The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 13, Issue 11 (January 1, 1939)
The Kerosene Light-house
The Kerosene Light-house.
We came to a different type of lighthouse at Cape Brett, where there are three families living. This is one of the old-time light-houses, with its immense lenses making the most of the light from incandescent mantles fed with kerosene gas. The occulting of the light is done by a revolving screen, operated by weights and pulleys. It is the job of the light-keeper on duty to wind up this immense grandfather's clock mechanism at intervals, and one was interested to see that it was made in Scotland. The visitors’ book suggested that although Cape Brett is fairly handy to the mainland, visitors are rare, for we could go back twenty years by turning over a few pages.
The light-house keeper's life in many stations is a lonely one, though the men and their families get so used to it that they never ask for sympathy. Children are brought up in these isolated places, and receive a thoroughly sound education through the medium of the Education Department's correspondence school, ably assisted by radio broadcasting. Some have even been successful in secondary school courses. There comes a time, however, when it is highly desirable to introduce these healthy well-educated youngsters to a wider civilisation, and these first contacts with the outside world are vivid experiences. One light-keeper's wife found the experience highly embarrassing when she took her two young sons to the mainland and they went to church for the first time in their lives.
It was all very strange to the youngsters, and when a gentleman of benevolent appearance came around with a plate, well filled with coppers and silver, one little boy took twopence, and shyly said “Thank you.” His brother selected a bright sixpence with gratitude, and also politely said “Thank you.” I am not going to spoil this very human story by detailing what the horrified mother said afterwards!