A couple of Tuakau residents celebrated their 90th birthdays in July this year, and not everyone manages to reach this milestone!
John and Betty McKinlay arrived in Tuakau some 50 odd years ago, in the early ’60’s. They hailed from the Bay of Plenty, where John had been a school teacher at Te Puke, amongst others places.He had at one time, been the sole teacher at a central North Island timber mill town, has known deer hunting and once owned a model A car- back in “the day”
John was not really a stranger to the region, as he had spent time during the war years, working on the land in Mauku during breaks from teacher training. Although he had been called up for service in the army , the “powers that be” managed to allow John and others, to continue their teaching training, as this was also an important undertaking.
The McKinlay family made the move to Tuakau so that John could take up a teaching position at the Tuakau Primary School.
The McKinlay’s and other locals who have been long time residents, have noticed a great deal of change through the years as Tuakau then, was quite a thriving town, with all of the necessary amenities to provide the area with what was needed for the farming district – Wallace Supplies, which had everything that one could ask for, from hairdressers to the grain store for animal feed, clothing and pretty much everything that the large chain stores provide these days in the larger towns. A number of dairies operated in the main street, a Woolley Bros vehcile sales, a busy Sales Yard for cattle and sheep…….
The old Northern Distributors Processing plant, first built in 1957 to serve Pukekohe, Tuakau and the surrounding areas and grew to become a 2500 square foot building holding everything for Poultry processing, was once where the Tuakau Cosmopolitan Club is now situated, the post office, with its banking and telephone exchange, now the Districts museum, the old Memorial Town Hall used to house the local pictures, the train stopping to pick up and put down passengers and so much more…….
John McKinlay not only worked at the Tuakau Primary school, but also drove the bus for Edwards Passenger Services, for the form one and two students (aged 11/12 years) who used to travel to Maramarua(a farming region with a volunteer Fire Brigade, school, Tavern and general store) to learn sewing and cooking for the girls, and woodwork for the boys.
John later went to the Tuakau College when it was built in 1975 and was dean of forms one to three, as well as continuing to teach and took retirement in the early 1980’s. He then was able to spend a bit more time playing golf at his local, Onewhero golf club and also enjoyed trips to other courses for mystery trips etc.
While John and Betty have still been able to enjoy living in Tuakau, Johns health has been starting to show signs of age – with early signs of dementia appearing to set in, but the pair still enjoy seeing their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren grow.