Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973


ACKNOWLEDGEMENT. I am indebted to Lt. Colonel W.H. Simpson, Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army, Auckland, for his great courtesy in placing at my disposal the records of the Paeroa Corps. These are highly valuable documents, quite irreplaceable, and not intended to leave the custody of the Salvation Army. As one so often finds in gathering local history, there are gaps to be regretted but still much important information fortunately available in such records. It is now our loss that busy people of those exciting days did not realise they were making history.

THIS RECORD aims, as far as it is possible, to place on record a concise account of the far reaching impact upon the town and district of a unique religious organization; an impact more extensive and more significant than even its own members were aware.

HOW IT BEGAN: 1882 GENERAL BOOTH chose two officers at twenty-four hours' notice to leave London, sail half-way round the globe and establish the Salvation Army in New Zealand. Captain George Pollock, aged 20, commenced the work in Dunedin in 1883, white Lieutenant Edward Wright, aged 19, faced the hostile mobs of Auckland to gain a footing.

In 1896 N.Z. Headquarters ordered another two young men, Captain Macaulay and Lieutenant Green to "open fire" in Paeroa. It was on 1st December 1896 that they commenced the work of the Salvation Army in the town with their first soldier support them - Mr. Fredk. le Manquais, a Salvationist who had moved to Paeroa from Thames six months previously.

BUILDING FROM SCRATCH: The growth of The Salvation Army in all parts of the world has been a phenomenon of Church history and its development in Paeroa was no exception.

Established churches were already in the field when a virtually penniless handful of dedicated enthusiasts set up their banner, commenced street meetings to attract those with no religious affiliations, found a hall in which to conduct worship, unashamedly solicited the financial support of the public, acquired brass instruments, formed a band of players, and became a recognised force for good in the life of the town and district.

THE SALVATION ARMY HALL: The Salvation Army in Paeroa has operated from three Halls:

1. The Choral Hall in Wharf Street.

2. The Druids' Hall in Bradley Street.

3. The Salvation Army Hall - corner Albert and Corbett Streets.

  1. WHARF STREET where the river steamers arrived regularly from Auckland and Thames, was the hub of the town in the gold-mining days, and here the Salvation Army rented its first hall. In JOURNAL No.3 - article on Wharf St., by the late Mrs. E.R. Silcock [see Journal 3: Wharf Street, Paeroa - E] - there is mention of the two halls in Wharf Street, the one nearer the river used as a theatre and concert hall, the other occupied by the Salvation Army. Memory tells me this was known as the CHORAL HALL. In JOURNAL No.10 page 49 [see Journal 10: Early Musical History Paeroa - E] it is recorded that Paeroa once had a Choral Society. (See No. 1 on Map).
  2. BRADLEY STREET (No. 2 on accompanying street map). For some time before 1915 the Druids' Hall (since destroyed by fire) was used by the Salvation Army as its hall.
  3. A HALL IS BUILT (No. 3 on map). Opened by the then Territorial Commander of The Salvation Army, Commissioner Hodder on 5 May 1915, this hall (now the Baptist Church) comprised a main hall with an extensive platform for the Band and a speaking rostrum, a Band-room, Officers' room, Young People's hall and other amenities. It was prominently sited on the corner of Albert St., and Corbett Street in full view of the town's main thoroughfare.

The appreciation of the work of the Salvation Army by the Local businessmen and townsfolk is clearly shown by the fact that they contributed almost half the cost of the building - a considerable amount for those days of over £300.

The accompanying list of donors contains the names of many well-known Paeroa citizens. The amounts donated must be considered in the light of this fact - that in those days before the present inflationary spiral the weekly wage of a working man (actual case of one of the donors) was just over £2 ($4) for a 44-hour week!

PUBLIC SUPPORT: Donors to Salvation Army Hall Building Fund 1915 –

(The letter (s) denotes that the donor was a member of the Salvation Army).

Mr. Hague-Smith £50. Mr. F. Le Manquais (S) ₤30. Colonel E.W. Porritt £25. Mr. J.L. Hanna £20. Mr. J. Brenan ₤10.

