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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 9, May 1968

MR. CLIFF FURNISS

(since 1948) has been with the Waterfront Industry Commission whose offices are in the Northern SteamShip Co's Building and we are grateful to Mr. lan Parlane of Paeroa for putting us in touch with him. He writes concerning the No.4 Journal we sent him: "I certainly found a great deal of valuable and absorbing material in it. And of course Mr. Silcock's Article was a highlight for me. - The Article about the Maori Pa at Kopuarahi interested me as there was a natural clay knoll on our farm at Torehape showing clear evidence of Maori occupation at some time. I found totara stakes from the palisade buried in the peat round the knoll and an old resident told me that when he first came in 1915 some of the palisade was still standing. The last time I was through, I saw that the hillock had been razed by a bulldozer and a house built on the remains. I wondered if they had found any artifacts; I came across a small stone adze or chisel and a piece of obsidian (1927-38). (The substance of the Piako River article by Mr. Furniss first appeared in "Marine News" and we gratefully acknowledge permission to use.) Ed.


MRS. MARGARET SHAW (nee Bradshaw)

spent her girlhood at Komata where her people were faming and horses her great interest. She used to ride in shows and won the open Jumping Championship. She spent some years Nursing in Auckland and has vivid memories of the 1918 Epidemic [flu – E]. This was followed by a period of Tailoring with Mr. Tom Brough. Returning to Paeroa in 1921 she married Eugene Lewis Shaw, (a half-brother of Ned Shaw, County Engineer). Her husband was Caretaker of the Racecourse for 27 years, and while they lived there Mrs. Shaw took up Golf, being Secretary for 5 years. After the Links were moved to Rotokohu Road, she was Captain for 3 years and was made a Life Member. In later years she became a prominent Croquet player and still enjoys her game, but her chief interest has always been Ambulance work, not only attending the weekly Tuesday meetings but also being ever ready for duty, especially over holiday periods. After the death of her husband in 1948 she moved to the house on the corner of Marshall and William Street (once the home of Mr. Cameron, Photographer), where her carefully tended garden is always a joy to see.

Mrs. Shaw already had a long service Ambulance medal, bars and silver star but in April 1966 she was the recipient of a very high honour in the form of an illuminated address. This was a "PRIORY VOTE OF THANKS", from the New Zealand branch of the Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in recognition of her outstanding service to the Order. (4 years in Auckland and 36 years in Paeroa).


MRS. PHYLLIS CORY-WRIGHT

a grand-daughter of the late Archdeacon Kissling of Auckland went to live in Tairua when she married Harold Cory-Wright in 1919. About 1911 the Cory-Wright brothers had bought 3,000 odd acres of rough land along the coast and sloping up to the ranges. Much of it had been covered with kauri forest though there were about 200 acres of tea-tree on the river flats. Among the first farmers in the district, the family did much pioneer work that helped to establish Tairua as well as to "break in" the land. During the slump they "worked" some of the smaller remaining kauri and milled what was left in "jams" or had survived the onslaught of the earlier bushmen because it was difficult of access. The steep land was sheep and cattle country, but soon a herd of cows was milked on the flats which are now subdivided into valuable sections.

Harold Cory-Wright was a Councillor for many years, riding over the ranges to meetings at Thames. He was particularly interested in obtaining better access for the district and was one of those instrumental in securing the Kopu-Hikuai Road, but was not spared to see it materialise. His brother Cyril who had farming at heart, was killed in a plane crash in 1931.

Mrs. Cory-Wright, in spite of poor health was called upon to help many, and hers was an open house at Tairua, with assurance of a "cuppa" or a bed for those who needed it. Visitors ranged from the regular tramps, some of whom would leave a pile of split wood in return for hospitality, to Ministers of various denominations. It was a standing joke that "Satan" was once sent to fetch the Minister (the well-remembered Rev. Norrie) who had arrived by scow. Satan of course was the farm hack. "Nick" was another hack Harold rode to Council meetings trusting his 6th sense judgment even in the dark. If he considered the track unsafe he would not budge until a torch reassured him. In 1961 Mrs. Cory-Wright, now a widow, went to live in her old family home in Auckland where she maintains a great variety of interests and particularly her love for painting. Her son Derek and family occupy the homestead on the farm and her three daughters are all married; Pat who was a Nursing Inspector is in Wanganui, Cherry at Coromandel and Philippa (Mrs. M. S. Gamble) lives at Tirohia.


MISS LEILA THORP

a grand-daughter of Joshua Thorp, Paeroa's first European Settler, has spent the whole of her life to date here. Joining the staff of the Bank of New Zealand in 1915, ledger keeping and typing, she finally became the Manager's confidential typiste. She retired in 1945 after 30 years service, but her contribution to the life of Paeroa far exceeds her outstanding business career, and it is with great regret that residents learn that she is leaving the district. She will live with her widowed sister, Mrs. Eunice Wilson at Takapuna.

