Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 51, September 2007
Reginald William (Bruce) Roberts
James Thomas (Joe) Mathieson
Margaret Aroha Turnbull
Mrs Doris Jean Spinks
(by Maureen McCollum)
Doris Jean Spinks—farmer, champion shorthorn cattle breeder, former president of the Waikato Milking shorthorns Association of New Zealand, Patron of the association and the first appointed woman judge of show cattle in New Zealand.
Mrs Spinks was born in 1913 the daughter of Alexander and Frances Duncan and was the eldest of their seven children. Her childhood was spent around the Hikutaia Hotel. Along with her brothers and sisters she attended the Hikutaia School.
Her father's interest in horses was not profitable, so the family purchased 25 acres of land from Bert Alley and the Paetai family in the Old Maratoto Valley. Alex built a home for his family followed by a cowshed and commenced his long association with dairy farming which the late Mrs Spink's grandson continues today.
From school Jean commenced her farming career working as a farmhand with her father. The Hikuitua dances were great social occasions for the young people and it was here that Jean met Paeroa electrician Harry Spinks. Following their marriage in 1934, Jean and Harry began their farming lives at Odlum's Road (now Block Road) on lease land and milked 24 cows by hand.
Later they sold the lease and during the 1940s and the war years, Jean and Harry entered a sharemilking agreement with Mr Duncan to farm their 90 cows.
Doris Jean Spinks
In 1947 Jean's interest in rearing her first milking shorthorn animals began. That year her shorthorn cow won the championship. From then on her registered "Royal Deecide" milking shorthorns became a remarkable and outstanding breed, which were winners throughout New Zealand's agricultural shows.
The title "Royal Deecide" used for the pedigree herd was taken from a Scottish calendar and the family owns many medals engraved with famous name. From breeding championship cows and young stock, it was not long before Jean became a well-known champion judge of all breeds of cattle throughout the country. Mrs Spinks was the first appointed woman judge in New Zealand.
After retiring to Paeroa in 1973 her second son John (Jock) and his wife Dawn took over the farm management of the "Royal Deecide". Jean channelled her many talents into activities around Paeroa, photography, ceramics and the Paeroa and District Historical Society to name a few.
With failing health around 2004 Mrs Spinks became a resident of Ohinemuri House, where she passed away on January 8, 2006, aged 93 years.
Mrs Spinks will always remain one of Hikutaia's outstanding women in the field in agriculture.
Reginald William (Bruce) Roberts
Service No. 546984—Private NZ Army WWII
(by Maureen McCollum)
He was a builder, a bandsman, a loving husband, father, grandfather and an avid gardener.
These were the words spoken in tribute to Paeroa's oldest resident, in 2006, followed Mr Robert's death in August of that year.
Rev Tau Lasi conducted the service at the Paeroa Co-operating Parish, and his long-time friend Mrs Joan Hill was the organist. Members of the Kerepehi Brass Band also paid tribute to their former member.
Mr Roberts was born in Paeroa in 1911, the second eldest of five children of Reginald and Rose Roberts. He grew up in Flora Street, their home built beside the railway line near the Paeroa Railway Station.
Bruce commenced his schooling years at the Paeroa Primary School in Wood Street, walking the two miles from home, barefooted regardless of the season. In 1927 he began his builder's apprenticeship under his father, earning 10 shilling a week, less board.
In 1947, with his brother Len, they formed a building partnership known as Robert Bros., and over the next 25 years, built many homes and business premises in and around the Paeroa area.
In 1937 Bruce married Miss Flo Thompson and using his skills built their first and only home in Aorangi Road. Miss Thompson lived with her parents in one of the Railway Settlement houses, along Aorangi Road. Their house section cost 50 pounds ($100) and their home 750 pounds ($1500). At this time Bruce earned five pounds ($10) per week.
Mr and Mrs Roberts had always supported each other's interests, band music, cricket and bowls for Bruce; croquet and the church for Flo.
Bruce's community service included 15 years as a night driver for the Paeroa Order of St. John Ambulance Association and his only traffic offence was a ticket issued at 3 a.m. returning with the ambulance with Serving Sister of the Order of St. John volunteer, the late Mrs Marie Marshall—a sore point for both of them.
Bruce was resident of Ohinemuri House for six years, and is survived by his wife, son Don and daughter Judith (Mrs Cliff Pett), six grandsons and four great-grandchildren.