Donations of £5.: Mr. G. Lamb, Captain Russell (S), Mr. W.J. Ellis Mr. Frank Ott, Mr. W. McWatters, Mr. W. D. Nicholas, Mr. W. J. Towers, Mr. A. Cassrells, Mr. W. Dixon, Mr. A. C. Hubbard, A. Stewart and Coy., Mr. H.E. McMurdo, Mr. H.M. Corbett, Mr, R.J. Roberts, Mr W.M. Cullen, Mr. J.A. Reid, Mr. Chas. Malcolm (S), Hon. W.G. Nicholls, Mr. G.E. Allen, Mr. Alick Clarke (S), Mr. S. Fisher, Mr. G. Buchanan, Mr. Geo. Sargeant, Mr. G.H. Vowles, Miss M. Jackson (S), Mr. H E. McMurdo (S).

Donations from £3 to 10/-: Miss M. Thomas (S), Rev. J. Lea, Mr. H. Stansfield, Mr. A. Kitchen, Mr. E.E. Gillman, Mr. P. Keller, Mr. Hora Turanui (should this be Haora?), Mr. W.E. Frogley, Mr. E. Cooper Mr. J. Brooks (S) Mr. N. Brown, Mr. D.D. Underwood (S), Mr. Laughton, Mrs. Thomas, Lieutenant Mellor (S).

Many of the names in this list made history in their various fields in Paeroa. It is interesting too, to see two representatives of the Maori race, the Hon. W.G. Nicholls and the other well-known citizen.

The Salvation Army Hall so largely subscribed for by non-members of the Army, was, appropriately, to become more than a meeting place for local Salvationists. An important occasion at regular intervals was the visit of each new Territorial Commander of the Army in New Zealand. Because of the world-wide nature of the Salvation Army's operations these Officers of the Higher Command were travelled men of international repute. Usually welcomed by the Mayor at a public well-attended meeting, such visitors gave addresses that were informative, educational, and entertaining. One remembers Commissioners Hodder and Hoggard. In 1929 Commissioner James Hay OBE who had just played a leading part in the drama of the Salvation Army's first High Council in London, needed the theatre to accommodate those who wished to hear him. Commissioner J. Evan Smith was a distinguished visitor who had been Private Secretary to General William Booth and also to General Bramwell Booth. His reminiscences were quite unique. In 1966 came Commissioner Davidson among whose honours was the Order of the Sacred Treasure awarded by the Emperor of Japan for his work in that country. Such leaders who had served in London, Africa, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, America, Europe, and elsewhere brought a wealth of interest, learning, and culture to Paeroa audiences.

THE ARMY IN THE STREET: A glance at the accompanying street map showing the pattern of the Salvation Army's open-air meetings and the routes of the marches to the Hall, reveals graphically something of the coverage attained by this feature of the Army's organization. There is no measuring the impact of the music of the brass bands that for so many years resounded in the streets of Paeroa. In his article Music in Paeroa (JOURNAL 11) [see Journal 11: Music in Paeroa 1908 to 1928 - E] T.A. Moresby, Mus. B, LRSM, writes of the educational, musical and religious impact of the Salvation Army Band upon children and adults alike, giving to many the first sight and sound of a band.

The map shows a general pattern which was, of course, varied from time to time. It indicates the principal open-air stands:-

(A) Regular Sunday evening stand: 6.15 p.m. Belmont Road (Main Street) between Railway Station, the Paeroa Hotel, Montrose Boarding House, etc. Far and wide floated the music of the Band - at one time heard by passing Church-goers and others listening in nearby homes or places of accommodation.

(B) Central stand: late shopping night and sometimes on Sunday evenings especially after the removal of the railway station and the destruction by fire of the large Montrose House.

(C) First Sunday in the month (10 a.m.) near Salt's Railway Boarding House (since destroyed by fire) and in Junction Road area.

(D) Second Sunday (10 a.m.): Cnr. Wood and Nahum Streets. Note the long march to the Hall for the morning service!

(E) Third Sunday: Corner station Road and Quarry Road.

(F) Fourth Sunday: Cnr. Miller Ave. and Kennedy Street. As in the other cases there was usually another intermediate stand on the march to the Hall.

(G) Fifth Sunday: Cnr. Hill and Cullen Streets - and the long march!

THE CORE OF THE CORPS: Though Church Ministers remained some years in each charge, it was for many years the practice of the Salvation Army to set one year as the term for an Officer to command a Corps. Each brought a fresh impetus and new interest but the growth and continuing progress of the work depended upon the number of dedicated workers the Corps was fortunate enough to possess. For many years the success of the Army in Paeroa depended largely upon the number of Salvationist families living in the town.

