Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 30, September 1986


One of the oldest active newspaper proprietors in New Zealand, Mr Rei Lancelot Darley, chairman of directors of Thames Valley News Limited, died on 4 March 1986. He was in his 75th year.

He spent a lifetime in the publishing business which commenced while he was at school in Auckland and progressed over the years, culminating in the last 46 years in Paeroa as owner of the firm which publishes the Gazette.

Rei Darley was a son of the late Edward L Darley who had served his time in the printing trade in Masterton and then purchasing the Pahiatua Herald. The late Mr Edward Darley was founder of the New Zealand Press Association and at one time had founded a paper on the West Coast.

Rei, in his formative years, wanted to steer clear of the newspaper industry after having first-hand knowledge of the long hours required to meet the demands. His father organised a magazine distributing agency for him in Auckland while he was still at school. As this venture developed a power game developed among the magazine publishers and he lost out. He left school during the depression and was fortunate to get a job in the Auckland Farmers' Freezing Company office. In 1934 he moved from Auckland back to Pahiatua to take over the family business as managing director. He and Marion were married shortly after Rei returned to Pahiatua.

Moving north, Rei took over the Hauraki Plains Gazette on 1 April 1939, which had been published in Paeroa by W D Nicholas. The Gazette was published three days a week and it was a busy Rei who was the business manager, editor, advertising manager, all in one.

He established the Coromandel and Mercury Bay Gazette which had had a short run in the early 1930s, by the same firm. This was incorporated in the Hauraki Plains Gazette Wednesday issue and remained that way from 1942 until 1956, when it became a separate paper.

In 1951 the Waihi Gazette was founded and was published weekly in opposition to the Waihi Telegraph, which folded after two months' opposition.

The next major change to the Paeroa firm came in 1967 when the joint-company of Thames Valley News (1967) Limited was formed in association with the Waikato and King Country Press of Hamilton. This association lasted five years, when the two partners split, and Rei formed Thames Valley News Limited and decided to go it alone as a locally owned firm.

In 1973 the Coromandel and Mercury Bay Gazette was changed to the Thames and Peninsular Gazette, with an office opened in Thames.

In 1977 further restructuring took place with the Thames and Peninsular Gazette being incorporated in the Hauraki Plains Gazette and from the merger came a new publication, the Thames Valley Gazette, a bi-weekly. The Waihi Gazette continued as a weekly in Waihi.

Rei used his skills as a journalist and publisher to also become involved in the magazine section of the industry and one of his most notable successes was the "New Zealand Yachtsman" which he started in Pahiatua and although he sold it, it was the forerunner of todays "Sea Spray" magazine.

From the Paeroa office he published many magazines, small books and brochures from a thriving commercial printing department.

After getting settled in Paeroa, Rei formed an association with a racing identity of the time, the late Harvey Evans, and they became well known throughout the North Island and even in the South Island, breeding and racing horses. With the passing of Evans, Rei and long-time associate and former jockey, Ray Mathieson, became racing partners. In more resent years they drifted out of racing and entered the breeding side of the industry. He joined the Ohinemuri Jockey Club soon after his arrival in Paeroa and in August 1951 was elected to the committee.

Outside the world of racing Rei also became involved in community activities and more particularly in sporting clubs. He was one of those who re-established the Paeroa Swimming Club and founded the Paeroa Athletic Club. He was secretary of the old Bush Rugby Union before coming to Paeroa and then served the Valley Union for 12 years, the last six as treasurer. He was also involved in district agricultural and pastoral associations and the Kerepehi Easter Monday sports. Through his keen interest in sport and the community he was vice-president of many clubs and organisations in the Paeroa district.



Dora Handley's passing this year was a great loss to the Paeroa Society. Dora was a foundation member, attending many of our early field days with her husband, Matt and their young family. In later years, Dora took our members on outings around Waihi Beach, Athenree and Katikati, giving all a very full description of life in those early years where she had lived with her parents, the late Mr and Mrs Rapely [Rapley – E].

Several items written by Dora have been published in early Journals and our Society is grateful to have such valuable information recorded.

To Matt, his son and daughters, the Society extends its deepest sympathy.




One of the most brilliant scholars who attended the old Paeroa District High School in Wood Street, Paeroa, has just died (June 1985) in the United States. He was Professor Emeritus in Geology and Geophysics and in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Minnesota.

The family came to Paeroa from Wanganui when his father, the late Mr C.R. Cooke, was appointed Secretary to the Thames Valley Co-op. Dairy Company, and Strathmore R.B. Cooke was enrolled at the Wood Street School.

As a fellow pupil, even in his schooldays, he made an impression upon the writer of this article.

I am indebted to his sister Pat, Mrs T.C. McNeill of Auckland, a gracious and talented lady, for supplying me with the material for this record. She remembers with pleasure her Paeroa days in that second decade of the century when she was taught by the beloved Miss Shaw in the Primers and later by Miss Gibson in Standard 4. Among the friends of her family she recalls the Cassrells, the Porritts, the Nicholas family, the de Castros, the Moresbys, and many others.

From Paeroa the Cooke family moved to Hamilton when their father became Editor of the Waikato Times and later to Thames where he had bought and managed the Thames Star. Strathmore was, therefore, a pupil at both Hamilton and Thames High Schools.

