Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 23, June 1979

"Today we are making history", Mr. Fielden Thorp told a gathering of about 100 people at the opening of Paeroa's new museum.

Mr. Thorp is the President of the Paeroa and District Historical and Arts Society, which is responsible for the museum, and it has been named after him in recognition of his work.

The first Speaker at the Opening Ceremony on the Library steps was Mr. G.E. Lee, the Mayor of Paeroa. He said that the opening of the museum was important to the town, because it will preserve the heritage of the district for the future. He thanked members of the Paeroa and District Historical and Arts Society for the work they had put into the project, which they had been planning for such a long time and congratulated them on being ready to cross the threshold after so many difficulties.

Mr. Lee said that the society had the full support of the Borough Council and although the size of the museum is rather limited at the moment, he added the council had purchased property at the rear of the museum for use at some time in the future for expansion of the museum-library complex.


Cr. J.M. Hill then spoke as a representative of the Ohinemuri County Council. He apologised for the Chairman, Mr. B.W. Fisher, who was unable to be present, but sent his best wishes. Mr. Hill congratulated the Historical Society on achieving a milestone in the history of the district, which the County Council feels a part of. He mentioned especially the President, Mr. F. Thorp and Mrs. N. Climie, for her enterprise and work.

Mr. Hill said that it was good to be able to look back to the first settlers in the area and remember how hard they worked and how much they put into the district and added that the museum was a reminder of these people.

Mr. Thorp, President of the Society, extended a warm welcome to all those present. He said that the museum was only a beginning for the society and that unless other projects go forward, the society will slip backwards.


Mr. Thorp gave a brief history of the Society since it was initiated by Mr. D.G. Sinclair in 1958, when Mr. Thorp was elected President. It lapsed because of lack of interest but was revived when a well-known historian Rev. L.M. Rogers came to Paeroa in 1963 and collaborated with Nell Climie and himself. At a public meeting he proposed that Rev. Rogers be President and Mrs. Climie undertook to edit the Ohinemuri History Journal on behalf of both the Waihi and Paeroa Societies. From 1964 till 1970 the Journal was issued twice annually and since then once a year. It became the life blood of the Societies attracting some 300 members to each group. So far 22 Journals have been published and since 1976 Gary Staples has edited the Paeroa half.

Rev. Rogers was President until he left Paeroa in 1967 when Mr. Thorp took Office. His great aim had always been the establishment of a local Museum and he was most happy that this project had at last reached fruition.

Mr. Thorp thanked the members for their hard work and self-sacrifice. He said that in the years to come the Museum would increase in size and he thanked the Borough Council and the County Council for their help now and for the help which he was sure would be forthcoming in the future.


Mrs. Nell Climie B.E.M. Patron of the Society was the next speaker. She specially thanked those who had earlier contributed assistance by researching and documenting local history. She referred to people such as Mr. Courteny Kenny, and Mrs. Silcock and said we owe a debt to Mr. Alf Jenkinson who in 1945 edited the County Magazine and to Mr. John Jensen who recorded the history of the Paeroa School in 1955. Having been absent from the district for many years she was grateful to those who had helped her with the Karangahake Booklet in 1959 and to the original members of the Waihi Art Centre and Museum Association who suggested "Journals". She was delighted to see several of these stalwart friends at the present function.

When Feilden [Fielden – E] Thorp and Nellie Scott (Mrs. Climie) left the Paeroa School in 1912 they did not visualise this day of celebration after years of effort towards it. The speaker had special thoughts for her Maori friends, the Rev. Rogers, and the late Thos. Hammond and Charlie Murdock, Archaeologists who had inspired her.

Mrs. Climie said that their worthy President, Mr. Feilden Thorp and his gracious wife had led a band of wonderful workers whose enthusiasm had earned the gratitude of Paeroa. Generous financial aid and gifts had been matched by tremendous planning and "hard labour" in order to prepare for the Opening of the "Feilden Thorp Museum" which would surely expand and prosper as a fitting memorial to our forbears and Ohinemuri's past.

Mr. & Mrs. Thorp then led the way inside the museum, which was officially opened by Mr. Thorp, as he stood below the name-plate honouring his name and his work towards its construction.