At the age of 94 years, Reginald William Roberts was the oldest resident in Paeroa, the town where he was born and lived his long life.
Among the many buildings Bruce was associated with throughout the Thames Valley are: Paeroa Racing Club stables (1928); Paeroa Race course, buildings and sheds and alterations to the stands; Whangamata Hotel, built 11 rooms in 1930; Hikutaia Hotel, removed the top storey and built a new style roof (1953); Band Hall, Wood Street (1950); New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company's alteration to its Paeroa butter factory; Presbyterian Church and manse at Turua; Cliff Strong's blacksmith shop in Hughenden Street; Le Manquas and Lamb, Francis Street, take the top storey of the joinery and undertaker's building; Archie Plummer, residence, Onslow Street; Bruce Buchanan, residence, Awaiti, Netherton; Gilbert Sarjant, residence and two workers' houses, Netherton; Dudding and Johnson, Ngatea, living quarters above four shops; Jack Buchanan, residence, Komata; boarding house, Puke Road, remove top storey off and rebuilt two houses; Douglas Powell, residence, Komata; Judith and Cliff Pett, residence, Fairview Terrace.
James Thomas (Joe) Mathieson
(May 1, 1925 –December 25, 2006)
Joe Mathieson, who was born at 6.15 a.m. on May 1, 1926, in his grandparents home at No. 4 Miller Avenue, Paeroa, was compiling his autobiography, at the request of his family, when he passed away. His daughter, Sharon Hall, has completed Joe's story for the family to treasure and the readers' enjoyment.
In those days May 1 heralded duck shooting regardless of the day of the week. I never knew my Grandfather as he passed away five days after I was born. Before he died he called me "Old Black Joe" – apparently I was very dark when I was born, hence my nickname "Joe". This name has stuck ever since.
In 1930 when I was five I started at Paeroa Central School. I walked to school every day rain, hail or snow. By this time the Great Depression had well and truly arrived. My Dad who had a butcher's shop next door to Grandmother's house in Miller Avenue, had to close up because people couldn't afford to pay him. He went on to relief work where they worked three days a week for the princely sum of twelve shillings and six pence. The then Borough Council gave everybody a meat allowance once a week. Our family had grown to five plus my Grandmother. My younger brother Ray and I had to go down to the Borough Yard and collect our meat ration. The yard in 1932-1933 is where the current Paeroa Fire Station is in Willoughby Street.
James Thomas (Joe) Mathieson
In about 1933 Dad got a job on a farm at Kaihere so we packed the "Model T" and away we went. We were there for about two years and our family increased by two Des (Tiddles) and Dawn.
In 1935 we moved back to Paeroa to Seymour Street but it was so damp we shifted to the corner of Station Road and Towers Street. Our next move was to Bradley Street, where the "Bradley Street Gang" came into being. They were happy years. Throughout all this my Grandmother lived alone in Miller Avenue. About 1937 I moved up to stay with my Granny for company. My Dad got a job on the Public Works, building the stop banks around the Paeroa area with wheel barrows and shovels. Those men really worked hard.
By this time I had three jobs – bread delivery before school, after school I worked in the butcher's shop next door (which had opened again after the depression). In the evening I delivered the Auckland Star. On Saturday up till one o'clock I delivered bread. All the shops, those days, were open till 12 o'clock. The best part of Saturday was that my mate and I were given one dozen left over cakes and the odd loaf of bread. So it was treat time for the whole family. My three jobs netted me 12 shillings and six pence a week or about $1.25 today. In those days it was a small fortune for a kid.
Between 1938 to about 1942 we spent the school holidays at Whiritoa. They were wonderful years. The Buckthought family also spent their holidays there. But that's another story.
September, 1939, saw the start of World War II.
I left school in December and started my first job with Bryce Johnston's father, Fred, in his bike shop, building and repairing bikes. He also sold prams, electrical goods, Columbus radios and, of course, new bikes and trikes when he could get them. My wage for 44 hours was seven shillings and six pence a week for the first six months.
In 1941 I bought my first racing bike from Mr Johnston – five shillings deposit and 2 shillings and six pence a week. I can't remember exactly what the price was but it seemed forever to pay it off. I raced from 1941 until 1952 except for the 18 months I was in the Air Force.
