Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 28, September 1984


On Dec. 18, 1983 Henry R. Thorp, Q.S.M. passed away at the age of 86 yrs. He was a grandson of Joshua Thorp,- first white settler in the district in the early 1840's.

Hal Thorp brought thousands of acres of bush country into farmland. As a young man he lived in a shanty in the bush in winter, getting on with land developing. Today, some 3,000 acres at the top of Rotokohu Road stretching towards Te Aroha, we see good sheep and cattle farms which are the fruits of his years of slogging.

His brother, the late Fielden Thorp, with whom Hal was in partnership, managed the dairy farms in Rotokohu Road, where both families lived. Hal was born at "Oaklands" the old family residence.

In 1934 he married Miss Jean Squire, a schoolmaster's daughter from Birkenhead, Auckland. They had four children. In 1979 Hal had a slight stroke and he and his wife moved to their summer residence at Waihi Beach.

Hal had many interests outside his farming. He was a member of the N.Z. Grasslands Association from its inception. He attended every annual conference in New Zealand, up until 1978. He was a member of the Hauraki Catchment Board from its inception, and was its chairman for many years. He was deputy-chairman when ill-health forced his retirement in 1979. He was a foundation member of the Tirohia-Rotokohu Drainage Board and was presented with a silver tray after 50 years service, many of them as chairman.

He and his brother Fielden laid out the Paeroa Lawn Tennis Club's courts, using their own men and equipment. Both brothers were elected life members in recognition of this. Hal served several terms as president of the tennis club and was ground superintendent for 54 years. He was presented with a silver tray at the club's centenary celebrations. The area occupied by the tennis club is named the Hal Thorp Park in recognition of his work.

Hal was instrumental in purchasing the land for the Paeroa Golf Club and lent men and machinery to lay out the course. He served several terms as president and was later elected a life member.

He also gave many hours of service to the Paeroa Drama Club as its stage manager. He was for many years and until the time his death, club patron. He was president of the drama club for several terms and was elected a life member. He was a foundation member of the Paeroa Lions Club and held life membership.

He was a member of the Paeroa Historical Society and used his extensive knowledge to write a number of articles for the History Journal. He was awarded the Queen's Service Medal (QSM) in 1980 in recognition of his long service to the community of Paeroa and district.


Rev. Lawrence Rogers, the first President of the Paeroa Historical Society, died at the age of 85 years in Tauranga on 25 January 1984.

Lawrence Rogers was born in Invercargill in 1898 and was educated at the Primary School in Nightcaps and later at Southland Boys High School. His first employment was with the Post and Telegraph Department, where he met and later (1924) married May Finlay. Soon after his marriage he entered Otago University, graduating M.A. with honours in Philosophy. Whilst at the Theological Hall he was student assistant of Knox Church. In 1927 he was ordained.

During the following years he served First Church, Frankton, St. David's, Christchurch and was Editor-Manager of the "Outlook" for 12 years.

Rev. Rogers took a deep interest in history, becoming very knowledgeable on the early period of settlement in New Zealand. He learnt the Maori language and when the Maori Theological College (Te Wananga a Rangi) was established at Whakatane in 1954, he was appointed Principal. After his retirement in 1964, he served the Presbyterian Church in Paeroa.

Rev. Rogers became the first President of the Paeroa Historical Society when it was formed in 1964. A very able Speaker both in English and Maori he was also an excellent Chairman with an innate ability to emphasise important points and avoid unnecessary controversy. His quiet sincerity and understanding not only engendered great respect but also endeared him to all who had the good fortune to know him and share his wide interests. He was certainly an inspiration to our Historical Society. He held this position until he moved to Tauranga in 1969, retiring to Otumoetai, and giving his talents to the Tauranga Historical Society.


Marist Father Frank Wall died on 1 October 1983, aged 77 years. He was born at Karangahake in 1905 and was educated at the Convent School, Paeroa. He then went on to the Marist Brothers School in Vermont Street, Sacred Heart College, Auckland and St. Patrick's College, Wellington.

Father Walls worked in the Maori Mission fields around the North Island from 1936 to 1983. He collapsed near Otaki on 1 October 1983 and died soon after.

Father Walls was twice decorated by the Queen for his services to the Maori people. He was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1974 and received the Queen's Medal in 1977.

A fellow Marist said, "Father Walls poured out all his gifts for others and had a natural way with the Maori people to whom he was always able to relate immediately." Father Walls is survived by two sisters, Mrs Kathleen Fleming and Mrs Patricia Johnston, both of Auckland.