The Salvation Army in Paeroa, map

The Salvation Army in Paeroa, map

Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 17, June 1973
The Salvation Army in Paeroa, map

Fredk. Le Manquais (see separate article) was from the start until his sudden death in 1922 at the age of 54, a pillar of strength to the Army and a highly respected figure in the town. He was a transfer from the Salvation Army in Thames. Other outstanding members (see below) were also transfers from other parts. But the Salvation Army aimed at capturing the uncommitted "outsider" and enrolling him as a soldier in the ranks.

Charles Malcolm was such an acquisition and a living example of the value of the Salvation Army open-air meeting. Drawn by the lure of Karangahake gold, he came from Australia, arriving in Paeroa by river steamer on Sunday 21 November 1897. That same evening, his first in New Zealand, the Salvation Army in the main street of the town arrested his attention and his life was given a new direction. Forty-five years later the Corps History Book records: "A veteral comrade and a good Salvationist has been promoted to Glory. The large cortege and full hall in spite of an extremely wet day showed the impression his life had made on Paeroa and the District". Three Bands headed the cortege.

David D. Underwood: The Underwood Family, Mrs. Underwood and their sons Victor Gordon, and Howard, were an outstanding Salvationist family. Their home at the far end of Coronation Street was used as a "Band-room" for training all the boys available from S.A. families to play instruments and this was, for many years, the backbone of a band of outstanding merit. Gordon in particular was a top class euphonium player, his brothers also being excellent bandsmen. Mr. Underwood, having once been a Salvation Army Officer as well as being Bandmaster and Corps Sergeant-major, conducted meetings with marked ability and was a splendid speaker.

The Brock Family: Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Brock Salvationists from Australia were an asset to Paeroa. Mr. Brock was an excellent cornetist and their sons Ernest and Jim both became Bandmasters in Paeroa.

The Brooks Family: also Salvationists who moved to Paeroa, provided four members of the Band - father and three sons being players.

The McDonald Family living in Paeroa, were an acquisition in the best Army tradition. Some active Salvationist rendered the invaluable service of inviting the children to the Sunday School, with what a far-reaching result! Four of the boys became bandsmen. But what must be a record for any family in any Church is the fact that four of them - two sisters and two brothers - became Officers in the Salvation Army ministering in far spread parts of New Zealand in important commands, one holding the post of Private Secretary to a succession of Territorial Commanders at National Headquarters in Wellington. They were Major S. McDonald, Major H. McDonald, Brigadier Roy McDonald, and Brigadier H. (Ted) McDonald.


It is Salvation Army practice to extend the work from the centre to what are officially designated "outposts" the following being established and attached to Paeroa:


Netherton: 1916 on May 25 the Band travelled by launch down the river to give a concert in the Netherton Hall.

1923 on February 21 the Band travelled by road (in a lorry) to Netherton for the Harvest Festival.

Ern Brock (and others) regularly cycled the five miles to Netherton to teach Sunday School.

Hikutaia: 1923 February 28 the Band travelled in three cars for the Harvest Festival in the Hikutaia Public Hall.

Ern Brock and Gordon Underwood, travelling on their bicycles, taught the Sunday School, assisted for a number of years by the Hanlen family (notably Pearl and Eva). The latter and Gordon Underwood were later married in the Paeroa Salvation Army Hall. In 1923 a Sunday School picnic in Alley's paddock was attended by 150 children and 40 adults. The Netherton scholars crossed the river by ferry (free) while the Paeroa party arrived by train.

Kaihere and Torehape: Commandant Richard Sawyer had been an early Salvation Army Officer in charge at Paeroa. Retired to the Hauraki Plains, he carried on the work he loved, establishing these out posts with regular meetings for adults as well as young people.

Torehape is about 4 miles from Kaihere.

Tirohia: 1936 Louis Gallagher and John Hill established here a Sunday School Outpost.

Wharepoa: 1940 established under Major and Mrs. Rangi Moore who were in charge of Paeroa for an unusually long term of four years.

Maratoto Valley: 1955 saw weekly meetings held in the homes of the Bennett, Norton and Sutton families.

Y.P. Councils, a feature of Salvation Army organization where young people were gathered at a centre for a series of meetings conducted by Staff Officers from Headquarters, were regularly held in Paeroa bringing together the young folk from all the above outposts and even further afield. Who can measure the religious, social, cultural, and educational influences brought to bear on so many?

