This story is written by my good friend Alan Flower. Alan is a great story teller and this one is about how possums came to Maungaturoto. I drew the picture for him. Timespanner has read this story and kindly reproduced it in another publication. Alan was of course absolutely delighted. He loves to share a great yarn so this one is from Alan. Hope you enjoy reading it.
The Possum, the Mailbox and the Farmer's wife
How and when Possums came to Maungaturoto
(Well…...this is my version anyway)
by Alan Flower
It is a known fact that Sir George Grey brought the first possums to New Zealand and let them loose on Kawau Island, where they were fairly well contained for a few years. A couple or three eventually found their way, possibly by stowing away on a boat or whatever, or swam to the mainland.
They were seen around the Warkworth area about the time of the Second World War. During the 1950’s, sport of all sorts had revived post war, and rugby blossomed, with busy provincial and international seasons at Eden Park. A lot of fans went from the North (these were days when our North Auckland team did pretty well). Anyway, one particular day, a car load of four locals from Mountain Road, Maungaturoto, went to see an obviously important game at Eden Park. It was winter, and for one reason or another, by the time the Mountain Road boys were coming home, it was dark – very dark. When they were towards Warkworth, they had seen quite a few possums on the road, and one of these boys – I shall call Bernie, said “These things don’t move off the road very quick, I wonder if we should catch one?” In those days the traffic was fairly sparse, and they decided to try. Next time they saw a possum, they were coming up the Dome hill fairly slow, and this possum sat up in the headlights. They pulled up with two of them - one each side leaping out, running around the front of the car, and actually caught the possum. They had a sack, which they put the possum in, and securely tied the top.
Now what to do with it? They soon decided on a plan of playing a trick on one of their neighbours called Mr Stubbs (He came from Yorkshire and pronounced it "Stoobs"). So they somehow managed to get the possum into Mr 'Stoobs’ letter box, and slammed the door shut. The letter box was a typical Rural Mail Box of galvanised iron, with a flag on it. They put the flag up to indicate that there was something important to collect, and went on home. The story goes that Mrs Stubbs fell for the trick, and got a big fright when the she opened the door, and the possum leapt to freedom. We think that the possum was probably pregnant, and that was the start of the possum population in Maungaturoto!
P.s I have to admit that three of the four characters in this episode were bullers, and the bullers were renowned for some of their stories being a little stretched! I myself am a buller descendant also, but I am sticking to my story except for one thing - I am actually not quite positive that the possum was still alive when caught!