History lession in 1875. Belmont & Normanby Rd Paeroa

Two parts of history. Firstly of the original layout of Belmont Road & Normanby Road Paeroa. Secondly the first sod of soil dug for the Paeroa to Auckland railway.

The Original Layout of Belmont & Normanby Road, Paeroa.

With permision from Mr. Mike Cotter, Author: From Gold to Green. Paeroa.

While the main street was surveyed as early as 1875 it was many years before the highway was put through. The difference in the width of the two roads which form Paeroa’s main thoroughfare has been attributed to an argument between the two surveyors commissioned to lay out the township. Eventually, the story goes, each laid out his portion of the road according to his own convictions. True or false, the generous width of the southern section gained the approval of the eight horse waggon teams of the goldmining era, while the narrow canyon of Belmont Road has always proved a bottleneck for northbound traffic. The town’s development followed the direction of the retreating wharf sites resulting from the silting of the river bed. The original landing-stage was moved to Arney Street and then to Wharf Street which for many years was regarded as the hub of Paeroa. Quoted from Paeroa 


Quote…Why does Paeroa’s main street have a bend in it? Why is Belmont Road inconveniently narrow while the other ‘half’ of the main thouroughfare,  Normanby Road is half as  wide again? Perhaps the only people who would have been able to answer these questions, which must have crossed the minds of many visitors and residents over the years, were those reponsible for the initial surveying of the township a century ago.

With the opening of the Ohinemuri goldfields imminent, Alfred Thorp and Henry Johnson were assigned by the government to lay out the township of Paeroa. Several young Moari lads were employed as chainmen and the work proceeded at a pace commesurate with the mood of the moment -urgency prevailed.

Herein lies the basis of one theory put forward for the variation in widths between Belmont Road, the Northern section of S.H.2 and Normanby Raod, it’s continuation in s South easterly direction.

It was said that the surveying partners disagreed strongly over the matter of how wide the road which was to transverse the main ‘business area’ should be. Jackson insisted that one chain was the normal and adequate survey while Thorp, a man of great foresight wanted one and a half chains as the measure between the open drains on either side of the carriage way.

With no time to be lost, for completion of the work in as short a time as possible was paramount, Thorp and Jackson ‘agreed to differ.’

It was Jackson’s territory to the north of what is now the town’s centre and Thorp had the remander to complete.

First Sod of Soil Dug for the Paeroa to Auckland Railway Link

With permision from Mr. Mike Cotter, Author: From Gold to Green. Paeroa.

Quote…On January 26th, 1938, the Hauraki Planes Gazette previewed the commencment of the long-awaited Paeroa – Pokeno railway link with the following:

“Memorable Day

All Eyes Focus on Paeroa

Turning of the First Sod of Railway to Pokeno

Mr Semple will Perform the Act

All eyes in the Thames Valley and Waikato Districts and possible the Auckland Province will be upon Paeroa tommorow when Mr R. Semple, Minister of Public Works and Transport, will perform the ceremony of turning the first sod on the Paeroa – Pokeno railway and symbolize the commencement of the construction operations.”

 A crowd of nearly three thousand official quests and members of the public saw Mr Semple take a small silver spade from the Mayor of Paeroa Mr. William Marshall, and dig from the earth a small sod which he placed into a new and highly polished wheelbarrow at his side……cont the fact that the new line would bring new prosperity, not onl to Paeroa, to all of Thames Valley and the eastern Bay of Plenty….cont…The main function of Paeroa as a township had changed from t
hat of being a service town for the goldfields to being the centre of a rapidly flourishing dairy industry, and now it was to become one of the most important rail heads in the entire nation….cont…, dark clouds were over the horizon. End Quote….

Quoted from the book, ‘Gold to Green, Paeroa and Districts First 100 Years 1875-1975’, Author: M J Cotter, Paeroa. Page 1137.

How the traffic has changed! In the 1930s, Mr Gibson from Komata used to drive his two-horse wagon into town, picking up the cream cans from suppliers of the New Zealand Dairy Company. The odd horseman would ride by, a few cyclists and pedestrians and just the occasional car – a Model T Ford or a baby Austin Seven. We could safely walk the road with a toddler and a baby in a pram. Never again though, as now there are several motor vehicles per minute, travelling at speed, in both directions.

Looking North down Belmont Road, Paeroa…Date Unknown


Looking North down Belmont, Paeroa, RSA on left of corner

A view from Paeroa Post Office Balcany, early 1970’s…

‘Is that Warwick on his bicycle’?


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