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Petone's First 100 Years (1940)


Scouting in Petone

Petone is justly proud of being the birthplace of Scouting in New Zealand.
The first Scout troop in the Dominion was born in the home (now disappeared) of Mr. Pointon, on the Esplanade.

St. Augustine's Troop.

About twelve months after the birth of the Brotherhood of Boy Scouts in England, the first practical troop in Petone was formed, and for a time met in the house of Mr. Pointon, on the Esplanade. There being very little organisation at the time to assist with the formation of troops, some difficulties and dissensions rather spoilt this early effort; but from it there emerged the Te Puni Troop, under Mr. H. Browne, ably assisted by Harry Davenport and Phil. Martin. The Te Punis carried on with remarkable success until 1912, when the troop disbanded, largely as a result of the resignation of the Scoutmaster, who was unable to continue devoting the time necessary to the work.
Early in 1916 the Rev. G. B. Stephenson formed a troop in connection with the St. Augustine Church, and about seventy boys immediately linked up. Joint Scoutmasters were appointed in the persons of the founder, Mr. A. A. T. Hope and Mr. R. Nelson. Mr. Les Andrews was First Aid Instructor; he left for active service after a few months, and was, unfortunately, killed in action. The Rev. G. B. Stephenson moved to Dannevirke, and Mr. Nelson proceeded overseas, in 1917, and Mr. Hope carried on the troop in a most efficient manner until 1920, when he resigned. For a time the
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Boy Scouts—St. Augustine's Troop.

existence of the troop was in danger, until in fact Harry Reynolds (since Gone Up) appealed to Mr. Nelson, who had returned, to come into the game again. Harry was troop leader, and it is likely that his boyish and enthusiastic appeal saved the St. Augustine Troop. A strong committee was formed as a result of a public meeting, and so keen were some of the Vnembers that they were still on the committee as late as the present year— real stalwarts! Throughout its history the membership of the troop has been undenominational, and although the Church has the ultimate responsibility, the complete control of activities has been carried out by the committee elected at the annual public meeting, and the Church has been pleased to see boys from all denominations linking up in the spirit of brotherhood. About 1926, the Petone Borough Council placed at the committee's disposal a corner of the Recreation Ground, on which to erect a meeting place. With characteristic energy all concerned set to work, and the result was a hall some forty feet by sixty feet, which has been of valuable assistance. For many years most of the trophies for annual competition among local troops passed into the St. Augustine's care, and it is probable that upwards of a thousand boys have received the benefit of Scout training in the troop. Boys from the troop have filled many important places in Scouting, at one time the District Commissioner, District Cubmaster, District Secretary, District Rover Leader, and later, District Scoutmaster, were all from this one troop. Early in the present decade the award of the Medal of Merit was made to the troop, the same award being made to the First Lower Hutt Troop, so that the two troops shared the honour of being the first New Zealand troops to receive this award. For years the Group has been unable to deal with all the applicants for membership and, in an effort to extend the benefit of membership to as many as possible, the Cub Pack and Scout Troop has been split into other Packs and Troops known as "Raukawa," "Rewarewa," "Te Puni," and "Whare Pouri" respectively, still all under the same control and meeting in the same "den" at different times.
Many great lads have passed through the troop and many fine people have assisted with its control. Mr. Harry Browne, the original "Te Puni" Scoutmaster, has been actively interested again for over twenty years, and to-day (1939) is still Scoutmaster of the new "Te Puni" Troop.

Other Petone Scout Troops.

After the formation of the St. Augustine Troop in Petone, in 1916, a troop was formed by the Baptist Church, with the Rev. Eric Evans in control. A troop was formed at the Methodist Church, under Mr. Sewell and Mr. Silbery and one at the St. David's Church under Mr. Bennie and Mr. Cody. All of these troops carried on for a year or so with enthusiasm and good spirit, when they gradually became defunct, as a result of the scouters being unable to carry on with the work. Many well known citizens were members of these early scouting efforts, and doubtless look back with happy recollections to their association with scouting in them.
When Earl Jellicoe was Governor-General in New Zealand, he interested himself in Sea Scouting, and as a result of his interest, a committee was set up and a Sea Scout Troop formed, which now has its headquarters on the Petone beach, near the wharf. Earl Jellicoe was deeply impressed with the possibilities of Petone for Sea Scouting.
Early in this decade, His Grace Archbishop Redwood, took an active interest in the formation of Scout Troops, and a strong troop named the "St. Aloysius "Troop was formed in connection with the Roman Catholic Church. This troop, in common with other Roman Catholic troops elsewhere, has been carried on with enthusiasm and good scouting spirit, and many boys have passed through the great brotherhood in this troop.

"Irresistible" Sea Scout Group, Petone.

