Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 7, May 1967
The subject of Mr Campbell Smith's Wood Engraving is one of the oldest remaining buildings in Tairua, and for many years was regarded as one of its most substantial homes. It was originally built by a Bushman called Bennett over 70 years ago and Mrs Bennett is reputed to have planted the Kauri Tree which grows beside it.
In 1899 the property changed ownership being purchased by the parents of Mr Wm. Lopes who still lives in Tairua and who was actually born in the old house. His father had a colourful history. Born of Portugese parents in the Cape Verde Islands he ran away to sea at the age of 14, joining a whaling ship which destined him for N.Z., and the Whangamumu Whaling Station near Russell. (A Whale's Tooth and a Harpoon, now in his son's possession are relics of those days). In 1894 he married Miss Ellen McLean in Auckland and in 1896 the lure of gum digging took the family to Tairua, and shortly afterwards to the house which was to be their home for many years.
Gradually, as more land was cleared a small farm was developed and a few cows contributed to the income of the family which increased to 9 children of whom 8 are still living. Mr Lopes (Sen), died in 1947 at the age of 84 and in 1950 the property was sold to Mr Amundsen and then to W. Farmer who unsuccessfully tried to make it into a Poultry Farm.
In 1960 the site was purchased by the late Mr Oliver Spinetto, who visualised the tourist potential of Tairua and planned a Motor Camp by installing the necessary amenities. He called it "Pinelea" because of the giant old pines that are like a drop-scene setting for the inviting grassed area so suitable for holiday campers. Thus after 70 years the "Bushman's Home", now owned by Mrs Spinetto, still stands midst its wild garden and gnarled fruit trees, to preside over a scene so changed in character. Yet it is reminiscent of the days when other cosmopolitans came to test their skill, first on the sea that washes that picturesque coast and then in the towering bush-clad hills, in the mines, and more permanently in the development of the land. We are fortunate that an Artist has so feelingly recorded the spirit of its early days. (Ed.)