Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 18, June 1974


In Paeroa's early days the eastern end of Normanby Road was graced by some impressive buildings one being the two storied Bank of New Zealand which stood on the Victoria Street corner (now Paeroa Motors). Beside it, was Hague-Smith's Hardware which transported explosives for the mines. Then there was Mr. J.L. Hanna, Solicitor; Mr. Searle, Bootmaker; and Mr. T.A. Moresby, Solicitor.

The large Criterion Theatre (including Cameron's Sweet Shop) came next, occupying the section right through to Willoughby Street as did the adjacent shop owned by my Father, Joseph Nathan, Bookseller, Tobacconist etc. (est. 1895). The front was two-storied, the upper windows being frosted with "Ohinemuri Jockey Club" in large black letters printed across them. But as I remember the building, the upper room was used for storing out-of-date periodicals, broken toys and redundant school books. The lower front part of the shop had a large plate glass window on either side of the wide doors. On the right was the Tobacconist and Stationery part (licensed to sell stamps) while down the centre was a large showcase containing china, glassware and "Fancy Goods" with toys underneath. On the left, fruit and confectionary were sold and later plants from our own Greenhouse. Beyond all this were further display shelves and tables and my father's offices.

A small door led to the next section of the building containing the "banana room" - small and dark and heated by a kerosene burner to assist the ripening of bananas. At one time my father had been an auctioneer (carrying on his business at Waihi and Karangahake) so the next part of his shop was divided on either side into cubicles where stock was stored. This was before my time but I remember odd bits of broken furniture which presumably did not "sell". Double doors revealed a few wire-netted enclosures which had held poultry in the auctioneering days, and then came the stables with horse trough and several loose boxes. I believe that in the old Coaching days "Shorts" used these stables and I remember several occasions when race-horses were housed there but later our own horse and buggy were the occupants.

In 1910 my father bought "Black Rock" Farm from Mr. Houlihan. I think at one time it had been part of the property of Mr. Sam Craig who then occupied the farm next door, later bought by Mr. Archie White and subsequently by Mr. Jack. Morrison whose son Hugh (Pat) still lives there.

Our place had a small orchard near the house and a few old trees behind the farm, including a quince and a mulberry tree. My father planted a large number of trees, mostly apples so that finally we had about 800 fruit trees. One orchard contained 150 apple trees of 50 different varieties. This was planted and maintained under Government supervision with the object of determining which variety did best in the district, especially for export as was the honey from our large apiary.

My father gave up the business in April 1915. He had always taken a great interest in Public Affairs including the Fire Brigade, School Comm. and Jockey Club. He was a Freemason, a J.P. and held a commission as Capt. in the 6th Hauraki Volunteer Regiment. He was also Coroner and Returning Officer for the Ohinemuri Electorate. It was while arranging for an inquest at Te Aroha that he died suddenly of a heart attack on November 4th 1915.

The old shop remained empty except for itinerant traders. The building was deteriorating rapidly and finally was condemned and pulled down. My mother never had the money to redeem the mortgage and the Council took it over. In 1926 we left Paeroa and Father's sword was given to Ohinemuri Lodge. Mother sold the farm to Mr. Jack Mitchell and I understand that it is now owned by Mr. Kelly.

OUR CONTRIBUTOR - WINIFRED HUGHES was one of the 5 Nathan children - born in a house near the Gasworks, Puke Road, Paeroa. Her eldest brother Cyril (1st W .War) died 6 years ago, and her brother Stanley in infancy. Violet is in the South Is. and Rosalind (Mrs. Thorn) in Auckland. The children attended the Wood Street School where Winifred served 2 years as a Pupil Teacher and after Training College as an Assistant in 1926. That year she assisted Miss Emmett with the Guides and Brownies. With Sylvia Taylor she was a Tawny Owl and received a warrant as a Guide Lieutenant. She then went to a Sole Charge School at Kinohaku where she met her husband and married in 1930. She has reared 6 children and now lives in Manurewa but maintains a lively interest in Paeroa.