Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 35, September 1991

In February 1991 the Lions Club at Paeroa hosted the annual convention for the District known as 202C. This group of Lions Clubs covers an area from Paeroa in the north to Taumarunui in the south. The District includes 45 Lions Clubs, eight Lioness Clubs and a Leo Club. This was the first time the convention had been held in Paeroa.


The Paeroa Lions Club was formed in 1961. The first charter evening being held on 25 February. The ground work for the formation of a Lions Club in Paeroa began with a visit by two Morrinsville Lions Club members, president Jock Kiely and Graeme Courtney to Neil Clarke in August I960. Mr Clarke is one of the original members of the first Lions Clubs in New Zealand and at the time was managing director of Brenan and Company Ltd. in Paeroa.

Following the visit both men were directed to the borough office where Mayor Les Shaw and Ian Parlane, town clerk, accepted their challenge and commenced to select members to form the foundation for a Lions Club in Paeroa.

The original Charter members were Messrs T Bramble, S Cowardine, N Clarke, W G Edmonds. D Golding, G Hall, E Houston, J Jensen, J Kennedy, T Marshall. I Parlane. L Shaw. B Pole, H Thorp, B Tucker and P Walker. The first President was Trevor Marshall. During the 1970's the club established a Leo Club for young people between the ages of 16 and 20, but it ceased three years later. Over the thirty years since its formation the Lions have worked on many local projects.


The founder of Lions was Melvin Jones, an insurance agent, born in Fort Thomas, Arizona, on January 13 1879. At the age of 33 years he was invited to join the Business Circle of Chicago - a businessmen's club composed of leaders in many fields of trade and business. Melvin found this business circle not only a privilege to belong to but a challenge to his young mind. He introduced new members and new ideas into the clubs operations. Within two years he was elected secretary.

As time passed Melvin realised that here were 200 successful and influential businessmen who could have great influence on their community. Pursuing his thought of group action, Melvin Jones in 1916 wrote to other clubs with a view to forming a national association. Somereplies were encouraging and some were discouraging, but from it all came the growing enthusiasm of a new idea in service clubs. The spirit of Lionism was born. Melvin Jones' choice of the name "Lion" came from his considerable research into legend, heraldry and zoology. The lion stood for courage, strength, fidelity and vital action.

By 1950 Lion membership had passed the 400,000 mark and the International Board of Directors conferred upon Melvin Jones the title of Secretary General of Lions International. In 1958 the board changed his title to Founder and Secretary General. Melvin Jones died on June 1. 1961.