A his­tory of steam and fire

South Waikato News - - Front Page - LUKE KIRKEBY

Ge­neal­o­gist Elsie Mon­a­han is out to prove there’s more to the South Waikato than meets the eye.

The Toko­roa re­tired teacher is writ­ing a tril­ogy on the South Waikato’s his­tory go­ing as far back as the ’’vom­it­ing vol­canos’’.

Mon­a­han has just com­pleted the tril­ogy’s first book, Bedrock and Rail - South Waikato Pre 1920, which she has spent a year writ­ing.

‘‘I grew up in Pu­taruru and I’ve al­ways been in­ter­ested in lo­cal his­tory,’’ she said.

‘‘Last year I did an hour’s pre­sen­ta­tion for the lo­cal genealogy club speak­ing on the his­tory of Toko­roa. You do a lot of re­search for some­thing like that so I thought ‘well I have done this I might as well start writ­ing it down’.’’

She said she felt it was im­por­tant to pro­duce a book that in­cor­po­rated the whole of the South Waikato rather than just one area.

‘‘While there have been books on dif­fer­ent ar­eas, I thought there has never been a book on the en­tire South Waikato so I hope it ties the dis­trict to­gether,’’ she said.

‘‘It starts from the for­ma­tion of the rocks through [to cov­er­ing] veg­e­ta­tion, moun­tains and wa­ter and then I come into hu­man habi­ta­tion.’’

‘‘It’s the first book I have ever writ­ten and I sort of feel like I have done my bit now,’’ she said.

She said she has pur­posely kept it light so that it’s easy for peo­ple to read and un­der­stand.

‘‘Orig­i­nally I thought of do­ing a book but I re­alised once I started that it was go­ing to be quite large which would put it out­side the price of the av­er­age per­son,’’ she said.

‘‘I thought ‘no I have got to cut my lan­guage down so it’s read­able’ and I de­cided I’d do three books in­stead.’’

‘‘I have tried to keep it sim­ple, just enough to spur peo­ple’s in­ter­est and I hope when peo­ple drive around they will say ‘oh yes I re­mem­ber that’ or ‘I didn’t know about that’,’’ she said.

Mon­a­han said she will spend the next cou­ple of years work­ing on the rest of the tril­ogy.

‘‘I’m think­ing of call­ing the next one Hard times and Hope which will cover from 1920 to 1950 and the final one De­vel­op­ment and Di­ver­sity which will prob­a­bly go up to when the dis­trict coun­cil was formed,’’ she said. The book is avail­able at the New Zealand Tim­ber Mu­seum for $30.

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