Leila's father, Mr. John W. Thorp was a boy of 5 when his family settled at the Puke, near Paeroa in 1842 and apart from periods at Wesley College where he was educated, and those prospecting or soldiering he spent his life farming and surveying in the district. He married twice (1st family Connie Bob and Charles). Leila is the eldest of his 2nd family of 3 daughters, one of whom (Muriel) died last year. Leila spent 50 years in the Puke Road home which has just been sold. Previously the first large pit-sawn house "Donburn" was about 200 yards nearer the river. The family had the first Tennis Court in Paeroa and canoes and row-boats on the river. Mr. John Thorp was a Maori scholar, kept exceedingly interesting Diaries and his books and artifacts formed a fine collection. He died in 1919.

During her School days, Leila saw the establishment of a small Secondary Department - Standard 7 - in the old Wood Street building when it became Paeroa District High School in 1902. On leaving she worked in the office of J.L. Hanna, Solicitor, then adjacent to the old B.N.Z, and till 1915, was a clerical Assistant for Le Manquais and Lamb, Timber Merchants, on the present site of the T.A.B.[Totaliser Agency Board - E]

The Puke Road became tremendously important when shipping ceased to use the Junction Wharf in 1901. Large hoppers, each holding 600 tons of coal were erected at the Puke landing and into these, scows discharged their loads of coal which was then run into 8 horse-team wagons and conveyed mainly to the mines. Because of this heavy freight cartage the road was usually in an atrocious condition, and for many years the Thorp girls negotiated the two miles twice daily, at first on foot and later by cycle. (After leaving School Muriel developed unusual skills in the Paeroa office of Mr. Gillman, the Architect responsible for many of the plans for N.Z. Dairy Factories). They also found time to play Golf on the Race Course and Tennis on courts in the domain later used for Croquet. Dances and Regattas on the river were events to which they keenly looked forward, but the 1st World War changed the course of many then young lives.

Leila Thorp still has many social interests and continued to be a keen member of the Paeroa Contract Bridge Club. She drives her car and has maintained many skills as well as her sense of humour and her helpfulness to others. Her hospitality is well known especially by those who, when she was living alone, went to her as "boarders" and discovered "a home away from home" - as her many animals have done. But the large house and its responsibilities became a liability and now she will welcome an easier life and time to browse. Parting with old associations was not easy but Leila will always be remembered in Paeroa with great affection.


MR. and MRS. BLACKMORE

now living at Northcote, are well-remembered for their public spirit by the farming community who struggled with the land in the days when blades of grass were few and Waihi's closest cattle saleyard was Hikutaia and pigs went to Waitoa. When the Raily [railway ? – E] was being built on the Plains, the senior football team there consisted of all Maoris, except Ron Eastwood and Albert Blackmore. He and his wife gave great service to Federated Farmers and W.D.F.P. [Women's Division of Federated Farmers - E].


MR. R. E. (Ron) SKINNER

was a Waihi boy who was the third person employed when Mr. Wrigley commenced the work which developed into Akrad as we know it to-day. After 33 years with the firm (including 4½ years with the Forces) he is intimately acquainted with all phases of the work from the production angle and his present position of factory Manager is one of great responsibility.


MR. O. C. STEPHENS

for the past 16 years has been employed by the Thames Valley Electric Power Board and since 1957 has been the Board's Chief Engineer. He emphasizes that the Article under his name has appeared in both the Waihi Gazette and the New Zealand Electrical Journal (to which we make acknowledgement), and that he is responsible only for certain technical information and historical facts relating to the Hora Hora - Waikino 50 k.v. transmission line.


MR. HARSANT

We owe our contact with him to two of our members; the late Mr. Hammond, and Mr. C. Murdock of Hikutaia, who, through Dr. Liggens (Collector of Maori Artifacts) has known this man of four score years since 1942. Mr. Murdock says:

"No one is more respected on the Peninsula than this generous, hospitable historian who is one of nature's gentleman". Mr. Harsant has lent us his Memoirs, a collection of tales of remembered places and incidents linked with his past and that of his family. He and brothers Walter and Jack lived for a time in the Wigmore "big house" now occupied by his son Vaughan Harsant and family, and we feel that it will require several articles to do justice to the family story and to continue the history of Hahei, a place of scenic beach beauty in the region of Whitianga.

Fred Harsant, another son, living at Hahei has become famous as a saddle maker and recently was featured on T.V. The casual holiday maker would have but little idea of the arduous efforts of the early pioneers who settled this bay nor of the outstanding family that remains here and keeps alive an ancient craft as well as its storied past.


FATHER O'MEARA

has been parish Priest at Paeroa for over 30 years. He is well known to all sections of the community, his ready wit and sincerity having endeared him to everyone. A memorable occasion was at the tine of his first visit back to Ireland about 20 years ago when the town tendered a public farewell to him.

He has taken an active part in all sports and still manages the odd game of cricket. (He does not consider he is old enough yet to play bowls!) He has always had particular interest in Basketball and is patron of the local association.

A highlight of his long period in Paeroa will be the opening of his new Church and he will be a very proud and happy man on that day.