In 1942 I joined the "Home Guard" when I was 17 – should have been 18. Mr Johnston bought a cycle shop in Te Aroha from the family of the previous owner who had hung himself. The arrangement was that I did Monday, Wednesday and Saturday in Te Aroha and then Tuesday, Thursday and Friday I worked in the Paeroa shop. After six months he got tired and sold out and I was part of the deal. For the next three years I either biked to Te Aroha or caught the 7.00 a.m. train up and the 6.55 p.m. home in the evenings. During the winter I road raced and in the summer I track raced on Herries Park in Te Aroha. When I first started track racing I rode on the Paeroa Domain, the same track used today for athletics.
In 1943 our holidays at Whiritoa came to an end when Dad was manpowered to Motutapu Island to build fortifications, these are still there today. After the War we went back to Whiritoa for a few more years.
January, 1945, I was called up for the Air Force. Firstly I went to Harewood for basic training, then transferred to Ohakea until mid-1946 when I was discharged.
In 1946 I met and courted Edna Buckthought. We married in 1952.
I went back to the bike shop until 1948. I went back racing again also, mostly grass track at Waihi and Te Aroha. I didn't do much road racing during this period.
One incident I have hazy memories of was when I was racing at Herries Park in Te Aroha on New Year's Day. Half way through the race we had a shower of rain. The field of riders started to wind up for the final sprint when the front rider fell bringing down five riders, myself included. I was the only one hurt, I was badly concussed.
I was told afterwards that I went up to the bike shop, straightened my buckled front wheel and then went back and raced again. Then I got on my old A.J.S. (motorbike) and rode to Whiritoa, flopped into bed and woke up 24 hours later, wondering how the hell I got there.
In 1948 I had had enough of travelling to Te Aroha so I got a job with Brenan & Co in Paeroa driving a petrol tanker daily to Mangakino. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I did two trips and on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday one trip. I did that job until 1952.
In 1950 I bought a little house in Wharf Street, Paeroa and practically rebuilt it. Joe Brenan lent me the money. When I decided to go to Mangakino I sold it back to Brenan and Co. Jim Mehrtens lived there for many years and the house is still there.
On 1 April, 1952, I shifted to Mangakino in partnership with Ben Smith at Mangakino Motors. Two months later, on June 14, I married Edna Buckthought at Waihi. After three years I called it a day with Mangakino Motors and sold my shares to Ben. I was working from 7.00 am till 10.00 pm – 7 days a week for $50.00.
By 1956 and still in Mangakino we now had twin sons and a daughter. I got a job with the Public Works at Waipapa Dam Site where I worked for seven years until the project was finished. I worked on a variety of jobs – bridge building, scaffolding, carpenters' shop and general work on dam site. I supplemented the family's income by making wooden toys on my lathe in my spare time. I joined the Mangakino Volunteer Fire Brigade where I served for seven years
In 1957 I bought the first Midnight speedboat. A cracker box design, powered by a 1936 flat head V8, with a top speed of 44-46 mph. I successfully raced this boat for three years. With the quest for more speed I built Midnight II.
In the summer of 1959 I started racing the new Midnight. It was an immediate success but also I had my share of mishaps. I flipped the boat at Karapiro and Flat Rock (Auckland) and in Ngaruawahia I hit a bridge pier. It took nearly a month to repair the damage. This boat was powered by a FJ Holden motor, over-bored ¼ inch, 3 carbs, ¾ race cam, ported and polished head, 5500 revs and a speed of 68 mph.
I raced this Midnight successfully for 16 years but had to give up after suffering a heart attack on my 50th birthday. About three years later I developed insulin dependent diabetes. For the next 10 years I suffered severe angina at times.
In 1962 I was transferred to Aratiatia Dam Site. My mate and I (whom I had worked with at Waipapa) were asked if we would like to do all the scaffolding on the job. On one section we worked 28 hours non-stop with the scaffolding following up the continuous concrete pour on the surge chamber. I also served with the Aratiatia Volunteer Fire Brigade for nearly two years as Chief Fire Officer. I was two weeks short of my second two-year bar.
In 1964 we built a house in Claremont Avenue and moved back to Paeroa. The day we shifted in it was pouring with rain. The furniture truck got stuck in the driveway, a man was trying to lay carpet which was supposed to have been laid the week before. Our kids thought it was great in and out of the rain. There were now six little varmints. I returned to Brenan & Co. and picked up where I left off in 1952 – driving tankers again. I was the relieving driver for Paeroa and Mount Maunganui. I also carted the diesel for the construction of the Kopu-Hikuai Road. After two years driving I went into spare parts, which I managed for 24 years until I retired in 1990, aged 65 years.
