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Diamond Jubilee of the Ohinemuri County 1885 - 1945

History of its Formation

Opposition From County Council

Away back about the beginning of the present century, Paeroa began to feel growing pains and there was talk of forming a borough, but opposition, particularly from the holders of big blocks of land, held up the question till April, 1914, when definite progress was made. The following advertisement appeared in the "Ohinemuri Gazette": —

First Public Meeting

"A meeting of all those in favour of the formation of the town of Paeroa into a borough will be held in the Choral Hall, Wharf Street, on Thursday, 16th April, 1914, at 8 p.m. Conveners: F. C. Thomas, F. E, Flatt, J. Ryan, A. E. Fielder, J. W. Graves, W. J. Moore, J. Nathan, W. J. Towers, F. Ott, F. Balcke."

The "Gazette" of the following day recorded that about eighty ratepayers attended the meeting and that Mr. Balcke was appointed to preside. He explained that the meeting was of those favourable to the formation of the borough, so if there were any present who were antagonistic to the proposal it was not competent for them to express their views, although no doubt an opportunity would be afforded them at a later meeting.

For years past, he said, the idea of forming Paeroa into a borough had been talked of in a desultory sort of a way, but now the proposal was taking definite shape. The time had arrived for them to take steps to improve the town, instead of being content to go on in the same old way. He suggested that the meeting appoint a committee to collect data as to boundaries, likely rateable value, the liabilities that would have to be taken over, and other information so that they would know exactly where they stood in the matter. When this information was collected the rate-payers, at a public meeting, could decide whether or not the time was opportune for the formation of a borough. Some argument followed as to the position of those who were antagonistic to the proposal, and it was shown that many were undecided but were merely present to obtain information.

Mr. W. J. Moore said that some sort of a balance sheet was wanted to show what the revenue would be and what it would cost. The County Council had an overdraft of £11,000, and portion would have to be taken over by the Borough. Following further argument it was decided, on the motion of Mr. F. E. Flatt, seconded by Mr. E. C. Morgan, "That this meeting of ratepayers form themselves into an association, to be known as the Paeroa Borough Movement Association."

A long argument ensued as to the proposed boundaries for the Borough, and on the conveners stating that the matter had only been discussed informally, Mr. C. W. Whitmore characterised the whole meeting as a farce — "nobody knows anything."

On the motion of Mr. F. E. Flatt, seconded by Mm. W. D. Nicholas, it was decided that a committee be appointed to collect all data, and those appointed were Messrs. W. J. Towers, W. D. Nicholas, J. Ryan, F. Balcke, F. E. Flatt, J. L. Hanna, J. Nathan, A. E. Fielder, F. Ott, F. C. Thomas and J. Graves, with power to add to their number.

It was suggested by Mr. F. C. Thomas that the committee draw up a petition to be signed by those in favour of a Borough, but this revived the question of boundaries and also raised a discussion as to whether the "five-shilling voters" could sign.

Mr. E. W. Porritt settled the first question by pointing out that boundaries must be described, but they could be altered by the Commission. However, for a further column in the "Gazette's" report, there was further argument on the boundary question and on the membership fee for the association. While this was going on, members were being enrolled and speakers were pointing out the advantage of forming a borough. Mr. Nathan expressed the opinion that the election of the Mayor every two years would be worth the money, to say nothing of the Borough Council. The idea of forming a borough was to advance more quickly than they would if they remained a little township on a county road. They had only two representatives on a council of nine members, and they had to depend on outside representatives for what they obtained.

Decision to Proceed

Finally it was agreed that the committee collect data and place it before the Chamber of Commerce, which had considered the question from time to time, and which had collected information. Mr. F. Balcke was appointed chairman of the association and Mr. W. D. Nicholas secretary, the financial members being Messrs. K. Coombes, C. Clews, W. Towers, H. O. Searle, P. Vuglar, F. C. Thomas, W. C. Dixon, Stanton, E. C. Morgan, F. Ott, J. Ryan, A. E. Fielder, E. Parry, E. Butler, J. Graves, J. Nathan, E. H. Andrews, G. Lamb, R. Roberts, J. L. Hanna, J. Hubbard, W. Taylor, D. Donnelly, F. E. Flatt, F. Balcke, E. Edwards and W. D. Nicholas.

