Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Brief "Observer" notes on Helensville's name

At a recent Police Court enquiry a precocious child of tea summers was placed under examination, when the constable enquired of him if he understood the nature of an oath, but could elicit no reply beyond a vacant stare, whereupon one of the Justices addressed the lad— "Boy, do you know where you'll go if you tell a lie?" The boy's face brightened as he replied promptly : "Yes, sir! where the worm dieth not." "Constable," called the Justice, " swear the witness." This reminds us of the story of a well-known resident of Helensville, who is so correct in his speech that when he takes his railway ticket in Auckland for home, he invariably asks the booking clerk at the station for a second-class ticket for "Where-the-fire-is-not-quenched-ensville."
Observer 20 April 1889
Addition: I've just spotted this piece, also from the Observer, 14 June 1890:

"Go to Helensville !"

Vessels entering the Kaipara River frequently have orders signalled to them from the entrance directing them to which particular port on the river they have to go for cargo. For all the towns, except Helensville, there is one signal flag which saves the trouble of spelling out the full name. When the brig "Vision "reached the Heads recently, signals were run up for her skipper, and the signalman, who had instructions to send him to Helensville to load, started to spell the name. He had to get out the name by instalments, and managed to get on to the halyards the legend, 'Go to ... ' and the first three letters of the name of the port. Captain Christian, albeit a godly man, took to stamping and storming about the deck when he read the most uncivil message. Visions of Sheol crowded upon his brain, and his language was decidedly sulphurous for a Christian; but at last the purport of the signal dawned upon him, and he went on to Hel (and the rest of it) in peace. It is suggested that a signal flag to denote Helensville ought to be provided, — the Devil rampant, black, on a white ground, might be the device which should inform naughty nautical men when they are to 'Go to Helensville!'

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