fire engine.
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This trail explores the people who shaped the community in the twentieth century, beginning at the initial settlement on Waione Road and finishing at the Doctor North Memorial Reserve.
Lack of roads meant that all good and travellers accessing the north end of Waihi Beach from the south had to cross the ford at Athenree and traverse the beach at low tide. This sited Athenree a place of significance for the district.
Athenree has always been a place of agricultural activities for both early Maori and settlers. Fishing was bountiful and the soil was good.
Today Athenree is a small residential settlement which is growing with increasing subdivisions.