A week later a committee meeting was held in the "Gazette" office, and the boundary, as defined on a plan, was adopted after slight amendments. The chairman and Mr. J. L. Hanna were deputed to interview Mr. H. M. Corbett, chairman of the Ohinemuri County Council, concerning the boundary. Mr. W. J. Moore was added to the committee and the secretary reported having enrolled the following new members: — F. Beattie, P. Parker, J. Walls, W. Waters, G. P. de Castro, F. C. Blyth, G. Dean, P. Keller, R. Waddingham and E. E. Gillman.

Proposed Boundaries

On June 15, 1914, the secretary reported to the committee that he had, in conjunction with the assistant county clerk, Mr. Lyndon Brenan, prepared a roll of the ratepayers of the proposed area, and that the number was 327 and 93 holders of miners' rights. The rateable values of the property were as follows: — Capital value, £211,853; unimproved value, £97,038; improvements, £114,815. The unrateable values were: — Capital value, £18,950; unimproved value, £8805; improvements, £10,145. The unrateable property consisted of Crown land, education reserves and church and Defence Department property. The area was from Thorp's bridge on the Puke Road to the magazine on the Paeroa-Karangahake Road. Owing to the increase in valuation of the main street sections since the valuation two years before the total would be considerably greater than the official figures. A rate of 1½d in the pound, together with subsidy, water charges, license fees, etc., would bring in £1600 a year, and £700 or £800 a year might be expected from the gold extraction works. The question of the proportion of the county overdraft which would have to be taken over would have to be determined by the commission, as also would the question of the water supply. The petition for the taking of a poll on the question was ready. The County Council had intimated that it would fight the proposal. The committee decided to lay the whole question before a public meeting.

Petition Signed

The public meeting on July 11, 1914, attracted a very large attendance, and the movement was given almost unanimous support. It was reported that although only 84 signatures were required on the petition, it had been signed by 135. The matter also received the unanimous support of the Paeroa Chamber of Commerce at its July meeting. Little of the matter is recorded in the "Gazette" for the rest of the year, the paper being full of war news, a controversy on Sunday observance, and the general election.

On December 23 the committee was advised that the commission had been appointed and would sit on January 13, 1915. It was decided to recommend the alteration of the boundaries. The Commission comprised Messrs. F. J. Burgess, S.M. (chairman), H. M. Skeet (Commissioner of Crown Lands) and W. F. Wallis (District Valuer). Mr. J. L. Hanna appeared for the petitioners, Mr. T. A. Moresby for the Ohinemuri County Council and some of the objectors, and Mr. E. W. Porritt for other objectors. The objectors were: — Mrs. Anna Thorp, John Kennedy, Mrs. Alice Kennedy, Mrs. Rebecca Dean, G. A. Wilson, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson, Asher Cassrels, the Ohinemuri County Council, the executors of the estate of the late Frederick Cock, Mrs. Ellen Barrett, Edward Shaw, Mrs. Lena Shaw, H. E. Hill (lessees of the Ohinemuri Jockey Club's property), Joseph Farrelly, the Hon. W. G. Nicholls, Patrick Treanor, E. W. Porritt, C. Whitmore, Mrs. E. Holwell, Mrs. A. Fauhl, R. Whitten, J. McMechan, P. E. Brenan, J. Holwell, W. H. Holwell, W. Fisher, R. A. Nixon, W. Armstrong, James Sinnett and a number of Maoris. Many of the objections were easily overcome, one side or the other giving away. The Commission inspected the area and heard evidence, and early in February, 1915, reported in favour of the petition, but on slightly amended boundaries.

The association, at the request of the Department of Internal Affairs, recommended Mr. Walter Waters as a person suitable for appointment as a returning officer. On April 26, 1915, he advertised a poll to be taken on May 20, 1915, on the proposal that a certain area (described) in Ohinemuri County be constituted a borough. The result was: For the proposal, 154; against the proposal, 77; informal, nil.

The work of the association was not yet finished, for it had to decide the date of the constitution of the borough. It recommended April 1, or, failing that date, July 1. It also decided that there be eight councillors, exclusive of the Mayor, and it nominated Mr. W. Waters to be the town clerk and returning officer and the person to prepare the roll of electors. It decided that the election be held on July 14, and the first meeting of the council at 7.30 p.m. on July 22 at the Coronation Chambers.