In 1975 I joined the Paeroa RSA and I have been on committees of the RSA for 27 years. During that time I have been President three times, six years Vice-President and five years as Welfare Officer.
I am still Welfare Officer, visiting sick veterans (whether at home or at hospital), taking members to hospital clinics, assisting veterans and members to document their personal information and last wishes and being on hand to help families with funeral arrangements and assisting at funerals, guiding veterans and members with government and medical entitlements.
Every Friday I drive the courtesy bus, taking members to the Club and when required drive the bus to take members for clinic and hospital visits.
In 1985 I had a quadruple heart- bypass operation at Green Lane Hospital.
On June, 1990, Edna passed away after nearly 30 years of kidney problems. Altogether we were an item for 44 years. Thirty eight years married and six years courting.
Other work apart from the RSA – 1975 – 2003
Hauraki Friendship Force: Foundation member. I hosted people from USA, Australia, Holland and Germany, altogether hosted 14 families. I went on a return visit to Adelaide (my first trip overseas) and stayed with the couple who stayed with us.
Paeroa Information Centre: Eight years as a volunteer.
Paeroa Promotions Trust (Battle of the Streets Motorcycle Race): Foundation member and spent 10 years repairing panels during the winter for the next race day. I am still a non-active member.
Intellectually Handicapped Children: Eight years taking the children to riding school every Monday (during school term) in the Red Cross bus. Every second Wednesday I take an older age group riding in the RSA bus. About three times a year the whole school have outings (picnics etc.)
Counterstroke: Five years. About four times a year I take the Counterstroke ladies on outings. They are widows all in their eighties
Thames Valley Motor Vehicle Restorers Club: Foundation member. Sixteen years secretary/treasurer. I restored 1938 De Soto and still have it.
My interest in boat racing has never waned. My sons, Tony, Terry and Steve continued racing until 1981. Then in 1999 Steve bought a "bloody hydroplane" and named it "Midnight". We have been up and down the country racing ever since. I have sponsored some of the races, helped carry the trophies and helped the boys drink rum. Terry and my grandson Brody also have a "bloody hydroplane" called Meridian but we, as a family, have enjoyed this tremendously. We have all met some amazing people and had some wonderful times--even experiencing the cold test on the Desert Road.
Joe passed away Christmas morning, 2006, at his daughter's home at Awaiti. There was a very large attendance of family, friends and RSA personnel to pay their last respects at the funeral service held in his beloved Paeroa Memorial RSA Club.
Joe's community involvement was recognised by the Hauraki District Council in October, 2006, when he was awarded Citizen's Award. He receive Prime Minister's Commendation to mark the Year of Veteran 2006 for service to the RSA, and especially recognising his commitment and dedication to the welfare of service veterans,. Only 10 of these awards were made nation-wide by Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Margaret Aroha Turnbull
(by Graham Watton)
The passing of Margaret Aroha Turnbull, on June 28, 2007, has severed a strong branch of a pioneering family of the Paeroa district.
She was the youngest daughter of James and Eileen (nee Poland) Treanor and James' parents, Patrick and Catherine Treanor, came into the district in the 1880s, when Paeroa was a thriving service centre for the Ohinemuri, Waitekauri and Waihi gold mines.
James and Eileen Treanor were born, educated, married and spent their whole life in Paeroa. There were three children, Lorraine (Mrs Cronin), Frank (Paeroa) and Aroha, who was born on October 17, 1933.
Aroha did her early schooling at St. Joseph's School and then at the Paeroa District High School. On leaving school she followed her sister Lorraine into pharmacy, serving as an assistant with Stan Hedge in his Ohinemuri Pharmacy. She had short stints in a pharmacy in Mt Maunganui and nursing before returning to Paeroa where she joined the TAB, which was operated by Nicol and McMillan, accountants. The TAB office was at the rear of a building erected for the Social Welfare Department by Walter and Joyce Fathers, proprietors of the Fathers Hotel, adjacent to their hotel.
She met Les Turnbull, who had moved into Paeroa in 1938 with his family, and they were married in March, 1957, in St Mary's Church by Fr W. O'Meara. They celebrated their golden wedding this year with family and close friends.
A keen outdoor basketball player, later renamed netball, Aroha played through the primary school, secondary school and local competition grades, and represented Paeroa.