OF INTEREST TO WOMEN: THE HOME LEAGUE was inaugurated in London in 1907 by Mrs. General Bramwell Booth. An organization for women, its membership was extended to all who wished to attend irrespective of any Church affiliation. Its aims were the promotion of happy home life together with spiritual development.

In 1923 Mrs. Colonel MacInnes and Mrs. Brigadier Gunn visited Paeroa "in connection with the Home League" and 21 women attended.

In 1964 a Salvationist Major Ton Soon from Singapore addressed the women of the Paeroa Home League when 82 were present.

Numerous other activities (social, charitable, finance-raising) were more or less typical of any such group, but the international nature of the Salvation Army and its territorially organized structure make available from time to time a varied range of interesting and informative speakers, often from overseas.


For many years, especially before the advent of radio, t.v., and the "talkie" film the Annual "Demonstration" (the SA word for "concert") drew full and appreciative audiences to Wharf Street's Central Theatre where the talents of the Army's young folk were displayed with credit to their teachers. The Concert Chamber of the large Criterion Theatre was also used on occasion. Both of these theatres have been lost to the town by disastrous fires.


By a happy arrangement the Salvation Army, Methodist, and Presbyterian Sunday Schools annually attended each other's Sunday afternoon function en masse, walking in orderly and colourful procession along the main street footpaths from their own Church to the place of assembly. Crowds of children in their Sunday best, arranged on wooden tiers erected for the occasion, singing their special anniversary songs, presented a sight long to be remembered.

SCOUTS AND GUIDES. The Salvation Army's equivalents of these movements were to the fore in the 1920's when the record shows them in separate camps at Waihi Beach under the direction of Captain and Mrs. Watkins.


1964 The Youth Club went to the Chateau.

1966 - March: Paeroa and Waihi Youth Clubs visited Rotoroa Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

In August they visited Mt. Ruapehu.

A JUNIOR YOUTH CLUB was formed in Paeroa.

Paeroa, Thames, Te Aroha, Waihi Clubs join in Talent Quest.

In October the S.A. hold a DIVISIONAL SPORTS DAY at Waihi.

Paeroa entered senior basketball and junior rugby teams.

In the same year Paeroa Boys' Rhythm Group with guitars and electronic equipment, and the Girls' Singing Group were being looked to as "an asset to the Corps."

1967 A DIVISIONAL CORPS CADET RALLY (another aspect of S.A. Youth work) was held during a weekend at Paeroa, gathering young people from various parts of the Province. On the Monday they journeyed to Te Aroha for recreation.

YOUTH COUNCILS held annually using Paeroa as the natural centre, brought together young folk from as far afield as Tauranga, Waihi, Te Aroha, Thames, Kaihere, Hikutaia, etc., for inspiring weekends under the direction of senior and experienced Staff Officers specially charged with this work.

Stirring occasions they were when led by such visitors as Captain (Dr) Kingsley Mortimer, a New Zealander serving as a Medical Missionary in Africa. (Now Professor of Anatomy at Auckland, with a world-wide reputation).



Monday 2.9.1912:



At the CRITERION THEATRE, Paeroa, last night after Church hours a memorial service was held. Mr. E. W. Porritt presided and made reference to the good work and splendid organization General Booth had been instrumental in building.

Addresses were delivered by Envoy D. D. Underwood, Captain Willetts, Lieutenant Thompson, Rev. W. Lea of the Methodist Church, and Rev. Gow (Presbyterian).

Hymns were rendered by the Choir of the Methodist Church and solos were sung by Mr. W. F. North.

The Dead March was played by Miss E. Casley.


Monday 26.8.1912: At St. Aidan's, Karangahake, yesterday morning, at the Public Hall Komata, yesterday afternoon, and at St. Paul's Church last night, the Vicar Rev. J. P. Cowie, before beginning his sermon, made reference to the late General Booth. He said General Booth was an instance of what one man could do for humanity when he loved his fellowman......

Through his great organization, tens of thousands of people had been helped and the Vicar felt sure he was saying what was in the minds of his congregation when he said they all sympathised with their fellow Christians of the Salvation Army in the loss of their great leader, thanked God for the good he had been able to do, and prayed that his successors might have grace to continue his good works on behalf of humanity.


Apart from its own meetings and marchings in the streets, the Band frequently led Civic Parades and provided appropriate music on such occasions as Anzac Day commemorations, especially when there was no Town Band in existence. It was therefore a distinct asset to the town.

There were fluctuations in its numbers when Salvationist families left Paeroa, its numbers increasing again when some enthusiast, following the example of Mr. Underwood, took in hand the training of young players.

