Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 37, September 1993

By J G Clark

My first memory of Paeroa was sailing up the river from Auckland in the "Taniwha" and seeing the bloated carcass of a dead cow floating near the right bank. We were moving from the city because my father had taken employment at the Gold Extraction Works, a place where river silt, washed down the Ohinemuri, was processed for gold in big cyanide tanks.

We lived in an old (even then) house in a bend in the Ohinemuri, the house being owned by a man we knew as "Old Chamberlain". The bridge over the river was a wooden structure then. In 1915 I started school in the old infant's block, a detached wooden building standing a few feet higher than the main block. I was sick shortly after starting and did not go back until some time in 1916 after we had moved to a big house on the Old Te Aroha Road. I remember many of the shops in the main street at this time. These included Robson, a grocer; Woods, picture theatre; Walls, butcher; George de Castro, chemist and optician; Freddy Flat, bookshop; David McWatters, men's outfitters; Thomas, chemist (who sold to Stan Hedge); Leach, bakery; Evans, grocer;Mrs Salt, boarding house.

All the bush clad hills near Paeroa had many weka and kiwi. The weka would set a kind of plaintive chorus at daylight and dark. As the hills were cleared for farming, the weka disappeared. That would be in the 1920's. Sometimes I used to go home in the Old Te Aroha road, along the riverbank with some Maori children who lived in a hapu beside the river. I had to go round this hapu because a very old Maori who lived there hated all pakeha, even children. I think he had been a warrior in the 1860's.

We left Paeroa for Thames in late 1917 and Brenan & Co shifted our furniture on a flat top waggon.

EDITOR'S NOTE: With regard to the mention of the disappearance of weka from the district in the 1920's, Mr John Cotter of Karangahake remembers their disappearance there about that time also. Readers may be interested to know that an attempt is being made to re-establish weka into the area. The Royal Forest & Bird Protection Society has organised a number of weka breeders throughout the North Island. The young weka are sent to holding aviaries at Karangahake and then are released into the wild there.