Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 34, September 1990

On Saturday, 24 February 1990, over 200 members of the Morrison family gathered for a reunion, the first since 1976.

The event was one of the 1990 registered projects and was significant for Paeroa and District, with many descendants of the pioneering family living here.

The gathering took place in the Paeroa Memorial Hall, commencing at 2 00pm. Following afternoon tea, photographs were taken and a roll call conducted. A pot luck tea was followed by more reminiscing, music and dancing. Mr Basil Morrison was Master of Ceremonies. Mr Jeffrey Morrison, now of Auckland, who grew up and went to school in Hikutaia and Paeroa College proposed the toast to pioneers John and Sarah Morrison.MrMorrison Davis, whose mother, Catherine, was the youngest daughter of John and Sarah, replied on behalf of the grandparents. Mr Davis gave a most interesting and entertaining speech about John and Sarah.

The pioneering couple may well have emigrated to South America but John wanted to go to a country of the British Empire. John Morrison was born in Ballyferis, County Down, Northern Ireland, in 1835. John and Sarah Morrison and their two young sons, Hugh and Robert, arrived in New Zealand on 17 Feb. 1869 after a long sea voyage on board the sailing ship, "Maori". After living in Thames for two years and at Puriri for 16 years, John and Sarah bought 450 acres of bush-covered land on Kaimanawa Road in 1887. With a family of nine sons and three daughters, the youngest eight months old, John and Sarah shifted to Hikutaia where they remained for the rest of their lives.

Children of John and Sarah were Hugh, Robert, John, William, Edward, Malcolm, Alexander, Maggie, Hans, Sophia and Ritchie (twins) and Catherine.

Clearing the land was tough work and great was the joy when enough land was brought in to support a few cows. As land was cleared, oats and other crops provided a profitable livelihood prior to the establishment of the dairy industry. As dairying advanced the 450 acres were cut up and sold, 150 acres being kept with the homestead.

In 1901 John Morrison purchased a launch, the first on the Waihou River to be driven by a petrol engine, to carry his milk and that of other settlers, to the Netherton factory. His son, Hugh, carried out the daily run for 6 years, despite the wailings of pessimists who said "she'll stop one of these days and never go again." In 1906 Hugh took over the farm and the well-known milkmaid, as the launch was affectionately known.

Several of the sons purchased farms of their own in the district and these are still being carried on by their descendants today.