Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 20, June 1976


A fortuitous incident during the Goldfields Centenary in 1975 has aroused my latent interest in my birthplace. My half-sister, (Mrs. Margaret Twiss of H.B.) was passing through Paeroa when she was attracted by a window of old family photographs and recognised her father's picture. Through her, I have since received your Journal 19 and was most interested in Betty Russell's article on Puke Road. It seems to have re-established my identity in bringing back memories of 70 years ago.

My paternal Grandparents, McAndrew, lived in the two-storied house mentioned by Mrs. Russell and I am indebted to the N.Z. Cyclopedia (1900) for some of the following information. James McAndrew was born in Scotland in 1839 and learned his trade as a builder with his father. He came to N.Z. in the ship "Annie Wilson" in 1863, stayed in Auckland till 1867 when he went to Thames and after mining for a while commenced business as a builder. Always interested in public affairs he served two terms of three years on the Thames County Council, successfully contesting the Mayoralty in 1869. He was returned unopposed the following year and was also a member of the School Committee and Chairman of the Harbour Board.

In 1893 James McAndrew moved to Paeroa, opened a timber yard in Frances Street and conducted extensive operations as a Timber Merchant and Builder specialising in Joinery. Timber from Turua and the Shortland Sawmill was landed by river boats. In 1896 he was elected by an overwhelming majority to a seat on the Ohinemuri County Council.

Grandfather and his wife (nee Jane Ballantyne Lorimer) had a family of five: Robert, Nellie (Mrs. David Craig) Ethel (Mrs. Walter Kenny) George and Norman. My sister Esme (late Mrs. Alex Sutherland) and I were the daughters of Robert who had married Edith Dora Moore and we lived at the town end of Puke Road near the Railway line. Our father died when we were very young and some years later our mother married John Hunt, a member of the Paeroa Fire Brigade, and Paeroa's first wheelwright who worked in partnership with Mr. Ellis, a Blacksmith.

We children spent much time in the home of our Grandparents McAndrew with whom our Great Aunt Lorimer also lived. I remember how we used to go upstairs to bed holding tightly to her fulsome skirts as she carried a candle while scarey shadows were cast round us. Thunder scared us too and we used to get under a table that had a deep draping velvety cover. But floods were the best. With part of an old bridge for a raft we would sail up and down the water covered paddocks. We loved our School-days - particularly the occasional lessons on Primrose Hill. Our first Teacher, the beloved Minnie Shaw, lived not far from us and I've always remembered that Mr. Murphy was a wonderful Headmaster.

At one time a Mr. Croft was the Stationmaster and opposite his home was the Sherson family. Others near by were the Roltons, Nathans, Taylors, Polands, Brays, Millers and the Rev. Gow. We certainly had a very happy childhood, so much of it spent in the home and beautiful garden of our Grandparents with whom we stayed till we were ready for Secondary School (about 1910) when we joined the other members of our family who had moved to Auckland. Esme and I attended the Girls Grammar School and both trained as Nurses at Auckland Hospital.

Our Step-Father, John Hunt later managed a Motor Body Building business for Hope & Gibbons in Wellington, and worked into his nineties. He was awarded the O.B.E. for inaugurating "The Royal Society of St. George". I was six years older than my half-sister Patsy Hunt who was born in Paeroa and we were very fond of her and her sister Margaret (Mrs. Twiss) and brother Peter.

Our maternal Grandparents, Albert and Margaret Moore (nee Molloy) had a large family and lived for a time down Junction Road near the river. But later they were in Mackaytown quite near to the shop of Mrs. McNamara who had been their friend in Paeroa. As was usual in those days they had a large family - Evelyn, Winifred (Mrs. Mann) Edith (my Mother) Katie, Vicy, Percy, Ernest, Henry, Horace, Gordon and Lewis. I have seen pictures of my Mother as a little girl at Paeroa School. She seemed to be popular and many of her old Paeroa friends came to see her in later years - notably an elderly Maori woman, called Sarah, I was impressed with their loving embrace -- all so long ago. I have been back to Paeroa only once since we lived there but now, thanks to the Historical Society, and a picture of the McAndrew home, I am longing to revisit it.

NOTE: MISS GLADYS McANDREW made nursing her life-long career, qualifying in all branches. She travelled widely and spent many years in England where she did a Diploma Course at London University. Having completed 56 years in her chosen Profession she was awarded the B.E.M. and now lives at Levin.