Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 4, September 1965

Dave McWatters

We would like to pay a tribute to Paeroa's veteran businessman Dave McWatters.

The name McWatters was known in Thames and Paeroa, Waihi and Waitekauri, long before the turn of the century. It was a feature of those times that a successful business usually had branches in neighbouring places, notwithstanding difficulties of transport. When the youthful Dave McWatters (youngest of 12 children) came from Thames to Paeroa in 1902, his older brother was already well known in the district as one who had a chain of "general stores". The term "general" covered in a small way what "departmental" implies to-day - groceries, bread, hardware, boots and almost any household commodity. However Dave came to work in Mr. Cullen's Drapery Store and there he met his fate, for Annie Phillips who lived in Taylors Ave. also worked for Mr. Cullen. In 1896 Mr. & Mrs. John Phillips and family had moved from their farm on Puke Rd. to what is now one of the oldest homes in Paeroa (and Mr. and Mrs. Dave McWatters still reside there, midst the stately trees and lawns of yesteryear).

Two of the Phillips boys went to the South Island but returned after their Mother's death in 1912 and began contracting. With horses, ploughs and scoops they put in roads in the "Miller and Cullen Estate" the hill behind their home. Bob had previously learned the saddlery trade with Charlie Vincent (Sen.) but later returned to Greymouth. When Annie and Dave married they remained with Mr. Phillips rather than leave him alone. It proved a happy arrangement and Phil, Margaret (Mrs. Oliver Hare) and Don were born there,

Eventually Dave and his wife bought Mr. Cullen's business (beside the National Bank) later selling it to Mr. Percy Williams, who in turn sold to Mr. Gregson, the victim of the fire that destroyed the premises 2 years ago. Meanwhile the McWatters had built a new shop which they had the misfortune to lose during the depression, (now Norman's Photography). Later they acquired their present business where Dave in his 80th year and his son, Phil give excellent service to men, and cheerfully answer many a query about Paeroa's past.