A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas

A Noel Guthrie Acrylic on canvas
The Cockabully Hunters --- from an original painting by Noel Guthrie

Monday, 8 December 2014

Pukaki Police Station

Pukaki Police Station  1947

 

Reminiscent of an Isolation Ward


 

This Police Station at Lake Pukaki was established soon after the hydro works were established in the Mackenzie Basin.  Considered to be in the ‘wop wops’ at that time, it is perhaps understandable that no constable, in his or her right mind, would ever consider volunteering for this sole charge position. 

 

However, young Constable E. G. [Ted] Trappitt, a relatively newcomer to the force, seems to have had the most compelling of desires to volunteer for this new challenge. 

It was the frosty stare of his Timaru superior and the silent command of ‘go or else’ that convinced young Ted he should volunteer.  So he went.

 

One sunny day, in November 1947, loaded to the gunnels with all his possessions, including a rather elderly police issue bicycle, Ted made his way to his new post at Lake Pukaki.   All aspirations of working in the CIB, along with further university study seemed to dissipate in a cloud of smoke.

 

Ted’s humble home and Station Office was two single men’s army huts complete with malthoid roofing, joined at the front by a small verandah and a long drop out back.   All came courtesy of the Public Works Dept.

Located on a small fenced in section about 100 metres from the hydro works village at Pukaki, Ted considered it reminiscent of an isolation ward.

Buses, loaded with tourists headed for Mt Cook constantly stopped in front of the station. They stood in awe at the sight before them; however, this never fazed young Ted, one bit.

Some described Constable Trappitt, tall with a ruddy complexion and a mop of auburn hair, as quite an imposing figure and liked by all who knew him.

 

His area of responsibility covered well over 7000 square kilometers.  In addition to his own patch, he covered the hydro village at Tekapo, as well as the tourist resort at the Hermitage, Mt Cook. 

It was about this time that it dawned on Ted, his trusty yet well worn police issue bike was absolutely useless in this locality, so, for 325 quid, he outfitted himself with a modern 1938 Morris 8 sedan, ---- no ‘souped up’ four wheel drive with flashing lights and radar for Ted.

With tires half inflated, thus avoiding self-destruction through the potholes of those country roads, that mighty Morris traveled the highways and the byways of the vast Mackenzie.

 

Drunkenness, fighting and disorderly behavior, were difficult to control in those tough public works camps, ____ that is, until Ted hit on the idea of issuing a summons to all those offenders. 

Each and every one was expected to front up to the Courthouse in Fairlie, almost 100 kilometers away.

Some say this was no bloody joke, to find a cheerful young cop by the nickname of ‘Red,’ appear the next morning waving a summons in your face, especially when you have blockbuster of a headache, nursing a humdinger of a hangover and a black eye.

 

During those hectic, yet colourful days, while Ted Trappitt was constable at Pukaki, a poster went up on the wall of the public bar of the local hotel with the affectionate words inscribed, “If you see Red, -- go home”.

 

My sketch seeks to rekindle some of those delightful memories.