Bandmasters: Mr. D.D. Underwood, Ernest Martin, Ernest Brock, Jim Brock (both before and after his World War II service overseas), Walter Hewson an ex-Salvation Army Officer, and in later years Mr. Bert Lindsey and Charles Jarvis.

Events of Importance:

1914 Troops leaving for World War I were farewelled by a crowd at Paeroa Railway Station, the S.A. Band providing music on the station platform.

1916 Easter Band visited Te Aroha, playing in the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches and in the theatre where the congregation numbered 325. Te Aroha was regarded as an Outpost of Paeroa Corps.

1916 25 April First Anzac Commemoration: Capt. Gill Inglis gave the address. Band accompanied the hymns and played the Dead March in Saul with spine-tingling drum effects.

1919 25 May: Band gave concert in Netherton travelling by Launch.

Band for week-ends at Thames, Morrinsville, Te Aroha.

1923 21 Feb.: Band at Netherton.

28 Feb.: Band at Hikutaia.

25 April Band leads Civic Anzac Day Service Central Theatre.

1925 AUCKLAND BAND CONGRESS: At this time the Band was at its peak of performance being specially tutored and conducted by the Corps Officer, Ensign Humphrey. It received an ovation for its playing in the Town Hall.

1936 following some rebuilding of fallen numbers by Bandmaster Bert Lindsey, the Band gave concerts in Kaihere and Ngatea.

1939 the Band was dwindling "through outward transfers".

1942 in view of the depleted Band, "the Bilhorn organ" had to be carried to the open-air meetings in the Paeroa streets.

1945 There is a Band again - under Bandmaster Jim Brock.

1949 The Band visits Te Aroha... and again in 1956.

1961 BAND RECOMMENCED WITH 8 PLAYERS. But again declines.

1964 A BAND IS AGAIN IN EXISTENCE and thanks to the work of CHARLES JARVIS, takes part in a Band Festival at Te Aroha, and again in 1965 at Rotorua.

1966 The Band at Band Festivals at Paeroa, Thames, and Tauranga.

1967 The Paeroa Band is so small that it "plays only one hymn tune" at the Band Festival in Waihi, and in that same year it is the Waihi Salvation Army Band that provides the music for the Christmas carols in the streets of Paeroa.

It is a loss to a town when no longer the strains of a marching brass band can be heard in its ways and by-ways.


At times in the history of the town Paeroa has possessed two Bands - that of the Salvation Army and the Town Band. Both have had their fluctuations. On more than one occasion, both bands which had "gone into recess" were revived for yet another term of existence. There is something undoubtedly stirring about the music of a brass band in the town and a community is the poorer without it.

But Paeroa has heard the music of many bands. Military camps in Paeroa have brought the Band of the Hauraki Regiment to the town. The co-operative spirit that characterizes the Salvation Army has been responsible for many an interchange of visits. On the occasion of Corps Anniversaries, Harvest Festivals, etc., a visiting Band has always been an attraction and Paeroa has been treated to many such visits as the accompanying list shows:


Hamilton S.A. Band


Thames Band


Devonport Band Hamilton Songsters (S.A. term for "choir")


Waihi Band and S’trs

Te Aroha Band; Thames Band


Te Aroha Band


Te Aroha Band

Hamilton Songsters


Waihi Band

Thames Band


Waihi Band

Tauranga Band


Waihi Band

Devonport Band


Waihi Band

Te Aroha Band

Paeroa Town Band

parades at S.A.


Waihi Band

Thames Band


Paeroa S.A. Diamond Jubilee Thames Band,

Waihi Band

Tauranga Band and Songsters

Auckland Congress Hall party


Waihi Band

Te Aroha Band and Songsters.


Waihi Band and Songsters.


September: Te Aroha Band

November: Thames, Te Aroha, and Waihi Bands


Waihi Band


Waihi Band

Te Aroha Band


Taumarunui Band

Tauranga Band and Songsters


Thames, Waihi, Te Aroha, Te Awamutu, and Tauranga Bands at Band Festival in Paeroa.

Hamilton Boys’ Band

Waihi Band


Hamilton Band

No doubt many will echo the Lines of the poet Wordsworth:

"The music in my heart I bore,

Long after it was heard no more".

And this was the purpose of the Bands and the aim of the Salvationists ....... to leave an enduring impression of the intangible things for Time and for Eternity........