The history of Tirau's past

Tirau i-SITE Visitor Centre
State Highway1
Tirau
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Tirauís Past

Early Maori spoke of Tirau as a wonderful place to catch the Kereu or native pigeons.
The birds used the many Cabbage trees in the area as overnight resting places and large parties of Maori came and gathered them at night.
Unfortunately many Cabbage trees have  since disappeared but they remain a symbol of the town.
The area must have very popular in the pre European times as many of the local hills have been extensively  terraced.


From the late 1860's blocks of land were purchased and gradually developed for cattle grazing.
In 1881 the township was auctioned in 97 half acre allotments. The sections ranged in price from £6.12 to £99 in the township and from £6 to £10 for the suburban and rural sections.
The original plans show Tirau was intended to be in the style of an English Town with a Cathedral.
A second sale was held on March 27th 1912 when the Bank of New Zealand offered a further subdivision of sections to the north of Station Road.


On Oct 1st 1881 the Post & Telegraph Office was opened, officially known as Okoroire. In 1890 the name was changed to Oxford ( after Oxford, the English town ) however due to confusion with an Oxford in  Canterbury the name was changed to Oxford North and then in 1895 it took the name of a prominent hill in the area, Tirau.( the place of many Cabbage trees ).


In 1881 The Express (horse and coach) carrying Her Majesty's mail delivered mail to and from the Oxford Royal Hotel twice a week.
By 1885 the Armed Constabulary had formed a road to Rotorua along which a four horse coach made the Cambridge - Rotorua run three times a week with an overnight stop at the Oxford Royal Hotel.


The Railway, which had reached Morrinsville by 1884,was extended to Tirau and opened on March 8th 1886 then a fortnight later the Tirau-Putaruru section opened.
By 1894 the Rotorua line was completed and the mail coach service ceased.


The Oxford Royal Hotel was built around1877-81 and was used as a staging post for travellers between Rotorua, Cambridge, Lichfield and later Taupo.
When Mr Francis Rose took over the Oxford Hotel about 1885 a small store was operating out of the back of the hotel's tap room. In 1886, when Mt Tarawera (near Rotorua) erupted many people found refuge at the hotel. In 1904, Mr Rose founded the Rose Bros Store with his three sons on the site of the present Oxford Court Antiques, and leased the hotel until selling it in 1919.

In 1887 Auckland Agricultural Company (formerly McLean & Co) donated 5 acres, and the residents raised 20 pounds to build a small one room -porch school for 213 pounds. The classroom and porch still remain as part of the school to this day.


A Dairy Factory was built in 1938 by the New Zealand Co-operative Dairy Company - the Tirau butter factory was heralded as the most modern and sophisticated of its time. The first season's output of  3,446 tons steadily increased over time, and a large new casein plant was built next to it in 1982. 1,600,000 litres of skim milk is processed into casein, lactalbumin and ethanol each day.


The original Tirau swimming pool was built by the Tirau Dairy Factory and locals, at a site below the factory, and had 14 thousand gallons of warm water per hour flowing through it from the factory's condensers. It wasn't until 1963-64 that a filtration plant with town supply water was installed. In 1980 the community replaced it with the present pools along side the school boundary.

 

Tirau Historical Society published a book titled "Memories of Tirau" A history of Tirau.

Copies of the book are still available from The Tirau iSITE Visitor Centre,

 

Memories of Tirau
The Main road through Tirau between 1900-15

The State Highway 1 through Tirau between 1900-15
Left is the old Blacksmith shop where the Big Dog is situated today.

Old Rose Bros Store, the shop that stocked everything.

Old Rose Bros Store, the shop that stocked everything.

Early photo of Bear's Bakery & Butchery. Post Office at the Top.

Early photo of Bear's Bakery & Butchery. Post Office at the Top.

Old Water tower situated in County Place - served Tirau

Old Water tower situated in County Place - served Tirau
for many years. Photo taken approx 1925-30

Billiard Saloon & Library at top of hill opposite Hotel - 1930

Billiard Saloon & Library at top of hill opposite Hotel - 1930

Same building as above later used as a service station selling all brands of fuel.

Same building as above later used as a service station selling all brands of fuel.

County truck breaks through the Oraka Bridge Okoroire Rd.

County truck breaks through the Oraka Bridge Okoroire Rd.

Hay Making 1940

Hay Making 1940

Patetere Football Club 1947 - Winners!

Patetere Football Club 1947 - Winners!

Tiger Moth Topdressing 1954 Airstrip - Parapara Road

Tiger Moth Topdressing 1954 Airstrip - Parapara Road

E Wilson Carrier - loading wool from a Tirau woolshed.

E Wilson Carrier - loading wool from a Tirau woolshed.

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