Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 7, May 1967


In 1861 Mr John Buchanan, his wife and two children, Andrew and Jean arrived in New Zealand from Glasgow, Scotland and he established himself in Auckland as a merchant. In 1870 he bought land along the Waihou river at Tirohia and for a time lived at "Killearn" Mill Road before purchasing the property on Waihi Road, Paeroa. The materials for the old homestead which some may remember were purchased from Bagnall's mill Turua and the lining boards under the scrim were papered with newspapers, a few being printed in Maori. This property was named "Kelvin Hill". At that time the family had grown to five sons and two daughters.

The youngest son, George Buchanan was born at Avondale on 31st December, 1872 and was educated at Auckland Grammar School and the Domain Grammar School. Upon leaving he entered the law office of Messrs Russell & Campbell with the intention of making law his career but the call of the land was too great and when quite a young man he came to Paeroa to look after his father's farm on Waihi Road. Karangahake mining ventures were in their hey day and plenty of workwas available. George worked for a time with the gang of men who put the overhead wires into the Crown mine.

It was while he was at Paeroa, he met and married Miss Annie Crawford who was Infant Mistress at the Paeroa School. The Thomas Crawford family came to New Zealand in 1875 from Ulster in the "S.S.Carisbrook Castle" and were among the settlers who came to Kati Kati under George Vesey Stuart's scheme. By this time the family had moved to Maratoto and George Buchanan told many tales of his horse-riding trips there during his courting days. When Miss Crawford taught at Paeroa School Mr Walter Sullivan was Headmaster and Miss Minnie Shaw was a pupil Teacher. Mrs J.W. Silcock (nee Rae Edwards) and her brother the late Mr Edwin Edwards were among her pupils at that time.

Mr & Mrs George Buchanan were married in 1898 and lived first at Wharepoa, then the Thames Road property was bought opposite the Ohinemuri Jockey Club's racecourse and now owned by Mr Moe Russek. For some four years they lived at Netherton.

After his wife's death in 1902 Mr John Buchanan returned to Auckland and the elder daughter, Mrs Jean Hanna lived at "Kelvin Hill" and her brother William Buchanan farmed the bush and cultivated his vineyard which became such a favourite place for afternoon walks and picnics for many years.

Mr Young, an engineer rented "Kelvin Hill" for a time until in 1914 Mr and Mrs George Buchanan came to make their home there and it was there they brought up their nine children. What fun and love and laughter there was through the years. It was surely one of the happiest homes in the district. The large old house was always full of visitors. There was tennis and riding and always the bush to walk to where the only restriction on the family in the grape season was that they must not eat a whole bunch of grapes and not pick off odd ones. The parties at "Kelvin Hill" were a delight to all as there was lots of room for dancing and games in the big central hall and wide verandahs. The original old house was replaced by the present one in 1937.

Soon after settling at "Kelvin Hill" George Buchanan purchased his first pedigree Jerseys, three heifers and a bull which began the Kelvin Jersey Stud which was to become such a big interest in his life for many years. This interest was shared by his brother, Andrew who compiled the first copies of the N.Z. Jersey Breeders Stud books and owned "Jersey Holme" at Palmerston North.

Throughout a large part of his life Mr George Buchanan was an active member of the Agricultural and Pastoral Assn. and of co-operative companies. The fine position attained by the Thames Valley Dairy Co. Ltd., Paeroa was largely due to his enthusiasm and sound judgment. In 1914 he was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors of the above company which position he held until the amalgamation of the Thames Valley Dairy Co, Ltd. with the N.Z. Co-op. Dairy Co, Ltd. at Hamilton. For 23 years he was a Director of the N.Z. Co-op. Dairy Co. Ltd. retiring in 1935. Prior to the amalgamation of these companies it was at the instigation of Mr Buchanan that the Thames Valley Dairy Finance Co. was formed which gave great assistance to the farmers for the development of the district. He was well known as a jersey breeder and exhibited his stock in many shows in the South Auckland area, his long service to the industry being recognised by his being elected a Life Member of the Thames Valley Jersey Breeders Club at Paeroa.

Sincere service to his religion occupied a large part of the life of Mr Buchanan who was an Elder in St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Paeroa for forty five years also acting as a lay preacher, Sunday School Superintendent and Presbytery representative. As a young man he was keenly interested in yachting and in later years in shooting and fishing. Always interested in community organisations he was a member of the Paeroa Chamber of Commerce, Lodge Ohinemuri and the Acclimatisation Society, and during World War Two of the Manpower Committee. For many years he acted as Government Valuer in Waihi and Hauraki Plains districts, particularly in the opening up of the Plains for settlement. Despite his many activities his jovial manner and sense of humour endeared him to both young and old.

Mr & Mrs Buchanan celebrated their Golden Wedding on 13th January, 1948 with a banquet at "Kelvin Hill" at which the surviving members of their families, their children, and grand children were present. Throughout the years their greatest joy was in sitting on the front porch in the Summer evenings watching their children and grand children at play in the peaceful scene before them.

Mrs Buchanan died on 9th September 1948 while Mr Buchanan survived her until 7th May, 1950.

The children were: Lylie (Mrs D.N. Pryor) Bayswater, Auckland; Jean (Mrs J.H. Henderson) Ngahinepouri, Hamilton; John, Komata Paeroa; Joy (Mrs A.R. Tubman) Hamilton; Ena (Miss T.C. Buchanan) "Kelvin Hill" Paeroa; Bruce, Awaiti, Paeroa; Lola (Mrs R.E. Tye) Ngatea; and the late Greta (Mrs A.E. Jones) and Marjory (Mrs R. Clark). There are twenty eight grand children.