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History Group

Since our last report, OHG has continued to hold bi-monthly meetings. Feb, April, June, August, October plus a Christmas lunch in December is the pattern, with speakers or a video at each meeting. However lockdown did impact in 2020 with a meeting In September, deferred from August, and no October meeting and it’s following a similar pattern at present.

In September 2020 members learnt about life on the Sidney Crapp family farm, and in December we enjoyed a fine Christmas lunch together. In February 2021 Stephen Prebble reminisced about his early years growing up along Prole Road. At our AGM in April Colin Pettigrew showed his video on Gerald Crapp and his WW1 contributions. In June we met upstairs in the Tauranga City Library to hear Heritage Specialist Abigail Wharne talk to us about the new website Pae Koroki (Tauranga libraries archival collection) then showed many of Jenny Woods’ photos of Omokoroa and items she had found in Tice Gellibrand’s chest.

So a wide and varied mix of presentations.

A major focus of the group has been the researching and collating of the memories of farming  families who lived in the area 1900 – 1970 i.e. the period that follows the Colin Pettigrew re-print of Jenny Woods’ book on Omokoroa’s history. This was a major goal of the late Jocelyn Hicks who had written her own family story before she died and was encouraging others local farmers to do the same. Maureen Bruning has come on board as chief researcher and editor, with Val Hale and Chris Wright assisting with research and proofreading.

Of course many of the families who lived here earlier have since died, retired to other cities or moved to work elsewhere. We were fortunate that last year there was a reunion of Omokoroa Point School students, with a focus on the students who moved from the old Settlers’ Hall to the new Point School in 1958, and we were able to tap into their memories and their contacts with others, including siblings overseas.

Hopefully this book will be available to purchase before the end of this year. (Lockdown has proved a blessing for the group doing the final collating of articles, the proof reading and editing.) A generous grant from the Omokoroa Centre Trust will enable us to purchase sufficient to hopefully not have to go to a reprint too soon.

OHG Committee: Chris Wright – Chairperson
Jo Cameron - Secretary
Don Cameron – Treasurer
Val Hale
Robin Hicks
Colin Pettigrew
Pamela Robinson

Soon after the March OEMI meeting NZ went into lockdown and the History Group's two-monthly meetings were not possible. The planned April AGM for the History Group was deferred and finally held in late July. Office holders and committee members have remained unchanged: Chairperson Chris Wright, Secretary Jo Cameron and Treasurer Don Cameron.

Research for the planned book on farming in Omokoroa since the dividing up of the Gellibrand/Crapp farm continued, with reminder emails to descendants of early farming families. Val Hale and Maureen Bruning have taken over some of this chasing up work.

Barry Luckman has been busy writing a series of personal memories of being a member of the Volunteer Fire Brigade in its early days which he plans to compile into a booklet along with photos.

Colin Pettigrew has continued, despite failing eyesight, to compile videos, with one on the people of Prole Road being made up from photos from Ina Allan's photograph album. He has also scanned and printed largely newspaper articles from scrapbooks compiled over the years by both Ina Allan and Delcie Severinson.

The importance of not throwing away early photos has been brought home to us with enquiries for photos to do with the early boat club and regatta days for a collage of photos for the Boat Club. Colin Pettigrew continues to be called upon for photos, the most recent being for the Bird Group – godwit signage for the Cooney Reserve-Lynley park walkway/cycleway.

We have initiated a reprint of the “Omokoroa” book (Jenny Woods and Colin Pettigrew) after frequent requests for this. We have worked to remove errors that showed up in the initial print runs, have asked Kale for a quote, and have applied to the Centre for a grant to assist with this.

Chris Wright -  Omokoroa History Group Chair

We plan this year to help Omokoroa Point School with History resources as it is 90 years since this school began in 1928.

So far Jocelyn Hicks and Colin Pettigrew have produced 5 pictures folders of early Omokoroa for classroom use and Jocelyn has talked to one of the classes.  We also are producing a large pictorial history board outlining the changes in the school history. The first Omokoroa No 2 School was the little hall at the front of the larger Settlers’ Hall.

In our meetings so far this year we have had Keith Maxwell talk about living in Omokoroa in the 1930’s. The Maxwell family farmed where Les Goldstone now lives.

We also watched a DVD made by BBC Northern Ireland who came and recorded the Irish Vesey Stewart settlement of Katikati in the 1870’s. Jocelyn Hicks and Colin Pettigrew have worked on part of an exhibition for the WBOPDC museum in Katikati called Suffrage 125.

In 1893 NZ women first gained the right to vote and Mary Ellen Freeth of Freeths Point (Plummers Point today) was one of these women. We managed to find interesting information about her.

Debbie McAuley from Tauranga library came to speak to us about several of the books she has written mainly for children which are beautifully illustrated. For example about the Rena, the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in Tauranga and the battle of Gate Pa.

We are planning another History of Omokoroa evening in the Settlers hall on September 5th at 7.00 pm as there have been many requests from new residents. We also are planning with WBOPDC to erect a sign in Holyoake Terrace about the Wall family Jersey stud farm known as Lynley Park. The family farmed there for over 90 years.

Copies of many of our resources continue to go the WBOPDC archive in Katikati so that material is always available to researchers and to the general public.

Jocelyn Hicks


At the April AGM of the Omokoroa History Group,

  • Chris Wright was appointed Chairperson,
  • Jo Cameron Secretary and
  • Don Cameron Treasurer.

Projects for 2019:

  • to re-do the framed selection of photos gifted to Omokoroa Point School (these photos have faded over time) adding information about each photo
  • continue collating information from early farming families, before knowledge and photos, etc are lost of pre-1960 era, towards compiling a book eventually
  • assist as asked with Barry Luckman's planned 60th anniversary informal get-together of students who shifted from Omokoroa No 2 School (Settlers Hall) to the newly-built Omokoroa Point School in 1959

Chris Wright

The History group has had several interesting meetings so far this year.

In February we had a very well attended meeting at Fran Ashley’s home. Anne van Leeuwin who originally built the house came to talk about the process. She also spoke about the “Boy Roel “ and the plans to protest against the French nuclear testing at Mururoa in Tahiti.

Mary Parkinson also spoke about the WBOPDC archives based in Katikati and the work she is doing there. She is keen to have some of the Omokoroa historic pictures we have in their archives collection as well. Colin Pettigrew has worked very hard recently to sort suitable pictures to go into this collection.

In April at our AGM the committee was re-elected and plans were made for this year. Our speaker at this meeting was Rachel Darmody who is a senior archaeologist in the Tauranga NZ Heritage office. She spoke about her work over the past 16 years. This included insight into the archaeological digs which have taken place in Omokoroa with all the new development. We learnt a lot from her explanations.

In June we met at Betty Gane’s home and invited four ladies from Matakana Island to tell us about recent things happening there. Heeni Murray talked about the book she has written on the history of Matakana Island and Adelaide Ngatai spoke about “Piata Mai” which is her book describing the lives of all the residents who are now over 80 years old. This was a very successful afternoon .

Recently we gave a set of booklets which Colin Pettigrew had put together on the historic history articles we have written for the Omelette newspaper since 2009 to the Principal of Omokoroa Point School and another set to the Omokoroa library as they are useful resources for the children and the general public.

Jocelyn Hicks

President Omokoroa History Group