Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 21, June 1977


Early in the Century, I was one of six young children whose parents brought them to Paeroa from Manurewa where our father, James Handley, had lived since arriving with his parents from Ireland. He married Ann Maskery, and they reared a family of 10 children. My memory of sailing up the Waihou River is vague because as was usual we left Auckland with the evening tide, travelled eight to nine hours of the night and no doubt slept most of the way. However, we arrived quite near to our destination which was a farm on Puke Road. It was later known as Witmores and is now owned by Mrs. Welton.

After a time we moved to a farm on Mill Road and I recollect walking to the Convent School, from there. Then Dad purchased land at Tirohia, subsequently farmed by my brother, Frank, and now by his two sons as "Handley Bros." Later again we moved to Netherton and the children of school age rode on horseback to Paeroa. Horses were closely associated with our lives for there were always some on the farm and our father took a very active part in A. & P. Shows. Having good judgement where horse-class was concerned, he was generally successful with his entries. One large black horse, outstanding in my memory, was "Freebird" which won many prizes. For over 60 years, I have cherished some picture pages from a copy of the 1912 Auckland Weekly News. They still bring back proud memories of Dad and I in our new long shafter rubber-tyred gig. After riding noisily over rough roads in vehicles with iron-shod wheels, the new gig seemed incredibly smooth and silent. And Dad was proud too, having had the gig specially built for him in Auckland for the sum of £35.

Over the years our family had increased to 10 and gradually were married and away, some taking over part of our father's property. James, the eldest, who married Nora Alley, of Hikutaia, continued to farm on Mill Road. Frank, who married Ada Rush, remained at Tirohia and was very successful with his Racehorses. Penny married Wm. Taylor, a popular sportsman and I (Kate) married Robert Clarke and went to live at Mt. Eden. William married Kathleen Rice (whose father was the Schoolmaster at Netherton for many years) and he took an active interest in racing horses. Their son, Matt, is still farming at Netherton. Wilfred who married Veda Wright is now living at Manurewa and is highly regarded among the racing fraternity for his skill and knowledge in handling horses. Ted married Audrey Bell of Waihi, now living at Tauranga. He and Bill purchased and for some years operated Mr. Jack Forrest's carrying business in Paeroa. Bert who married Bessie Farrow successfully trained horses for many years. Claud married Hilda Shand. He served his time as a mechanic with Mr. Flemming and later had his own business. Maud who married Terry Masters is now living in Te Aroha.

Finally, Dad retired to Puke Road, purchasing a property from Mr. Joe Groves a well known builder. He died in 1931 at the age of 72 and mother survived him by 15 years until her death in 1946 at the age of 86.