Artist: Renee Te Pairi, Steve Graveson, Dena Hale (a Gallaher descendant)

Year: 2010

Medium: Acrylic on Panels

Size: 11.5 sq m.

Sponsored By: Muraltown Twilight Concerts

This mural reminds us of the Gallaher family’s struggles as pioneers and celebrates Dave’s legendary career.

Maria Hardy Gallaher, was born in 1844, a true pioneer woman, brought up in Ulster, Ireland. There she trained as a teacher, married and had 10 children. When the family left Belfast in 1878 aboard the Lady Jocelyn and set sail for Katikati, New Zealand they left behind their youngest child. Once they arrived in Katikati via Tauranga, they were allotted their block of land across the river from the present township, they set about building their new home. A business that the Gallaher’s were supposed to set up in Katikati, sponsored by Lord Hill, didn’t go ahead as he had died within 6 months of their arrival.

Maria’s aging husband, James, who was 33 years her senior, became very ill and so the responsibility of earning an income fell on Maria. As a trained teacher she was appointed the first Head teacher at the new No 2 School (Katikati Primary School) established in 1879. Over the remaining years of Maria’s life she was to have 4 more children, she continued to run a household, establish the school and battle the male dominated school boards and committees that were set up to establish the small township. In August,1886 Maria became very ill, but continued working when she was able. Maria battled on until September 9, 1887 when she succumbed and died of ovarian cancer in Auckland, aged 42 years.

David (Dave) Gallaher was born on October 30, 1873 in Ramelton, Ireland. As a 5 year old boy he emigrated to Katikati, New Zealand with his family. In 1879 David started attending No 2 school where his mother was his first teacher. In 1887, when he was 13 years of age she became very ill and David left school to go to work to help the family survive, after his mother’s death the same year the family moved to Auckland.

Rugby was to play a big part in David’s life. He played all his rugby for the Ponsonby Rugby Club, he represented Auckland from 1896 – 1907, he was a Auckland selector from 1906 – 1916 and a New Zealand selector from 1907 – 1914. But David’s real claim to fame came in 1903 when he was selected to play for the  New Zealand Rugby Team, and then in 1905 he was appointed Captain of the “Originals” team that were to tour Scotland, Ireland, England, Wales, France and North America. The team was ahead of their time in the way the players prepared, planned and played the game of rugby, they became known as the “All Blacks” during the tour and created a legacy that remains to this day.

David also served in 2 wars. In 1901 he enlisted to fight in the Boer War in South Africa, and in 1917 he concealed his true age and signed up to serve in World War 1. This war was to claim his life at Passchendaele, Belgium on Thursday October 4, 1917 just short of his 44th birthday.

This mural is on the wall of the original school building in Beach Road (only a short distance from the intersection with SH2) and permanently on view to the public. Head north along Katikati’s Main Street and turn right into Beach Road at the Talisman Hotel corner. You are welcome to enter the school grounds to view. There are depicted 26 images that remember the pioneering lives of the Gallaher family.

How much of a hero was Dave Gallaher? Below is an extract from The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

The transports called at Albany on 15th February, leaving on the 17th, and were at Colombo on the 28th and 29th. At each of these places route marches were held and general leave given, and at Albany the officers were invited to a ball given by the citizens. The behaviour of the men at both ports of call was the subject of favourable comment on the part of shore officials and the people generally, the only “regrettable incident” being the stranding of two or three of the personnel at Colombo owing to a misunderstanding as to the hour of departure. As the last of the troopships left the latter port and was making good headway westwards, a small tug came racing out and signaled her to stop. There was much speculation as to the reason for this action, and the usual wild explanations multiplied as the tug was seen to lower a boat which pulled smartly over to the trooper. The gangway was put down, and up this majestically stepped a solitary Rifleman. This was the famous New Zealand footballer, “Wing” David afterwards killed in action in France—a man much beloved by his comrades and something of a trial to, though secretly admired by, his officers. Arriving on deck, he waved a haughty dismissal to the tug and a condescending signal to the bridge that the troopship might now proceed. The usual cold formalities regarding the matter.