Although the inside of the museum is not quite completed, many exhibits which had been kindly donated or lent by local residents were on display. Two beautiful showcases given to the Museum by Leigh Pharmacy were filled with items of interest. One to be used for temporary displays, houses "Dolls of the World", of artistic as well as of historical value, it shows the national costumes, rarely now seen, of many countries. Henry VIII is there in all his glory with Ann Boleyn; a King of Hawaii and hula girls; an Australian swagman and aborigines a group of Maori maidens; Spanish and Japanese ladies and many others.

There is a bottle and jar collection, fans, kid gloves and beaded bags, some fine china pieces, shaving gear as used by a previous generation, writing paraphernalia, crocks and old hardware including several irons used before the advent of electricity, butter churns, laundry utensils, bedroom china, kerosene lamps and old musical instruments.

The organ from the old Netherton Presbyterian church has been given to the Museum, a christening font, a huge family bible, and smaller and rare examples as well.

The Weadon Memorial case has been presented to the Museum by family of the late Archdeacon who was Vicar of St. Pauls in Paeroa for 27 years. A military case displays articles worn or used by well known Paeroa ex-soldiers. There is a fine collection of Maori artifacts, books and photographs. Two dress stands and a wall display show the fine stitching and handwork of the pioneer women in the construction of their garments. Two dolls in heirloom gowns are an attractive addition as also is a lady in full "going out" dress.

The Museum contains a comprehensive range of old photographs, many saved and stored for years by Mrs. N. Climie and now grouped and shown to advantage by her.

In a few months' time, when work is completed, many of the exhibits will be displayed in a "street" of shop windows. With only 960 square feet of space, the society is already looking towards the time when they will be expanding and improving their building.


The Society acknowledges contributions made by the following people, towards the establishment of the Paeroa Museum. The support given has been vital in the success of the project and is greatly appreciated.

1977 and 1978

F. Thorp

J.M. Harris

Mr. & Mrs. G. Spinks

Mr. & Mrs. H. Wilson

M.R. Milne

K.M. Morrison

R.L. Darley

M. Fennell

N. Climie

D. Lewis

F.J. Dare

S. Wolstenholme

W.G. Woods

E.H. Davison

P.H. Leigh

Mr. & Mrs. R. Blair

R.T. Hughes

G. Locke

Late T. Ridge

R. Hutchinson

C. Heslop

N. Bain

D.A. Waldegrave

Mr. & Mrs. Reg. Hughes

L.P. Fitzhenry

K.A. Sutton

H. Spinks

Mr. & Mrs. A. Peckham

M.J. Townshend

Chas. Townshend

M. Morris

F. Strange

Mr. & Mrs. B. Havill

Mr. & Mrs. M.W. Handley

Mr. & Mrs. R.E. Tye

K.A. Sutton

Mr. & Mrs. G. Masters

E. Evans

H. Redfern

County of Ohinemuri

M. Goldsworthy

John Strange

A. Jenkinson

E. Mann

C. Bath

S.R. Bax

Mr. & Mrs. J. Reid

Mr. & Mrs. John Hill

E. Mathieson

Mr. & Mrs. Reg. Hughes


Mr. & Mrs. A.A. REID

S. Wolstenholme

Mr. & Mrs. F. Strange

M. Fennell

Mr. & Mrs. J. Russell

I. Thorp

I. Hughes

M.J. Townshend

Mr. & Mrs. B. McDonald

I. Weedon

T. Cardens Menswear

Valley Jewellers Ltd.

A.F. & F.R. McRae

Criterion Milk Bar

James Jensen Chemist Ltd.

Eunice & Lorraine Fabric Ltd.

D.F. Thorp

Watt Bros. Ltd.

Sullivan & Fitch Ltd.

H.K. McIndoe

Mrs. S. Dance

Miss Peg. Dance

R. Bush Central Bookshop

H.J. Day

T.C. Buchanan

Barton’s Radio & Television Ltd.

Dave McWatters Ltd.

Paeroa Florist Shop.

Paeroa Rotary Club.

Mr. & Mrs. Matt Handley