However, coaching was her main contribution to the sport, taking teams at all levels of the sport primary school, secondary school, club, Paeroa and Thames Valley taking this team from fourth division to second division. She also gave time to the administration of the sport and was manager of many teams.
She gained her New Zealand Umpire's Badge and took part at national tournament level. There were six other national umpires members of the Paeroa Association, giving it an unique record at New Zealand level. Aroha's devoted service to netball was recognised with life membership of the Paeroa Netball Association.
Aroha also took a very keen interest in swimming, as a competitor, coach, administrator and, in her later years, the masters swimming group. There were many young Paeroa swimmers who have learnt the art of being water-wise from Aroha.
When the fundraising campaign was under way for the Paeroa War Memorial Hall in the mid-1950s Aroha was the RSA Queen and was crowned queen for raising the most money in a glittering "coronation" function in the Regent Theatre.
St. Mary's Church has benefited immensely from Aroha's untiring efforts. She became a member of the Catholic Women's League at the age of 18 years, serving this organisation as secretary, president, long-time committee member and mission convener on many occasions. Her outstanding service was recognised with life membership of the league in March, 2007.
She also gave freely of her time to St. Joseph's School, assisting in many ways, particularly when it came to sport. She served on the Parish Council for many years and was very much involved in the welfare of St. Mary's congregation and the wider community, and the social activities of the Church.
A lengthy stint with meals-on-wheels was one of her main contributions to the community at large, and she was always willing to assist many of the district organisations. She was a keen gardener and a member of the Paeroa Garden Circle and the Paeroa Rose Society
Aroha was justifiably awarded the Church's highest recognition for outstanding service to the Church and the community when she received the Papal Benemerenti, on the recommendation of Bishop Denis Browne of Waikato and approved by the Pope Benedict 16th in May, 2007.
While giving her time to the Church and community Aroha still made time available to be a caring and loving wife and mother. As a family they made memorable Christmas camping holidays to Waihi Beach, with a large group of their friends, for over 30 years.
Aroha is survived her husband of 50 years, Les, and they had five children, David, Jane and Stephen, and the twins Sarah and the late Grant. She adored her three grandchildren and was loving friend of three step-grandchildren.
There was a very large gathering of mourners at St. Mary's Church to pay their last respects to one of the Paeroa community's truly unsung heroes.
Aroha's great-grandfather Patrick Treanor was born in Managhan, Ireland, in 1841 and arrived in New Zealand in 1868 going first to the West Coast gold fields. He moved north to Thames as the Hauraki Goldfields developed and became manager of the Caledonian Mine for a period.
His wife, Catherine, came from Limerick, Ireland, and at the age of 17 years, arrived in New Zealand in 1883 on the sailing ship "Doric". She went to Thames where she met and married Patrick Treanor and while there, six of their children were born.
By 1890 Patrick had given away the mining and moved to Paeroa where he undertook roading construction cartage contracts (horses, drays and wagons) for the local goldmines and the Ohinemuri County Council. He laid the foundations for many Paeroa's early streets. There were another four children added to the family, including Aroha's father, James, in 1897.
In 1911 Patrick Treanor, who also farmed a block of land on the Waihi Road, was successful in tendering for the first stopbanks along the Ohinemuri River to protect Paeroa from the ever increasing number of floods. The river bed was building up as an estimated 30,000 tons per month of mining debris was being poured into the river by mining operations at Karangahake, Waitekauri and Waihi.
Also in 1911 he was elected as a Paeroa Riding Councillor onto the Ohinemuri County Council, a position he held until his passing in August, 1915, at the age of 66 years.
Following her husband's death in September 16, 1965, aged 68 years, Catherine and her family turned their attention to developing the family farm. This farm was one the first to provide milk to the Paeroa Creamery in 1901, which was situated in Thames Road, opposite the race course and not that far from where Aroha and her husband, Les, have lived for the past 50 years.
Mrs Treanor, with one daughter and two sons, continued to farm the property developing a very highly productive dairy herd. She passed away in May, 1954, aged 88 years, leaving four sons and six daughters and their families to mourn her passing.
She was a generous and kind person and her home was always open to all travellers. Many swaggers of those early days could always find shelter and a meal.
Footnote: The other New Zealand Netball umpires with Aroha were Lorraine Cronin, Dorothy Fathers, Joan Baxter, Rongomai Wilkinson, Val Munro, Merlyn Silvester.