Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 49, September 2005
80 YEARS AGO
By Gordon Mathieson
It was eighty years ago this year, that Paeroa High School's first rugby team came to be. In it are representatives of many of Paeroa's earlier once well-known families, and it is fortunate that a photo of this team exists, as shown here.
Of the members shown in the photograph, there is only one survivor and this is the Pupil-teacher assistant, Bill Leach, then aged seventeen. (Bill Leach also appears in the photograph of the Paeroa High School boys of 1921, published at page 29.) Now aged ninety-seven, Mr Leach lives in Feilding.
Recently I received a letter from Mr Leach about his early years in Paeroa and I am pleased to include extracts here:
"Two enlarged rugby photos are beside me as I write. Firstly the 1923 Paeroa West Third Grade. Ben Gwilliam and I (the smaller members) sit in the front row.
"The second is the 1926 Paeroa Junior Representatives, winners of the Thames Valley Sharebroker's Cup. Some members made prominent recognition later, including 'Shorty' Moore and Jack Conolly - the latter was highly talented all round.
"Jack Rackham seen holding the cup was the Captain of this 1926 team. On the day we played Matamata in Paeroa, Jack had to leave the ground for injury reasons and I had the good fortune as replacement, 'first-five' to find the ball passed to me in the opposition twenty-five. The drop kick was an unpremeditated success. I recall my dad erecting tea tree goal sticks on vacant land in Miller Avenue where I spent much after school time prior to this.
"Of interest, the site of the primary school in Miller Avenue was an eight acre block that my parents bought back in 1923. My brother, David, later an overseas surveyor, was given the job of building a small fowl house in the northeast corner.
"My close friend since 1916 has been Ben Gwilliam. His family had moved from Waitekauri due to the down-grading of quartz mining, whereas my family had been in Henderson linked with the bakery there. That move from Karangahake to Henderson was in 1913 also because the overseas-owned mining companies had closed down.
Of the others, Mr Preston was based at Paeroa High School from 1925 - 1933.
Alf Sanft was a later broadcaster, based in Rotorua where he worked at the former 1YZ radio station. He died on 3 October 1998, aged eighty-seven. He was born in Tonga and was the son of a Chieftainess.
Bruce Buchanan, well known locally as a farmer on Awaiti Road, from 1936 until his death on 24 August 1999 aged eighty-eight. He was a member of the Paeroa and District Historical Society and his Obituary was published in Journal 44, September 2000.
Allan Pivott, the father of Mrs Shirley Buchanan (whose husband, George, is a nephew of Bruce Buchanan, mentioned above), Bill Pivott and Mrs Gay Cleave. Mr Pivott died on 3 October 1988, aged seventy-seven years.
Jack Conolly - the Captain of this 1925 team had a most distinguished military record, rising to the rank of Brigadier, serving his country with distinction during World War II. He was also a teacher, beginning as a pupil-teacher at Paeroa District High School in 1926.
Later he was at Whakatane and, following the War's end,was Headmaster of John McGlasham College in Dunedin, then of Dilworth School in Auckland until he retired in 1966. (Part of his life story is told in Journal 11 of May 1969.) Brigadier Conolly died on 17 January 1995 aged eighty-six.
Jim Silcock was a grandson of original Paeroa settlers. His father, J W Silcock, was a member of the original 1902 team that formed the Paeroa West Rugby Club. Jim married Jean Pendergrast, the daughter of the first Headmaster of Tirohia School, which opened in 1922. Two sons, Jack and Peter, predeceased him, while a third son, Parry (also known as 'Joe') taught at Paeroa College on three separate occasions from 1969 - 1994. Jim Silcock died on 28 September 1986 aged seventy-three. His brother, Jack, now aged ninety-one, lives in Cambridge.
Arthur Flatt, a son of Frederick and Elizabeth Flatt, became a teacher, starting as a pupil-teacher in 1926. Arthur taught at Hamilton, Raglan and Ohinewai, where he was Headmaster until 1951, when his family returned to Paeroa. His brother, Bob, was also a teacher. Their father was a stationer and bookseller and Bob and Arthur went into business together as 'Flatt Brothers'. Arthur and his wife, Elsie had six children - Beris, Marie, Barbara, Allison, Scott and Lindsay, who all attended Paeroa High School/College from 1951 to 1964. Mr Flatt taught at Paeroa College part time from July 1963 to December 1964, then they sold the bookshop to Graham and Dorothy Dreadon, retiring to Tauranga. Mr Flatt died on 25 November 1974.
Gordon Gamble, son of Joseph Park Gamble (1882 - 1965) and his wife, Margaret (1883 - 1977) was destined to become a draper like his parents. His son, Allan and now his grandson, Jeff, have continued in this tradition. Gamble's Building in Paeroa was the original business premises here, now occupied by "Sunny's Variety Store". There was also a branch in Waihi. Gordon Gamble retired to Whitianga and died on 20 October 1995 aged eighty-five.
Errol Taylor was a son of the Headmaster, Mr G H Taylor. Originally Mr Taylor was known as Mr Pocock and was at Paeroa twice, firstly as First Assistant 1907 - 1913 and Headmaster 1920 - 1931. He changed his name in 1912.
Les Marshall was one of three sons of Paeroa's longest serving Mayor, Mr William Marshall (1923 -1941), the other sons being Clifford and Trevor.
CORRECTION TO JOURNAL No 48, September 2004:
The photograph of the Paeroa District High School First XV was printed in reverse [see Journal 48: The Coulter Cup - E].