Topic: Bill Dorreen talks to Mike Harris

Topic type:

Recollections from the late Bill Dorreen, as recorded by Mike Harris, of Te Arai Point.

Bill Dorreen is the brother of Jim whose name appears as the original landowner of the block we live on at Te Arai. I met with Bill Dorreen and his wife at their Port Albert home in October of 2002. Jim lives in Whangarei with his daughter The brothers are from a family of 10
children and they lived at Te Arai from 1928 when he was seven until the early seventies.
Their house was originally located at the northeast end of my property overlooking the Ocean View Road! Forestry Road junction, and was subsequently moved over the hill by bullocks on the old road that still runs through Cooper’s bush. down to the site it was on when I purchased this property, in the paddock opposite the Lake Road/Ocean View Road junction. I set fire to the remains of this house on Guy Fawkes night 1996. Bill still remembers the fig tree that marks the original house site.
The farm was bought from a Mr. Laurence who was buried in the current forest camp
under an oak tree. Most of my farm was in gorse in those days.

Neighbours were Chipchase to the north, Thomas near the Lake Road junction, Heywood
near Pacey's Quarry, Pavlovich and Moore up on Pacey's Ridge, Ridge near Mrs
Livingstone, Grant on the Spectacle Lake promontory, and Fishlock further south. Most
families were dairy farmers, but the Dorreen father was the cream carrier who carted the
cans to a depot by Ryans Road from where it was collected for the Te Hana factory.

Slipper Lake used to be known locally as Little Lake, and Spectacle as Big Lake. Large
eels and carp were always present in great abundance, so much so that swimming in the
lakes was considered very risky. Swans were also numerous. The canal exiting Slipper
Lake was where they drew all their water for drinking, washing and cooking. The canal
flow was inhibited by dense raupo and when this was removed the lake level dropped a
couple of meters to about its present level, and enabled the lakeside road to be developed.

This road was originally just a farm track which was extended bit by bit by Bills family
gradually "ploughing the top off'. Lake Road was for the main route until after the war
when Ocean View Road was upgraded from a bullock track. There were no metalled
roads in the district pre-war; rather they were clay tracks with deep wheel ruts Bill tells
of his mother walking barefoot from Te Arai to Wellsford carrying her four-year-old son
who had a puriri stick impaled in his stomach. She put on her shoes only \vhen she got to
Wellsford from where she caught the train to Auckland The injured boy was treated and
recovered. On another occasion Bill tore his knee and it took him two days travel on the
primitive roads to get him to Warkworth for treatment.

The Dorreens were the first to take action against the invasive sand dunes which were
even snapping off mature pine trees. They planted the first maram grass in the area before
Public Works took over Forestry commenced in the 70's.

The derelict corrugated iron school building which I demolished about 1998 was the third
of a succession of Te Arai Schools, and like its predecessor was originally located in the
vicinity of the Pireau yards. During the school week Te Arai pupils alternated between
their own school and the one at School Road Tomorata,

A Mrs Clemens ran the Post Office from her house on the Mangawhai Road just west of
Cemetry road. Near Cemetry Road was the library building. The nearest grocer store was
at Mangawhai.

Out on the coast Bill recalls numerous blue penguins on the rocks at the point, good
fishing using lines off the beach, and many Maori skeletons exposed by the eroding

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion


Tags: dorreen

Bill Dorreen talks to Mike Harris

First Names:Bill
Last Name:Dorreen