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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 11, May 1969

By C. W. Malcolm

ERNEST WILLIAM MOORE who died in Sept. 1968 was born in Paeroa on l8th Nov. 1894, in the days when the town was young and still much in its pioneering stage. He was to follow in the footsteps of his father, William John Moore, in making a quite considerable contribution to the history of Paeroa in industry, in sport, and particularly in Fire Brigade activities.

When Ernie Moore was born in Paeroa the town did not possess a Fire Brigade, but he was to give to it fifty years of voluntary service. Fifty years on call at all hours of the day and night without remuneration and often at considerable sacrifice is surely a record of service that should not be forgotten. He joined the Brigade in 1909 at the age of fourteen, as Messenger, his father being the Brigade's Captain, and was only sixteen when he was elected Secretary, a position he held for over five years. Up to that time the Brigade had had twelve short term Secretaries. In 1925 it elected Ernest Moore as its Lieutenant, second in command to his father.

In 1950 he removed to Auckland for business reasons (see later) but while there continued his Fire Brigade service in one of the city Brigades. In 1933, following his return to Paeroa, he was re-elected to his former post of second-in-command. Late in 1945 his ageing father was made a Life Member with the life title of Advisory Superintendent, and on 2.7.46 when he stepped down, Ernie was elected to command the Brigade. His record of service might well have exceeded that of his father's 58 years had not the Fire Services Act made age-retirement compulsory, and Ernest Moore stepped out of the Service in 1960 with 50 years to his credit.

That 50 years meant more than just fighting the fires of half a century. There were fortnightly business meetings, practices, and the training of the Brigade. At some stages these musters were weekly. Ernie and his father knew the main buildings like the backs of their hands! They conducted the Brigadesmen through the largest buildings in practice for the real thing should it ever occur. They discussed and planned how they would fight fire should it break out in this large block or that, how they would attack it if it started at the front, at the back, if the wind was from one direction or another!

Ernest Moore attended the Paeroa School in Wood Street and commenced work in the Office of the Paeroa Court House in Willoughby Street. Deciding against office work, he took up employment with Brenan and Co., to learn the trades of coach-building and sign-writing. To these he added car spray-painting for which purpose he made a temporary transfer to Auckland. The skill of his craftsmanship was for many years to be seen in Paeroa's first Fire Engine which he built on a Ford chassis in Brenan's workshop.

He was "turned down" for World War 1, and it was during the Second World War that he set up his own business of car painting, car servicing, and petrol retailing at the service station on the corner near the Paeroa Hotel.

He was a keen rugby player, (East Football Club) and was at various times Captain of Komata Club and Paeroa. He was an enthusiastic participant in patriotic activities, Amateur Operetta, and numerous celebrations and fund raising for good causes. From the serious business of fire-fighting to the light-hearted revels of a town's entertainment and the healthy challenge of the sportsfield, Ernie Moore entered wholeheartedly into the life and activities of his home town and has earned a place in the records of its history.