Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 13, May 1970

By Nell Climie

The "House at Paeroa" [see below - E] included in Eric Lee Johnson's fine book of drawings was designed and built by Mr. William Tetley, Architect, Surveyor and Farmer - an outstanding early settler in this district. Now in disuse it is situated on the corner where Mill Road joins Te Aroha Road and was named "Chellow Grange" after Mr. Tetley's old home in Heaton, Yorkshire, England. His father, Joshua was at one time Mayor of Bradford and William was the only son.

The Tetley family arrived in New Zealand in 1880 and in the first six months at Thames lost much money in the "City of Bradford" mine. A diary of that year records that Mr. Tetley was required to give an undertaking not to cause injury to the "Black Angel" - a neighbouring mine. In view of his religious nature this must have seemed a strange request! He was also interested in a Komata mine but this venture was equally unsuccessful.

Towards the end of 1880 Mr. Tetley bought land in the Mill Road area and was soon practising his profession. He designed the Weslean Churches for Paeroa, Karangahake, and Waihi and supervised the erection of many other early buildings such as the Drill Hall, the first Council Chambers, and Dairy Factory as well as Offices and Houses, (Dr. Smith, J.W .Nicholls). His own home built in 1885 was destroyed by fire and the loss of his valued effects caused great distress. However local firms came to his aid, Gibbons' Mill supplying timber and Messrs Hague Smith, corrugated iron for the new home - "Chellow Grange" - built about 1891.

Early settlers soon planted orchards and remnants remain today but there is now no evidence of the horticultural experiments pioneered by Wm. Tetley. One was the growing of 'sorghum' for molasses production and he estimated that not only could a Sugar Industry arise in Paeroa but that one strain would produce 480 gallons of molasses to the acre. He also grew peanuts and introduced tomatoes, while on the mechanical side he had the first local cream separator and instituted the wrapping of butter in paper.

Mr. J.B. Beeche, a retired Solicitor, who now lives with his family either in Waihi or in Tauranga remembers an amusing incident concerning Mr. Tetley (a devout Methodist) and his neighbour Mr. Cooper, (a devout Presbyterian). They agreed that a new fence between them was necessary, but could not agree on details so referred the matter to a Magistrate, each being represented by his Solicitor. The Magistrate gave his decision, but when the two litigants later met on the ground they decided to disregard it and quickly came to a satisfactory agreement.

Mr. Tetley was Foreman of Works for the Ohinemuri County Council 1886-1891 and did the preliminary survey of the Paeroa - Waihi Gorge Road. His diary states that on one occasion his horse was killed when it fell down a precipice and he had to walk home to Mill Road carrying his saddle. He was also a Justice of the Peace for some years, and the father of three sons and three daughters, one of the latter (Martha) dying at an early age before the family left England. Mr. Tetley died in 1906 and his wife in 1917.

The eldest son, Alfred, who was crippled during his school days, became an agent for the Auckland firm of Smith & Caughey Ltd., travelling all over Ohinemuri by horse and trap. Later he established his own drapery business in Belmont Road, Paeroa. In 1905 he married Miss Mary Ann Hill (a sister of Mr. George Hill, Sarah Tetley's husband) and built "Chellowdene", a short distance from the old homestead. After living there for several years be was forced through illness to leave for Taupo and sold both house and business to Mr.Frank North. (This home - now occupied by Mr. Gerrand - is marked by a kauri tree planted by Dr. Allan North). After a short absence, Alfred Tetley returned to Paeroa and built another house between "Chellow Grange" and "Chellowdene", residing there till his death in 1923. He was a deeply religious man and for many years a staunch worker in the Paeroa Methodist Church, where he was a lay-preacher and Sunday School Superintendent, often conducting services in out-lying places. Owing to a difference of opinion with one minister he later joined the Presbyterian Church.

About 1925 the family left for Waiheke Island where Mrs. Tetley died in 1951. There were five children, the two elder boys being well known Teachers. Alfred Angus, (Gus) has retired in Dargaville and Eric William who graduated M.Sc. at Auckland University and later became a Secondary School Inspector. He visited Paeroa College fairly recently before retiring to Waiheke Island. Betty (Mrs. F. Thompson) lives in Matamata, Jack died at the age of 5 and Mr. L.W. Tetley is in Auckland.

Joseph, the second son of William Tetley left Paeroa early, and had a grocery business at Mokai (near Taupo) and then in Auckland where he spent most of his later years. The third son John William was a good athlete and prominent cyclist. When the Boer War broke out he was working in the Mine Office at Karangahake. One of the first Paeroa Volunteers, he was noted for his courage and initiative. The story is told that when his regiment was impeded by a long line of newly erected high wire fence he quickly demonstrated a New Zealand way of dealing with it. Placing the butt of his rifle against each wire he tapped it with the side of his bayonet causing the wire to break easily. All along the fence line the example was followed. He remained in South Africa some time as his wife (nee Hamilton of Paeroa) joined him and their eldest son was born in Bloemfontein.

On returning to New Zealand John William Tetley settled on a Frankton Road farmlet in Waihi where he was employed as accountant with the Grand Junction Mining Coy. till it closed about 1924. As a side line, from about 1922 he was Secretary of the newly formed Waihi Co-operative Society which operated a store till 1931 on the site of John Barron's pharmacy. He also became Secretary-Manager for the Waihi Hospital Board - which often entailed the collection of heavy hospital accounts and the dispensing of a certain amount of "Charitable Aid" - a job fraught with difficulties.

There were three sons. John Hamilton, (Jack), who matriculated at Waihi District High School, entered P.W.D., thence to Agriculture Dept., obtaining his M.Sc. in New Zealand and a Doctorate in U.S.A. He was Professor of Zoology at Massey University until shortly before his death about 7 years ago. His wife, who survives him, was a noted portrait painter and Jack himself enjoyed painting landscape and seascape, especially when he visited Waihi Beach.

The second son William Hamilton Tetley was born and educated in Waihi. He entered the Teaching Profession and about three years ago retired from the position of senior master at Napier Boys High School. Harry was somewhat younger and is in practice as a Dentist in Christchurch.

William Tetley's daughter Mary (Mrs. Cochrane) later lived in Cambridge but has been dead for many years. Sarah (Mrs. G.H. Hill), the youngest, was born in Paeroa in 1884 and had a lengthy association with the district although she and her family spent a few years in Buckland after 1910. She died in 1960 aged 77 years survived by her husband and eight children three of whom still live in Paeroa.

Naomi is now in Albany, Frank (Paeroa) inherits his grandfather's interest in "health foods"; Harold (Manurewa); Ruth (Kohimarama); Alfred (Putaruru); Lawrence and John farm what was their Mother's share of the old estate on Cadman Road, and Grace is at Waimata. The remainder of the property was sold in 1927 to the Rasmussen family who built a new house a few years ago, but "Chellow Grange" still stands as a memorial of pioneering days.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: We are indebted to the Cyclopaedia of New Zealand, the late Mr. Jack Tetley for notes from his Grandfather's Diary, to other members of the family (especially Mr. Gus Tetley) for further information and to Mr. Norman Morton for notes regarding the Waihi branch of the family.

House at Paeroa, by Eric Lee Johnson

House at Paeroa, by Eric Lee Johnson

Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 13, May 1970
House at Paeroa, by Eric Lee Johnson