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Train Essay Applauded by ARTA

Media Release
23 December 2004

Train Essay Applauded by ARTA

On December 20th, 1873, a young schoolboy named Oscar rode with his parents on the very first passenger train journey from Auckland to Onehunga. Oscar and the 200 other passengers enjoyed the polished teak and English oak interior of the government-owned steam train as they took the 22-minute journey over the newly completed eight-mile track. The journey was concluded with a cold dinner at the Railway Terminus Hotel in Onehunga.

Oscar is the creation of Madison Horton, a year six pupil from Royal Oak Primary School who created him in an essay that won this year’s Edith Auckram Cup essay writing competition.

The cup is presented to the best essay from a year-six pupil from five primary schools in the Onehunga area. The participating schools are St Josephs, Onehunga, Te Papapa, Royal Oak and Oranga.

The competition is organised by the Onehunga Sensible and Historical Society every year and was instigated by Edith Auckram, a past president of the society as a way to get young locals thinking about the history of the area.

Each year pupils are given a theme to base their stories on and this year the theme was trains and rail travel. Year six pupils from the schools were taken to the Onehunga Railway Museum where they were given a talk about the days of rail and steam.

To complete the train theme, ARTA was approached to provide prizes for the event.

“The ARTA rail team saw an opportunity to encourage a new generation to become interested in trains,” says Elena Trout, General Manager – Rail.

“The trip to the railway museum sparked the interest of these young writers and we hope the prizes from ARTA will help that enthusiasm continue.”

Madison’s essay was awarded the Best Overall prize because of the imagination and historical realism she showed in creating her characters and describing the journey they took.

The best essayists from each school all received a certificate and train fun-pack from ARTA that included an all-day train ticket.

As well as the Edith Auckram Cup for the best overall essay, prizes went to the best essay in each school and the best overall effort.

The passenger train service that Oscar used in 1873 took its last journey in 1950. Goods trains continued to use the track until being discontinued in favour of road transport in 1973.



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