Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 8, October 1967


After leaving the Imperial Service, Colonel Nepean Kenny came to New Zealand in 1864 to farm in Marlborough, but was asked to take command of the Waihi Redoubt near Hawera. Following the disbandment of the Armed Constabulary the family moved to Thames and then to Paeroa where Mr Kenny was appointed Clerk of the Ohinemuri County Council in 1887. For many years he was Hon. Colonel of the Hauraki Regiment, and was one of the original members of the N.Z. Institute of Surveyors. His knowledge proved of great value in connection with the early work of the Council which he served for 21 years before reverting to his profession in a private capacity.

The Kenny family lived first in Junction Road and then in Bennett Street and Mrs. Kenny died in 1909. There were in all 3 daughters and 5 sons two of whom, Thomas (the eldest) and Courtenay, became Registered Surveyors and joined their father in the firm of Kenny & Sons. Their office records covered many of the mining claims and land-subdivisions of their time. They shared a deep interest in their environment, especially the hills, the bush and the rivers, and it is not surprising that while Mr. Kenny Sen. originated the Photographic Society and organised regular picnics and excursions the members of his family were also foundation members, notwithstanding their scholarly and somewhat retiring dispositions. This led to the establishment of the Rowing Club and the Netherton Annual Regatta, many people having boats of their own in those days. Thomas Kenny spent most of his adult life in Paeroa and no one was more highly respected. Courtenay, who was the fourth child of the Kenny family was born at Waihi Redoubt in 1877 and completed his education in Paeroa, and was particularly interested in Boating and Tennis. After taking up Surveying he did a lot of work in connection with the development of the Hauraki Plains. A foundation member of the Ohinemuri Rifle Volunteers he was a crack shot, and on the outbreak of 1st World War went overseas, had considerable service as a Sergeant in France and returned after the Armistice with a severe head wound. On recovery he was with the Lands Dept., doing Surveys at Whakatane, Urewera, and Taranaki. Returning to Paeroa on the death of his brother Tom in 1932, he took over the family survey practice and no one had a closer acquaintance with Ohinemuri than Courtenay who recorded much valuable information concerning its history. He maintained his office as an interest after disposing of the practice to Mr. John Hogan and his unassuming and kindly nature earned for him a very high regard. Long before he died in 1962 at the age of 85 he was looked upon as one of Paeroa's grand old men. Neither he nor his brother Tom ever married.

Of the remainder of the family, two died in their youth and Walter and Charlie moved further afield. Mrs. Herman Bray (nee Daisy Kenny) was born in Paeroa and is now the sole survivor of an outstanding family. We are indebted to her for details concerning her sister Alice, a very exceptional person of whom Paeroa is justly proud.


(By D. Bray).

Alice was the third child of Nepean Kenny born on 31st August 1875. After very little schooling she stayed at home to assist in the care of the younger members of the family, with a lively intellect and a studious nature her education was at home - mostly on the literary angle - including French self taught. Although having many interests it was to literature that she gave a life long service. Her first success came at the age of 15 winning a literary competition organised by the Auckland Star. From that time until a few years of her death she wrote copiously supplying articles, short stories and poems to many New Zealand and Australian newspapers and Magazines over a period of 60 or more years. She had published in Australia two full length books - "The Rebel" and "The Elmslie Mystery" and a series of books of adventure for boys and girls published by A. &. A.W. Reed.

Her remarkable characteristic as a writer was her versatility. Her published writings ranged through stories - short and long - plays and poems and lyrics on subjects ranging through adventure, religion, and fantasy. Her lyrics for children came under this latter heading and have a charm of their own. She achieved the columns of "Punch" with such a poem -"The Cat and the Broom". This was again published in "Child Verses from Punch" and again in a volume of verse by Kiss Kenny. It was also copied in a School Text book without acknowledgement or consent. Such is the official attitude to N.Z. writers. On two occasions she won the British Drama League competition for one act plays, this at around the age of 80.

1887 until 1937 Alice lived in Paeroa and was active in all that town's appropriate affairs. She played tennis and hockey, at that time the fashionable winter season game. For many years she was Captain of the Paeroa Ladies Hockey Club, incidently a leading Ladies Club of the Auckland Province. For some years she ran a Kindergarten school until the death of her mother in 1909 required her presence at home. From 1925 until leaving Paeroa to live with her sister, Mrs. Herman Bray, in Auckland in 1937, she was the Librarian at the Public Library. After a long period of failing health she died in 1960. Throughout her long life she achieved much but her greatest achievement was the respect, esteem and the love of her contemporaries.