Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 46, September 2002


By Vera McMillan

My first memory of playing the game of Basketball was in my hometown of Matamata where my three sisters and I were introduced to the game at Primary School, and then continued through Intermediate and Senior High School. Our Dad erected a goal post at one end of our clay tennis court and we all spent many hours practicing "goaling", as we were all chosen to play in this position over our playing years. I was eventually chosen to represent Matamata in 1950 - the 3rd Grade New Zealand Championships held at Palmerston North - the year I was married (November) and came to Paeroa to live.

The following Basketball season I was asked to play for the St. Joseph's (Catholic) team comprising Mary Lally (?), Lois Cribb, Jan Morrison (?), Pat Lithgow (Gilmour), Rae Shaw (Jordan), Val Shaw (O'Donoghue), Rose Hopping (Pennell), Maureen Seymour (?), Margaret Shaw (French). I then retired from the game to start our family.

The home of Paeroa Basketball at that time was at the Central School Courts; two normal-sized Courts and one a little smaller. These tarsealed Courts were slightly uphill, or downhill, depending on which goal you were playing to. Our "Clubhouse" was the school shelter shed! But we managed.

In 1957 I was asked if I would take on the Presidency of the Paeroa Association so, with encouragement from my husband, Norman, I decided to tackle the job. During those early days for me, I had some very helpful, energetic people to work with. Some names that come to mind - Jo Beresford (Gregory), Aroha Treanor (Turnbull), Raewyn Fathers (Foster), Dorothy Fathers, Barbara Philps, Jan Hignett (Baxter), Judith Petley (Parker), Judith Roberts (Pett), Shirley Picott (Buchanan), Joy Peckham (?), Gay Morrison (?) and many others. Once I got into the job, I started to become very interested in Paeroa Basketball. But the fact that we did not have a "real" home, convinced me that we needed to approach the Council - firstly for some land in the Domain, and secondly for some financial assistance to achieve this. With a great band of supporters we approached the Council, requesting space for this project. After many meetings we were offered land at the back of the present Fire Station, running along the northern Domain fence line. At this time the area was prone to flooding after persistent rain, so it did not appeal as an ideal spot. So we specifically asked for the area at the other end of the Domain, next to the Croquet Greens. The Mayor of the day was Mr Ernie Lee and he, along with most Councillors, was sympathetic to our request. After much effort and more meetings, in 1961 we were given the go-ahead to lay three concrete courts. And so the hard work began.

We held stalls, had raffles, Queen Carnivals, dinners, lunches, coffee mornings and got wonderful support for all these "happenings". With the granting of this land for our Courts, came the following conditions (Quote Paeroa Gazette) "Approval from Council for three Concrete Courts. This area is not to be fenced, and no future application for extensions will be entertained". (So much for Council's regulations!!)

My job, as President, lasted three years.

Having our Courts was so wonderful, but we now needed a Pavilion. Again, with much hard work and another two years of money raising, we gained permission (and help) from Council to build a Pavilion beside the Courts (cost £1,200). This was opened in May 1963.

In 1965 a 10-foot extension was added to the Pavilion. Team numbers had increased and Basketball was flourishing. In 1970 permission was granted for the laying of a fourth Court, and then in 1985 a fifth Court and upgrade took place. The area was fenced and lights were installed for night play.

And look what we have today - a home to be proud of - Courts with a fine surface, an extended (upstairs) addition to the pavilion, which is now the headquarters of the Thames Valley Netball Association.

I look back and feel proud to have been associated with the establishing of a home for Paeroa Netball and I give thanks to all who were involved with me in this project. In 1964 I was awarded the honour of being the first Paeroa Life Member.

FOOTNOTE: (2002 Season)

Since writing the above, I have found out that the Paeroa Association has not got sufficient Netball teams for a competition. Six teams are however playing at Ngatea in the Senior Competition, played on Wednesday nights. Junior teams are still playing on Saturday mornings.

Hopefully someone, sometime, will find the enthusiasm and time to encourage players to once again enjoy our local facilities and the pleasure of playing the great competitive game of Netball in Paeroa.