The Petone Sea Scout Group held its first meeting on August 16th, 1927, in the old Ex-navals' shed, on the beach. The Group later shifted to St. David's Schoolroom, the Rev. J. C. Loan accepting office as Padre. The first boatshed, where the present headquarters is situated, was given by Odlin, Ltd., in 1929.
The Group gear, boats, etc., was obtained by means of donations of cash and material from the Union Steam Ship Co., Wellington Harbour Board, Miss Cook, and Mr. Odlin; and in one particular case through the efforts of the boys, who hauled their boat through the main street, mounted on a trolley. The first boat was built under the supervision of Mr. Seoringe.
The name "Irresistible" was taken from Commander Young's ship which was lost at Jutland. Commander Young was for a time the Sea Scout Commissioner. The first Scoutmaster was Mr. Mouat, assisted by the late Mr. R. Cairns Lee. Messrs. Selwood and Wooster carried on after Mr. Mouat, to be succeeded by the late Capt. Burton (affectionately known as "Skipper "). Mr. J. Weatherley was an assistant Scoutmaster about this time. The present Group Scoutmaster, Mr. G. A. Harris, took charge after Captain Burton's death. The first Cubmaster, Mr. J. H. McConville, was also a knotting instructor to the Scouts. Following him were Messrs. F. Burton, C. Dixon, Miss M. McGee, and Miss S. Stewart. Mr. T. Hill, an old boy of the Group, is the present Cubmaster.
The original boatshed was added to in 1932, the work being commenced by Captain Burton, just prior to his death, and being completed later as a memorial to him. The building now contains a fair-sized meeting hall and an office, besides the boatshed.
The late Mrs.Harding, Senr., known as "the Mother of the Group," took a keen interest in its welfare. Her son, Dr. J. T. Harding, still carries
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Petone Sea Scouts, 1940.

on. Mr. A. Cook has occupied the office of President for quite a number of years. The present Padre is the Rev. E. E. Sage. Members of the original Parents' Committee are still serving the Group, and their work is as faithful as ever.
The Group is justly proud of its record of public service. Thirty-seven (37) rescues on the harbour stand to its credit. During the winter of 1930, the steamer Tees was in danger when a strong southerly sprang up one night when she was berthed at Petone wharf. Most of the crew was on shore at the time. Captain Burton sent to Wellington for gear, and with the assistance of some of the Scouts and members of the crew left on board, secured the ship to the wharf. The Group received the grateful thanks of the owners, for this practical "good turn."
The Sea Scouts have taken part in all local rallies; their main item being demonstrations of rescue work with the aid of a breeches buoy. In 1930, the Group was runner-up in the competition for the Jellicoe Trident, receiving the International Code Flags for the most improved Sea Scout Troup in the Dominion. Several old Scouts have chosen the sea as their vocation, finding their Scout-training of great assistance to them.
One representative attended the Sydney Jamboree, in 1938.

Saint Aloysius Scouts.

The Saint Aloysius Boy Scout Troup was started in 1932, by Mr. James Hepburn, under the patronage of the Rev. Father James Murphy, and the Saint Vincent de Paul Society.
The first meetings of the troop were held in the Convent School-rooms, and the roll number was 28 Scouts. After a few weeks the troop moved into the small hall at 11 Peel Street. At this time Mr. Hepburn was assisted by Mr. Hector Beaver as Assistant Scoutmaster, and Mr. George Taylor as general Instructor.
The troop is indebted to Mr. Arthur Reid (Kamahi) of the Saint Augustine Troop for his help during its early days, and for his continued interest through the years.
In August, 1936, the troop again changed its meeting-place, this time to the Parish Hall, in Britannia Street.
In 1934 the Cub Pack was started, with Miss Eileen Ryder as Cubmaster, and with 12 Cubs. Miss Mary Pritchard joined a few months later as Assistant Cubmaster.
The Saint Aloysius Scout Troop was represented at the Sydney Jamboree, a few years ago, by Mr. Hector Beaver; and in 1937, Miss Eileen Ryder represented the troop at the American and Dutch Jamborees. In 1938, the troop was represented by nine Scouts at Pompallier Camp in Auckland. This Camp of Catholic Boy Scouts was held during the Centenary celebrations of the Catholic Church, at Auckland.
In 1938, Mr. James Hepburn resigned his position as Scoutmaster, because he had moved to Wellington, and had not the time to carry on the working of the troop. The Saint Aloysius Troop is indebted to Mr. James Hepburn for his untiring work and interest in the troop.
At the farewell function that was tendered to him, many pleasing and happy times in camp were recalled by Scouts who had passed through the troop while he was in charge.
At present the troop has 28 boys, and is in the charge of Mr. Felix O'Sullivan, with Mr. Edward Gibbs as general instructor, who are both two of the first members of the troop.

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