Borough Constituted

The borough was constituted as from July 1, 1915, and at the election Mr. W. J. Towers was elected unopposed as the first Mayor of Paeroa. There were fifteen candidates for the eight seats on the council, the result being: — H. R. Bush, 422; P. E. Brenan, 398; W. H. Taylor, 359; F. A. Balcke, 322; G. E. Allen, 303; A. E. Fielder, 281; J. W. Graves, 264; W. J. Ellis, 256; F. E. Flatt, 253 (all elected), G. Buchanan, 250; W. C. Dixon, 235; H. E. Hill, 213; W. M. Sorensen, 195; W. J. Byrne, 176; C. E. Clews, 175 (unsuccessful).

The first meeting of the council was held on July 22, 1915.

The following is a list of Mayors and Councillors who have held office since the constitution of the borough in July, 1915, until October, 1945: —

Mayors:

W. J. Towers, July, 1915, to May, 1919;

P. E. Brenan, May, 1919, to May, 1923;

W. Marshall, May, 1923, to May, 1941;

E. Edwards, May, 1941, to date.

Councillors

P.E. Brenan, July, 1915, to May, 1919 (deputy-Mayor 1917-1919), May, 1923, to May, 1938;

G. E. Allen, July, 1915, to May, 1917;

F. A. Balcke, July, 1915, to May, 1921;

H. R. Bush, July, 1915, to May, 1921;

W. J. Ellis, July, 1915, to May, 1917;

A. E. Fielder, July, 1915, to May, 1919;

J. W. Graves, July, 1915, to October, 1920;

W. H. Taylor, July, 1915, to May, 1921 (deputy-Mayor, 1915 to 1917, 1919 to 1921);

T. P. Vuglar, May, 1917, to May, 1925;

F. E. Flatt, May, 1917, to May, 1941;

A. White, May, 1919, to May, 1922;

W. Marshall, May, 1919, to May, 1923;

E. Edwards, October, 1920, to May, 1941 (deputy-Mayor, 1921 to 1941);

W. Bain, May, 1921, to May, 1925;

F. McDonald, May, 1921, to August, 1922;

G. P. Lamb, May, 1921, to May, 1925;

D. Leach, May, 1922, to May, 1923;

J. W. Silcock, August, 1922, to May, 1931;

H. M. Shand, May, 1923, to May, 1925, May, 1929, to date (deputy-Mayor, 1941 to date);

G. P. De Castro, May, 1925, to May, 1927;

H. J. Hare, May, 1925, to May, 1938;

J. Pinder, May, 1925, to November, 1928;

E. A. Porritt, May, 1925, to May, 1929;

W. Turner, May, 1927, to May, 1929;

H. H. Bray, May, 1929, to May, 1935;

W. E. Ward, May, 1929, to May, 1938;

C. W. Neaber, May, 1931, to May, 1933;

R. B. Dunlop, May, 1933, to May, 1938;

J. J. M. Crosby, May, 1935, to March, 1936;

C. C. Webb, April, 1936, to date;

B. Gwilliam, May, 1938, to May, 1944;

E. S. Moore, May, 1938, to May, 1944;

J. H. Walmsley, May, 1938, to date;

W. Smith, May, 1938, to May, 1944;

D. G. McMillan, May, 1941, to May, 1944;

W. A. Hodgson, May, 1941, to November, 1941;

F. C. Sparks, December, 1941, to May, 1944;

O. A. H. Allison, May, 1944, to date;

W. N. Chamberlain, May, 1944, to date;

R. P. Ganley, May, 1944, to date;

F. J. Johnston, May, 1944, to date;

E. L. Shaw, May, 1944, to date.

The Officers of the Paeroa Borough Council since July, 1915, to October, 1945, are as follows: —

Town Clerk and Treasurer:

W. Waters, July, 1915, to June, 1916;

H. G. Power, June, 1916, to July, 1916;

W. H. Mahoney, July, 1916, to August, 1919;

P. C. Furley, August, 1919, to January, 1923;

W. C. Alexander, January, 1923, to October, 1936;

A. A. Jenkinson (acting), October, 1936, to December, 1936;

R. S. Nicol, January, 1937, to date (absent on active service August, 1942 to July, 1944);

A. A. Jenkinson (acting), August, 1942, to July, 1944.

Foremen:

W. Neil, September, 1915, to May, 1936;

J. G. Knap, May, 1936, to date.