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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 39, September 1995

HOWARD JOHN HARE AND HIS COMPANY, HARE BROS. LTD.

By Oliver Hare

HARE BROS LTD.- PAEROA: The Hare family withdrew from the management of their business in Paeroa at Easter 1970 and Mr Gerald Rawson took over the business. He continued to trade under the name Hare Bros. Ltd. at first in Belmont Road and later in Willoughby Street until he ceased business in 1993.

Howard was born in 1884, 5th in a family of nine children of Joseph Hare who was also 5th in a large family which arrived on the "Lancashire Witch" out of Belfast in 1865 when Joseph was 12.

While Joseph's brothers and sisters dispersed over succeeding years, some as far as the States and Australia, Joseph married Harriet Goulton and with a farming background became County Chairman and brought up his family in Kaeo. He traded as Hare Bros. with brother Wesley. They had a general store, built boats, houses, the local church and post office.

The brothers' small fleet traded out of Whangaroa, round the Cape to Hokianga and south to Auckland and beyond. Sadly, the two eldest brothers were drowned when the deck cargo of their scow "Wolverine" moved and the boat flipped in a storm off the East Coast.

Howard's next challenge was becoming a travelling salesman for the then prominent South Island company Mason Struthers Ltd, covering South Auckland, Hauraki Plains and Coromandel. For several years he worked this area travelling on a Douglas belt-driven motor cycle, selling farming equipment and topping all other company salesmen for totals. He enjoyed reminiscing in later years of how the old bike would not carry him up some of the steep hill roads on the Coromandel and that he had to jog along beside it, holding the throttle open. He was later to have a new Ford Beauty with the number plate HP2 and his loyalty to the Hauraki Plains was well established.

Dave Wallace had formed D McL. Wallace Ltd. and Howard joined this company and became Branch Manager of the new branch in Thames. The company's main products were Wallace milkers and water pumps. Farmers were, in phenomenal numbers, embracing mechanical milking using engines, overhead shafting and home separators. It was not unusual to write up orders for four complete cowshed installations in a day.

En route from Thames to Auckland Howard was motoring up onto the notorious old Ngatea Bridge when a horse in a gig reared at the top of the span and landed dangerously crosswise.He leaped from the car, grabbed the bridle and saved the day, calming the horse. Alone in the gig was the young Gwen Andrews of Rawe Rawe. Romance blossomed and then marriage on New Year's Eve 1919.

Howard had just drawn, in a soldier ballot, a licence to farm 50 acres at the Awaiti crossroads (now Awaiti Vineyards). A home was built and a dairy unit established. There were the horrifying floods of 1924 when Netherton farmers drove their cows out onto the roads and then sorted them out at Ngatea when the flood subsided. Mother-in law Annie Andrews broke her ankle carrying two year old Oliver out to the road in waist-deep water.

Hare Bros. Ltd. had been registered. For a time - a rather unusual alliance - a machinery business with a head office in Paeroa and a real estate office in Auckland City. The Paeroa shop and workshop stood where Woolworths carpark is now situated. Howard owned the buildings between Wells' butchers shop and Short Carriers. Sharemilkers went onto the farm and Rydal Mount was built opposite the Paeroa Racecourse. Howard was busy expanding his business of farming equipment and motor cars while at the same time being both a Hauraki Plains County Councillor and a Paeroa Borough Councillor. He worked in the early progress of the Paeroa A&P Association and served a term as President.

Then came the opportunity to purchase the spacious well maintained shop and drive-in workshop with professional rooms upstairs in the "Civic Square" and Hare Bros. Ltd. expanded and added agencies for tractors, cultivating and harvesting machinery, radios and appliances and two kerbside Plume petrol pumps. Gane milking machines and the compact Anderson Vaculac enjoyed incredible popularity.

In the days of Queen Carnivals, Howard managed for two 'Farmers Queens' and each time they won against the Paeroa Queens. One was Jean Parkinson and the other Isobel Veale. Funds were raised to build the Paeroa Library, now the Historical Society Museum.

When theBNZ, whose historic building stood where Pascoe Motors forecourt now is, burned down, its progressive Manager Walter Rowan, offered Howard a package deal which included the building now occupied by the Tui Coffee Lounge and a new workshop now occupied by Tarry's Mowers. With regret he surrendered his prime central site to the BNZ.

Still expanding, the staff numbers rose to eleven with half a dozen service vehicles. Electric fences had been invented and a salesman living in Waihi came each morning with units from Wrigley's Akrad factory piled up on the rear seat of his car. Washing machines and refrigerators were in huge demand. Beatty washers were coming from the States and were subsequently built by Dominion Motors in Wellington. I can remember delivering washing machines after school to excited farmers' wives. I lashed them on the sturdy carrier of our very smart Ford A.A. Tudor and later, on the carrier of a 1937 Hillman Minx. Reg Ganley arranged a driving licence for me at 14 because I could do a good double de-clutch!

The war came and the staff dwindled to two who, although too old for war service, unloaded the lone remaining service truck each Friday and went off with the tray loaded with oldies for weekend Home Guard practice. Social Welfare took over the main shop for the duration and Hare Bros. Ltd. moved to a rented shop in Gee's Building (part of what is The Carpet Barn).

In 1945 Howard met me at the bus terminal with the news that he had an option in my name on Sorrensen's old blacksmiths shop for £850, that there was a tremendous backlog of service work waiting on Hauraki Plains farms and the same old enthusiasm to expand the business again.

Ernie Lee agreed to build us a showroom beside the old building if we could get the timber, which was scarce, and plate glass which was impossible. Somehow, loyal friend Gordon Peter Lamb had a massive truckload of timber arrive on site in the dead of night, and Howard signed up to purchase a block of empty shops at the top end of Waihi. He shipped out the plate glass, boarded them up and got them sold again before payment was due.

So we had our showroom and some great agencies. Anderson and Davies water pumps, Masport pumps and mowers, Morrison's mowers and cycles. Household appliances, chainsaws, outboards, electric motors, vee drives, shed heaters, and cultivators ensured expansion beyond expectation. Flynn's EFCO, later Skellerup Industries, developed magnetic pulsation making traditional machines almost obsolete overnight, and all the old copper and brass components were banned. Stainless steel and polycarbonates became the norm.

Howard was on the Committee of the N.Z. Dairy Machinery Traders Association, but his interest in practical business eventually waned. He was a foundation director of a group of finance companies and a long standing Fellow of the Real Estate Institute and a registered Rural Valuer.

Pelvic injuries from a car accident eventually lead to his death just before his 80th birthday in 1964.