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.

Ada Margaret Gordon

Many residents of Te Aroha will remember Councillor Loris Mathew in the 1980s, more recently Mayor Jan Barnes, and of course our current Mayor Adrienne Wilcock, but Te Aroha was leading the way much earlier with a woman Councillor in the 1920s. 

Ada Gordon was the wife of the local doctor, Kenneth Gordon, and was elected onto the Te Aroha Borough Council in 1922. She was an active member of the Council and undertook the role of Mayoress as the Mayor Robert Coulter was a bachelor. She was also the first lady Councillor in the Auckland province outside Auckland City and the fifth in New Zealand.

As part of her council work, she was on the legal and finance committee, and the band...

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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.