In 1928 - 29 Strathmore Cooke gained his degrees in chemistry and in metallurgical engineering from the University of New Zealand at Otago. The winning of scholarships took him to the United States where in 1930 he was awarded a Master of Science degree in metallurgical engineering from the Missouri School of Mines, and in 1933 a Doctorate of Philosophy from the University of Missouri.

His appointments are too numerous to mention in detail before, in 1946, he became Professor of Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Minnesota. The sheer versatility of the man is a record in itself. In 1970 he transferred his University teaching to the Departments of Geology and Geophysics until his retirement in 1974 when he became Emeritus Professor in Geology, Geophysics, Astronomy, and Astrophysics.

Strathmore Cooke's interest in astronomy dated from his boyhood when he made himself a 12 inch telescope and when his writings to the British Astronomical Society were thought to be those of a mature astronomer.

I have seen the neat, detailed, meticulous diagrams he made of what he saw of the moon's surface.

But he was more than that; he was, among other things, a botanist and an archaeologist, a researcher and a writer. He was the author or co-author of some seventy books and publications. A volume of the "Minnesota Naturalist" contains an article illustrated by his fine detailed drawings of flowers and plants.

Books have been dedicated to him. One, written by four Professors, Sawkins, Chase, Darby, and Rapp, entitled "The Evolving Earth - A Text in Physical Geology" is inscribed to him "in recognition of his dedication to teaching and his unstinting help to the authors during the preparation of his [this? – E] manuscript."

The rare Robert H. Richards Awards was conferred "in recognition of dedicated teaching, of pathfinding contributions leading to commercial flotation of potash, non-metallic, and iron ores, and of elucidating mechanisms of heat hardening in iron ore pellets."

But finally, although this man's skills and interests would seem almost to be unending, he was an archaeologist. In 1967 he was a leader in the University of Minnesota's expedition to the excavations at Nichoria in the Peloponnese where the Bronze Age of Greece, her Mycenaean civilisation, between 1000 and 2000 years before Christ, has been brought to light - that fascinating period in which all the Greek myths originated. And Professor Cooke's skill and expertise were able to establish that the tin component of the bronze of that era had come from the far distant mines of Cornwall.

Yet even before Strathmore Cooke had gained his advanced distinctions, he had acquired in New Zealand experience in coal mining and the mining and milling of gold, in Australia in steel construction, and in Canada in the flotation of lead and zinc ores. A truly remarkable scholar of Paeroa.

Professor Strathmore Cooke is survived by his wife and son in Minneapolis U.S.A., his two sisters Pat (Mrs McNeill of Auckland) and Nancy (Mrs Broilsford of Raumati Beach), a nephew and two nieces.



TRACY MORESBY, born in Paeroa in 1903, was educated at Paeroa District High School, Kings College, and Auckland University where he gained his degree of Bachelor of Music. He became an Anglican clergyman but left his last parish, Te Puke, when he volunteered for service in the Second World War. He served as a corporal in the Medical Corps in Egypt and Palestine, Regimental No. 31972 Second General Hospital. He died in Auckland on 28th June 1985.

He was the son of the late T.A. Moresby and Edith Maria Moresby whose well-known home still stands in Wood Street, Paeroa. He is survived by his brother, Fortescue, and was predeceased by his brother Fairfax, both of whom saw overseas War Service. Their names appear on the Roll of Honour which used to be a striking feature of the Paeroa School in Wood Street.

Mr Moresby's Family dates back far into English History. The writer of this article, on his first visit to England, went through the ancestral Moresby Hall in the village of Moresby on the sea coast of Cumberland with its nearby ancient galleried church bearing the Moresby Arms.

Tracy's great-grandfather was Admiral Sir Fairfax Moresby whose son, Admiral John Moresby, was Tracy's great-uncle after whom Port Moresby in New Guinea is named. E. Barrington, the writer of historical novels such as: "The Divine Lady" - Emma Lady Hamilton, Lord Nelson's mistress - is the pen name for Mrs Adams Beck (nee Moresby), the daughter of Admiral John Moresby. With such ancestry it is surely not surprising that Tracy Moresby and his brothers were eager to serve the Empire in two World Wars. His Africa Star rested proudly on his casket at his funeral service in Auckland. Many a wounded returned serviceman, together with his wife visited Tracy Moresby's Auckland home in Tohunga Crescent to express gratitude for his care and attention in War Hospital days.

In Paeroa and later in Auckland Mr Moresby was a well-known music teacher. He was, himself, a brilliant musician, a composer of Church Music, and had an incomparable knowledge of music and its famous composers.

On his return from World War II, Mr Moresby lived with his Mother in their Parnell home until her death some years later. He resumed his music teaching career taking pupils at various times at his studio in the city, at Kings School Remuera, and at his home.

Contemporaries of Paeroa schooldays found visits to his home a stimulating experience, his hospitality generous, his memory keen, his conversation versatile, his humour unforgettable. If his written "war memoirs" are ever published they will be compulsive reading. He was a distinguished son of Paeroa.



Paeroa Society members were saddened by the passing of Mrs Betty Russell, in October 1985. Betty was a loved and valuable member, helping at the Museum and meeting members of other Societies.

She came to New Zealand in 1904 from Scotland with her parents, the late Mr and Mrs Purdie. Her father worked at the Martha Gold Mine, Waihi, where Betty attended school, later finishing her education at the Paeroa District High School.

Many will remember Betty working for Victoria Bakeries. Although small in stature, she was a tireless worker, with a cheerful "hello" to all.

Our sympathy goes to her husband, James.