Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 10, October 1968

By Ray Silcock and Edith Reid.

The first piano to be brought to Paeroa was destined for the Robson family in the '70s, but suffered the indignity of being dropped into the river at Wharf Street then the boat terminal. Then in the year 1883 Miss Emily Parry arrived with her sister Margaret and a friend. Miss Parry taught music and was organist at services in the Methodist Church the only Protestant Church in the town at that time. It is still used for Worship on its lovely site at the corner of Normanby Road and Arney Street. Later a cherished memory is of the excellent Church choir of which we had the happiness to be members for many years.

(Miss Parry married Mr. Edwin Edwards, Snr., Miss Margaret Parry married Mr. John Phillips and their friend married Mr. Joe Brenan, all business men in the town - and, strangely enough, two of them had sons who were to become Mayors of Paeroa - Mr. Phil Brenan and Mr. Edwin Edwards. Ed.)

Very early in the town's history a brass band was formed and has left an everlasting memory in the minds of early residents. The band-master for many successful years was Mr. Charles Mettam who played the cornet, - and his son Charles who also played the cornet later replaced him as bandmaster for many more years. The members numbered from 25 to 30 among whom were the late John Hubbard, Charles Morgan and his younger brother, Ernie, who is still active in his kindly work at the Thames Hospital; Ernest Parry, who was killed in the 1st World War; Jim Silcock; Charlie Taylor, and the late Reg. Roberts and many others.

Mr. Charles Rhodes, one time manager of the B.N.Z. in Paeroa at that time was a very competent and enthusiastic musician and he suggested the formation of an orchestra in the town. He played the 'cello and, in fact, his family, Fred, Ruby, May, the late Eric and Edna were an orchestra in themselves which gave them a very happy family life. (Mr. Rhodes later, became Attorney for the Waihi Goldming Coy. and went to Auckland where he lived in his home "Ronaki", Remuera, until his death. He had done much for music during his residence in Paeroa.) Musical facilities improved from that time until we came to enjoy a splendid orchestral society inaugurated by Mr. H.L. Harston, a very talented musician who had recently come to Paeroa taught music and formed a choral society.

Mr. Harston conducted a very good Church choir which later combined with the choral society. This was a very successful combination that travelled to Auckland and nearby towns giving excellent concerts. Later still our ambitious singers attempted opera and formed themselves into the Paeroa Operatic Company.

A happy result of the help and tuition given by Mr. Harston was the discovery of many talented singers among whom were the Misses Gwenyth Evans, Alice Cock, Edith Hubbard (sopranos). Might Coote, Lucy Griffiths, Lucy Medhurst, (contraltos), Fred Griffiths (bass), Ernie Quick, George Griffiths (baritones) and T.A. Moresby, Victor Bagnall (tenors) and Bertie Bush B.N.Z. Also Te Rangi Pai who possessed a very lovely contralto voice. Mr. Jim Reid, Mr. McGregor and Mr. James Silcocock [Silcock ? – E], Snr. who had a very fine tenor voice and was leader of one of the church choirs in the very early days. Other musical families were the Robsons and the Littlejohns, Lambs and Brodies.

At popular concerts one remembers Billy Moore, Ernie Fathers, Snr. possessors of lusty voices singing such melodies as "Two Little Girls in Blue", "Old Black Joe", "Clementine" and "After the Ball is over", So we must end our far away tale of musical memories.

[see Journal 11: Music in Paeroa 1908 to 1928 for more - E]