Weraroa Post Office Changed Little over The Years

With a new era in postal services beginning with the opening of the new Levin Post Office next Tuesday, February 15, Horowhenua historian, Mr F.C. Swanwick, looks at the history of some of the smaller post offices which have served the district over the years.

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The present Weraroa Post Office was opened in 1910.

The Weraroaites had agitated for a larger post office for some years.  They had wanted the Levin Post Office centrally sited on the northwest corner of Stuckey St and Oxford St, but big brother won out.

In the end, Weraroa got its own new office.

On April 22, 1910 Premier Sir Joseph Ward opened the new Post Office.  The opening was held at the back of the Railway Station with dignitaries standing on the steps that then led into the waiting room.

A photo shows the opening with a large crowd on the road.  The table shown in the photo, the current postmaster, Mr J.G. Delaney considers, is the one still in the office.  It is well worn.

The Weraroaites must have been gratified that a premier opened their office, when only a mere postmaster general opened the new Levin Post Office in 1903.

(It was in fact the same man, Sir Joseph Ward, who had risen in rank in the intervening years.)

There was rivalry between Levin and Weraroa in those days and Levin usually got the bigger share of improvements.

There were living quarters at the back of the office, occupied by Mr Curtis (a well-known postman) and his family for many years in my memory.

Mrs Inder was the postmistress in the new office until October 13, 1910 when Miss R. Richardson took over, followed by Miss M.J. Gallagher on April 10, 1911.  Mrs Inder was again postmistress from May 9, 1911.

 

LONG REIGN

Miss Harriet Emma Bowen came back from the Aramoho PO after three years and became the postmistress on September 28, 1912, beginning a long reign.  She ran the office very efficiently and controlled her customers admirably. Though very petite she soon put anyone, be it child or adult, in their place if they put a foot wrong. As children, we were rather afraid of her.

In private life she was a wonderful person, willing to help anyone in trouble and a very efficient person in fundraising activities for any cause.  She drove from her house in Queen St to the office in a pony drawn dogcart.  This was a small vehicle with a basketware body.

I can remember when going to school seeing the pony with its head over the front picket fence getting many a pet from passersby. The lawns were its grazing area.

Miss Bowen’s reign probably finished on February 2, 1927 when officers from the Levin PO were rostered to act as the officers-in-charge on a monthly basis.

Miss Spencer (Biddy) was the postmistress at some stage later but no record can be found of when, although it was probably about 1930.  Apparently the atmosphere of Miss Bowen’s reign must have lingered, as she had the same efficiency of managing the office and the customers.

From December 16, 1935 officers from the Levin PO acted as postmasters, rotating for a period of not less than six months.

From August 15, 1938 the office had regular officers, Mrs E.C. Kinsey being the postmistress, followed by Mrs M.B. Close from May 16, 1941.  Mr H.C. Kearney from August 8, 1949 and Mrs A.C. Walker from January 30, 1953,  becoming Mrs Ransom during her term.  Mr J.W. Perry followed from May 18, 1970, Mrs N. Potter from October 8, 1971, Mr E.W. Millar from January 23, 1974 and the present postmaster, Mr Delaney from July 22, 1977.

 

UNALTERED

This office is almost unaltered since it was built.  The original white picket fences have been replaced and the telephone booth shifted from the kerbside to the south side of the building.

The front window had also been replaced from the old sliding weighted type to a more modern type.

The living quarters have not been used for some years and it is planned to extend the office into these.  Some years ago, the office was extended partly into the living quarters.

Some old customers regretted this change but the building is lucky not to have suffered the fate of the Levin PO.

The present Postmaster, Mr Delaney, says his post office is typical of bygone architecture.  His assistants are Mrs Gwen Jones and Mrs Christine Warren.  Business in the office is increasing every year and Mr Delaney is confident of its future.

 

FIRST WERAROA POST OFFICE BECAME POLICE RESIDENCE

The first Weraroa Post Office was sited near the south west corner of what was then Beach Rd (now called Hokio Beach Rd).  Gibbs Upholstery is now on the site.

The first officer was Mr G. Fraser from February 18, 1901 followed by Mrs A. Marryot on April 28, 1902, Miss G. Dwyer on May 30, 1902, Miss E.M. Grierson on March 3, 1903, Mrs A.L. Inder on May 20, 1903.  This office was closed on April 22, 1910.

In my memory of from 1916 on, the building still had the words Post Office painted in black and it took to about ten years of exterior painting to cover the words.

In 1916 the building was a police residence. It had obviously been built as a residence. Constable Greggan occupied it then and previously it is said Constable Longbottom lived there.

After Bill Greggan, Constable Grainger later to be the first sergeant in Levin lived in the house.

The closed front porch and an inside window gave the impression that customers were served through this window.

 

 

 

 

IHAKARA POST OFFICE WAS PART OF CREAMERY MANAGER’S HOUSE.

 

There was a post office at Ihakara from October 1912.  It was a small building built on the side of the creamery manager’s house.

 

The creamery was one of at least three serving the main factory.  It was sited on the south west corner of Tavistock Rd and the Shannon Rd.  Jim Ward now lives on the site and the land is used for his dahlia nursery.

Dairy farmers brought their wholemilk to the creamery for separation.  Mr Rutherford was the manager.  When he transported the cream, consisting of eight 20 gallon cans, weighing about 2000lbs, it would have been a heavy load for the horse and dray.  He also carried the mail to and from the PO to the Levin PO.

The office had all the post office facilities except for savings bank.  Mrs Florence Rutherford was the first postmistress, followed by Mrs Ann Elliot from January 1, 1919.  Miss Elsie Ward from July 14, 1919.  She left on July 19, 1920 to become a full time Salvation Army officer.

Her sister, Miss Alice Ward took her place followed by Miss Nellie Burt from July 1, 1923 and Miss Jessie White from April 1, 1924.

The officers were full time and when a telegram had to be delivered, using their own bicycles, the office had to be closed.  Most business probably would have been done when the farmers brought their milk to the creamery.

When the creamery closed because of farm separation in the early 1920’s, a separate office was built on land which is a paper road between the Ihakara Hall and the creamery site.

The officer closed on May 1, 1925.  The advent of motor transport gradually closed most rural post offices.

 

Thanks to help in research to Mr J.G. Delaney and Mr Jim Ward.

 

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Weraroa Post Office Changed Little over The Years


Creator:Corrie Swanwick
Creation date:09/02/1983
Publisher:The News
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Weraroa Post Office Changed Little over The Years by Pippa is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License