Our stories

Domestic Life before Power

This is Lill Parsell photographed in 1934 standing in front of her home.

Lill's home was a tent house. The walls were half timber and half canvas with a roof of double canvas and the floor was just dirt.

This form of housing was an accepted way of living during the depression years but domestic life was not easy in those days.

Water came from the river. Her husband would fetch two buckets full every morning before he went to work. The buckets being four gallon kerosene tins with number eight wire handles.

Heating and cooking came from a small wood fired stove.

In a recent display, some of the typical household items that Lill would have used were shown, which included a laundry wash board; irons heated on the stove; and candles for light.

Basil Johansen

Basil was born in 1898 in Palmerston North but Basil grew up in Springdale on No. 7 Road where his family farmed.

Basil’s Norwegian grandfather was a builder and from childhood, Basil loved working with wood so it was no surprise that Basil became a builder. Whenever he built a new house, the family moved with him and lived in the garage!

Basil went back to farming the family farm for some years, but the love of building saw him return to the trade in later years. Basil died in 1970.

A recent display showcased some of the tools Basil used when building which were donated by his only child who still resides in Te Aroha today.

Local Hero Gordon Bridson

On the night of 29 January 1943 the small corvette HMNZS "Kiwi", commanded by New Zealander Captain Gordon Bridson, attacked and destroyed a large Japanese submarine
"I-1" at Guadalcanal.

The "Kiwi" was a small minesweeper and the Japanese submarine a much larger vessel and much more heavily armed.

The "Kiwi" engaged the submarine and after a lengthy battle which involved the ship repeatedly ramming the submarine, the "Kiwi" triumphed.

Captain Gordon Bridson was awarded the DSO and the USA's Navy Cross for his valour. He settled with his family in Te Aroha after the war and became a partner in the local hardware store Johnson and Bridson Ltd.